We Rejoice in Phase Two!

In the midst of a global pandemic, our responsibility to the health of our campers and staff, the greater Belgrade Lakes community and campers and staff families, home towns and cities is paramount.

With the results of negative testing at camp, we have rolled out phase !! of our summer. Campers’ household groups expand to at least twice the size, more time is spent with more people without face coverings, and camp is rolling along with activities, surprises memorable moments, face to face connections problem solving, beautiful sunsets and fun. Our careful plan to methodically increase concentric circles for contact tracing is in play.

Due to our cautious roll out of phases, we feel confident by next week we will be able to move into phase III for our final week of camp. Campers’ households will expand to include entire neighborhoods and as in Runoia culture, girls of different ages will be interacting and playing together. Campers will be able to “tag up” for activities and daily camp life will be much more like normal.

We will consider CRH a success when every camper and every staff member returns home safely with memories of playing tennis, swimming in Great Pond, water skiing, horseback riding, connecting with new friends and meeting up with old camp pals become subjects of school essays and college applications.

Meanwhile, our gratitude to the families who believed in us and the hard work of staff at Runoia who are making this possible is enormous. In the camp time warp, every day feels like a week and every week a month. hundreds of things happen in one day and life feels full. We linger on the moments created and take stock in the memories to hold.

Sincerely, Aionur


The Art of the Handwritten Camp Note

The camp experience at Runoia is profound in many ways – spawning independence, building self-esteem, learning new activities, developing skills in sports and so on. One of the rarely touted benefits of sleepaway camp is practicing and enjoying handwritten notes.

I grew up in the 1960s and the thank you note was a required skill. One year on my birthday my grandmother sent me a paper back about Helen Keller and an unsigned check for $5. To deposit the check in my savings account, I had to write her a thank you letter for the book and the check and enclose the check so she would sign it and return it. This all happened at the speed of molasses in January, but, eventually it happened. Thank-you letters were a must in my family. The skill has been passed onto my daughter and she expects her three girls to write thank you notes. I’m always amazed at the care and thought they put into those notes.

Back in the day at camp, campers were required to write on the back of a paper newsletter every week. Counselors made sure those newsletters were written, put in a “SASE” (self-addressed stamped envelope) and sent home. We were pretty sure this happened at the speed of the Pony Express because it was at least 5-6 days before parents received those newsletters in their mail box.

Still, to this day, letters received and sent at camp are a joy. Campers pin their notes from their family and friends on their bedroom wall and parents save many notes, especially the ones with the circled tear “this is my tear as I miss you so much”. And the letter would go on to talk about different scenarios around camp, what she accomplished, personalities of friends, something funny or gross (most likely a clogged toilet that overflowed) that happened at camp.

Unplugging and face to face contact is only part of the side-benefit to camp. Campers soon realize you have to write letters to get letters. We encourage parents to send a note to their daughter before camp even starts so she has mail on her first day at camp. Campers immediately write home. Campers send a flurry of letters to their friends at camp and at home and wait in anticipation for a letter like a slow-motion volley in tennis. Although penmanship doesn’t matter, campers are practicing writing through camp letters. A bonus is the hand drawn sketch of roommates, the camp dogs, a horse or sailboat. Camp seeps into the letters and tells its own story.

The art of letter writing lives on through camp. Be on the lookout for a hand written thank you note and a bevy of camp letters in your MAIL box this summer.


The Spirit of Giving

Runoia’s continued partnership with World of Change deepens the spirit of giving. We feel honored to donate to WOC on behalf of our campers and staff.

Last summer we encouraged families to bring their loose change to camp. In the US over $10 million in loose change exists today. That’s about $90 per household.  Founder and executive of WOC, Matt Hoidal, came to camp to share about the organization with our campers. Amidst cheers and clapping, holding up two large jars of change, Matt exclaimed, you are giving over $200! Matt explained how ALL the money raised goes directly to recipients. His salary is paid by a donor so that none of the overhead in running the organization is paid through donations. What a great model!

Matt then surprised us by sharing that all the money will go to specific needs and, wait for it, we can choose! The campers decided to buy a bed for a child who was sleeping on the floor, backpacks for back to school students and hot meals for people who needed food. We all got a warm feeling from the experience.

This summer we hope to double our change fundraiser. At the beginning and end of each session, change jars will be available. Collect change at home or find some in your car on opening or closing day. You’ll get a great feeling from being part of the movement!

And, if you’re reading this and want to do a mitzvah, you can raise money at your school or community for World of Change. Find out more about inspiring others here.

We are thrilled to make the connection this holiday season and donate to WOC from all of us at Runoia.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Aionur

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.

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,



The Log Dedication to Our Planet by Grace Pratt

Log Dedication 2019

When I was asked to write this dedication, I wasn’t sure where to start.  What could I possibly relate to every Runoia girls’ 2019 summer?  I thought for a long time about what makes camp such a special place.  After nine summers at Runoia, I still find it impossible to explain the magic of camp to the outsiders.  How can this place bring so many wonderful people together and create such long-lasting friendships and memories?Maine Coast Trip

Loon on Great PondWhile contemplating this question, I landed upon the phrase we start every day at camp with. “Grant that we have safe and fun days and that we respect each other, ourselves and our planet.”  This pledge reflects Runoia’s core values: the importance of caring for the things and people around us.  We as a community demonstrate these values in a number of ways, ranging from picking up a forgotten plate on the kickball field to comforting a homesick friend.

