Gratitude for Camp

The holiday season always has us reflecting on the previous summer, looking forward to the next, and pausing to feel gratitude for camp and our community – the campers, staff, families, and alumni that make each summer so magical.

You’ve heard and seen us mention ‘the gift of camp’ time and time again – not just this season, but for years now! That’s because we truly view the camp experience as a gift – when our alumni reflect on their own camp experience, it’s common to hear shares of gratitude for whoever made camp a possibility for them. When we make the camp experience possible for a child, as the CRAO does for so many campers through our campership program, we’re gifting more than just 3 weeks of fun and sunshine. We’re gifting life-long friends, an opportunity for growth, hidden passions discovered, confidence, resilience, and so much more. 

But hey – you don’t have to take our word for it! We took to Instagram to ask: “What is something Camp Runoia has given you that you’re grateful for?”

So many members of our community – current campers, staff, alumni, and families alike openly shared their best take-aways from camp.

There was no shortage of incredible answers – we’d love to share just a few of our favorites with you.

Camp gave me…

“Beautiful memories!”

“Confidence to be my own person”


“My friends that I now consider family and all the amazing memories – I’m so thankful”

“My best friend! And opportunities to try things I never imagined I would.”

“Friends who I maybe never see, but that I have for a lifetime”

“A child who is secure to be away from home.”


“New experiences with new friends!”


“I mended with my twin at camp – we’re besties now and talk regularly!”

“My best friends in the whole world!”

“Horseback riding <3”


“Amazing memories”

“The experiences of a lifetime and some of the best friends!”

“My oldest and most lasting friends.”

… just to name a few. Thank you to our community members who shared their own gratitude for camp – we certainly see a theme, there – friendship!



Finding Perfection

The Perfect Tree – Finding Perfection

There is a lot of anticipation in our house this week.  The upcoming weekend is our annual sortie into the woods to find the perfect tree to decorate for the Holidays.  We don’t have a particular place or tradition for getting the tree sometimes we swing by one of the local Maine tree farms close to our house but we have also been known to go out in the back acreage and find a wild tree.  Once we have decided if we will go and cut one or grab one at the market stand the hunt is on.

balsam8The challenge is always how do we find the ‘perfect’ tree? How big should it be? Round and full? or a little thinner so the ornaments hang down? At the farm there are even choices of what variety of spruce to bring home!  It is hard for it not to become overwhelming especially when everyone has a different opinion about just what constitutes ‘perfect.’

balsam7Depending on how cold it is the search may be long or due to frozen fingers and toes it may be a short trek to the nearest good looking spot.  ‘Perfect’ becomes relative when the promise of hot chocolate is involved.

The funny thing is that no matter which tree we end up getting everyone always declares it ‘perfect’ even when it requires a 6” decapitation to fit in the house or takes up half the room.  It is the time with family and the tradition of actually doing this together every year that truly makes it ‘perfect.’

tree1However you celebrate the Holidays I hope that it will be your own version of perfect.

Happy what?

Merry Birthday

Kids Birthdays and the Holidays are a challenge for any parent.  Believe me not only have I lived through my own childhood experience of always having an Easter Birthday (which for the record is a 2 week school break in the UK!)  I now have to navigate my sons New Year’s Day Birthday celebrations.

Things that stink:

There is no mail!! How can you get a pile of cards or parcels when the mail isn’t delivered?

There is some kind of party other than yours going on that everyone gets to go to.

People forget as they are so busy with the Holidays.

People are away on vacation therefore you are challenged to get party attendees – “oh we can come if we are not at the mountain”!

You get doubled up gifts ‘this is for Christmas and your Birthday.’

With a Birthday near Christmas the house is already saturated with new stuff so getting more a week later lacks the magic it would do on some random date in June.

100_0442As I parent I try to make it as special as possible, I make sure all of the Christmas decorations are down and we make an effort to do Birthday decorations and balloons.  We get a different surprise not just a leftover off the Santa list gift.  There is a party of some kind with whoever can make it and we really try to make it a special day.

Camp birthday’s fall into the not quite your average Birthday celebration category.

birthday fairiesAwesome things that happen on camp Birthdays:

170+ people sing to you!

People take time to make you stuff like cards and friendship bracelets.

Everyone has to come to the party and dress up in crazy costumes.

There is a Birthday song known only to Runoia people.

You get to parade around an entire dining hall showing off your cake

You likely get to celebrate again when you get home.

vivaHowever you celebrate your Birthday we hope it’s always got ‘cake with candles on top’ I dare someone to try putting them on the bottom!