What are you reading Camp Runoia?

Reading is an integral part of our Runoia summers. A tech free environment means that campers and staff have ample opportunity to grab a good book and delve into the pages. Whether it is at rest hour or before bedtime, a book is a great way to settle and relax on your bunk. We encourage campers to bring their books from home and also have a large library in the Lodge with reading material to suit everyone. It is an established tradition that in all cabin groups staff read to campers at night from a shack book. We also try to keep track of how many books collectively get read throughout camp over the summer.

While often an independent activity, reading can also be a great connector. We sometimes run a ‘book club’ at camp so that campers of all ages can engage together about a particularly enjoyable novel. Our Runoia staff share their reading favorites on our group facebook page and it often results in some cross cultural exchange with our friends across the pond.  Maine camp directors use books to come together for professional development and meet every few months to share thoughts about an inspiring text that helps with camp management. Talking about what you are reading can not only be enjoyable but can be the start of great friendships.

Women’s History month is the perfect time to take on some thoughtful reading and explore more about how women have shaped our society and cultures. We continue to build our already well stocked Runoia library to include more diversity and love to offer books by great women authors. Suggestions of any favorites that you feel are a ‘must’ read for our camper population are very welcome.

It is often hard to pin down what to read next – there are so many books and so little time! Check out the list here for reading material for kids of all ages, A Mighty Girl is a great place to get other ideas and resources too.

For the more mature reader this proved to be a great list and many of our staff were reading titles from this collection.

If you don’t have time to grab a book there are plenty of TED talks that may be equally inspiring and focus on women’s issues.

As our thoughts start turning towards the summer, having a summer reading list is an exciting part of the planning process. Certainly some campers have school books that need to be read before school is back in session but there are endless hours of time to grab a great book and sink into the joy of turning the pages. There are so many great spots around camp to be in harmony with nature and just jump into a book, we can’t wait to be back on Great Pond.

Hear the Buzz! Feel the Stampede!

We are a buzzing and a stamping here at Camp Runoia. Camp just celebrated its 115th anniversary; a tribute to its enduring values, amazing staff, campers, families and alumnae. Adapting to the world we live in and forging the tools to help our campers grow; this is what has made Camp Runoia a camp leader developing skills in young people to become positive citizens of the world. With 116 spirited years on our banners, we have decided to loop-the-loop on our camp team names and colors and transition to more inclusive names and colors.

For nearly 100 summers, Runoia has been flying the team colors of Blue and White but, let it be known that before 1923, each summer brought with it new team names:  The Hooks and Eyes, The Crickets and Grasshoppers.

Moving forward AND keeping with our traditions of inclusivity and open-minded thinking, the Bees and the Elephants will prevail as new team names with the colors of Indigo and Gray. Yes, we will rewrite old camp songs and we also get to create new ones! The time is now for a change from Go Whites! Go Blues! to the new team names and colors. Existing Blues will be Bees and campers on the White Team will be Elephants.

We, the Year Round administrative team at Runoia, are very excited about this change. With the support of a focus group of trustees from Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization and the support of the Diversity Advisory Committee of the CRAO, we move into 2022 with our new teams.

This change of team names ushers in a new era that we are proud of and believe in – even though it is a change, it feels positive and growth-minded. We have been committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work for summer staff, as well as year round staff with DEI trainings, educational opportunities, conference  sessions and workshops. We have dropped some camp songs, changed some lyrics and written policies and updated our website to be more inclusive. So, new in 2022: Hear the buzz! Feel the stampede!

Bo-bo-ski-waten-dotten to another 115 years of the best summer camp experience… for ALL campers! Go Elephants! Go Bees!

Love, Aionur

With a lot of help from our wonderful President Elect of the CRAO and Canadian Delegate to New England, Great Pond Resident, Runoia Alumnae and all around amazing woman, Marie-Claude Francoeur 

 

Leadership Development Opportunities at Camp Runoia

Our Counselor-in-Training program at Camp Runoia develops leadership opportunities and skills for 16 year old who have graduated from camp or a similar program.

Here’s more about the  CITS of 2021 in photos.

Can you fill in the blank captions? These young leaders learned, helped, built skills, contributed, grew, developed opportunities for others and will forever be woven in the fabric of the Runoia tapestry. 

