Earth Day: the Runoia Way

As Earth day approaches – you may be wondering: how do we love the earth here at Runoia? To that I say: let me show you and we can count the ways – the Runoia way!

Learning to grow our own food…

and loving and caring for animals!

Learning outdoor skills and Leave No Trace in camp craft…

for the chance to practice those skills on trips to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine!

Learning to create with natural materials…

and watching sunrises and sunsets over Great Pond!

Moving our bodies outside…

and connecting with one-another, unplugged, each day!

We are so grateful for the earth that provides the water of Great Pond for us to swim, boat, and play in, for the tree that houses our favorite hangout spot, for the rocks and peaks that we climb together, for the herbs and veggies that grow in our soil, for the materials we make art with, for the sand we’ve spent hours singing our songs on, for the grass we do our cartwheels on, for each other. Join us in celebrating our earth and all of its splendors this spring!

Grant that we have safe and fun days, and that we respect each other, ourselves, and our planet.



Spring Equinox Is Almost Here by Guest Blogger Mark Heuberger

The first day of spring is March 20, 2021, which coincides with the vernal equinox. According to astronomers, this is the moment when the sun crosses exactly over the earth’s equator and the length of day and night is approximately the same.  The days then start to become longer than the nights, leading to those long summer days at Camp, when the sun does not set until 8:30 PM.

For Camp Runoia, the first day of spring starts us thinking about the fields, forests, and lakes warming and recovering from winter. We will soon start seeing the tiny sprouts of the ferns emerging from the earth; some ferns will grow to three or four feet high. The trees slowly become colored with buds, flowers, and leaves. We begin combing the woods for lady slippers and trillium flowers.  We are counting the days until Camp (100 till first session 2021!).

And of course, the first day of spring means that “Ice Out” is soon.

Some readers of this blog may not realize that the lake freezes over completely in the winter, covered in several feet of ice. Enough for trucks to drive out on the lake towing ice fishing huts.  At some point in spring, the ice suddenly thaws and disappears. Soon the loons will return and we will hear their calls again. Boats and docks will reappear on the lake and in a few short months we will be swimming, paddling, sailing, and skiing on Great Pond.

According to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, who keep records of ice out dates on all Maine lakes, “Ice Out” is defined as the first day when you can navigate from one end of the lake to the other, even though there may still be ice in some coves or along the shoreline.

Ice Out dates for Great Pond over the last 20 years have typically been in middle to late April, but in four of the last 20 years, ice out has been in March, as early as March 20 in 2010, the first day of spring!  When will ice out be this year? Stay tuned.

For many this winter has been especially challenging. The coming of spring, the long warm days, the new beginnings, and the new opportunities are almost here and are welcomed.

Love, Aionur

March brings us Maple Syrup Sunday!

Maple syrup making – this is a Maine tradition you won’t want to miss – it is always the fourth Sunday in March.  Plus Governor Mills just lifted travel restrictions to Maine if you live in New England so come on up!

Plan your getaway to Maine for Sunday March 28th by seeing the sugar houses that will be open this year.

Our local Belgrade CSA Farm, Winterberry Farm will have their Maine Maple Sunday as usual with Covid protocols in place. And surprise, they are celebrating on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Quoting Danielle Pepin from Quebec’s maple syrup industry, “The maple syrup production process gets its start from one of nature’s true phenomena,” she says. “As water from soil absorbs into the maple tree during a cold spring night, warmer temps during the day create pressure that pushes the water back down to the bottom of the tree, making it easier to collect maple sap. The sap is gathered over 12 to 20 days, usually between March and late April, according to the region. Then, the tapping process begins; the sap is transported to a sugar house where it is boiled down until it becomes syrup.”

Are you not a fan of pancakes? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with 70+ recipes that use maple syrup. There’s always a good reason to have maple syrup in your fridge:

Epicurious gives us more ideas for whisking maple syrup into your cooking:

Enjoy the season for everything it has to offer and plan a trip to a Sugar Shack at the end of the month!







The Runoia “Log” and More Traditions

Double entendres abound when I think of the word “log” – all related to Runoia traditions. My mind races to our weekend campfires and the logs we use to build the campfire. To camping trips and “hugging” trees – from before Leave No Trace… “hugging” was our phrase for finding a small standing dead tree we could hug out of the ground and saw into logs for our campfire.

Then I think, “Ah ha!” it’s the camp “logs” – the written logs of each summer’s camp activities and antics dating back to the summer of 1910. The logs have been scanned and uploaded through a generous donation from the Tabell family. They are available on our website – just click here.

