Bee’s and E’s – week two @camprunoia

Week two of Camp Runoia’s 116th season, has been packed full of adventures, new skills, friend making and about a 1000 friendship bracelets being produced. The Fine Maine Days have been filled with laughter and singing as we sink into the camp experience.

From weather forecasters and TV appearances to July 4th celebrations our days are packed from the minute we wake up until we fall into bed at night. Loons on the lake at night lull us to sleep and we wake to the crows and sheep ready to start new days filled with fun. 

Our campers have settled in, made new friends and are enjoying the fabulous Maine weather and lake life. With a covid free camp it has been a mix and match program week spending time with friends throughout camp. There have been lots of fun activities to tag up for, art projects to get started, rec swims, gaga games and wacky evening programs. The food has been amazing and we often joke that we have to fit camp in between meals and snacks! We are grateful to the positive energy that radiates from the kitchen and the hard work of the staff to keep us all fed with healthy, nutritious and delicious food.

We have been able to get back to more trips this summer and are enjoying getting out and about seeing the best of Maine. It’s the perfect place to be in the summer with so many natural resources and bright sunny days for visiting the mountains and the ocean. Day trips and camping trips get us out of camp and out into nature.

It was a ‘Wild Wednesday’ with some campers doing activities in camp, whilst the other half ventured out on trips. The Juniors went to Camden Hills State Park for a hiking day trip. The keen hikers went for a two hour, woodland hike and enjoyed their packed lunch with the beautiful scenery at the top of Mount Battie. Other hikers even complimented the girls singing as they climbed the mountain, showing off their Runoia spirit. Older girls had a prep hike at Tumbledown, they will be hiking Mount Katahdin later in the session and stretched their legs and enjoyed the lake at the top. Surrounded by nature on yet another Fine Maine day, campers took on the tough hike with determination and excitement. At the end of the four mile hike, campers were rewarded with the stunning views of Tumbledown’s surrounding mountains.

For our Harmony Land Mini campers, they had a fun day trip on Thursday to Pemaquid Beach. Campers were able to cool off while having fun on a hot, fine Maine day. They enjoyed splashing around in the waves, making sandcastles, and seeing the beautiful, coastal landscape that Maine has to offer. We were sad to see them leave at the end of their session and will welcome HLC A on the 5th. Seeing our youngest friends grow and learn during their stay at camp was very rewarding and we know that they will all be back to join main camp next year

The longest trip of the week consisted of a three day overnight camping trip to Acadia National Park. Here our campers went to the beach, climbed over rocks, explored nature and learned camping skills for outdoor living. The favorite thing about the whole trip was watching the sunrise over the harbor from Cadillac mountain.

Evening Programs or EP’s at camp are a great way to end our long days being altogether and having fun. From running games like Capture the Flag, Run Sheepy Run and a Scavenger Hunt to a Pairs Party and Lyp Synch contest we have used teamwork, creativity and athletic ability to have a blast. We always end the day with milk and crackers served by our fabulous CIT’s

The World of Change Truck rolled in yesterday and we chose how we would like all of our loose change to be spent helping kids in our community. Some campers felt very inspired to take the message home to their hometowns and get the program going there too. Encouraging kids to make a difference however small and truly be ‘the change’ in their world builds life skills that are of great importance.

New campers picked their teams or followed their alumnae family members onto a team. Campers have embraced the new team names and colors and are busy updating and rewriting cheers and creating new team spirit! Bees and Elephants or Ellie’s or E’s are ready to hit the fields and courts next week and earn points for their teams. Martina was able to articulate well the importance of this change and how it is our responsibility so show up in positive and affirming ways for all members of our community. Integrating and explaining out DEI work is an important part of being a progressive camp that works for continual improvement and is willing to say just because it’s been that way or is a tradition doesn’t make it right!

We will be slipping and sliding through today for the 4th of July celebrations with crazy fun stations and our traditional all camp relay later in the day. Ending with a campfire and sparklers at the lake these are the days that make our camp memories strong.

Sending much love home from the shores of Great Pond!

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

Read About Runoia CRH 2020 – Featured by Camp Minder Blogger Sarah Braker

By: Sarah Braker

Pam Cobb has been the director and owner of Camp Runoia for 34 summers. Situated on a sandy-bottomed lake in Maine, Runoia is an all-girls camp that teaches girls resilience and independence. Cobb and her team have always modeled these traits, but in 2020 they showed the Runoia spirit of determination and grit in ways they never imagined. They plan to do the same for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions.

