The Camp Decision – Is it Time? And Which Camp?!

After a lot of thought… discussions… reading every parent blog online … multiple calls to friends who had gone away to sleep-away camp, we finally decided to send Mati to camp.   She had never slept away from home at anyone’s house, so it was quite a decision-making process.

Researching and Deciding Was Intense!

Once we made up our mind, all the fun began.  Matilde was turning 9 and was leaving for three weeks to Maine.   She was so excited!   Not once during her 3-week stay, nor any time before, did she ever feel sad.  Quite the opposite!  Matilde absolutely loved her camp experience and hasn’t stopped talking about it since!  She discovered the carefree joy of friendship, crafts, sports, playing, singing, all within the most beautiful setting possible. She also learned responsibility with her daily chores and appreciated the comforts of home (air conditioning).

By far a great gift for any girl :).  So much was new; so much was fun!

Today we are happy to be able to send our youngest daughter along this summer as well.

Julián & Andrea Gómez

Runoia Suffragettes

Whether it’s the fact that it is Halloween, or the fact that the midterms loom before us (fraught with fear and with some, determination and stamina), it seems appropriate to talk about voting and scary times in our nation’s history, including women suffragettes and their organization and strong voices that changed the US constitution and gave women the right to vote in the United States.

US citizens, who were men, regardless of their race, were allowed to vote in 1870 after the 15thamendment to the US constitution. We are thankful for the people who helped make that happen nearly 150 years ago.

Women’s suffrage in the United States came about through a lot of effort of a lot of people with women leading the charge for their right to vote. The 19thamendment to the US constitution was passed by Congress in 1920 and women were finally able to vote. That’s less than 100 years ago in our history. (So, wow!)

What is unbelievable to me is that the two women who founded Camp Runoia in 1907 did not have the right to vote. And that for the first 13 years of summer camp at Runoia on Great Pond, the directors and counselors at camp, who were of voting age, were not able to have a voice in who represented them… and yet they charged on.

They built a camp, they moved a camp (from Loon Cove to our present location in 1914), they designed and built buildings, marketed the experience, rode horses the 12 miles to Augusta to get supplies, hired local drivers and builders, grew food in gardens, built wells and pumped water, took campers on trips around the state from the rock bound coast to the lakes and mountains, ran drill teams, read the classics, wrote and sang songs, ran track and played basketball and canoed all over the state of Maine. They swam in the lake in long wool bathing suits and slept under canoes on wool blankets when on trips. They bought a car and made a summer camp bringing girls from all over the Northeast to live with other girls and women at a camp on a lake in Maine to have a profound outdoor camp experience. How daring!

To their credit, they built a camp before they could even vote to influence the laws that ruled them while they were building a camp. If I were to dress up this Halloween, I would dress as a Runoia Suffragette.

This picture is from the 1920 and Constance Dowd (the very first camper enrolled at Runoia) blowing the bugle outside the Dining Hall. Radical! Thanks to Matti Bradley who contributed the photo from her mother (Joan “Baynie” Williams)  camp memorabilia.

First Camper, Constance Dowd, as a Counselor


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 !!


New year new challenges

You can teach an old dog new tricks

I have been singing in various women’s choirs since I was seven years old and have had the pleasure of working alongside some amazing conductors and competing in international choral competitions to great success.  As a member of a choir it is a comfortable easy place for me to be.  You literally can lean on those around you to help carry the tune or maintain the sound.  I have sung with my current chorus for the past 12 years and it is safely within all aspects of my comfort zone.  There is a sense of community and support among the eclectic group of women not unlike that which we have at Camp Runoia.

With my Women In Harmony singing friends.

This fall stepping completely out of my comfort zone and with a little trepidation and a good amount of anxiety I decided to challenge myself and started taking private voice lessons.  In most aspects of my life I am generally a very confident person but when it comes to singing alone I often clam up and feel very uncomfortable.  Leading camp songs isn’t too much of a problem but more formal performance in front of an unknown audience terrifies me.

I wanted to develop my vocal technique, understand my somewhat irrational fear and be able to overcome some of my lack of confidence in solo singing.  Our chorus pianist is one of the most brilliant musicians I have met and is very non-threatening so was a great choice for taking this leap of faith with.  She doesn’t even require a financial commitment so I couldn’t even use the ‘you’ve paid for it so you have to go’ as an incentive for showing up.  It is interesting as an adult to push outside of your comfort zone by choice and then to stick with is even when it is fairly painful.  Not knowing really what to expect I convinced myself that I could at least make it through the first class.  I did! and now look forward to those 45 minutes a week when I focus on my own skill development.  I don’t think my technique has improved all that much yet but I feel more confident walking in and know that I can do things that I find challenging even if I have to give myself a little mental push.

As you welcome in the New Year and perhaps make resolutions to change or start something new, I hope that you will be confident and courageous, try something unexpected and go outside of your comfort zone.  As we often tell our campers ‘it isn’t always easy to try something new.’ It is great for kids to see adults not always be good at something and have to work to get better or to overcome a challenge.  Share your journey with those around you and embrace and enjoy the process.

