A new season for Camp Runoia

It is barely a little over a month since we shuttered the buildings and closed down camp for the 2021 summer season. Many of our campers have just gone back to school and the leaves are hardly changing color here in Maine and yet our 2022 summer season is open! Early enrollment is in full swing for next summer which is so exciting. This past summer was amazing, we had a blast on Great Pond with old friends and new and truly cannot wait to do it all again next year. After a tough year with lock downs and quarantines, zoom school and no activities our girls were thrilled to be at camp in real time with people. The fun lasted literally from dawn until dusk and even into the night in some cases! We are grateful that parents had confidence that we could pull it off and recognize the social and emotional growth that happens at camp and is even more necessary as kids have been removed form their typical experiences.

In 2020 we were grateful to be able to open with a limited camper capacity and operating only one three week session. We had no idea what the knock on effect would be for future enrollment and couldn’t have predicted that we would still have been in the midst of a global pandemic as we opened the 2021 season. This past summer saw us welcoming 100 new families into our community. How lucky we were to see many of our old campers returning and to have the opportunity to get to know so many awesome new girls.  Camp was full and it felt so good to be operating our regular season again and while there were still some modifications to navigate covid protocols it felt much more like a regular summer.

 

Now here we are looking towards 2022 with an unprecedented early enrollment of returning campers. We have been delightfully shocked by how eager families are to sign up for early enrollment spaces. There have been an increased number of requests for full session spaces and even our younger camper slots and sessions are filling ahead of their usual timeline. This is great news for camp and fantastic from a business perspective yet is certainly a little stressful for folks that are not quite ready to commit yet.

We understand it’s hard to know how life will shake out in the next 11 months. Where we will all be at with covid and its impact on everyday living. The good news is that In uncertain times, camp is a sure thing. Camp Runoia will open in June 2022 for our 116th continuous summer on Great Pond. Campers will swim in the lake, enjoy the great Maine outdoors, connect with friends and learn new skills. There will laughter, bug bites, marshmallows and singing. Camp will welcome old and new faces with the goal of everyone having the best summer ever!

 

We hope that all of our 2021 campers will be back to be joined by some new faces for another amazing summer of building lifelong skills. The season is open for 2022 and we couldn’t be happier.

Whatever the weather it is always a ‘Fine Maine Day’

Rain or shine we are always making the most of our opportunities and have been having a blast with a wider variety of friends at Camp Runoia this week. The Maine weather has certainly thrown everything at us, from bright, sunny, hot days to showers, thunderstorms and fall-like evenings. We navigated around the liquid sunshine and soaked up any available rays as we motored through another amazing week of camp. We are making memories, friends for life and having the most fun outdoors that we can while building our ‘life skills.’

There is so much gratitude for being here. The campers really are so open to sharing time with friends, engaging in whatever is going on and bringing their best selves. Everyone really got into the camp groove this week. Girls that were new last week seem like they have always been here and have joined the old timers with feeling at home and comfortable here. Community living is filled with the opportunity for connection with people of all ages and from all places. We have really been enjoying more mixing and mingling as we celebrated being covid free.

The highlight of the week was definitely getting to ‘tag up’ for the first time. Campers got to choose their own schedule and after trying lots of activities with their shacks over the past week had a good idea of where they wanted to focus their energy. We also ‘dived’ into formal swim lessons and girls are working hard to pass levels and also be ready for the Oak Island swim that will be coming up on one of the last mornings. We practiced for blue/white games and hope to add some volleyball this year. Outside news of the Olympics is often breakfast table conversation.

This week’s ‘in harmony with nature’ moment was brought to you by the squirrel in the mid soapies!

EP’s have been so fun this week, with a ‘pairs party’ and a not so chill ‘chill out’ night topping the list. Thursday saw all of camp out on the fields, courts and under the tent doing whatever they wanted to. Girls of all ages were intermingling, laughing and playing together. While a few campers chose a good book and a quiet spot under the trees or on the old rock wall most were actively engaged in sports and activities. Tennis, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, four square, parachute games, bracelets and myriad of random made up games were going on. The joy and laughter was palpable and everyone was happily tired and in bed at ‘goodnights’.

The parachute blob was like this a while!

We were sad to see our young Harmony Land friends finish their session on Saturday morning. The HLCB crew are all ready for a full session next summer and were so fun to get to know. The little sisters who finally got to be campers and join their older siblings at camp this summer were pretty excited! We do wonder what their parents got up to having all of their kids off at camp for 12 days. 

