Mountain Biking at Runoia and beyond

As the crisp autumn air flows in, I am reassured as to why I live in New England.  For the seasons.  Now is a perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy all that New England has to offer. Perhaps a swift hike in the woods or a leisurely walk along the water suits you.  For me, I want to go mountain biking.

bike2I was so inspired last summer spending time mountain biking with the girls of Camp Runoia.  It is truly a gift to be able to pass on my passion for a great sport onto these young ladies.  To watch their eagerness to learn and explore is a tough feeling to beat.  I started mountain biking back in the early nineties when the sport first started to take off.  Historically, this has been a sport dominated by men, but the question remains, how do we get more girls and women involved in this great sport?  When I came to Runoia, I was thrilled to see that we had a mountain bike program.  What a great way to expose our girls to a sport they may not be exposed to otherwise.  As the bike technology advances and trails and parks become more accessible, my hope is that more young women will try mountain biking.    I wanted to share something that a local mountain bike park that I ride at in New Hampshire hosted last weekend.  Click here to see a short video with some highlights from the “Women’s Freeride Festival” hosted by Highland Mountain Bike Park.

bike1Highland Mountain Bike Park is a very progressive place which is really on the cutting edge of the sport. Constantly creating new terrain and technical elements, they draw amateur and professional riders from all over the world.  I feel lucky to have this resource not far from home.  They obviously recognize that in order to sustain a sport like this and a facility like this, they need more riders.  I’m sure that this workshop inspired so many women to get into this sport or if already in it, it empowered them to take it to the next level.  This is a sport all about personal growth. You can go as slow or as fast as you want…as big or as small as you want.  What a feeling when you accomplish the next big challenge for the first time.  It truly gives you a great sense of power and accomplishment.

bike3If you have never mountain biked, I encourage you to give it a try!  This is an amazing sport which is here to stay.  I look forward to many more “Fine Maine Days” next summer spent mountain biking with the fabulous girls of a little sleep away camp which we call Runoia!

By Chris Mercier


End of season refelctions

The summer of 2015 is awesomely reflected In the words of our Dream Team 2015 Counselors and staff.

I love working at Runoia. It really is a truly amazing thing that happens. I get the opportunity to make lasting friendships with amazing people, to pass on skills that I value very highly to a group of fantastic girls, and build my leadership skills more than I could at just about any other job. To the director team, thank you for giving me the opportunity to have two of the best summers of my life and for supporting me!

ALleePersonally, there were many highlights of the summer. I enjoyed watching the bond between everyone grow and it definitely showed during campfire and EP. Not only did I create bonds with campers, but I created friendships with the staff that I will hopefully stay in touch with! Seeing the kids improve in their skills and to be excited about trying something new was rewarding. It felt good to see the results of your hard work.

I loved every trip I went on. The Katahdin and Saddleback trips stood out as my favorite.

There are too many highlights to mention them all. I love Runoia because of the amazing experience it provides girls from all over the world. The biggest challenge for me was saying goodbye to campers and staff alike.

JuliaThe highlights were all of the experiences I had with teaching the girls. It was so rewarding to have a girl come back to my activity and remind me of something I had told her or be able to do something without needing to be reminded. Seeing their smiling faces everyday was always amazing too.

I just want to say that this summer at Runoia was the best summer of my life and I am so thankful to be a part of the Runoia Dream Team!

staffWe couldn’t have said it any better.

Thanks to our amazing ‘Dream Team’ staff! We hope to see you all in 2016.

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

Fairies are for Real

Imagine yourself eight years old; you are at sleepaway camp, far far far from your family. You are taking in the fun and action that happens day-in day-out at camp.

One day, as you merrily cruise along in your eight year old world, you are invited to go camping to “Fairy Ring”.  Wait, it gets better. Not only do you get to camp at Fairy Ring, you get to have magical s’mores (AKA dessert before dinner) and you spend part of your afternoon building fairy houses for the fairies of Fairy Ring.

S'mores for Supper?!
S’mores for Supper?!

Consider your eight year old mind fathoming a camp out where the fairies actually live? When said fairies come to visit before bedtime, you can hardly believe your eyes. Flitting between tall pines and the evening dusk, a movement, a glow, a fairy appears!

Fairies Flitting for Fairy Ring
Fairies Flitting for Fairy Ring

The very next morning, when you wake up, the fairies have left you with your very own fairy rock painted in bright colors and glittery-gold.

This tradition at Camp Runoia has been going on since the beginning of time!

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

Camp is….adventure and trips

From our Director of Trips:

Using a reflector oven on a Runoia Trip
Using a reflector oven on a Runoia Trip



Hello everyone!

I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying 2015 thus far. Let me introduce myself quickly: My name is Anna and I am returning to Runoia for my fourth summer on the shores of Great Pond, taking on my first summer as director of the wilderness trip program.

My family has a long history at Runoia (some of you may remember my mom, Connie Burton, from her time at camp) and I am excited to continue that tradition. I grew up listening to my mom’s Runoia stories. One of my favorites is one when she convinced a camper to jump into the cold lake water by telling her that the heater had been turned on just for her and that the water was actually warm!  I also loved hearing about the week long canoe trips that she lead while working at camp, and it means a lot to have the opportunity to plan and lead trips in some of the same lakes that she paddled in so many years ago.

CHEERS! Great food, Great fun, great friends on trail

In between my time in California and moving to Wyoming I’ve been busy working with Pam, Alex, and Abby to get ready for this summer’s overnight trips. We’ve been chatting about program changes, working out the schedule, and researching gear. I’ll make reservations in the next few weeks and the pieces of the puzzle will continue to fall into place.

Since I will have more time in camp this upcoming season I’ve been designing some new activities for camp craft to teach skills that the girls can then transfer to their time on trail. My ideas range from bumping up the Leave No Trace lessons, to introducing various backcountry-baking techniques, Frisbee orienteering, and figuring out a way to teach astronomy during the day.


While there are lots of adventures coming up for me in the next couple weeks, I’ll continue prepping for next summer. I’m already looking forward to paddling around Great Pond and spending another summer full of fine Maine days.


Author Anna leading a trip
Author Anna leading a trip


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.