While many camps made the heartbreaking and difficult decision to suspend camp in 2020, Cobb and her team successfully ran camp for 80 girls. Like other camp directors who did the same, Cobb leaned heavily on her leadership team, doctors and other experts, and followed state mandates. She was also part of a group of 16 other Maine camps that were able to solicit advice and best practices from each other.

Cobb and her team faced innumerable and often overwhelming challenges, and she acknowledges that there is still so much uncertainty leading into the summer of 2021. As she herself plans for any number of scenarios for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions, she hopes that her peers can learn from what worked for her at Camp Runoia in 2020.

For Cobb and her team, there was no question that camp was going to be very different in 2020. Instead of approaching summer with the goal of keeping as many things the same as possible, they leaned into these differences. They made some difficult decisions, but they ultimately helped her succeed. Specifically, they:

  • Adjusted the typical way that campers were organized 
  • Changed how activities were run
  • Limited off-campus activities and on-site visitors, and
  • Created plans for various levels of Coronavirus outbreaks among staff and campers

A New Name

One of the more innovative decisions suggested by Cobb’s co-director, Alex Jackson, was to give camp a different name in 2020. Jackson recognized that Runoia was going to be completely unique, and wanted to differentiate and acknowledge the forthcoming experiences of campers. Jackson chose the name ‘Camp Runoia Harmonyville.’

Read more of this blog by Sarah Braker at Camp Minder here and find out about Runoia’s protocols here

Find additional information about some of our Maine camp group in today’s WSJ article.

Love, Aionur

Home School, Remote or Hybrid Learning – Runoia Can Add to Your Daily Schedule

Trending across US education are hybrids of remote learning, home schooling and some in-person connection at schools or pop up play spaces. Let the experiential education of camp layer into your school year with these great tutorial videos from counselors. Last spring Camp Runoia staff put together about 20 videos of easy to do at home projects including science, crafts, exercise and more. You can find them all on the official Runoia YouTube channel.

Build in Break Times During Your School Day

Building exercise breaks into the school day helps increase attention and creates more brain space for learning! Fit in a break during the day by having Kara teach your children a yoga class.

Cooking is also a fun break and involves, following a recipe, measuring, learning about stove safety and more. Check out Jen and Natalie’s fun baking moments on the Runoia Youtube channel.

Craft Ideas – Stimulating Creativity

Crafts involve planning, organization and coordination – great skills. Get your Runoia “building lifelong skills” action happening by checking out our craft ideas on Youtube. Simple crafts from things around the house – join Callie to see what you can do with TP tubes or get more involved (pre-order supplies) macramé with “K” or nature imprints or marbled paper with MacKenzie. Abbie shows how to make a pipe cleaner flower, too!

Science Applied to Camp and Life Experience

Baking comes up again in the science category as does CJ’s 24 hour Egg Osmosis experiment. And, check out Ruby’s Best Paper Airplane Ever –add in some physics lessons about aero-dynamics and physics with this Scientific American article and learn how Bernoulli’s principals also apply to how a sail boat’s sails involves lift and how it harnesses the wind to move a boat forward.

Challenge your daughter to sing (and or learn and sing) Out on the Blue Waves – one of our favorite sailing songs at camp.



The Value of Camp by Jen Dresdow

After nine summers as a full season camper it was an easy decision for my daughter, Natalie, to apply for the CIT program for more value at Camp Runoia. She was excited to not only spend one more summer with her friends, but also participate in a leadership program that would add value and skills to her resume. As a camper, Natalie earned the highest awards in both riding and windsurfing and she looked forward to sharing her passion with younger campers and developing her teaching skills in those areas.

The first challenge CITs face is planning and executing the 4th of July festivities at camp. Though this process Natalie learned some valuable lessons about teamwork, trial and error, and communication. After the 4th, CITs focus on either lifeguard training (LGT) or Junior Maine Guide(JMG). Natalie choose to work towards her lifeguard certification as she hoped to work as a windsurfing counselor in the future. Natalie found the lifeguard training challenging, but with the support of Ally, the head of swimming, she was able to meet all the goals.

During the second part of the summer, the CITs honed their teaching skills. All of the CITs worked with Eliza to complete their level 1 Archery Instructor certification. Natalie spent the majority of her teaching time at the waterfront or at the barn. She further supported the riding program by traveling to shows with the girls and helping them prepare to go in the ring. Additionally, the CITs participated in various community service events.

Like many sixteen year olds, Natalie wanted to get a job to earn money of her own. Before she got home from camp, she was offered a job on Monday evenings at the barn she rides at here in Kansas. Her official title is “gopher”, which entails helping young riders get prepared for their lesson, teaching them to groom and tack, and doing evening chores such as watering and turning out horses. Through this job Natalie is able to continue to gain experience working with children and share her love of horses.