Shout out to the Hoffmann’s with all 4 girls in camp at one time. SV, 6th shack, 2nd shack and HLC it could be a Runoia record! 

 

We will be making the most of every moment over the coming week, maximizing our opportunities, deepening our friendships and enjoying all that Runoia has to offer.

 

Second session – rolled in ready!

Well we were certainly sad to say goodbye to our first session girls but the second session came in with a fanfare! With a couple of days to catch our breath and get camp clean and ready to go we excitedly welcomed our new crew. These campers hit the camp ground running, laughing and ready to roll. They are excited and ambitious, playful and engaged. We have spent the first week getting to know each other and participating in activities by shack group. We hope that when all camp covid testing comes back we will be able to tag up and meet more friends around camp.

It’s been a busy week with ‘Fine Maine Days’, some of which were a little of the liquid sunshine variety. We tried new activities, started arts projects, went out hiking, sailed, skied and rode. The days are full, from breakfast to milk and crackers. Campers get the most out of every minute.  The tennis, badminton, gaga and tether ball courts are full at free time and the tree house is often occupied with gaggles of girls playing cards, reading or just hanging out. Having time to just be with other kids in nature feels like such a gift this year and our girls are truly so appreciative.

We have crammed a lot into the week from campfire and cookout to picking our blue/white teams. We had a lot of girls following their mothers or sisters onto the White team this session including the daughter of former White team captain Heather Duckworth! It is great to keep our camp traditions and we also spend time learning songs and cheers  and repeating our camp history so that the next generation of Runoia girls knows how we all get to be here celebrating 115 summers.

We instigated cabin inspection this session as ‘living in harmony with nature’ in your shack is perhaps not quite what we had in mind! Campers are doing a better job with cabin clean up and there are treats on the horizon for those that get high scores all week. Sometimes it is really hard to convince a 12 year old that being a good sweeper really is a great life skill.

EP’s have been fun, some active like capture the flag and some high on performance with an intense lip synch battle complete with celebrity judges. 

We can’t wait to see what the next week brings and hope campers are writing some good letters home filled with stories about all that they are getting up to.

It’s the best days of summer on Great Pond! Camp Runoia is our home away from home, the best camp ever, making memories and friends that will last a lifetime.

It’s blue and white and other camp fun

We are in the final stretch of First Session 2021. Many items are on the bucket list for our last several days, but first we have much to report on from this past week. 

After a couple of rainy days and a cozy Friday movie night, the weekend brought sunshine and new energy and both days saw temperatures in the high seventies. Saturday was the last day of our fourth activity block, and girls enjoyed getting into the lake for swim lessons and getting out on the blue waves for sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and skiing. We had our first 2021 American Archer (passing all of the levels) go Charlotte M. and some major level passing in target sports, girls gearing up for the Blue/White horse show, action on the tennis, volleyball, basketball, and badminton courts, fabulous dance and drama lessons going on around camp, baskets and art projects being completed, and so much more. Sunny days have also helped us to get our girls out for tubing, a highly coveted treat here at camp! Saturday night supper was Birthday Tables in which everyone celebrated all of the girls in their cabins who have birthdays during the session by dressing up in different themes and singing silly songs, eating cake, and having a Birthday Party Bash with music, limbo, hula hooping, foursquare, and lots of laughter echoing throughout camp. 

 

Sunday morning started with a sleepy breakfast – campers and counselors wore their pajamas to the dining hall and, as always, doughnuts were a hit! Blue/White junior and senior team captains were nominated and elected, and then we all gathered on the beach for swim races. Each girl earned points for her team, and we’re pretty sure our neighbors across the lake heard the awesome team spirit coming from the beach in the form of songs and cheers! Good thing most of them are Runoia alumnae and were probably cheering for their old teams too!

Juniors played kickball and seniors played softball Blue/White games in the afternoon, and then we all got into our uniforms for supper and again gathered at the lake all together for our first Sunday night campfire, revolving around the theme “Better Together”. Each cabin shared a skit with the rest of camp and we taught and sang some of our favorite traditional Runoia songs while watching the sun set over Great Pond. We were joined by three loons who seemed to linger in our cove longer than usual, perhaps entranced by the melodies and harmonies we created together. 

