Why the Camp Time Warp is Akin to Dog Years

Like dog years, some say camp days are  mysteriously measured. So much happens in one day it feels like a week. What occurs in a week equals a month.

After breakfast as I walk through camp to bring in the ski boats for the morning activities, I hear the sound of sweeping brooms on porches, see campers emptying their trash cans and sorting out the laundry on the lines. Cabin cleanup has taken place for 113thsummers at Runoia. The scurry and excitement to prepare for first period after Assembly hangs in the air as I walk back to the Lodge. Runoia gals are busy building lifelong skills every day. Here’s a glimpse of the many things we’ve been up to:

In time warp Runoia fashion, this week in trip news, we accomplished a lot: Junior trips hiked to Fairy Ring and canoed to Oak Island on Great Pond for overnight camping trips. Sixty five campers voyaged to the Maine coast for a day trip to Pemaquid State Park

With just over a week left of our 113thseason our Ocho campers fit in their time window a three day stay in Baxter State Park and summited Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine

Meanwhile, Fifth Shack made their way to Mt. Blue State Park and climbed Tumbledown Mountain – complete with a glacial lake on top. A group of dedicated climbers competed at Camp Caribou (in their 97thseason of camp!) and felt pride in the time they spent on the climbing tower.

With soaring temperatures, time allowed for many dips in the lake, lots of waterfront activities and, drum roll, please, Sunday Fun Day RODEO! With lots of action of teams competing in silly events and country fair treats including cotton candy and ice pops.
The afternoon was filled with arcade games, batting cage and bouncy house fun. Even a goat walking experienced happened for a few lucky campers.

Evening programs including our very capable group of campers performing acts for the annual camp Talent Show, a crazy camp counselor dress up competition, a Cowgirl Campfire, a scavenger hunt with an all camp swim included, and Log Skits of 9 decades of Camp Runoia lore.

Time has flown this week and our Harmony Land Camp, a 12 day “rookie” program for 7 & 8 year olds (and two 6 year olds), came to a close. Our hearts sank to say goodbye to them but we are already counting the days till next summer when they return.

Did we mention Team Captains were voted in this week? Yes, they were! Nominees gave their speeches in the Lodge to their teams and the captains were announced the next day before people left for the week. The Blue v. White tradition has been part of Runoia since 1923!

One of the unusual things about a camp summer is the way time moves. At first so slowly and then it seems impossible that we have arrived at the final week. Like a flash in the sky it will be over… until next summer!


The inside scoop on Camp Runoia

As we continue delving into how you find the perfect sleep away camp for your child it is definitely advantageous to get the ‘inside scoop.’  Once you have narrowed down your camp list to your top two choices talking with parents and campers is a great way to figure out which one is the perfect fit for your child.  Word of mouth referrals give a real perspective of a camps culture and value.  Candid conversations with current parents can help you to get a real feel for the place and the people.

Here’s what some of our 2018 parents had to say about Camp Runoia and why they and their daughter’s love it:

  • S’s highlight was water sports, particularly the “dot,” sailing, and tubing. She also loved tennis, archery and riding. She also loved meeting new people, being mixed up at mealtime at different tables. She loved making connections with older campers who had written to her as pen pals a great tradition.
  • Being white team captain (and all the other amazing camp experiences!!). As always, she is still talking nonstop about all the fun she had.
  • Both our girls seemed to have fully inhabited the physical space of camp. The freedom to do so much good healthy stuff all day long was fantastic. Ropes course and waterfront were much talked about.

She loved all her counselors.

  • Her cabin mates, she had a blast and has made incredible lifelong friends. It’s really special we are so grateful.
  • She was so excited about sailing. She drew us diagrams and explained all the terminology. She enjoyed all the activities and the girls with whom she shared the experiences.
  • For me, it was great fun to see her participating in a sailing major this session. She loved getting to know the girls in her shack.

She came home with more independence with personal care.

