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



And When You Get Back Home Again…

“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss they people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again”-Azar Nafasi

Three weeks have come and gone, since we bid farewell to each other and our place.  Our place is Camp Runoia.  At camp we are the best possible “us” that we can be.  We are safe, we are encouraged and we are organically just ourselves.  The friendships we formed at camp are unique.  They are extraordinary relationships.

The Bittersweet End of Camp Cotillion
The Bittersweet End of Camp Cotillion

I recently traveled to California and was with friends and family who I had not seen in years.  We talked a lot about camp.  My uncle and cousins said at one point “ We get it.  We are camp people.”  Until you have been to camp, until camp has defined who you are, you cannot totally comprehend the degree of depth that overnight camp has on an individual.

Jumping off the Dragon Fly to Zip and Soar
The Dragon Fly to Zip and Soar

And now the sun sets earlier, September is upon us.  This fall brings anew for us all.  New school year, new teachers, some have new homes and communities.  But we have our best self, stashed inside.  Like a treasure in our pocket, we can bring our inner strength and our inner sunshine to this new season and these new experiences.  We will never be the same again, we grow and we change and with that is the hope that we are our best selves because in part of who we became at camp.  At our Camp Runoia…our home away from home.

I find that I take myself home, to Camp Runoia, almost daily.  I hum along to songs and think about the sound of the lake and the green of the giant ferns.

Each Campfire Lights Anew
Each Campfire Lights Anew

“…Dip, dip and swing them back…Flashing with silver…follow the wild goose flight…dip, dip and swing…” — Hum along through the changing seasons … and be your best self on whatever adventure this fall brings.

Kyleigh – Camp Runoia Associate Director

Camp is…many cultures: Sailing and Hungary!

A Hungarian Sailor at Camp Runoia

As a 20-years-old Hungarian girl it was quite a big deal for me last year when I decided to apply for a summer camp counselor program at Camp Leaders to work and travel in the U.S.

So on June 17th 2014 the biggest adventure in my life had started. I was really excited when I said goodbye to my parents at the airport but surprisingly not scared at all. I was facing a 10-hour flight from Budapest to Boston and when I arrived at camp I’d been awake for almost 24 hours. Fortunately a ready-to-sleep bed was waiting for me at camp.

Hamming it up with Mark on the lake
Hamming it up with Mark on the lake

I had expected that I will learn thousands of new things during the summer: food, animals, games, songs, places, language, traditions, rules, different cultures and many new people. And my expectations weren’t false – I had widened my perspective in many ways.

Hungary is a really small country in Europe – only about 36,000 sq miles so as the State of Maine. Now you can imagine how unbelievably huge is the U.S. for me that I only realized first during my one month travels after camp.

I have learned Runoia terms like EP, QP, Mahadin, Lodge, Gaga, green machine, CIT etc. I had the opportunity to join flag raisings, hear loons at night, celebrate 4th of July, sit on a yellow school bus, eat Gifford’s ice cream and dirt pudding, and sing all the Runoia songs at campfire while eating marshmallows. And of course I was able to teach my favorite activity, sailing for the kids.

Laura out sailing with campers
Laura out sailing with campers

I’m really grateful for that summer at Runoia where I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who I am able to see again hopefully in a few months for the summer of 2015.










Laura Meszaros, from Hungary, lived in junior end and taught sailing in 2014.

Laura Meszaros, Runoia Staff
Laura Meszaros, Runoia Staff

Runoia Alumnae Shares her PJA Blog

Annie Carney, Digital Producer. Annie enjoys skiing, boogie boarding, and attempting to knit the perfect headband.

One of the biggest influences in my life has to be my summers spent on Great Pond at Camp Runoia. As a young professional, I can tie back many life lessons learned from those years and how they have made me a better worker, professional, and peer. Working in advertising can be very unpredictable, with deadlines, change requests, crazy clients, etc., but nothing can prepare you for canoeing down a river trying to make it to your campsite with ten 12 year olds during a severe lightning storm.

Lesson 1 – “Fake it till you make it”

This lesson really came from the summers I spent as a counselor – two years teaching sailing and one as a wilderness trip leader. Being fresh out of high school and enlisted with the responsibility of overseeing kids all day, you quickly learn how to fake it. Not in the sense of inexperience, (if you are going to be teaching sailing, you must have the credentials) but in the sense that when the unexpected happens — you are the adult that makes the decisions.


The first time I really faced this, and had the “Oh sh**, I’m in charge moment” was on a backpacking trip when half way up the mountain, one of the girls with asthma turned to me and said she needed her inhaler. When I checked to see if it was in our medical kit, I found it was not. In that moment, you can either panic or, look at the scenario and figure out how to fix it. This is when you learn the skills of ownership and the ability to make decisions, because there is not always time to think about things, but to find the best solution and keep moving.

Lesson 2 – You can’t choose your coworkers, but you can choose how to work with them

Working on a camp staff, you get the spectrum of personalities from all different walks of life, and essentially have to spend 24/7 with them for 10 weeks. Early on you learn there are many approaches to teaching kids sailing lessons, managing mealtime table manners, motivating cabin cleanup, and leading evening activities. You begin to understand that you may not always agree on how the other person works, but to be part of a team, you must respect them. The same goes for working in a professional environment. In order to successfully be a part of a team, you must respect and understand that everyone is working towards the same goal of doing the best work possible, and finding how to align with everyone to be successful.

Lesson 3 – How to Herd Cats – or Kittens

As a project manager, you must the have the ability to “herd cats” aka, lead an unpredictable, diverse team along in order to meet all your deliverables and deadlines. The same can be said as a camp counselor. Motivating girls who are completely out of their element as they hike the tallest mountain or go in a sailboat for the first time is challenging. People can always be resistant, but finding the right ways to communicate and motivate will get you far. I’ve successfully lead 13 year olds up Mount Katadin, and I’ve successfully lead a creative team to produce a 50 website page creative in 10 days.

Lesson 4 – There is always time for fun

No matter where you work or what you are doing, it is always great to remember to have fun. There is always time for silliness and dancing (as I am the queen of that) and to remember it is only a job.