 

On Monday we began our fifth and final block, this one lasting for four days to allow our girls a good chunk of time to develop and build on their skills in each of the program areas they tagged up for. The farm program is very popular these days, giving girls a chance to learn some gardening and animal care practices. Our Harmony Land campers went horseback riding on Monday evening, while the rest of the camp did “Laundry Bag Skits” – each cabin received a box full of random items and got to write, direct, and perform a short play. There were some truly hilarious moments, and we think we may have some rising stars on our hands! 

 

Luckily the sun decided to hang around through Tuesday, letting us have a full program day and two excellent recreational swim opportunities. It was wonderful to see so much splashing around, diving for rings, handstand contests, and games of Marco-Polo. First and Second shack each went out for a half-day hike yesterday at “The Mountain”, and made it back to camp before the rain. The sun poked back out for a bit for the late afternoon, and Tuesday night’s evening program was Counselor Hunt – a giant game of hide and seek in which girls ran around camp together trying to find hidden counselors, several of whom got extra creative – up a tree, in an empty(!) trash can! 

Our last several days will be jam-packed with more incredible program opportunities, day hiking trips, the completion of baskets and art projects, healthy and delicious meals, ziplining from the climbing tower, jumping on the water trampoline, the passing of archery, riflery, sailing, windsurfing, and riding levels, an early morning Oak Island swim, Blue/White competition, caring for our chickens and bunnies, end-of-session traditions, dips in the lake, and of course, those unforgettable moments of Camp Runoia magic that all of our Super Star Staff have been working hard to create for our campers. 

Wow – sound like a lot? Sure does, but we always get it done! A huge shoutout to everyone who has made the First Session of Camp Runoia 2021 possible we are so grateful for the opportunity to all be together again in person.

 

Thanks to Sophie B. for blogging and keeping track of our antics.

Women History Month!

March Blog

Women’s History is celebrated in the month of March. The 1925 Camp Runoia Log was dedicated to the founders of camp – Lucy Weiser and Jessie Pond. The quotes next to Miss Pond’s photo in the log reads, “Grace was in her step, in every gesture dignity and love” and next to Miss Weiser, “Society, friendship, and
love Divinely bestowed upon man.”

These two women had the vision to start a camp for girls. In 1907 they opened Camp Runoia for the first summer. They were courageous and resourceful and certainly are smiling upon us as we begin our 115th consecutive summer of Camp Runoia for girls.

We celebrate Lucy and Jessie during women’s history month and all the years they dedicated to bringing girls and women together on the shores of Great Pond for growth, adventure, friendship and more.

Check out more about Runoia history and the women whose legacy families have helped camp to continue operating on our Runoia family tree section.

So many women have accomplished so many things in this world. If you’d like to dive a little further into Women’s history, check out the US library of congresses resources on women’s history in the United States including women related to arts, culture, government and politics, historic places, women and war, women rights and women’s suffrage, women in science, women in business and more.

Here’s a great resource for teachers for lessons, images, data and research from the library of congress.

Find out more about the 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, nominated by President Barak Obama in February of 2016 and confirmed by the senate 6 months later.

And realize the #runoiagals were pioneers of owning a business that allowed girls to do what so many boys were able to do – get out of the city, connect with others in camp

Love,

 

Aionur

 

 

JMG – A college application essay topic

The Junior Maine Guide (JMG) program has been a mainstay at Camp Runoia for decades. It provides older campers with the opportunity to participate in a Maine State, organized youth program that develops and tests their wilderness skills. It is a rigorous program that can take a couple of years to accomplish. Camp develops all kinds of life skills and becoming a  JMG is a huge achievement but the process also has great value.

This weeks guest blog is Lilly Grace’s college application essay that focused on her time working towards becoming a JMG.

Common App Main Essay by Lilly Grace
To the average person, building a roaring fire with a soaking wet billet of wood, an axe and just a few matches may seem like a nearly impossible task. After all, that’s what I thought as I was first learning how to make a “wet day fire.” However, what most people don’t realize is that the dryness of a billet is irrelevant to one’s ability to build a “wet day fire.” Rather, what is most critical to their success is practice, preparation, and an ability to persevere through
setbacks until ultimately satisfied. Building a wet day fire is a mentally and physically challenging skill that is just one of twenty-one tests to become a Junior Maine Guide. Although the process of becoming a Junior Maine Guide was only intended to teach me wilderness skills, I believe it was the most rewarding experience of my life thus far because I gained more than just a vast amount of knowledge about the wilderness. I also took this unique opportunity to
learn and develop critical life skills.