  • She loved trying all the new activities she wished she would of stayed longer to try all the activities. Definitely was very happy with all the activities she managed to do this summer
  • Greatly appreciated the quality of the counselors and their simultaneous focus on girls and readiness to reassure if I was worried.
  • Definitely improved her swimming in the 12 days of camp, which we appreciated. She benefited from tennis and riding instruction as well.

The awards and being able to experience different and new activities was very positive. She was very proud of all her awards 🙂

  • I am SO impressed with the academic caliber of the counselors. They are obviously intelligent in academics and also have a generous spirit to share with their girls.
  • She had a wonderful experience gained independence and increased confidence. As she enters 3rd grade she is really showing a sign of maturity that she hadn’t last year. I do believe it is part from her experience at camp.
  • Communication is EXCELLENT in all areas. I am always confident that T is safe, happy and in good hands. Any and all communications have been clear and prompt, whenever we have needed extra help with our girls in particular it has been handled incredibly well.

If you want a copy of our current family reference list so that you can get the inside scoop give us a call 207 495 2228 our parents are happy to chat about why they continue choosing Camp Runoia for their daughter.

The path to the lake at Camp Runoia in Belgrade Lakes, Maine.

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


Back to school – transfer those camp skills!

Transitions and transferring skills

Is the back to school chaos getting to you? I have chatted with a lot of parents in the past couple of weeks and the first question asked is often ‘how is back to school going?’.  It seems to be such a loaded question as many families find themselves challenged with the transition from lazy days of summer to the conformity of the school routine.  There is an intense pressure that the school schedule brings and just trying to get everyone back into the swing of the expectations and responsibilities can be overwhelming.

Summer vacation is long and even for those that have it filled with camp programs, family time or travel the last days of school in May or June seem like forever ago.  The summer break allows us flexibility that we never have the rest of the year.  Week days and weekends roll together as we lose the structure of organized activities on set days.  Often there is no alarm clock and on some days no need to even change out of pajamas!

Even though camp life is very routine and structured it has much less urgency than school and you certainly don’t get detention if you are late or don’t have the right supplies. The practical, organizational skills gained at camp are easily transferable and can make for a smoother start to the school year.  At camp space is limited so campers have their stuff very well organized and to hand. Girls often lay out clothes that they will need, or have handy well used accessories such as lunch bags and crazy creeks so that they are prepared for the next thing.  5-15 minutes of clean up time results in beds being made, dirty clothes sorted and in the laundry bag, shoes paired up and dresser tops tidied.  Try challenging your daughter at home with the thought that the ‘nurse’ will be doing inspection how would she score?

There is no doubt that as parents we often do too much for our kids, give too many warnings and reminders and don’t allow them their own success of taking responsibility for basic tasks in their day.  It gets everyone stressed out and certainly isn’t helping our kids build their own skills set. At camp the expectations for independence are much higher.   Even our youngest campers navigate our campus and get themselves in the appropriate clothes and shoes from cabin to activity.  Girls make it to meals on time, make their own choices about what to eat  and more often than not they choose a balance meal without anyone nagging them.  Often older girls coach the younger ones on good tactics for making the camp day work, grabbing your snack before you change for your next class is apparently key to getting the best choice of apples.

Give your daughter the opportunity to show you what she learned at camp, she can pack her own lunch, organize her activity equipment and clothing, get her backpack ready the night before and a myriad of other tasks that will make everyone’s day smoother.

You’ve got this!

We hope that your school year has started off well and that you can remind your daughter that the skills she learned at camp can also be used at home.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity of more life skill building next summer and enroll for 2019!

Packing for a summer at Camp Runoia

The first time I came to the US to be a camp counselor all I had was a large backpack and a carry on filled with everything that I thought I could possibly need for the summer.  The internet was not yet a thing and Portland Maine was just a dot on the map.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, had never heard of Super Walmart and was certain that I would be living in the middle of a forest far from civilization.

Fast forward 25 years and I should have taken a leaf out of my old book when it comes to packing light!

It is complete chaos at my house as we try to finish up school and get ready for the next adventure – Camp!  We are packing and cleaning and getting ready to be full time at Runoia.  It is such an exciting time of year and also a little overwhelming as we transition to our summer home.  There has been much anticipation and we have had weeks of talking everyday about seeing camp friends, playing in the woods and swimming in the lake.   I am so glad that it is now finally time.

