How old is the ‘right’ age to start camp?

Trying to figure out when the right age to start camp is can be a real challenge for families.  Actual yearly age carries a lot of weight in our society.  We celebrate milestone Birthdays with celebrations and sometimes commiserations!  My daughter just turned 16. There was pressure for a ‘sweet 16’ . We went with the ‘sassy’ version but all the decorations and marketing available were ‘sweet.’ Other friends bemoan that their child is about to become a teenager and by how much emphasis there is surrounding this event.  Mom friends commiserating that they will have a ‘teenager on their hands’ and that it is apparently just the beginning of the ‘tumultuous years’ suggest that the big 13 is bigger than it really is.  Truth is those kids will be the same person today at 12 as they will be tomorrow when they turn 13. There are displays of some of the teenager characteristics for a couple of years before 13, others are sure to develop over time or may never appear for a particular child.  Age does not define us yet it has societal normative behaviors placed up on it.

As a parent I feel like I am often battling the social norms imposed upon my children.  It is hard to go up against them when ‘everyone else’ does it, has it or has been there.  I love that my sons K-8 school used the ‘wait ’til eight’ theory for cell phone use as it took the pressure off getting him one and now as a 9th grader we are just getting into that realm.

Figuring out when your daughter is the right age for camp can also appear to have social norms and external pressure about when is the right time to send kids off to sleep away camp.  We all know that kids develop at their own pace, have varying life experiences and certainly come with an array of different personalities that are more or less conducive to the camp experience.  We often get calls from concerned parents wondering if their rising 7th grader is ‘too old’ now for camp? Or if aged 7 is ‘too young’ to start.   Will she fit in if she didn’t start in 5th grade when all of her classmates went off to camp?  Can we advise them about what truly is the best age to send your child to an overnight camp experience?

The truth is there is only a perfect age for each individual child, some kids are ready at 7 others at 12 or 13 and some girls  just may never have the desire to be away for an extended time period.  As we talk to parents starting the camp research process we are always excited to chat about their daughters and to help them figure out if she may be ready to join the Runoia fun.

Great questions to ponder for prospective families are: how does your daughter feel about camp? is she driving the process? does she enjoy being away from home overnight with family or friends? is she age appropriately confident managing her own belongings and time?

If you are pondering camp for 2022 and are wondering if your daughter is ready give us a call. We are happy to help support you in the process of determining if this is the best summer – Camp Runoia  207 495 2228.

We have limited openings and would love to find the right ‘ready’ campers to fill them!

First week of fun – Great Pond camp life

Our first session girls arrived last Sunday on a hot and sunny Fine Maine Day! After unpacking and meeting/getting reacquainted with their cabin mates, everyone got a chance to take their swim tests and enjoy a quick dip in the lake – our fabulous 8,000 acre Great Pond. Supper was a delicious combo of spaghetti and meatballs, salad and vegetables, garlic bread, and brownies, and it was wonderful to hear the laughter of new and old campers alike ringing through the dining hall and outdoor tents. Evening program for our junior end campers included a game called “Mostest” in which each cabin worked together to create cheers and songs and even wrote and performed a commercial for Runoia! Senior end played Family Feud, while our oldest girls in senior village had their own special campfire by the lake. Milk and Crackers were enjoyed by all before returning to cabins to make community contracts and gain a better understanding of what each of us need to be our best selves at camp this summer. Counselors began reading their cabin books aloud as girls settled into beds for the night. We miss our loved ones who are not with us here at camp, but homesickness is easily overpowered by all of the fun and excitement everyone is having doing activities and spending time with friends. 

The first full day of camp was another hot one! We started with an orientation in which we found out (or were reminded) where everything was around camp, practiced vehicle safety evacuation drills, learned how to put on our PFDs for when we go out on the blue waves in boats, and played many get-to-know-you games. Activities started after lunch and rest hour, and we had almost all campers swimming in the lake for recreational swims! Horses walked and trotted around the ring up at the barn while a fleet of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, aka “Floatilla”, headed out into the cove. Our Harmonyland girls took a little hike to our Fairy Ring campsite and built fairy houses out of leaves, sticks, pine needles, and birch bark. After supper, our junior end girls enjoyed a beach night on the waterfront, and our senior end girls got to play a variety of land sports and even got in an evening swim to cool down before bed. Campers fell asleep looking forward to the first activity block starting the next morning.

