Summer Dreaming

It’s when the freeze warning happens that real summer dreaming begins. In honor of the first real cold spell at camp, this blog honors our big, beautiful Great Pond.

We spend the summer in and on the water at Camp Runoia. Great “Pond” is a misnomer as it is the largest lake of the Belgrade Lakes in Maine. It is 8000 acres or, for perspective, half the size of Manhattan.

Just as Great Pond has helped many of us overcome our fears – be it swimming or sailing or canoeing to Oak Island through the camp experience, The words of Lucille Clifton’s poem, Blessing the Boats, will inspire us to continue to be our best in times of challenge and to overcome obstacles with grace and diplomacy.

Blessing the Boats

(at St. Mary’s) 

May the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss the wind

then turn from it

certain that it will

love your back    may you

open your eyes to water

water waving forever

and may you in your innocence

sail through this to that


Out on the Blue Waves

Perhaps you’ve paused to wonder, “why does Runoia reference Out on the Blue Waves so frequently”.

Well, it’s a favorite Runoia song, of course. And, it’s more than a song.

It conjures up memories for many. It reminds people of their accomplishments and achievements. It makes women recognize when they were girls, they were sailing boats, paddling canoes, surfing on wind surfers, and swimming to the Big Float, to Oak Island, across the Soapies, out to the Marjorie. Many of these references are Runoia unique names for the names of floating rafts or the area we have recreational swim in at camp. Those tales are another story for another blog!

But the important thing is girls, young and older are propelling through and over the water and learning skills Out on the Blue Waves. So, it’s a phrase that’s more than a song. Just to satisfy your curiosity, here’s the song lyrics to the chorus:

Out on the blue waves, where summer breezes blow

Our boats go sailing into sunset glow.

We leave the shoreline, to realms of dreams we go,

Out to the center of the lake where breezes blow.

and you can hear the whole song here

Enjoy and be proud of all you accomplish #runoiagals !!


Mixing it Up at Runoia

Each week campers and counselors spend on average 25 hours of their week in “regular program”. The schedule is 5 classes a day and rotate in blocks of 2 day schedules and 3 day schedules. The rest of our day is filled with cabin clean up, recreational swims in Great Pond (a lake 8000 acres in size!) a unique Evening Program, meals, snacks and Rest Hour. Let’s not forget about our wilderness trip program where each shack group is out for 2 -3 days in the beautiful state of Maine.


Two and one half weeks into the session, we mixed it up with a Fun Day Sunday. In 2018 it started with a pirate attack at Assembly:

Followed by loads of fun at different stations from photo booth to Captain’s Coming, tattoo station and Find Your Pirate Name (for instance Iron Claw Captain) lots of competition between the Black Team and the White Team.


Snacks of pirate cookies and popcorn and Pirate Booty were in store for campers and counselors alike.

The evening finale of watching an outoor movie on Mahadin with glow stick necklaces was a hit and a great way to chill out after a long day.

Mixing up our program at camp keeps camp fun and energizing and throws an element of surprise. With Harry Potter Day last year, Summer Olympics, County Fair, and Take me out to the Ball Game in previous years, we can only wonder, what surprise will be discovered in 2019?

With Love from Belgrade Lakes,


Play ~ One of the Great Things About Camp

I love seeing girls and counselors grow in their confidence, skills, decision making, problem solving, team work, and self-esteem. One of the simple but critical parts of camp that helps all those things happen is play. We play in organized games and relay races, we play in activities and special events, but the really special play time happens during unstructured time. Girls make up silly games in the cabin, explore camp, jump rope, throw a frisbee, do somersaults, build fairy houses, make costumes, watch clouds, etc. etc. They giggle and tell jokes, they share stories, and create memories. It’s joyful and creative, it’s unplugged fun that sometimes can’t even be explained because it happens organically. When girls play they are learning about themselves and each other and they are tapping into parts of their minds, hearts and bodies that don’t always get the exercise they need.

I played organized sports all through school and was active in clubs and student government, and I loved it, but when I think back to my childhood, the memories that are the most vivid are playing. It didn’t matter if it was building forts, poking around in the woods, playing Kick the Can, jumping in leaves, making crazy things out of bits and pieces, or laying in the grass and seriously discussing Halloween costumes, these were the best times. I was fortunate that this simple play was woven into my life year-round and I wish the same was true for all children today. I know it’s not and I know it is also not the case for many of us as adults.

So yeah for camp – the place where playing is just as important as anything else we do and girls and adults alike are not only encouraged to play but expected to play!

