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! 



By Nina Budeiri



Be the change you want to see in the world

Our camp Runoia community attempts to create change through simple acts of kindness and caring, hoping  to make the world that we live in a better place.  We believe that we can engage campers and staff to be the change that they want to see in our local communities and in the greater world around us.

In our Giving Tuesday blog back in November we shared about a new community service initiative that we were excited to be getting involved with.   We are moving forward with this partnership and continuing our monetary giving into the summer season.

‘World of Change’ is a philanthropic organization with a home base right here in Maine.   It  encourages youth to participate in collections of loose change that can then be used to create ‘change’ in their local communities.  We are excited to be one of the startup camps that are joining the drive and will be collecting change this summer.  We are hopeful that this will create enthusiasm among our campers for continuing this support in upcoming seasons.

The statistics of how much money is just sitting around in our homes, cars, and workplaces is just staggering.

How much loose change do you have lying around?

Camp Runoia families are always incredibly generous and our ‘cans from campers’ food drives have been very successful.  Through support of our local food pantry, we have had the opportunity to be a positive presence in Runoia’s small, home town .  We will continue collecting food on opening days this summer and hope  that gathering change throughout the school year to bring to camp will catch on too.

We know that a lot of people giving a little can really create positive change for those in need.  All of the money that World of Change generates goes directly to the nonprofits working in communities identified as having needs.  The six focus areas ensure that all children get strong foundations to grow on.

Promoting kindness at camp and at home.

We hope that our Camp Runoia campers will engage with the World of Change philosophy and strive to make a difference in their home communities.  Where will you start? How can you be the change in your community? It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking spending an hour picking up trash or helping an elderly neighbor with yard work can be a great place to start.

Together we truly can be the change we want to see in the world.

Transferable Skills – Why Camp Matters

“It is at camp I found a purpose. It is at camp I felt I belonged. It is at camp I had a passion for learning.” – shared thoughts from an anonymous campers’ campfire talk

As we have learned from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in A Theory of Human Motivation once basic needs are met, people can develop a higher level of functioning. The self-actualization that is allowed at camp after basic needs are met can be astounding. Leadership opportunities abound, recognition for accomplishment, motivation to set higher goals in activities and leadership roles all continue to develop and grow as campers grow with our camp.


The skills gained at camp, ultimately are transferable to other aspects of life including school, work, career, family, exploration, continual learning and more. It’s the perseverance, the patience, the process, the people and the collaboration that adds to the 21stcentury skills. It’s the trying and failing and trying again until you get it or get better that correlates with Dweck’s Growth Mindset.

Campers who experience a spectrum of activities and start to gain skills in a few focused ones (sailing, riding, archery, tennis, art, swimming and also social skills, peer recognition) have the opportunity to continue growth, development, gain recognition, set goals, meet and exceed goals through the hands on experience at camp, the coaching and encouragement and the adults who will help you realize your potential. Campers help other campers gain skills and realize their potential motivates some campers as well – being the teacher to a younger camper can be inspirational. The process itself is inspirational.

Knowing not everything comes easily but try and try again with the support and encouragement of others will build skills campers will carry with them for a lifetime. And, camp is fun in
the process. Yes! Some campers miss home and experience homesick feelings.  Discover how time away from home and from parents can help a child to grow to allay your worries with Michael Thompson’s book Homesick and Happy

What a better way to build your child’s growth experience.  Check out summer at Camp Runoia and give your daughter the gift that keeps on giving – for a lifetime.

Thanksgiving dinner – simple traditions

In the past few weeks I’ve spent countless hours scouring recipe books, looking online and attempting to find the perfect menu for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I am hosting and as it isn’t a tradition I grew up with I don’t want to mess it up and want the dinner to meet the expectations of the family and friends that are invited.  I’ve read articles, looked on Pinterest and jotted down copious amounts of ideas and still haven’t been able to perfect the menu.  I finally asked those attending what they wanted on the table and was somewhat surprised by the simplicity of the answers.

Cooking with friends at Camp Runoia.

‘I just love mixing cranberry sauce with the regular mash potato,’ ‘oh nothing fancy just the ordinary dishes will be perfect,’ there was even a request for ‘green bean casserole’ as it is a fond reminder of growing up in the 1960’s!  Some asked if it was OK if they brought a favorite dish that they enjoy making or offered to share the bounty of their harvested vegetable gardens.  Others have no preferences and are just looking forward to getting together and enjoying the company.  All people really expect is a table to sit around (I’d better make sure we have enough chairs!) and the time to share a meal together.

Dinner at Camp Runoia!

The simplicity of the expectations, the reverence of the tradition and familiarity of having the old favorites remind me so much of summer at Camp Runoia.  While there are changes with the times (yes I will have gluten free and vegetarian options for Thanksgiving!) so many things remain the same.   No  matter how long you have been away or even if you are arriving for the first time the feeling of coming home to a comfortable and welcoming community is all that really matters.

It is often the simple, traditional things that have the most importance and that create the lasting memories.  Here’s to not over doing it and just sharing food with family and friends in whatever way feels right and makes people happy.

Starting over – Runoia 2019 are you ready?

September has arrived with shorter days, cooler evenings and an opportunity for a moment to breath and reflect on the past summer season.  2018 was fantastic.  We had so ‘many fine Maine days’ that we were honestly wishing for a little more rain! Camp was full of happy campers and our staff group had an impressive skill set that they shared with enthusiasm.  Even though at camp we fit so much into a day the time flew by way too fast.  We can’t believe that it is time to start over and that our 2019 season is already open for business.