Natalie also applied for a lifeguard position at Jewish Community Center here in Overland Park. She was hired on the spot for the job and works twice a week after school. Lifeguarding is a great job for high school as the shifts are short due to the attention demands and the pay is above average for most jobs available to sixteen year olds. Natalie not only uses her lifeguarding skills at this job, but also sharpens her customer service skills and leadership skills as she navigates the demands of pool goers both young and old.

This fall, Natalie applied and interviewed for a Junior Counselor position at Camp Runoia. She is excited to return for her eleventh summer at camp and work in both the windsurfing and

riding programs. Through these camp experiences, she’s been able to successfully navigate application and interview processes, gain leadership skills, live in a community, and develop her talents. All things that will certainly benefit her as she begins the college application process next fall. Camp has been an integral part of Natalie formative years and invaluable in helping her prepare for college and beyond.

Planning Your Trip to Camp Runoia and Maine

Some of our camp families have made their daughter/camp drop off day into an adventure to explore Maine. Maine is a vacation destination for thousands of summer visitors and planning this winter will help you secure lodging and help you escape from the January doldrums!

A local favorite lodging spot is right in Belgrade Lakes. The Village Inn accepts reservations year round and fills up quickly. Dinner at the restaurant or tavern is rewarding as you gaze on the mill stream or sit outside with live music.

Portland is a foodie’s paradise with more farm to table restaurants per capita than most small urban cities. Sustainable harvesting and creative chef inspirations has been a trademark for Portland over the past decade. New hotels are popping up in Portland’s Old Port. Portland and its many charms from sunset sails, lobster piers, harbor cruises, kayaking trips, forts, nearby beaches, rock cliffs and light houses, minor league baseball team the “Portland Sea Dogs”, boutique shops, art galleries, first Friday art walks, music venues with summer concerts added, a world class museum and manageable-sized children’s museum make Portland an easy and fun town to visit. Did we mention bakeries, ice cream, farmers markets and food carts?

Seeing and experiencing the natural beauty of Maine is not just limited to your campers! Check out some of the highlights Maine has to offer:

Acadia National Park – “the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast”

Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin

Get your Moxie by White Water Rafting
The White Mountains in Maine and the Appalachian Trail

Hiking Hut to Hut on Maine Huts and Trails

Now is the time to day dream and then PLAN! Maine has a limited summer season that fills to the brim.

Our very own Belgrade Lakes area has lake side cottages to rent but realtors all over the state of Maine can help you find a lake or coastal rental for a week in Maine:

Finally, Maine isn’t beautiful only in summer. Plan your winter, spring or fall trip to Maine as family!

This Caught My Eye – Anxiety and the Importance of Playing Outside

While skimming my emails this morning, hoovering over my cup of java, before my mind was fully awake this title jumped out at me. Anxiety may be a household word these days but it wasn’t when I was growing up. Certainly we see more children with anxious behaviors and camp is a great place to help reduce this because of routine, guidance from sincere adults in a community, outdoor play, making independent decisions and sticking to them, trusting others and gaining self confidence through the camp experience. As Dr. Kang describes in her article most children are missing what camps offer daily “Our children today are missing their daily dose of POD — play, others (social connection), and downtime.”* Camp Runoia has unstructured play time, rest hour and playful evening programs as well as structured activity time, meal time and team events. The balance of play and learning, the need for communication and expressing feelings at camp is described by Kang as CQ:

“CQ stands for consciousness quotient. This is 21st-century intelligence. IQ is what we’d consider logical, analytical intelligence, very important in the 19th century when we were memorizing facts and getting information from books. EQ is emotional intelligence and very important. But we need both to function with our whole brain, and that is CQ. There are key skills for the 21st century because our world has changed. There’s communication, being able to express your thoughts effectively and communicate across broad mediums; collaboration, which is the ability to work with and inspire others within a team from very diverse backgrounds; critical thinking, which isn’t knowing the right answer but knowing how to ask the right question; creativity, which has been identified by today’s business leaders as the most important competency for the future; and contribution, which is our connection, our meaning, our purpose.

IQ and EQ are no longer enough to capture these five skills because the world is so technologically driven, so fast-paced, connected, and ultra-competitive.”*

So, while we think of camp as a fun experience, at Runoia we provide children a chance to have an independent experience, build skills in activities, have face to face communication daily, unplugged/zero screen time, try new things without fear of failure, make lasting friendships, create a home away from home, camp is more and more the solution to an over scheduled, high pressure life that many of our children experience today.