There are boxes and half packed bags waiting to be closed up and packed into the car.  The pet carries are ready to be filled and we are nearly ready!  It is amazing what one family needs for the summer, even though our house is only a little over an hour from camp we really don’t come back once we have moved north and I apparently forget every year that there are stores in Augusta!

In the past week it seems that everyone has shot up (or in my case out!) and desperately needs new Runoia uniform ordering.  Thankfully Land’s End ship fast.  Wellies for the wet mornings grass have been bought, bug spray and sunscreen ordered in bulk and a myriad of small items organized and checked off the packing list.  Of course I’m sure a number of items that were not on the list have sneaked in too!

It’s now time to sharpie names into everything because who has time to order name tags? so will have to use a trusty pen to get the job done fast.

As you prepare your daughter for camp know that we are available to help with last minute questions, that if something is forgotten we will help trouble shoot making sure that she has what she needs.  Don’t forget to sneak a little note into her trunk or duffle that she may fine when she unpacks.  Don’t let the packing exasperate or overwhelm you it’s worth it.

We are so excited for the fantastic summer that is awaiting us on Great Pond and cannot wait to see our Runoia girls soon.

Women who dared

I have long been amazed at the tenacity of our Camp Runoia founders Lucy Wieser and Jessie Pond.   Their dedication to starting a camp for girls showed great bravery and confidence when heading off into the unknown wilds of Maine.  In our world of high speed transportation and at your finger tips technology it is sometimes very hard to imagine how different life was back in the early 1900’s.  Rural Maine was sparsely populated with few paved roads and limited access to many areas.  The Maine Central railroad had only established the Belgrade Depot in 1850 and the local community was mostly made up of farms with some vacation housing  in the village.  Arriving by train from the city into Belgrade must have been quite a culture shock.  While the actual story of their first adventure has become a little lost in the mists of time I imagine them in skirts or dresses, hiring a horse and cart to travel around the area.

Belgrade Depot station around the time Ms Weiser and Ms Pond founded Camp Runoia.

On our staycation this week we traveled to the Owls Head Transportation Museum which had some fascinating displays the most interesting of which for me was about the early female pioneers of travel.  Like our Runoia founders they were making history in the early 1900’s and boldly going places that women typically hadn’t ventured to.  Their names were new to me and their adventures and experiences seemed so radical for the time.  Can you imagine driving a car cross country with a couple of your girlfriends?  Now think about doing it when there were only 156 miles of paved roads and your car barely had a roof!

Can you imagine traveling cross country in this?!

I shall continue to be inspired by the brave bold women of the early 1900’s and to keep sharing their stories with our fearless young women at camp. Maybe they will become the pioneers of this new generation.

The writing on the wall – hand-prints on my heart

Twenty years ago when we moved into this house there were a lot of DIY projects that needed accomplishing. Painting the downstairs bathroom was not high on the list of priorities.  In order to brighten the place up a little we started adding the hand-prints of our visitors.  The parameters were basic: pick your colors, pick your spot, paint your hand and print it on the wall then add your name and date your print.  The hand-prints themselves started out simple, often with just one color and expanded to more elaborate creations that reflected the personality of their owner.  There are now a couple of hundred of prints representing friends from all aspects of life,  a large percentage of whom I know through camp.

The hand-prints tell their own stories. Jayen was an international counselor who just spent one summer with us. Angela is still a feature on our CRAO board.

The hand-prints are a regular reminder of the people that have touched my life.  Some of the folk are still regular visitors, or perhaps sadly now deceased, still others were only around for a short time and we have now lost touch.  They all generate memories of a time and place when we were connected, a shared history and an impression left in my life.  There are many old Camp Runoia friends, campers and staff that passed through for a summer or two or who it feels like I have known for a lifetime.  They hold a space in time that is a reminder not just of them but also of a particular summer on Great Pond.  The dates are helpful in remembering just how long ago it was that they were at camp and how quickly time flies.