The first activity block flew by with shacks going together to give each area a try, from flotilla’s on the lake, climbing in the trees and learning the art of shooting sports everyone found something they loved and an activity to work at throughout their session here. The heat meant lots of lake time and evening programs were modified to include much appreciated swims. The sounds of splashing and laughing in the cooler evening air could probably be heard by our Camp Runoia alumnae neighbors over in Echo Cove.


A bit of rain and cooler weather provided opportunity to focus on our arts skills, work on fitness and get some impressive dance routines going! Nothing stops us and we kept activities running and the fun going. The gaga pits are full at free time with some intense games going on and everyone being included. 

We are so grateful to have camp full again. To see our girls that we missed last summer, to welcome new friends into the Runoia family and to be able to spend amazing time together on Great Pond. In person, unplugged life in the woods is pretty fantastic! We have been able to watch a nest of baby barred owls learn to fly and hunt in the evenings over the kickball field. How lucky we are to live’in harmony with nature’ and get to have these experiences on our beautiful lake in Maine.

We are ready for another week of fun and frivolity, growth and learning and deepening the friendships that we have started to make.  Making life long memories and developing life long skills every minute of the day!


Message from Camp Runoia

We research. We monitor. We plan.

Wilderness camping never looked so good!
It is just a few months until camp opens and the COVID-19 virus causes many to wonder what might be different about camp this summer. For more immediate plans, families are deciding now about March and April breaks and whether they will need to reschedule a vacation or make other plans. Yesterday, many college students were asked not to return from spring break until scientists have a better understanding about containment and prevention.
We are confident we will be in a more stable situation in a couple of months. We are closely monitoring the CDC guidelines and already have new protocols for arrival.  We have systems for sanitizing, we have supplies and we are prepared for temperature checks.
Once camp gets started we are in a great position to keep everyone healthy. We have skills for practicing good hygiene and teaching life skills from hand washing to cough covering to sanitizing.  We have confidence in our systems, our partnering with parents and our remote location. We are also realistic and so we watch and learn and implement change as necessary.
To all our families and friends, we wish you the best for staying healthy and caring for your loved ones, maintaining productivity and continuing education as we stand strong and wash our hands.

Choosing Summer Camp – Guest Blog by Alicia DeHart

As a former camper and summer camp counselor I immediately knew that my children would attend summer camp.  As a director at a girls’ summer camp I thought choosing a summer camp for my daughter would be a breeze.  With more than ten years working at a Maine summer camp I had more information about summer camp options than other parents researching summer camps.  I thought this would help me filter through the options to find a final choice rather quickly.  I soon realized that choosing summer camp wasn’t any easier for me than other moms and dads searching for their child’s summer camp.

While I had more information about camps and connections with various people in the camp industry, I was just a mom trying to make the best choice for her daughter.  Choosing summer camp for my daughter was filled with many of the same considerations that families across the country are working through as well.  Our decision process was guided by my purpose of choosing summer camp.  Then the things my daughter and I valued in summer camp.  And finally, our family schedule and other family dynamics.

Why Choose Summer Camp?

As someone who has spent three-fourths of her life at summer camp attending camp is an obvious choice.  However, many of my friends didn’t grow up attending summer camp.  So, their first question was, why choose summer camp?  While I was answering their questions, I quickly realized why my daughter wouldn’t attend the girls camp where I am a director.  This decision was easy, but it didn’t make the decision-making process any easier.

To me summer camp is an opportunity for campers to gain independence and a greater sense of self.  It’s a time away from parents to learn and explore under the guidance of summer camp counselors.  Summer camp is one of the greatest opportunities we as parents can give our children.  I wanted my daughter to have the true camp experience where she could be just another camper.  I felt she deserved the opportunity to have her own adventures just like I had when I was a young camper.

The Value of Summer Camp

The value of summer camp doesn’t come in its price tag.  The value of summer camp comes in the little details found in its values and philosophy.  I knew that I wanted my daughter to experience a camp similar to the camp where I work.  A camp where simple living, independent choice, and a sense of community guides daily life at camp.  I was surprised when my daughter wanted similar things.  She felt strongly about an all-girls camp.  I am sure this was partially because it’s the primary summer camp experience she’s had.  There’s likely an equal part for her choice of a girls’ camp because it guaranteed her younger brother wouldn’t attend camp with her in the future.  She’s an independent spirit so I fully understand her choice in not wanting to share her camp experience with anyone from home.  Especially not her brother.