********************
The CIT gift to Runoia was the new song written by: Melia, Grace,

Emily, Jayda, Micayla

Memories Made (Tune: Suitors)

Trunks are waiting at my door

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And I’m not sure what’s in store

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

But I’m off to camp today

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

For a while I will stay

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Chorus: Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Now that time has slipped away (oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

When the leaves begin to fade

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the lake remains so clear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

How I long to linger here

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

 

And every single year

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

I can’t help but shed a tear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

For the friendships that I gained

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the memories that I made

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

Thank you CITs 2021! More on our CIT program here.

Camp Runoia life skills go to college

At camp we often talk with our campers about how you can learn things at 8 and still be doing them at 80! Imagine still paddling a canoe in your older years after first dipping a paddle as a young camper on Great Pond. Some life skills are technical or ‘hard’ skills  like learning a ‘J’ stroke while others are more subtle and referred to as ‘soft’ skills such as navigating relationships.

Camp provides campers of all ages the chance to learn, progress and master many skills that last with them long after their camp days are over.

In this week’s guest blog, Jen Dresdow talks about how years at camp prepared her daughter for a smooth transition into college.

In August, my husband and I became empty nesters as we sent our only child, Natalie, off to college. After many college visits her junior and senior year, Natalie chose Hollins University, a small private women’s school in Roanoke, VA, about 4 hours from our home in Alexandria.

As Natalie and I both worked at camp during the summer, we had about 10 days between arriving home from camp and her move-in date for pre-season riding. Natalie quickly organized herself for dorm life with the efficiency of a seasoned camp parent.

The transition into college life proved to be an easy one. After 12 summers at Runoia, Natalie found navigating the small campus and being where she needs to be on time an easy task. Similar to navigating her camp schedule as both a camper and a counselor, she quickly fell into the routine. From 7:30am riding lessons to evening French conversation groups to her work study in the gym, she is where she needs to be when she needs to be there. Camp taught her the skills needed for community living and navigating dining hall choices.

Natalie rides on the Varsity Equestrian Team, and just like camp, the barn bubble is her happy place. However, having a roommate who is not a rider, has been a great fit. Natalie used the school’s roommate match program to place with a roommate.  Years of sharing a cabin with others, learning to share, keep spaces tidy, and communicating effectively, have helped her to settle into dorm life.

We are grateful for all the lifelong skills built at Runoia over the years that allowed Natalie to take a well stocked “toolbox” to college.

Why Camp? Colleen talks about her journey to Runoia

“Why camp?” is a prompt that seemingly pulls my whole life, identity, and personality into question. As my director at my alma mater’s office of outdoor pursuits would say, we are “camp people.” She used this as a way of not necessarily vetting the people and employees she let into her life and office, but more as a sign that she had found a kindred spirit. I remember her delighted reaction – a reaction with the animation of a camp person – during my graduate assistantship interview when I told her that I was a camp kid. To us, it is an indication of just the kind of person we’d like to work with, and someone who we know we can connect to. In my twenty-six years, being a “camp person” remains the quickest, most sincere source of connection to strangers that I’ve personally experienced. It shows in Runoia’s staff training each year, where friendships are forged in two short weeks, grown in the following eight weeks, and maintained for lifetimes following. It reminds me of my own childhood camp, where sessions were only one-week long, yet resulted in friendships that remain in adulthood. Camp is where I found a deeper connection each summer to my sister, who is now my best friend. 

So to us, and to many of my other camp connections, knowing someone is a “camp person” is like a preview to who they are. A “camp person” can be anyone, of any and every identity, but a few things always hold true. To me, they are: a person who values connection with nature, others, and themselves; someone who builds and draws on their community in their toughest moments; a person who shows flexibility, empathy, and devotion to others; a person who shows devotion to themself. I can only speak for myself, but that sounds exactly like someone I’d like in my community and by my side.

I’ve noticed in recent years, in a time where we are almost constantly in front of a screen and expected to be one-hundred-percent available at all times, we sometimes mistake this accessibility for connection. True connection with others this way has, however, fallen short for me and many others. Camp is where we can seek authentic connections when we need them most, and to “build lifelong skills” in a unique place that is designed  to facilitate growth. While our campers head home at the close of each summer eager to share the activities they participated in and the feats they’ve accomplished, they are also sharing their friendships, their personal victories, and the counselors they loved most. Beneath the hands-on skills our campers and staff learn at Runoia, we are quietly building the connection, community, flexibility, empathy, and devotion of “camp people”. 