And, last but not least, my mind recognizes the bi-annual newsletter of the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization (CRAO). The CRAO was founded by the Cobb Family with support and guidance from Jody Sataloff and Jack Erler to provide a “Campership” fund for campers to be able to attend camp. A volunteer organization that has developed efficiently and with enthusiasm over the years to provide partial camperships for over 20 campers each summer. 10% of Runoia’s campers receive some kind of assistance.

With the guidance of past-president Andrea “Nandy” Florey Bradford, the name of the fund was updated to honor Betty Cobb. The fund is now the “Betty Cobb Campership Fund”.

Find out more about the CRAO in volume 31, issue 2 and the ongoing mission in the Fall 2018 newsletter “The Log”:

CRAO Fall 2018f LOG



Maine hunts for spring

Patience is apparently a virtue of which Mainers require an excessive amount.  Spring while allegedly here on the calendar has yet to truly arrive in person.

I write on a day when once again snowflakes are falling from the sky and the ground is still covered in a good amount of the white stuff.  The lakes are still frozen and while there are signs that spring is on the way it still seems like weeks until the grass will be green and the leaves are on the tress.

March came in and went out like a lion this year and it will be April snow showers that hopefully bring May or perhaps they will be June flowers.


While it would be easy to complain the general feeling is one of anticipation and even excitement.  There are pussy willows to be spotted along the sides of the roads.  Those days when the temperature’s get over 40 seem balmy and call for picnics on the porch and even shorts!  The days are longer and there are many more birds singing in the trees and geese flying back overhead this time on their way north.  Many a bet is being placed on when the ice will be out on local lakes and generally people are upbeat and hopeful for the new season ahead.

Ice on Great Pond, Belgrade Lakes ME

Every day at our house there is talk of camp.  How many weeks to go? Will the lake warm up quickly? When can we open up our camp house?  Who needs new uniform ordering? Is school almost over?

We cannot wait to see all of our Camp Runoia family and reconnect and embrace the new people that will be joining us.  One of the great things about spring in Maine is how quickly it turns into summer; we just have to make it through mud season first!

See you in June!

Run, Swim, Jump, Kick at Runoia

It’s Sports Week! What some camps call Color War, Runoia calls Sports Week. The short story is we have kicked, run, raced, swum, jumped, trotted, shot arrows, competed, played hard and played like a girl!

On top of it, we have had birthday parties, Evening Programs of “Create Your Own Country”, Pillow Football, Birthday Bash, Build A Boat to Float Contest, Talent Show, Runoia Caberet, Graduation Dinner and a Camp Fire with the theme of What Camp Friendships Mean to You.

Here are some of the pictures to tell the story:

Our Dear Trip Leaders (Some of Them)!
Our Dear Trip Leaders (Some of Them)!
Birthday Table Groups by Shacks!
Birthday Table Groups by Shacks!
The Runoia Play was a Medley Cabaret!
The Runoia Play was a Medley Cabaret!
Blue White Horse Show
Blue White Horse Show
The Epic Oak Island Swim


Blue White Swim Races
Blue White Swim Races
Blue and White Team Captains Second Session
Blue and White Team Captains Second Session
Junior Soccer Players
Junior Soccer Players
The Pine Tree in the Back Shows it's a Maine Peach!
The Pine Tree in the Back Shows it’s a Maine Peach!
Coco Crisp Enjoys his 10th Summer at Runoia and Gets His Own Blanket
Coco Crisp Enjoys his 10th Summer at Runoia and Gets His Own Blanket

We hope to see you next year!

The Runoia Team

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!



Spring Training – Hitting a Home Run in the Job Market

We’ve all read about the parenting style of the Millennium Generation. Following the Millenniums is Generation Z – our current teens are Gen Z children. These parents have parented in similar ways.  Here’s a hint to parents about how to help your children: let them figure out some stuff themselves.

Parents who try to help their teenagers by contacting businesses for jobs for their children should recognize that that child is the least likely person to make the team.

On the other hand, teens who contact businesses directly, act confident, carry their resume or email a resume ahead of time before they call, ready themselves with references, have the chance at hitting a home run.  Feel free to coach them but let them play the game themselves.


Here’s ways you can help coach your children for the job market and not have them sitting on the bench:

  1. Ask your child to make a list of businesses she/he is interested in working with to help build her/his skills
  2. Discuss together how she/he will safely get to and from work. If it’s a resident job, help them come up with a list of good questions to ask a prospective employer and resident director.
  3. Encourage your child to contact her/his references for the job application BEFORE they are contacted.
  4. Practice, role play if possible, interview scenarios (phone and in person)
  5. Ask your child what they think they should wear and how they should clean up to look presentable for the interview.
  6. Other hints: A strong handshake, eye to eye contact and a smile go a long way. A smile while talking on the phone improves their tone of voice.