Bring on 2018!

Helping Others Help Themselves

You inspire us at Camp Runoia to be the best we can be by helping others, and sharing our passion for the camp experience with children and adults.

In honor of all the campers and counselors of Camp Runoia, we are making a donation to two camps in the Sonoma area of California that suffered devastating destruction from wildfires this fall. Both camps are committed to rebuild, re-open and create a magical summer for campers in 2018.

In this spirit, we hope you spread your own Runoia generosity and cheer and help others during this holiday season.

May peace be with you as you celebrate the holidays and the start of the new year with your family and friends!

For information on the camps damaged by the California wildfires that we are donating to this holiday season:

Cloverleaf Ranch

Camp Newman

Jen’s Update on the Runoia Horses

The Runoia horses heard that the chickens and guinea pigs were featured on the blog, and of course, they insisted on being highlighted as well. While most camps rent a herd of unknown horses each summer, at Runoia we own many of our horses, supplemented by a few leases from Dream Acres Equestrian Center, who return year after year.

After camp, most of our horses head back to college! Coco, who celebrated his 10th summer at camp last year, and Verano, who earned his 5 year blanket last summer, were at the University of New Hampshire this winter. Did you know you can take riding as a PE class in college? Coco & Verano, not only work in PE classes, but also show in Intercollegiate (IHSA) competitions with the UNH equestrian team. Additionally, UNH runs a therapeutic riding program for the community and both Coco & Verano are valued assets in that program. They will both participate in the New Hampshire special olympics on June 2nd before they head back to camp. We are proud to have such calm and safe horses in our program and to be able to share them with the kids in the special olympics program.

Johnson & Wales University Equine Center in Rehoboth, MA is the winter home to four of our Runoia horses. At JWU, our horses work in both hunter/jumper lessons with the IHSA team as well as dressage (IDA). Pablo will be back for his 5th summer in 2017. Avatar & Coastal, who were new to Runoia in 2016, will return as well this summer. We are also welcoming a new horse from JWU/Dream Acres, Vale, this summer. Vale is replacing Toby, who is taking it easy this summer. We hear great things about Vale and we are excited to welcome him to our herd.

Ditto and Rory got a reprieve from the New England snow and got to spend their winter in Virginia at the Liberty University Equestrian Center working in the IHSA lesson program. Ditto, back for his 4th summer, and Rory, on summer three, are both gentle giants who take great care with even the tiniest of riders. Dulce, who stables at the Runoia summer barn, has spent the winter in Florida at Fox Lea Farm and won Circuit Champion in the .75 meter Jumpers at the Venice Equestrian Tour.

Prince, who also returns for his 4th summer at Runoia, spent the fall with Jen in Indiana working in a lesson program. He is a favorite in the Interscholastic Equestrian (IEA) circuit known for his great manners and easy going nature. Joining the royal Runoia family is Duke. Natalie (Jen’s daughter) has been busy getting to know her new horse and he will join Jen and Natalie at Runoia this summer.

Flower, who was a wonderful pony in our program last summer, is retiring this spring. But don’t worry, we are leasing two new wonderful ponies, named Cricket & Dazzle. Both of these ponies come to us from Dream Acres and have been in lesson and show programs for years, so we know they will be wonderful ponies.

We hope our returning campers look forward to seeing their favorite horse back at Camp Runoia and we can’t wait to introduce our new campers to our wonderful horses and ponies. Just like you, our horses have been in school all winter long and they are excited for summer. They are well trained, safe, and ready to make 2017 the best summer ever!

Coco, Verano, Pablo, Avatar, Coastal, Vale, Ditto, Rory, Prince, Cricket, Dazzle, Duke and Dulce look forward to seeing you soon!

Perseverance Builds Lifeskills at Camp Runoia

After watching the final round of the PGA Masters tournament, all I could think of was “that’s serious perseverance”. Sergio Garcia had played in over 70 Major PGA events and finally won his first Major on April 9. He was graced with the iconic green jacket and history was in the books.

You can probably see where I’m going with this but one thing you do not know about me as the owner and director of Camp Runoia… I’m married to a sports fanatic. He put the “fan” in fanatic. That means a lot of conversation comes up about all major sports events daily. There is always a sport in season. And although we don’t watch much TV, you can guarantee there is a sports game on any night you want to watch. Spring is an exciting season in the pro world because as baseball starts, NHL hockey is in the final games and NBA is in the semi finals. #nonstopsports We actually met each other over pro sports so I’m pretty enthusiastic about sports, too. (add horse events and all women’s pro teams!).

But back to Senor Garcia. Ah-maze-ing. Tied at the end of four days of battling for the win, led to a “playoff” at the Masters. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, best friends after playing over 20 years together, they tied to finish. The whole story is akin to mythology. Anyway, in the end Sergio persevered. That’s the real story. Seventy three tries at winning a major tournament in the PGA and he finally won one. One. One big one. I can feel the emotion all over again and I can only imagine how he felt.