It’s funny to me, then, that I still identified as a “camp person” even in the time between the end of my own camper experience and landing at Runoia years later – a testament to the idea that camp never leaves us. When I first arrived at Runoia in 2018, I thought I was taking my last opportunity to have one camp summer in the open space between my undergrad and grad years. I did not expect to find a camp community again. I had remembered the importance of being a “camp person” myself, but completely rediscovered the magic of connection with other “camp people” that summer. My absence in summer 2021, taken to move across the country, solidified my need for a connection that most people may not know they’re missing if they’ve never experienced it. 

Maine is not my home in the literal sense. I’ve never truly lived there, save for the three summers I’ve spent at Runoia. Even now, I’ve managed to move further away from Runoia, and my home camp for that matter, than I’ve ever been. And yet, coming back to Runoia – even just virtually for now – is a homecoming: a camp person stepping back into her camp-person-self with her camp people. And I am so happy to be home.  

Colleen O’Malley – Assistant Director, Camp Runoia

Making bagels a recipe for happiness

A lifelong love of baking, a summer working in the camp kitchen and connecting all of those life skills with developing positive mental health strategies. 

Tori’s guest blog this week is an excerpt from her descriptive essay about the joys and benefits of making bagels from scratch.

 

When I first tasted a bagel I was genuinely confused as to how people enjoy consuming them. It tastes like a stale piece of bread topped with some expired, whole milk. Their value to this earth and to cultures doesn’t make much sense. They’re not particularly high in vitamins, they taste like cardboard, and are difficult to make. Okay, maybe I judged them too harshly too fast. I let my opinion of one bad bagel escalate into a future of bagel negativity. Once I finally allowed myself to coexist neutrally with the bagel, my perspective changed. Approaching bagels from a different angle made all the difference. The satisfaction of kneading dough, testing herbs, and creating life from scratch lured me in. Watching the dry yeast bubble in excitement while preparing a collection of herbs and flavours makes me feel at home. I can feel the anticipation building up by the time the dough just barely starts to form together. Getting to knead it and let all of my energy out from throughout the week is like my version of a “runners high.” Its relieving nature helps me to expel excess anger and emotion. I think that it’s probably best that I let it out on the dough, rather than on something or someone else. It’s also not like a bad anger, it’s more of an energized one. One that drives self motivation rather than self discipline. By the time I take the bagels out of the oven and bite into their crisp, golden exterior, all of that built up emotion dissipates. I feel calm, refreshed, and relaxed. There is nothing more satisfying than making a bagel, completely from scratch. 

While in the kneading step of the bagel making process, I enjoy experimenting using flavors and herbs. Of course topping a bagel with everything seasoning, or cheese smells amazing by itself, but incorporating herbs takes it to a whole different level. Just for the aromatic aspect, my favourite go-to flavor combination is rosemary and garlic. Not the rosemary you get at the grocery store dried, and not the minced garlic you find in a jar, but the fresh sprigs and full cloves found organically in nature. My favourite part about seasoning breads and focaccias is the trip to my fresh herb garden. Living in Maine does mean that all my herbs are indoors, but I still like to imagine them prospering in their natural biome. Also, the word ‘trip’ might be a bit too generous of a noun. It’s more of a change of rooms carrying my harvesting tools. As I approach my herb collection, I get reminded of all the culinary flavour possibilities that I have yet to develop. Gently peeling individual sprigs off of the base of my plant, its aromatic nature fills my senses with joy. It’s also very joy provoking knowing that harvesting my herbs only encourages new, more quantiful growth. I continue plucking off rosemary sprigs, usually way more than I need, just so I can let my nose take up all of the aroma it possibly can. Then, I scurry over to my other herbs, chopping them carefully with my herb scissors. Another flavour combination I enjoy is chive and herbed goat cheese. I get great satisfaction using my multi-blade scissors to efficiently cut up my chives, without bruising them. 

