Living Leadership – a unique CIT summer

Providing opportunity for leadership and growth in personal development is a key component of all of Camp Runoia’s programming. Multi age classes and self directed goals allow campers to navigate their own skill development and girls of all ages are given a chance to have their voices heard. Older campers often take on the role of friend and mentor to younger girls and share their skills and love of camp activities with those that are in need of help. Skippers in sailboats, captains of teams, helpers at the barn and other opportunities to be up front all allow campers to gain leadership skills while working on their own goals.

The Counselor in Training program (CIT) is often the capstone of camper years and allows for a very intentional, full summer experience with a leadership focus. In typical summers CIT’s live as a group with their CIT Director and work together in and around camp to build skills. 2020 proved to be a whole lot different. Four amazing young women who were up for a new and evolving challenge joined Harmonyville for a different kind of CIT program. 


With the creation of ‘households’ and restricted interactions of groups it meant that in order for the CIT’s to get the best experience of actually working with campers they spent much of their summer living in cabins.  The CIT’s also joined us for staff training and were able to live together during that time and get some very intensive skill coaching before their move to live with campers. It was a very different approach yet worked incredibly well under the unusual circumstances. This group of young women were able to navigate not only the transition from being campers to taking on a more comprehensive leadership role but also having to be separated from their peers and fellow CIT’s. They truly were living their leadership development as they actively engaged with all aspects of daily life in camp.

This fabulous four accomplished so much over their unique CIT summer. Even with a reduced amount of time at camp and additional responsibilities they passed archery instructor training, managed to navigate a socially distanced lifeguard class, made connections with their campers, took classes in child development, homesickness and a multitude of other camp related situations and did it all while maintaining and building their personal friendships. Their growth was amazing and they worked through the hard parts and saw the benefits of being at camp even when it wasn’t what they had originally imagined. They built life skills that will serve them well as they head out into their junior years and begin to navigate what life after high school may look like.


We hope that this tenacious group will be back for more Runoia summers. Our counselor staff group will benefit from their skills, capable competence and true Runoia spirit.

Developing leadership skills at camp

Residential camp provides a unique opportunity to allow young people to develop their leadership skills.  When girls attend Camp Runoia they have an opportunity to not only develop hard skills in activity areas and interpersonal skills but also to begin developing strong leadership skills.  Leadership starts at an early age at camp as adults often allow girls room to try out their skills and begin to develop their own sense of autonomy.  As their time at camp extends into their teen years older girls become mentors to younger campers, leaders of teams, assistant coaches in activity areas and communicators in their shack groups.  Some of this leadership development is organic while some is intentional youth development through our Camp Runoia programming.

The Counselor In Training(CIT)  and subsequent Junior Counselor (JC) programs at Camp Runoia help High School aged campers focus on their own leadership development within the safe and supportive community in which they have often spent many summers.  Feeling comfortable and confident in a place that you know well is a perfect environment for challenging yourself.

Intentional leadership training provides opportunities for girls to build on their current skill set and also challenge themselves to go out of their comfort zone and try new skills too.  It includes formal training certification programs like archery instructor, lifeguard, first aid, CPR courses and the Junior Maine Guide programs.   Event planning and implementation for large groups is a big component for the CIT group- they manage the entire 4th of July festivities for the whole camp.  Helping out in shacks with younger campers, assisting in lessons and learning to manage a group, teach skills and keep track of performance are all just examples of putting leadership into action.  More informal opportunities exist when hanging out with younger girls and being a positive role model.

Within the CIT group leadership often comes in the form of collaborative decision making and group process.  It may be about finding your voice or learning when to be quiet to let someone else speak up.

Both the CIT and JC programs are designed to be a full summer experience so that young women can practice their new skills over time and grow into great camp leaders.  They take back home with them not only a stack of certificates and accomplishments but a greater sense of self, more confidence and skills that will be transferable into other aspects of their lives.