Whys is play is valuable – check here and how about for adults? Check here

To the Runoia Gals: An Open from Your Teary-Eyed Counselor

You Wonderful and Spectacular Ladies,

I never imagined how beautiful a shooting star could be when you’re sitting next to someone who has never seen one. I never knew how wonderfully exhausting a game of Gaga with a group of 8-year-olds could be (or how often they would beat me!). I never realized that it was possible to sing so much and so loudly that it would take eight weeks for my voice to return to normal, or laugh so hard that my stomach would ache for hours. When I packed my bags for my first summer at camp, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

When I came to you for that first summer, I considered myself pretty well cooked. I had it in mind that I, as the adult, was there to provide a life-altering, fun, and unforgettable experience for you. While that was and has always remained my primary goal, I now see that you amazing young ladies, with whom I was lucky enough to spend three unforgettable summers, have had a far greater impact on me than I could ever have imagined.

When you become a camp counselor you hear all about how much your campers will learn from you, for better or for worse. But what you don’t hear as often is how much you will learn from you.

You’ve taught me many things in my three summers at Runoia, more than I could count and definitely more than I could ever share with you. But I would like to try to share some. You taught me about the curative nature of a hug from four children at once. You showed me how important it is to laugh and have fun every time the opportunity presents itself. You taught me how to “whip and nay nay,” wobble, dougie, and do all sorts of things that would make me hip and with it! You helped me realize how rewarding it can be to share my love of the water, which I discovered as a child, with others. You showed me every day that we are all at our most beautiful when we are being ourselves and when we are happy. I saw, first hand, the transformative power of a summer with friends in an environment that encourages growth and fosters an undeniable feeling of complete and utter happiness.

The past three summers have been the most indescribably amazing part of my life. I cannot thank you girls enough for all that you have shared with me, or your parents for helping you become the unbelievable and inspiring young women that you are. Runoia gals, I will carry the lessons you have taught me throughout my entire life, and will remember you always.

Thank you for helping me become who I am today and I hope that somewhere along the way, I may have helped you.

With love,

Your Teary-Eyed Counselor



Runoia guinea pigs life after camp

Cream Puff and Mount Skittlemore the Camp Runoia guinea pigs were feeling a little jealous that the chickens had their 15 seconds of fame on the Runoia blog so here is their moment of stardom.

Life outside of Camp Runoia is fairly entertaining for everyone’s favorite ‘farm’ pets.  They have a large cage in the living room (‘but mum it’s too cold in the mudroom’!) at the Bolduc-Jacksons so are generally the center of attention.  Most of their day is spent eating  – who knew that 2 such small creatures could eat so much!?  Breakfast is lettuce and leafy greens often with some strawberry tops thrown in, lunch is a delightful blend of guinea pig pellets and all day long the hay buffet is open.  There are always plenty of treats too, their favorites are fresh fruits and veggies but they will happily eat the commercial snacks.

A  change from the summer is that their winter bedding is made of fleece and old towels rather than sawdust and shavings.  It seems to keep them warmer and drier but still needs changing every couple of days.  It helps with waste reduction too as it can just be throw into the wash.

Did you know that we have an entire Runoia Pinterest board dedicated to interesting articles about guinea pig care.  There are even guinea pig birthday cake ideas for those dedicated cavy lovers.

The farm and garden program at Camp Runoia provides campers with the opportunity to experience animal care, grow organic food and learn about farm to table principles.  Many girls enjoy the responsibilities of growing things and taking care of the pets.  We hope that Camp Runoia campers will maximize all of the opportunities that activities at camp have to offer.  Getting to snuggle a guinea pig is certainly a perk.

Cream Puff and Mount Skittlemore look forward to seeing you all back at camp and getting lots of snuggles and snacks from the Runoia vegetable garden.

The Gift of Freedom (aka The Art of Tagging Up)

Written by: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford

“How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off.” This New York Times article headline was like a slap in the side of my head, a nice wake-up call.

Yes, I am one of those parents. My child arrived in this world with bright blue eyes. They sparkled and I immediately saw her potential. I dream big for her future and the gifts she will offer the world.

From her earliest days, we have taken advantage of library programs, countless recreational classes – from swimming to soccer, and she has had access to a multitude of mediums for her artistic endeavors. I, like so many, have seized the opportunities deemed worthy to fuel my child’s success, but, as I read this article, I began to question some of my efforts.

The words “back off” had punch. They stung a little. Back off? Um, it may be the opposite of how I have approached fueling the creativity of my child over the last 9 years.

As I sipped my coffee, I continued to delve into the contents of this article:

“What holds them (children) back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers…practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.”

And what DID this article note fuels the creative mind? “Children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that sets them up to flourish as creative adults.”

Freedom. Discover interests. Flourishing.

Yes, I want this for my child as well!  How can we – as parents – find the balance?