The wet day fire test
One thing that I learned quickly upon arrival at the five day testing encampment is that candidates must be organized, disciplined, and confident in order to succeed in this environment where there is little structure. I had three full days to complete twenty-one tests at any time and in no specific order. I lacked those three essential qualities that I needed, and JMG presented additional challenges that I had never had to tackle before in school. However, as I had learned from my past experiences, success is something that does not come easily to me and has always required more time, effort and motivation on my part. Therefore, these challenges that I was presented with were simply just a few hurdles in reaching my goal.Throughout the three summers, I was committed to gaining the skills needed to succeed.
I overcame my organizational challenges by making study and testing schedules that were essential to keeping myself motivated and on track throughout the summer, and I made sure to stick to them. I learned how to study in more exciting and efficient ways that developed my self-discipline. For example, when learning locations on the map of Maine, my friends and I would place M&Ms on the different locations and if we guessed the location correct, we were
rewarded with the candy. As for my time-management, I learned that using a watch was extremely beneficial to budgeting my time and ensuring that I was able to complete every test in the short time frame. And once I learned that I could build a Wet Day Fire and solo a canoe with ease, I knew I had the confidence to take on anything.

Becoming a Junior Maine Guide has been, by far, the proudest moment of my life, as I knew it was something that I worked so hard to accomplish on my own. This rigorous program typically takes two years to complete, however it took me three. While some people may perceive my additional year in the program as a failure, I choose to see it as a blessing in disguise. I struggle with ADHD and weak executive functioning skills, which is something that affects my everyday life, but I clearly have never let it stop me. In fact, I believe that I have made more improvement with my executive functioning skills through trial and error in the JMG program than I ever have in a school classroom. In the end, I proved to myself and others that I am exceedingly capable of persevering through my learning challenges to accomplish anything that is important to me. It just might take some additional time and effort.

Hope for next summer

As we navigate life living with covid 19 and create our own ‘new normal’ managing all of the procedures and public safety protocols, even regular everyday life can get a little overwhelming. It is sometimes hard to see a way forward without taking two steps backward.  We are all living in an unknown time with so many questions about what the immediate and long term future may look like. Information still seems to change on an almost daily basis, schedules are always flexible as schools shift back and forth between in person, virtual and hybrid learning models. Talk of the looming holiday season and how that may look for families is becoming a more current conversation. Making plans for any travel or vacation out of state seems like an impossible feat. We are only able to navigate the present which for a culture that loves a planner and to have life scheduled out is proving very challenging for many.

So how on earth are we ready to open enrollment for camp in the summer of 2021?

The path to the lake is always there.

How do we make decisions when we don’t know what the future may look like? Perhaps it is time to just jump in with hope? Get the puppy, eat the cake and be sure to sign up for camp! We know from our experiences of this past summer that we can create a safe and engaging space for our girls to have an intentional summer experience.

Camp Director colleagues who were unable to open camp this past summer have been keen to chat with us about how our summer went.  They don’t really have specific questions but more are seeking hope for how they can operate in 2021. As everyone has different sites, programs and clientele there is definitely no magic ‘this will work for you’ solution. How we operated Runoia in 2020 may also look slightly different than how we do it in 2021 as we will be another year down the covid road. We talk often about attitude and mindset. Knowing that opening camp and running safe programs has been done encourages others that it can be done at their camp too. Camp Directors are a positive, resilient, creative crowd and are keen to dig into how they can operate safely in 2021. Sharing stories and telling our tale of summer 2020 helps the profession as a whole. The collective hope is that the most amount of campers can safely get to their camps next summer.

Hopefully our Harmonyville campers are telling their stories too! Other kids need to be hearing from their peers that going to camp next summer will be safe and fun. Peer sharing has so much value in generating a narrative that has substance.

We take pride in the fact that 2021 is Camp Runoia’s 115th continuous season of operation. We will definitely be ready for yet another amazing summer on Great Pond.

Old friends for always

An old camp friend flew in from Australia this past weekend. She traveled alone so that she could see New England in the fall and re tramp some of the footpaths of her young adulthood. We met at camp at a time when social media wasn’t even imagined and there were certainly no smart phone so connections through the years have been loose. How incredible is was to see someone again after 14 years we had only spent one 9 week summer together  yet reconnected like it was just yesterday.

Though her memories were a little fuzzy the draw to return to Runoia was strong. We walked through camp, past the many things that have changed, the new buildings, additions, different program options and reminisced about all the things that were still the same.  She found her name on the 5th shack plaque and could recall each of her campers and the laughs they had shared together that summer.