*Anxiety and the Importance of Play, American Camp Association Magazine, by Shimi Kang, MD, January 2017

Giving Thanks

Gratitude – by Jeannie Fleming-Gifford

It is here. It is the time of year when we are expected to take a deep breath and stop and consider why we are thankful. Why are YOU thankful?

I, like many, will pause and reflect on my health, my family, the fact that I have a safe place to dwell, food on my table and my freedom to worship as I choose and to speak my mind freely.

As a mother, I easily turn my thoughts to my 9-year old daughter as well.

Raising a child is certainly an adventure that, most days, we are grateful for. The ability to see the world through new, energized, optimistic eyes…the ability to know that our child may further impact the good work in the world which each of us sets out to do.  These things make parenting a wonderful, tiring, awesome, enthralling adventure.

As we delve into the holidays and the darkness of winter and cold that often accompanies these days, it is with fondness that I remember my gratitude for experiences like Runoia and its significance on my daughter and the other girls who find a second home in Belgrade Lakes, ME, each summer.

For 7 magical weeks of summer, there is a place where girls can go and be surrounded with the good of the world that will only make them grow stronger, supporting them in becoming the best people which they can be. Rich in the tradition and history of its camp founders, Miss Weiser and Miss Pond, Runoia provides the support, respect and confidence needed for girls to develop and grow strong.

There are abundant opportunities for girls to take risks – to take flight – from water skiing for the first time to archery to overnight excursions. There is independence within a safe, supportive setting.  There are caring adults ensuring physical health. There are ample opportunities for physical explorations which promote health and wellness. And food? There are fresh vegetables and fruit, sprinkled with the sweetness of birthday cake which is delivered with song and smiles.

As the sun sets on each day of opportunity, there is time for reflection as girls connect about the day’s successes and those things which they will strive for again tomorrow. And as darkness falls, there is calm and quiet – except for the loons. As good nights are said and cabin lights dim, there is always a presence of gratitude.

Runoia is place which exudes gratitude for life.

Wishing you and yours a blessed day of thankfulness.


Fall in Maine

Season of bounty

I truly love living in Maine, mostly because of the distinct change in the seasons.  Remember I grew up in England where 50 and drizzly is the most common year round weather! Each season in Maine has unique offerings and a diversity of outdoor activities that are specific to it.  While the summer and overnight camp is obviously top of my list each other season has it’s own feel and events to look forward to.

img_1736Fall is truly a quick change, from long, warm summer days by the lake to days that become crisp, cool and seem suddenly so much shorter.   Early Saturday soccer matches are often spent wrapped in a fleece blanket to ward off the chill and what would be E.P time at camp is already PJ’s and a book time.



There is certainly at this time of year more leisure time in my schedule. I love to be out in the crisp Maine air enjoying a hike or a drive through the foliage.



One of my favorite Fall rites of passage is to go apple picking.  There are many local orchards and we often go a few times just to make sure that we hit all of our favorites spots.  The bakery at a couple of places is an added incentive.  The picking doesn’t take too long but sorting and figuring out what to make afterwards is often an enjoyable all-day event.  Some apples are designated for eating, we always make plenty of cinnamon apple sauce, apple crisp is a big favorite and then we enjoy scouring Pinterest for random recipes to use up the rest.

I often wish that camp lasted into these late September days so we could share the bounty of Maine with our Runoia family.  Wherever you are I hope that you Fall is fun and filled with quality family time and outdoor fun.


Finding Perfection

The Perfect Tree – Finding Perfection

There is a lot of anticipation in our house this week.  The upcoming weekend is our annual sortie into the woods to find the perfect tree to decorate for the Holidays.  We don’t have a particular place or tradition for getting the tree sometimes we swing by one of the local Maine tree farms close to our house but we have also been known to go out in the back acreage and find a wild tree.  Once we have decided if we will go and cut one or grab one at the market stand the hunt is on.

balsam8The challenge is always how do we find the ‘perfect’ tree? How big should it be? Round and full? or a little thinner so the ornaments hang down? At the farm there are even choices of what variety of spruce to bring home!  It is hard for it not to become overwhelming especially when everyone has a different opinion about just what constitutes ‘perfect.’

balsam7Depending on how cold it is the search may be long or due to frozen fingers and toes it may be a short trek to the nearest good looking spot.  ‘Perfect’ becomes relative when the promise of hot chocolate is involved.

The funny thing is that no matter which tree we end up getting everyone always declares it ‘perfect’ even when it requires a 6” decapitation to fit in the house or takes up half the room.  It is the time with family and the tradition of actually doing this together every year that truly makes it ‘perfect.’

tree1However you celebrate the Holidays I hope that it will be your own version of perfect.