So, the takeaway is pretty clear. Even when we are pretty good, we are not always the best at something… yet: When we try things, we need to practice and have patience in our own work and play. Whether it is getting more refined in a sport, improving reading comprehension, making meaningful connections with others, learning how to reduce impetuous behavior, developing a friendship, or understanding how the wind affects the sail power of a boat. Let me say it again: we need to practice, have patience, learn from our mistakes and try again. This is what makes pros win major tournaments and this is what makes Runoia campers grow up to be strong women. Perseverance.

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



Life Long Skills – Winners and Losers Learn to Work Together at Camp Runoia

dsc_0812Camp Runoia has a tradition of the losing team cheering the team who wins. It’s almost a game to see who can cheer first. Who thinks of others before themselves? Who praises a job well done? And who accepts defeat with humble gratitude to all the players who helped the team get as far as they could? The value of children learning how to lose graciously or win with good sportsmanship builds life long skills.

Accepting the outcome of a swim race, an official’s call on the softball field or the fact that the wind wasn’t blowing enough to have a sailing race at all, is part of managing disappointment.  Celebrating victory and a job well done is also part of daily life at camp. Placing in a horse show or not placing in the top six spots and learning how to ask your friend who is staring down defeat, “how did you ride today? Were you happy with your ride” rather than focus on “did you get a blue ribbon”. The examples go on and on… Cheering on someone else’s success for getting up on water skis when you are still struggling. Learning how to frame a win or a loss or a success or defeat is practiced at camp every day.

The ultimate learning experience may be admitting when the Gaga ball hits your foot and you’re out but no one saw it. Ethics is doing the right thing even when no one else is looking. Camp teaches this kind of self-governed morality.  Without a doubt, the culture of camp affects who we become in so many ways.

At Runoia, this “win-win, you tried your best, go back out and try again” culture is pervasive beyond field sports. You learn how to humbly congratulate the actor for getting the lead role when you didn’t. You smile and congratulate the artist who gets tops votes for their art piece when yours didn’t get many at all. Perhaps you even study what they did and learn from their success. Your cabin group works together to get the best score in cabin clean up. If someone is not as good as sweeping as you, you help them out, teach them how to do a better job. Better for all.

Making do with what your have or changing and trying harder and doing better the next time is all part of camp outcomes. How fortunate are we to be in a position where this happens day after day for a session or a season and hopefully year after year? Very.

The way Runoia gals cheer the winning team with a “Bobo” or “Kemo” is tradition. We cherish the way Blues and Whites hug each other on our final Cotillion night when the summer scores are revealed and campers find out who won the competition. Again, tradition.

We could all learn a thing or two from the campers and staff who play together well. Building life long skills through the camp experience is more than just fun and games on a lake in Maine._dsc3192

News from Runoia July 31

Ms Tacky Runoia Judges
Ms Tacky Runoia Judges

The weeks have flown by this summer. It’s impossible to believe two weeks of our final session have ended today. The good news? Tomorrow is another full week of camp! That means another week of majors, another week of trips in the beautiful state of Maine, more Blue White competition and team captain elections. More fun evening programs, skill building, poignant moments, beautiful sunsets, friendships strengthened, life long skills and memories created and let’s face it, more amazing desserts! Today when almost all of us were in camp, we took our “formal” photos for the Log and in fact, Jeanne’s word of the day today was the word formal! She’s so clever.

This past week we have had a counselor hunt, a beach party and  Ms. Tacky Runoia with Tori and Charlotte taking the Jr. and Sr. crowns.

Harmony Land Camp, our new camp for 7 & 8 year olds ended this week and our 5 little friends departed – we can’t wait to see them next summer again!

Yesterday we had 25 campers plus wonderful and helpful counselors run a 5K to support our local library. Yay Runoia runners!

Runoia Runners at the Belgrade Library 5 K
Runoia Runners at the Belgrade Library 5 K

Some of our full season campers attended the Lupine Farm horse show in Vassalboro, Maine. Congrats to all who attended and participated. Here’s a snapshot of some of those who were there! Go Runoia Riders!

Full season horse show
A few brave Runoia girls who have been training and working all summer attended Junior Maine Guide Test Camp this week; a five day encampment where our campers camp together, cook meals together and are tested on skills ranging from their encampment and food to

JMG Candidates at Testing Camp
JMG Candidates at Testing Camp

map and compass, solo canoe, fire building, ax work, environmental essay, tree identification, first aid and more. It’s a grueling and wonderful week. This week 69 campers and CITs from over 8 Maine camps participated and tested their knowledge and skills. More information on the JMG program is available here

More trips including 6th and 7th shacks and 3rd and 4th shacks went out and returned to Bigelow (backpacking on the famous Appalachian Trail), Flagstaff Lake, Oak Island trip on Great Pond and a Camden Hills trip to the beautiful coast of Maine. Day trips included Senior Village and Ocho to Popham Beach and 4th shack to Morse Mt. hike through the salt marshes to the beach at the Morse Mt. Bates College conservation area.

Today we’ve played a lot of sports and enjoyed the lake as well including a special event of Blue White Archery Tournament to end the week and begin another! Shoot well Runoia Archers!