All through the school year, we help to plot and plan our children’s lives. Oh yes, they help select those activities, but some things are also just a given.  They are expected, and, I also know…they are needed. The daily routines and structure we set to support our children’s growth and development provides them with opportunities to learn and grow, but are they also stifling their creative minds?

What will fuel them with spark and perseverance in working towards their passions? How do we find balance between driving our child’s interests and skills and helping them develop the skills to think, grow and act independently…be driven by their joy and passions?

Last summer, as a parent of a Runoia camper and a staff member of the Runoia camp, I gained a unique perspective. As a staff member, I became part of the process of helping to create, oversee and implement diverse, quality, safe and FUN summer experiences. As a parent, I watched my daughter and many other girls immerse themselves in these opportunities.

There are numerous activities for girls to explore at Runoia: art, equestrian, high ropes, farm and garden, tennis, ceramics, swimming, drama, riflery, wood working, and the list goes on and on…


And the beauty of the structure of these activities? There is FREEDOM. There is CHOICE.

And with this, GIRLS FLOURISH.

If you’re a Runoia girl, you know all about “tagging up.” Last year, I watched the excitement of each morning as campers were called in for this tradition of choosing their daily adventures. I watched Alex as she talked with every camper, every day, about what choices THEY wanted to make about their day. I watched girls relish in their freedom of these choices. I listened to their excited chatter as they stood by the tag board and eagerly waited to “tag up” for THEIR day. The multitude of options and THEIR FREEDOM to make those choices is a gift to these girls each summer.


I know – as a parent too – that through the year, my child makes choices about her activities, but those choices are then long-term commitments – weeks, sometimes months – of routine. Yes, those commitments yield benefits. But the opportunity to then provide a summer of explorations, a summer of choice also nets many rewards. The chance to try something new, even daily…to engage in a new endeavor. To not have to be the expert, but to find joy in learning something new…to have the time to challenge oneself…

“What motives people…passion – discovered through natural curiosity or nurtured through early enjoyable experiences with an activity or many activities.”

“If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours.”


This is summer at Runoia and it may be one of the greatest gifts we can give our girls.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year.

Runoia Celebrates 110 Summers in Style!

In the middle of August Camp Runoia hosted its 110th reunion.  Some 150 women young and old came from far and near and wallowed in the warmth of friendships and happy memories.

Runoia Gals from Far and Near Returned for the 110th Reunion
Runoia Gals from Far and Near Returned for the 110th Reunion
I’ve been thinking about camp, and the weekend, and camp, and friends, and camp….  I thought about how so many of us keep coming back, sometimes after years of absence, but still we come….and I thought about what it is that makes this happen.  I realize it’s because Runoia really is “home” to people.  Not home like where our parents live, but home in the sense that it’s where we feel safe, where we can be ourselves without pretense, where we are accepted for who we are and we get to shed our veneers and tear down our walls, it’s where we can laugh and cry with enthusiasm and without fear of judgement. It’s where we feel alive and secure and joyful.
The Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization raised $123,000 for the Betty Cobb Campership Fund in honor of this event.  I hope people will continue to give generously forever onward so that lots of young girls who couldn’t otherwise afford it will be able to know these feelings years from now when they come back for Reunions.
Thank you Jody!
Thank you Jody!
From Jody Sataloff, Past President of the CRAO and many other amazing accomplishments!



The girls are coming

We will shift to being a child focused community

It will be a fine Maine day

There will be squeals of pure joy


We will move around 500 pieces of luggage

The gaga pit will be full

We get milk and crackers

There will be a few tears


Is sure to start early and end late

Will be here soon

Is the best day of the year

Is just the beginning


We can’t wait for tomorrow the Magic Makers of 2016 are ready for the magic to arrive!

Our Spanish campers are on the way!

IMG_0007 (2)



Ready Set Go – All Runoia All Summer!

This is the time of summer we bring people, our camp counselors, kitchen crew, summer maintenance team, directors, assistant directors, health team and specialist together from all over the world to build team, complete certification for training, practice teaching with each and our camp neighbors and friends, run emergency drills and plan for trips out of camp. Let’s break it down!

Just like our campers need a chance to get oriented to Runoia, meet people they will build friendships with, find out all the cool stuff they can do at sleepover camp and learn the rules about how to do them safely, so do our Camp Runoia counselors.

Our director team takes charge and spends 10-14 hours each day working with counselors in small and large groups to accomplish the feat. If you are wondering why we aren’t replying to your emails right away, that’s why!

We have discovered we have an AMAZING group of people, a diverse group (age, backgrounds, cultures, citizenship, religions, the colors of our skin and the different fields of education, new staff, returning staff, campers who are now college age staff). How lucky are we?!

Here are some pictures from our two days of training thus far:

DSC_0466 DSC_0459 DSC_0437 DSC_0393 DSC_0479