Betty-Jo Howard a Runoia legend


At Runoia the names in the boathouse are a similar memorial to those that have passed through at some previous point in time.  They remind us of people we know and also trigger thoughts about those whose story is now  a mystery lost in time.  The faces may be long forgotten but their names are painted in bright colors to remind us that they were here and are part of the rich fabric of our camp community.

The hand-prints on my wall definitely reflect the hand-prints left on my heart.  This will be my 23rd summer at Camp Runoia in Belgrade Lakes, Maine  and I hope to add a few more hand-prints to my bathroom wall and a lot more to my heart.

Camp Runoia – finding your tribe

Have you found your tribe?

At our workshop last week we were invited to find a group with only random volunteers standing up as the group leaders.  The task was to be accomplished without speaking and with no other direction other than ‘find your tribe.’  There was no knowledge of what we were to accomplish in the found group or how long we were committing ourselves to those that we chose.  Reluctantly people moved to join a group, glancing around to see where others were going and apprehensively acknowledging those that came to join them.  It felt strange to make a choice with little information and based mostly on an impression of the volunteer group leader.

Finding your tribe has become a buzz of the current blog and social media world, sometimes is happens organically and sometimes you have to put effort into finding your people.

Our first task in our new group was sharing why we had chosen to belong there.  Answers ranged from the simple and thoughtless ‘it was near to my seat’ to more complex stories about previous connections, commonalities and a feeling that it would be a good place which had swayed their decision making.

In our lives we have many groups that we belong to, some through choice others through situation.  We all seek a place to belong, for like-minded people who we can share experiences with and who we can feel our best selves among.  Being a member of a group of people in which we feel like our true selves and are loved and accepted as we are is a comforting place where we can relax and engage without hesitation. We naturally have a desire for unity in the communities in which we live, work and play.

Runoia girls have a ready made tribe.
We are glad that these women found their tribe back in 1907 and founded Camp Runoia.

Camp Runoia provides campers and staff with the opportunity to have a ready-made tribe of people who come from a variety of places to be the Runoia summer family. The  group forms and reforms with new members joining and old ones moving on.  We remain connected by our commonalities and often bound by our differences.  We enjoy the belonging for the moment of time that is the summer season and sometimes keep the bonds through the years.  We regroup again the next summer.  Having a place and a group of people to be a part of is empowering and reassuring.

We can’t wait to be back on the shores of Great Pond with our Runoia 2018 tribe!  If your daughter is still looking for a place to belong this summer you can sign up here.

Snail Mail or Online – How do you like “The Log” and Your Runoia News Delivered?

Since the summer of 1910, Camp Runoia events and news have been recorded each summer and bound into Log Books and stored in the Runoia Lodge. From the traditional “statistics” to the “Lost and Found” and the “Log Dedication”, to the photos of cabin groups and lists of people in camp, the Log encapsulates the summer events, people, places and things (including jokes and First Impressions, Trip Songs and Stories, poetry and campfire themes) and inks it to paper, forever to be held in the annals of history.

The tradition continues to this date and the Logs are enjoyed by campers and counselors in camp, alumnae and their families visiting camp and some adult children of alumnae who come back to see their mother or grandmother’s camp. The Logs are also reference books, holding the history of Blue White team lists, cabin lists and a record of the summer events at camp. You can peruse the Logs from 1910 to 2009 on the Runoia website.

Betty and Phil Cobb started a bi-annual newsletter connecting Runoia alumnae to camp in the 1970s and aptly named it “The Log”. The newsletter captures the milestones of alumnae, celebrates the donors and volunteers of CRAO who support “Betty Cobb Campership Fund”, a President’s Letter and Greeting from Camp. The Log announces alumnae events and reunions and brings news from camp to your doorstep. Here’s the most recent copy of “The Log” Volume XXX issue ii, Fall 2017. The Roman numerals were adopted after the initial volumes but Betty Cobb’s formal-style of numbering the Log is continued to date.

Whether you prefer your issue of the “The Log” in hard copy by snail mail or to read it online, your Runoia news is available twice a year!