When discussing camp with my daughter it was very apparent that she wanted an opportunity for a “trial” experience.  She was excited about the opportunity to have “her own camp.”  But she wasn’t quite ready to fully jump in with both feet.  Runoia’s Harmony Land Camp program was the perfect fit.  This shortened summer camp experience provided her an age-appropriate residential camp experience.  It also solidified her desires for an all-girls program with a strong focus on the outdoors.  And there were enough arts options to ensure her creative spirit was never bored.  After Harmony Land she was all in.  Five summers later and she hasn’t looked back.

Choosing Summer Camp for Your Family

The variety of programs and options can make choosing summer camp a complicated process.  However, choosing summer camp for your family schedule and dynamics can make everything more complicated.  One major consideration for us was camp dates because of the school calendar in the southeast United States.  There are summers that school begins before Maine camps are finished.  Due to this a half-summer session was a must.

An unexpected aspect of being a camp mom is the level of communication and individual attention Runoia families receive. The owner/director, Pam, took the time to speak with me about the Runoia experience and answered all of my questions throughout the enrollment process.  The level of attention we’ve continued to receive as a Runoia family has been amazing.  My daughter’s face lit up when she first received a letter from her camp pen pal and welcome post card from Alex.  Now she has the opportunity to do the same for new younger campers.  And my daughter now anticipates her birthday postcard in October!  The connection to summer camp truly continues year-round.

Choosing Summer Camp as A Camp Director

Sometimes being a summer camp director gets in the way of being a camp mom.  The summer season is crazy for all camp directors- our attention is on the amazing campers who create our camp community.  Due to this I knew I had to fully trust the leadership team for my daughter’s summer camp.  As a camp director who speaks with parents on a regular basis, I think this is the most important aspect of choosing a camp for your child.  As parents we are sending our most prized possession away for an amazing experience.  We must fully trust the people who are going to be responsible for them.

Here is where I have an advantage.  I met Runoia Director and Owner Pam very early in my years as a camp director.  As a young director I admired her for her integrity and commitment to summer camp.  As a mom I knew I could trust everyone at Runoia because I knew Pam was leading them.  2020 will be my daughter’s fifth summer as a Runoia girl. Directors Pam and Alex and the rest of the Runoia team haven’t ever let me down.  And more importantly, they’ve gotten to know and supported my daughter like she’s one of their own.  They’ve given her all I could have ever asked for in a summer camp experience and so much more!


News from the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization

Get your news! Here is the latest newsletter from the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization

Mission and Beginnings

The CRAO’s mission is to raise money for “Camperships” to help girls be able to go to camp who otherwise would not have the experience. For those of us who believe of camp as a profound growth and belonging experience that lasts a lifetime, it’s amazing to share this experience with others who can’t afford the full price of camp.

The CRAO was founded in 1999 and has provided camperships for 21 summers. Approximately 300 girls have received financial aid to help them attend Runoia.

The CRAO LOG – The Newsletter Name

The newsletter gets its namesake from the logs of information at camp. From 1910 until current day the “logs” at Runoia have been written and crafted to reflect the summer events at camp. The logs live in the Lodge building at camp and many have been scanned and are available online.

In 2018, the CRAO started a new fund for Equestrian Camperships to help support girls who want to learn how to ride or continue their passion for riding at Runoia.

The board of directors meets annually at camp and continues meeting by phone and email throughout the year to raise funds, process campership applications, host regional gatherings for alumnae to connect and plan for the 115th reunion at camp in 2021.

The Value of Camp by Jen Dresdow

After nine summers as a full season camper it was an easy decision for my daughter, Natalie, to apply for the CIT program for more value at Camp Runoia. She was excited to not only spend one more summer with her friends, but also participate in a leadership program that would add value and skills to her resume. As a camper, Natalie earned the highest awards in both riding and windsurfing and she looked forward to sharing her passion with younger campers and developing her teaching skills in those areas.

The first challenge CITs face is planning and executing the 4th of July festivities at camp. Though this process Natalie learned some valuable lessons about teamwork, trial and error, and communication. After the 4th, CITs focus on either lifeguard training (LGT) or Junior Maine Guide(JMG). Natalie choose to work towards her lifeguard certification as she hoped to work as a windsurfing counselor in the future. Natalie found the lifeguard training challenging, but with the support of Ally, the head of swimming, she was able to meet all the goals.