The feeling of engaging all my senses is so grounding for me. To be able to focus on one sensory stimulation at a time helps me connect with the here and now. It soothes all of the tension being built up in my mind. Somehow, the whole process of not only making bagels, but eating them too, is reassuring to my brain.It helps me feel more satisfied when everything is not completely perfect or equivalent. Having a blob of sticky flour and water turn into an insanely smooth, pliable edible delight  is beyond fascinating. It confuses me how a combination of ingredients, heat, and time can evolve into something so different. Well I guess that’s the science and practiced patience of baking. A learning experience that turns the ordinary into something magnificent and unique while adding a touch of personalization.  

 

By Tori B-J aged 16

 

Returning to Runoia – from counselor to camp parent and staff

Guest blogger Mindy (Boyce) Martone-Gulling

Archery and cabin counselor 1998/99. Yoga and farm instructor and camp parent in 2021.

Mindy shares her reflections on returning to Runoia.

Camp friends for always!
Working with Kara (Benken) Garrod once again.

My daughter is the outgoing, kind, and hilarious youngest child of five and she and I have been waiting for years for her to be old enough to go to Runoia. I was a counselor in the late ‘90s and left Runoia in 1999 to go to law school, which was followed by a “real” job, kids, and life that kept me far from Camp. But I never forgot how beautiful, fun, warm, and welcoming the CR community was and knew I wanted my daughter to be a part of it. 

Delayed a year by Covid, this Spring we finally signed her up for a session in Harmony Land, the program for Runoia’s youngest campers. We were all so excited. My memory certainly isn’t what it once was, but apparently there’s a whole section of it that’s full of camp songs and I started teaching her right away. We bought new swimsuits, shoes, and water bottles for her adventure and she insisted on watching the Runoia marketing video at least once a day. Even more exciting was that life was such that I was able to join her at camp as a counselor – after all this time.

We arrived on the first of our many Fine Maine Days at camp, she joined her new friends, and I got my first live glimpse of camp in so many years. New facilities! State-of-The-Art equipment! Exciting new activities and adventures to choose from!  And of course almost all new faces, including counselors who usually said “oh, I was just born then” when I told them the last year I had been at camp.  It was clear that Runoia had grown and changed and constantly improved in the time I had been gone. But just as the new facilities blend smoothly into the camp landscape and the new activities appear on the tag board next to old standards like archery and swimming, the heart and soul of Runoia was the same even amidst the changes. Girls just being themselves, hugging friends, cracking wide smiles at mastering a new skill, and laughing as they walk lightly past the ferns down to the waterfront. Campfires, Fairy Ring, taps, the logs, Blue/White, and birthday songs all endure for new generations of Runoia girls.

As a counselor I got to experience things with my daughter that I would have only heard about at home- her unbridled joy trotting off in her yellow one-piece to every rec swim and the ear-to-ear grin when she got the arrow “in the red” during archery. As a mom, I appreciated so much about how girls are loved and supported at Runoia- from a counselor agreeing to stay late at an activity to make sure a level got passed to a tireless search for a lost but much loved book, to the heartfelt good nights from the Directors.

I have always seen Runoia as a special place, and I was so lucky that I can share it with my own Runoia girl, hopefully for years to come.

 

Opening camp

AKA Picking things up and putting them down

The opening of camp is a lot of moving things around. Having a seasonal business means that items must be stored so as not to freeze or be buried in the snow during the long Maine winter. We have a short window of time to open up camp and get everything ready to start the season.

We often joke that our days are literally spent picking things up and putting them down in a new location.

Here is what the past week has included:

  • Pick up hay bales stack them in the barn
  • Pick up horses from their winter homes put them in the pasture
  • Pick up sticks and winter debris off the beach and put it into the woods
  • Pick up boats and move them out of the boathouse and onto the beach
  • Pick up the boats again and move them to their moorings
  • Pick up branches, leaves and acorns off the paths and fields and put them into the woods
  • Pick up shutters, take them off the screen windows put them under the buildings
  • Pick up items stored in the farmhouse and move them to activity areas
  • Pick up beds and mattresses and move them to the right cabin
  • Pick up the DOT from the Den, blow it up move it to the waterfront
  • Pick up the DOT again and float it out to it’s mooring
  • Pick up tables, benches and chairs and set up the dining hall
  • Pick up the archery targets out of the Den put them on the range
  • Pick up packages at the Post Office and put all of the supplies in the right place
  • Pick up counselors and staff from the bus station and airport bring them to camp
  • Pick up tables, benches and chairs and set up the dining hall
  • Pick up flowers from the garden center, put them in the window boxes
  • Pick up random essential items in Augusta

 

Pick up ice cream at Days Store!!