Tonight, I would like to focus on the last word of that pledge.  Our planet has changed disproportionally over the last century.  While environmental issues such as climate change threaten Earth’s natural places, I’m happy to see campers, directors, and counselors alike taking advantage of every “fine Maine day” offered to them, whether that be through enjoying activities, participating in trips, or simply relaxing in the outdoors. Runoia is a magical place, but that magic wouldn’t be possible without the planet we live on.  Earth is our common ground, the reason we get to explore, grow, and connect.  Therefore, I would like to dedicate the 2019 log to our planet, and those who live in harmony with it.





Second Session Smiles

Hello from another Fine Maine Day at Camp Runoia! The sun is shining, the boats are out on the blue waves, and the boisterous energy of our Second Session campers and their smiles is radiating throughout all of camp. 

We welcomed our Second Session Runoia Gals last Thursday, and hit they ground running with orientation and programming. Everyone has gotten into the groove of their block schedules, and echoes of “Hey! Are you going to Rec Swim?” can be heard everywhere. 

5th Shack Bringing The Inner Sunshine At Assembly

As we are almost an entire week into Second Session, the campers already gotten to tag up for two blocks of daily program activities. Our counselors have been working tremendously hard to make these programs magical, and all of the camper smiles and laughs tell us that it’s working. Even though yesterday was a rainy Maine day, our staff and campers rallied together in bright outfits and big smiles to bring out everyone’s inner sunshine. There was even a contest at Assembly for the shack with the brightest outfits, and people were in it to WIN it. Congrats to 5th shack who won the contest!

Runoia Gals At The Summit Of Katahdin

Today we are welcoming back our campers that went on trips this week. One group headed off to summit Katahdin, while another group went to hiking on Bigelow Mt. and canoeing on Flagstaff Lake. We’re so excited to welcome them back and hear everyone’s trip stories! Also today, several girls went to compete in a horse show at Camp Mataponi and represented Runoia fantastically winning show champions!

There is a feeling around Runoia right now that can only be described as “electric”— everyone zooming around to their activities, coming and going on trips and adventures, and making memories with new and old friends. Our hope is that while our campers enjoy the excitement of these fleeting days, that the memories made here will stay warm in their hearts long after summer leaves us. 

Until next week,


First Days at Camp Runoia

Every staff member here at Camp Runoia woke up buzzing with excitement for opening day. After finishing touches were put on cabins and everyone changed into their uniforms, you could feel the magic in the air as the first campers filtered down into their cabins. The little bit of rain we had in no way put a damper on the exhilaration of arriving at camp. 

After some time getting to know their cabin-mates and counselors, everyone gathered into the Dining Hall for our first meal of our 113th summer (spaghetti, of course). After everyone was nice and full, junior and senior ends split up for evening program, and let me tell you, the cheering and roaring laughter coming from the Lodge and the Den carried throughout all of camp. Then, after some bedtime milk and crackers, everyone got cozy in their cabins and rested up for the big day we all have ahead of us. 

Today  will be our orientation so that our new campers can get to know everything available to them at Camp Runoia, and returners can have a refresher about procedures and schedules. 

It is a Fine Maine Day, and everyone is ready to start getting into a routine. 

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of our first block of programming, where campers will have a schedule of their activities and get to go about their day participating in programs that they get to choose themselves. From waterskiing to basketweaving to swimming lessons, every last kiddo will fall into a groove and camp will begin to feel like their second home. 


We are so pleased and ecstatic to have full shacks again, and thankful that girls love coming back to Runoia summer after summer. Here’s to making this the best one yet! 



By Nina Budeiri



Finding the right camp

As we rapidly roll towards the summer season, this time of year is typically the busiest for new camper enrollment.  As families begin their search in earnest for the perfect camp for their child we thought that some tips and helpful questions may be of use.  There are such a wide variety of program options and so many great choices it can certainly be overwhelming to even get started.  So how on earth do you find the right camp?

A general internet search for summer camps turns up what seems like a million options for summer programs  and even when focusing on resources that are specific to camp selection the choices can be extensive. The American Camp Association website is filled with over 3000 accredited camps and summer programs and can be a great place to start. If you are already sure that Maine is the place that you want your child to be Maine Summer Camps also has a ‘find a camp’ tool which is also very helpful.

So how do you get started?

Set some parameters before you go near your computer and maybe even before you get the kids involved –  you don’t want them picking space camp on the moon when you were thinking arts camp in the woods!

Here are some potential questions to think through.

  • What genre of camp are you looking for?
  • Do you have family traditions with a particular program or location?
  • Are you restricted to specific dates or have a set session length in mind?
  • Is your child ready for an overnight experience or are you looking for a more local day camp?
  • What is your budget?
  • How far from home are you willing to travel?
  • Are you looking for specific program content or a more general program?
  • Do you want to do your own research or get help form a professional camp referral agency?
  • What are your child ‘s thoughts  about camp?

Once you’ve got a basic outline for your needs and wants you can dig in. Camp websites are typically filled with all of the initial information that you may need and directors are waiting for your calls to expand on what makes their camp unique.  Expect good customer service and attentive sales pitches, camps should want to find out about your child to see if it is a good fit for everyone not just push their program.  A great director will be able to head you in a different direction if their camp doesn’t meet your needs.  You should also expect to get referrals to other families and ideally a camp tour or home visit depending on the season.

Finding the right camp should be fun not stressful, give us a call if you need help 207 495 2228 there is a perfect fit for every child out there.  Want to learn more about Camp Runoia our website is a great place to start.

‘Once you pass the Runoia gate you’ve made a little date with fate..”