During the second part of the summer, the CITs honed their teaching skills. All of the CITs worked with Eliza to complete their level 1 Archery Instructor certification. Natalie spent the majority of her teaching time at the waterfront or at the barn. She further supported the riding program by traveling to shows with the girls and helping them prepare to go in the ring. Additionally, the CITs participated in various community service events.

Like many sixteen year olds, Natalie wanted to get a job to earn money of her own. Before she got home from camp, she was offered a job on Monday evenings at the barn she rides at here in Kansas. Her official title is “gopher”, which entails helping young riders get prepared for their lesson, teaching them to groom and tack, and doing evening chores such as watering and turning out horses. Through this job Natalie is able to continue to gain experience working with children and share her love of horses.

Natalie also applied for a lifeguard position at Jewish Community Center here in Overland Park. She was hired on the spot for the job and works twice a week after school. Lifeguarding is a great job for high school as the shifts are short due to the attention demands and the pay is above average for most jobs available to sixteen year olds. Natalie not only uses her lifeguarding skills at this job, but also sharpens her customer service skills and leadership skills as she navigates the demands of pool goers both young and old.

This fall, Natalie applied and interviewed for a Junior Counselor position at Camp Runoia. She is excited to return for her eleventh summer at camp and work in both the windsurfing and

riding programs. Through these camp experiences, she’s been able to successfully navigate application and interview processes, gain leadership skills, live in a community, and develop her talents. All things that will certainly benefit her as she begins the college application process next fall. Camp has been an integral part of Natalie formative years and invaluable in helping her prepare for college and beyond.

Crisp Fall Reflections of Summer

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Looking at the calendar, it’s hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of September, and that our summer at Runoia ended more than seven weeks ago. The last few, scattered warm days here in the Northeast are trying to hold on, but the changing leaves and the smell of the air do not lie- Fall is here. Reflections abound.

Fall brings its share of Fine Maine Days along with it- red and copper colored trees that rustle in the crisp wind, the satisfying crunching noise that our boots make when we walk on fallen leaves, not to mention that perfect “Jeans and Sweater Weather”.

As the trees and weather are changing, the beginning of Fall is also a great time for all of us to think about this


summer and how it may have changed us. Maybe you feel more brave after coming to camp for the first time. Maybe you have more confidence to try new things now, or maybe you’re a better friend, or more conscious of the environment since leaving Runoia this summer.

During this season of embracing change, while the loons are headed for warmer coasts and the rest of us are settling back into school and work, it’s only natural to long for the days of summer that felt like they were going to last forever. But just as summer changed you, the rest of the year will change you too. You will come back to us at Runoia next summer with new stories, experiences, and exciting updates about your life that we can’t wait to hear about and celebrate with you.

So go forward, Runoia Girl, embrace change. Be your best self in everything you do— and we’ll see you back out on the blue waves before you know it.

by Nina Budeiri

Now is the Time

Thank a mentor before it is too late. The other day I was thinking about my 5th grade teacher and how, through his teaching, I was inspired to delve into creative writing, love math and grow curious about science. I think about him frequently. I searched for him online and found out I was too late; he had passed away in 2016.

Like school and other child development experiences, the camp experience transforms lives by increasing self-esteem, connecting face to face with people, building skills in activities and generating meaningful friendships with peers and adults. If you are lucky, you come across someone who influenced you in a way that has lasted throughout your life.

I have a camp counselor like this in my life. Although we aren’t in touch often, the learning experience from the summers of 1974-1975 lives with me in my daily life. That summer I started training for Junior Maine Guide and
she was my counselor: coach, guide and teacher. In the 15th summer of life, I was saved from my own insolent teenage personality. I was physically and mentally challenged. I thrived on the JMG program (solo canoeing, axe work, fire building, cooking, and shelter building) and had to stay focused to learn those skills. I lived in the present. Our JMG group canoed for five days on the St. Croix river – we read rapids and then “shot” the rapids – mostly successfully excepting a flipped canoe that wrapped around a rock. We went to testing camp and had to exhibit our skills through written and physical tests. We lived on our own without adults checking to see we were doing things right. What a learning experience. It was exhilarating and a great diversion from my self-proclaimed boring life.