As a business owner whose organization hires 55-60 people under the age of 25 every summer, having a parent contact us about a job for their children is a strike out.

And parents, when your child, as a young adult, goes to work a professional job at a camp, please know that if they are over 18, we won’t talk with you about their job, the interview, the details of the process, etc. Obviously we will contact you if there is any kind of emergency but otherwise, they are an adult working at their job. You can find out that Camp Runoia is an accredited camp by the ACA, Runoia has employed many teens, young adults and 20-somethings over the years. Runoia’s website has an FAQ page for staff and our policies and handbooks are on line. Read them to help ease your own anxiety and know that we will help guide and coach your child to be a great camp

Summer Camp Work is Wholesome and Skill Building!
Summer Camp Work is Wholesome and Skill Building!

counselor.  Working at sleepaway camp is a hard job and it’s a great, healthy outdoor living experience that will ready them for many things in life. Let them get up to

bat and hit the ball. If they strike out on their own, they might actually ask you for your help! If they hit the ball and make a home run on their own, they will be happier and more connected to the process.

Beware, if you, the parent, step into the batter’s box, the umpire may have to throw you out of the game!

Planning Gardens and Waiting for Bird Migration at Runoia

This is the time of year, for those of us who live in northern climates like Maine, we dream of spring gardens and bird migration among other wonders of the changing season. migrating birdsDid you know March is the “most snowfall” month of the year in Maine?! Although February might seem early to be dreaming of birds and gardens, dreams are what keep us positive when we have 31 days of winter in March (a true statement in

Maple Sap Collection for Syrup
Maple Sap Collection for Syrup

Maine!). So although maple sap is flowing early this year, you never know if we’ll get another cold snap and a lot of snow.

Back to those dreams about gardens and birds. Camp Runoia’s seed order has been not only ordered but has been received. The season for sleepaway camps doesn’t match with the Maine growing season so we are sure to put in early harvesting vegetables like spinach, kale, snap peas and sugar peas and summer squash.

Lots of Fun Growing in the Runoia Greenhouse
Lots of Fun Growing in the Runoia Greenhousegreenhouse Later in the summer the tomatoes, basil, lettuce and other herbs and veggies flourish in our greenhouse.
Always a Delight to Spy an Oriole at Runoia
Always a Delight to Spy an Oriole at Runoia

The day the robins show up in April is always a sign of spring and the migrating birds coming through. We hang orange slices to attract the Baltimore Orioles – they are such fun to see.





One thing we learned in recent years from our wood shop aficionado, Ted, is painting bird houses is detrimental to birds. Who knew? So here’s a project one camper did combining our wood shop and wood burning program areas. It’s an awesome birdhouse with a beautiful floral designed burned in with wood burning tools. All made at camp! So enjoy the wonders of spring, catch those birds going by and dream next of summer and summer camp!

Bird House Made at Camp Runoia
Bird House Made at Camp Runoia

Camp cooking.

Campers at Runoia have been developing their outdoor cooking skills for many years.  Wilderness trips have been an integral part of the program since camp opened 110 years ago.  Can you believe that back in the day campers used their bloomers to stash their lunches in when they went off canoeing!

Regardless of how far you are hiking or canoeing you have to eat and the food can make or break the success of a trip.  Trying everything from re-hydrating dried mixes to baking a cake in a Dutch oven many girls get their first taste of cooking at camp. Campers are involved in all aspects of trip menu planning and then meal preparation.

cookinFrom an 8 year old flipping their first pancakes to a 15 year old menu planning and cooking meals for a whole week and with everything in between; Runoai girls get a taste of independence and begin to build their own life skills around the campfire.

Food on the hiking trail has to be light weight, well balanced, nutritious and high in energy.  Trail mix, no bake cookies and other high protein snacks can be a great boost when you still have miles to go to your campsite.  Cooking over a camp stove requires good organizational skills, often a menu that needs minimal pots and some creativity for making the meal tasty.  A canoeing trip may allow for a little more equipment and often includes a reflector oven or Dutch oven so baking around the fire becomes a great option.

cooking flagstaff canoe 2005There is often nothing more satisfying than sitting around the campfire with a tin plate and a spork eating a meal that you have waited all day for and that you helped to cook.  big thunder flagstaff canoe 2005


Always a bonus if it is followed by reflector oven brownies or s’mores. marshmallow