 

 

We sat on the boathouse steps for a long time just quietly taking it all in. She was amazed at how deeply she was moved by being back and how the memories of one summer so long ago returned so quickly. As a swim instructor she had spent many hours on and in the lake and could recount memorable moments and the day to days of camp life. We talked about how camp was life changing for so many reasons. As young adults our futures were impacted greatly by the time that we spent on Great Pond and the relationships that formed that have and will truly last a life time. How hard it is to describe this powerful experiential force to those that haven’t been here.

So many times our Runoia girls will say they come back to camp be with their friends. They love all that camp has to offer, the activities, silly evening programs and Sunday campfires, but it is the relationships that draw them back. As our cabins rapidly fill up for the 2020 season we are already anticipating the strengthening of those bonds and the development of new ones. Camp is the place where you come as you are and are welcomed in and appreciated for just being you. The friends that you make be it for one summer or over many truly are the people that stay with you for a lifetime.

She  left the Runoia gates with a million photographs and the strong certainty that she would be back someday. I left with a great reminder that the work we do here is powerful and has great value.  The Runoia experience is far more than just one summer moment in time, it’s magic that can resonate for a lifetime.

Transferring camp skills to school

The camp bell is soon to be replaced by the school bell.

When Runoia girls arrive home from camp their parents often tell us that not only do they seem to have grown a few inches but that they are moving through the world with more confidence and have added to their inventory of skills.  During their time at residential camp girls acquire life skills that transfer to all aspects of their lives and are particularly useful when they head back to school. Acknowledging this skill development and verbalizing with girls what they can take from camp back to the rest of their year can be valuable and may smooth the back to school transition for those that find it a little bumpy.

Camp bus
We’ll take the camp bus over a school bus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At camp girls often become more self-reliant, they learn to make new friends, manage their personal belongings and get from place to place on time and in the right attire. Day to day living tasks become their responsibility. They problem solve, communicate and advocate for themselves every day. The Runoia community is rich with opportunities for girls to push beyond their comfort zones, try new things and build on their strengths. Campers often surprise themselves with their new found competence and confidence. They learn that with perseverance and dedication that they can do things that once seemed difficult or that make take multiple tries to master. They learn that they have value and a place in our community, that they are respected for who they are and that there are people who want to build relationships with them. Making independent choices are a huge part of a Runoia camper experience and they affect all aspects of a girl’s daily living and camp experience.

Our favorite kind of backpack! The challenges of hiking a mountain can fill your child’s tool kit with skills that transfer to school.

Intentionally re affirming your daughter’s summer successes, reminding her of the great camp friends that will be there next summer and actively naming all of the skills that she now  has in her tool kit can really help strengthen confidence through those first sometimes daunting back to school days.

We wish all of our campers a smooth transition back to school and if they need a ray of camp sunshine to brighten their days enrollment for 2020 is opening this week! For some of our teachers on the Runoia staff school is just a filler job between summers!

We are officially starting the countdown to Camp Runoia’s 114th season on Great Pond.

First Days at Camp Runoia

Every staff member here at Camp Runoia woke up buzzing with excitement for opening day. After finishing touches were put on cabins and everyone changed into their uniforms, you could feel the magic in the air as the first campers filtered down into their cabins. The little bit of rain we had in no way put a damper on the exhilaration of arriving at camp. 

After some time getting to know their cabin-mates and counselors, everyone gathered into the Dining Hall for our first meal of our 113th summer (spaghetti, of course). After everyone was nice and full, junior and senior ends split up for evening program, and let me tell you, the cheering and roaring laughter coming from the Lodge and the Den carried throughout all of camp. Then, after some bedtime milk and crackers, everyone got cozy in their cabins and rested up for the big day we all have ahead of us. 

Today  will be our orientation so that our new campers can get to know everything available to them at Camp Runoia, and returners can have a refresher about procedures and schedules. 

It is a Fine Maine Day, and everyone is ready to start getting into a routine. 

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of our first block of programming, where campers will have a schedule of their activities and get to go about their day participating in programs that they get to choose themselves. From waterskiing to basketweaving to swimming lessons, every last kiddo will fall into a groove and camp will begin to feel like their second home. 

 

We are so pleased and ecstatic to have full shacks again, and thankful that girls love coming back to Runoia summer after summer. Here’s to making this the best one yet! 

Love,

Aionur

By Nina Budeiri