Little did I know how much those two summers at Camp Runoia and the enduring patience and guidance of a camp counselor would stay with me. Those summers helped shaped who I am today.  I owe this to a person who believed in me through thick and thin and even in my less gracious moments. This week we had lunch together and I had the chance to thank her for who she was for me 44 years ago. Although it wasn’t for my benefit, it felt good.

Who influenced you in your life? Now is the time to reflect on who meant something to you through camp or school and reach out to your mentor to thank her or him.

Post Camp at Runoia is Bittersweet

How and why is post camp bittersweet? It’s too quiet around here. I miss the giggles at night time, the splashes in the water, the sound of doors slamming and the laughter rippling or roaring out of a shack. Yet, there’s something about completing a camp season that feeds the soul. There are memories tucked away. There is the growth in campers you can measure, see and experience. There are the notes and emails and excitement about next year.

So, we get busy. We plan and strategize and take feedback from campers, families, staff and administrators and we make things happen. This fall, we are building an addition on our health cabin. This will expand the h

ousing we have for nurses and create two more beds and a new storage and organizing room for nurses.

Additionally, shacks 1- 7 are getting a face lift – well, a floor lift, really.  All the buildings will be raised and new posts and pads will be replacing the old and, wait for it… the floors will be sanded and finished. Say goodbye to splinters!

This is the mundane stuff we camp people get excited about. Yeah, sure, we are planning program and continual improvement, staff training and connecting with staff about re-hiring, we are interviewing excited but nervous new families and still running fall tours as we visit people in their homes. That’s super exciting, too.

But creating spaces and places in camp is the kind of warm and fuzzy we often feel in the fall when we dream about next summer.

Just next week, we’ll be meeting with 150 other Maine camp directors for the Maine Summer Camp Directors’ fall gathering. A time where we share and confer, brainstorm and collaborate to make Maine camps the best camps in the world. So, there’s lots going on for us as you focus on back to school but the bottom line is we can’t wait till next summer already. For now, we’ll take it a week at a time!

Until next week,



Why the Camp Time Warp is Akin to Dog Years

Like dog years, some say camp days are  mysteriously measured. So much happens in one day it feels like a week. What occurs in a week equals a month.

After breakfast as I walk through camp to bring in the ski boats for the morning activities, I hear the sound of sweeping brooms on porches, see campers emptying their trash cans and sorting out the laundry on the lines. Cabin cleanup has taken place for 113thsummers at Runoia. The scurry and excitement to prepare for first period after Assembly hangs in the air as I walk back to the Lodge. Runoia gals are busy building lifelong skills every day. Here’s a glimpse of the many things we’ve been up to:

In time warp Runoia fashion, this week in trip news, we accomplished a lot: Junior trips hiked to Fairy Ring and canoed to Oak Island on Great Pond for overnight camping trips. Sixty five campers voyaged to the Maine coast for a day trip to Pemaquid State Park

With just over a week left of our 113thseason our Ocho campers fit in their time window a three day stay in Baxter State Park and summited Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine

Meanwhile, Fifth Shack made their way to Mt. Blue State Park and climbed Tumbledown Mountain – complete with a glacial lake on top. A group of dedicated climbers competed at Camp Caribou (in their 97thseason of camp!) and felt pride in the time they spent on the climbing tower.

With soaring temperatures, time allowed for many dips in the lake, lots of waterfront activities and, drum roll, please, Sunday Fun Day RODEO! With lots of action of teams competing in silly events and country fair treats including cotton candy and ice pops.
The afternoon was filled with arcade games, batting cage and bouncy house fun. Even a goat walking experienced happened for a few lucky campers.

Evening programs including our very capable group of campers performing acts for the annual camp Talent Show, a crazy camp counselor dress up competition, a Cowgirl Campfire, a scavenger hunt with an all camp swim included, and Log Skits of 9 decades of Camp Runoia lore.

Time has flown this week and our Harmony Land Camp, a 12 day “rookie” program for 7 & 8 year olds (and two 6 year olds), came to a close. Our hearts sank to say goodbye to them but we are already counting the days till next summer when they return.

Did we mention Team Captains were voted in this week? Yes, they were! Nominees gave their speeches in the Lodge to their teams and the captains were announced the next day before people left for the week. The Blue v. White tradition has been part of Runoia since 1923!

One of the unusual things about a camp summer is the way time moves. At first so slowly and then it seems impossible that we have arrived at the final week. Like a flash in the sky it will be over… until next summer!