The next week will be packed with our staff arriving and staff training beginning. We will be immersing ourselves in education, team building and more preparations so that we are 100% ready for our campers when they get here.  Already there is noise and laughter coming from the shacks and in the dining hall. The slam of a screen door is such a great wound to hear after all the months of quiet emptiness. We are enjoying these moments of being at camp while also counting down the days until we are all together again on Great Pond.

First Impression

My First Impression in early May is the scents that are only at Camp Runoia. The leaves and grass and earth and air and lake water scents all combine into one scent. If we bottled it up, it would be called Eau de Runoia, or perhaps Eau de Harmony in the spirit of the meaning of Runoia.  I was instantly reminded of E.B. White’s book, “Once More to the Lake”.

Traditions abound at camp and one of the Camp Runoia traditions is recording your First Impression of arriving at camp for the “Log”. The Log is a record of all the things that happened in a summer.

You can only have a first impression, once (we like to do it once a season). Not unlike making your own first impression on other people (warm, stern, welcoming, exclusive, funny, serious, happy, sad), the land and lake puts on its very best display of nature and scents and views which evoke feeling. Especially when you return again and again.

The phrase First Impression seems obvious but here’s further explanation to get you pumped to record your immediate reaction to arriving at camp. A definition of first: Coming before all others in time or order; earliest, Combined with a definition of impression: An idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.

Of course, when we arrive in early spring, the parking lot is empty. Jen is not standing at the gate welcoming us, Alex is not in the parking lot directing us and beaming upon your arrival and Mark is not perched on the waterfront eager to greet your family and share the beauty of the “crown jewel” of Camp Runoia, Great Pond. Your counselors are not here yet to give you that big “hello” and “let’s go” kind of attitude. Finally, the sounds of shrill, excited voices from girls floating all over camp are not here, yet.  Only the spring birds, rustle of soft winds in the trees and waves lapping along the shoreline are here this time of year.

What will your First Impression of camp be when you arrive at camp? You may have to wait and see and feel and then write it down before it disappears.

Love,

Aionur

Writing in Pencil – a medium for change and flexibility

It’s a bit of a joke around the camp office that I always write in pencil. While I certainly do a lot of typing there are still a multitude of camp jobs that require hand writing and notes so a pencil is always nearby. It’s my go to writing implement and while supplemented by some colored pens there is always typically a sharpened pencil to hand.

 

It’s always exciting at the start of the season when I find a new box of Dixon Ticonderoga’s, ready sharpened with new erasers set to go on my desk in the Lodge. The Camp Runoia fairies know how to keep me happy. The perfect pencil helps me plan and re-plan schedules with great satisfaction. It has to be the right HB# and sharp is preferred. TheWorking away in the Lodge program office erasers often get worn down quickly so are supplemented by a larger one.

Someone once asked me if I write in pencil due to not being able to commit. Moreover it is an ability to be able to be flexible and be able to make change. The schedules at camp are complex with many moving parts and often things need to get switched around quickly. The act or writing and erasing cements the information better in my mind. I can often then recall it without needing to go back and look at it.

This year we are having to use all of our creative resources to adapt and be flexible as we plan our camp summer. Even though we ran a successful camp last summer, the changes in how we understand and navigate the Covid virus means a slightly different approach this year. A month or so ago vaccinations were only trickling out, now most adults have the opportunity to get them and hopefully older children will be next. We have to keep updating and re-working our policies and plans to accommodate new information and shifting protocols. Having the ability to change and erase what we had in place allows us to be the most current and not be frustrated with information coming in that is outside of our control. It’s a great life skills to be able to erase what you have written and adapt it to what you now need.

I’m going to stick with writing in pencil. I love being able to erase and rewrite, to navigate change without feeling stuck and to create new words as needed over the old ones.

Using my pencil to check of the days until it is camp time. We cannot wait to see all of our girls and staff on Great Pond.

Getting ready for tag up the daily schedule is always fun!