The cycle of camp is an interesting one as there is little down time as we are constantly moving towards the next season.  It is hard to believe that we are now open for early enrollment for our returning campers.  We are hopeful that most will be back and some are already clamoring for the limited full season spaces.  New families are waiting to see if there may be a space for their daughter while others are getting in touch and just beginning to think about plans for next summer.

We are ready to help people make decisions about if Runoia is the right fit for their family.  We are making room for younger sisters and cousins and figuring out how we can continue to make a Runoia summer a crucial part of a girls development.

There is excitement as new enrollments pop into our inboxes, we miss everyone and are already counting down the days until we can all be back together on the shores of Great Pond.  We are really ready to start over and move into 2019 while reminiscing and holding on to the memories and great times from 2018.

Sending positive thoughts for a great back to school and we hope to see you all back on Great Pond next summer.

Camp Runoia 2019 bring it on!

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.

Fall reflections about the summer at camp

As we head into the crisp, clear days of fall it is a great time for reflection and contemplation about the past summer at camp.  Life in Maine takes on a slower pace at this time of year and we are able to take a few minutes to look back on the great moments that happened over the summer season and to figure out if we need to make any improvements for the upcoming year.

Runoia zen

As we connect with parents of returning campers and those potential families that may be joining us next summer, read surveys and talk to staff it is a great opportunity for us to get a variety of feedback.  Summer camp is a fleeting season filled to the brim with experiences, relationship building and a myriad of tasks that fill up our ‘fine Maine days.’

Once the chaos of back to school has settled and we are into our more relaxed off season routines mid-October is a perfect time to chat.  We love conversations with parents about the changes they have seen since their daughter came home from camp, growth she has made or just the stories she had to tell about her camp experiences.  When reach outs about enrollment result in ‘she wouldn’t miss it for the world’ or ‘she would be so mad if I missed out on signing her up’ we are gratified that we produced another great Runoia summer for our girls.

View from the Runoia boathouse

In order to fill those few remaining spaces that are open the fall also allows us time to refine our marketing strategy for the upcoming season .  In a world of photo shop and fake news we try to accurately sell the product that is a Runoia summer.  We market what we can produce and hope that our happy customers will keep coming back for more.  With attention paid to any feedback that helps us to continue striving for excellence, we feel like we can really create an evolving product that stays true to our traditions and camp culture.  As we talk to new families not only about the generic benefits of a sleep away summer camp experience we also ask them to reflect on the type of place that would best suit their child.  We want our campers to feel like Camp Runoia is truly their home away from home and to be able to meet the goals they may have set themselves for the summer.

While we continue to reach out to our community we also invite you to share your thoughts about Runoia and help our reflections gain substance.  We are certain that the summer season of Runoia 2018 will be here before we know it and we are already excited for our 112th season on Great Pond.


Closing Camp for the Season (What do you folks do the rest of the year??)

Throughout the 30 years that I’ve been a camp director I am frequently asked, “So what do camp directors do for the REST of the year?”. The short answer is, “This is actually a year round job. There’s actually a lot that needs to be done between seasons”. Well, like what? The list of tasks is long and people aren’t surprised once I point out that, well, just for starters, somebody has to… recruit new campers, check in with families about the summer, staff and plan the ever-better programs for next summer – oh, and close up the site for the winter. It starts as soon as the camp season ends and it continues until campers arrive next summer. (I wish we could say that we just hang out on a beach in the tropics but alas, that’s not to be).

One very important piece of seasonal work that is happening right now is the physical closing up of the camp for the season. So what does closing Camp Runoia involve? Well, typically it starts with a list, a very LONG list, and under each header lurk many detailed items that need careful attention. The main headers look something like this…

  • Clean all buildings and shutter the cabins
  • Inventory and pack supplies
  • Move boats into storage and take down docks
  • Shut off the water

And… there are also three items that aren’t on the written list, but definitely happen throughout this whole process:

  • Smile at wonderful camp memories
  • Dream about next summer
  • Remember that it is only 9 months until campers arrive for 2018

Looking forward to seeing you next summer!!

What Will You Read This Summer?!

My childhood friend, who has been living abroad with her family for the past 24 years,  recently returned to live in Atlanta, Georgia. I recently reconnected with her and we visited a classic bookstore in St. Pete together.

Each year we add new books to our library and although we try to read them all before we shelf them, sometimes we rely on the expertise of others to determine if it’s a good book for Camp Runoia. Little did I know, I hit the JACKPOT with Ann.

I discovered she had gotten her masters in Library Science while living in Cairo and when she moved to Phnom Penh, she was a librarian in the American School. So, I picked her brain about suggestions of books with female protagonists for the Runoia library.

My to my delight, after our visit she sent me a catalogue of suggested titles with genre, summary and review by Ann. WOW!

Weeks have gone by since I’ve seen Ann and this past week, she emails me out of the blue to say she was so inspired by our night time reading aloud in cabins at bed time, our lending library and our word of the day at assembly that she has been on a mission to bring us books. She has been perusing yard sales in her neighborhood and has collected almost 100 quality books for the Runoia library! She asked if she could drop them off when she is in NE in June. A resounding YES was the answer.
At Runoia, we celebrate reading. It might sound funny that that’s a thing at camp but between Rest Hour reading, reading out loud at bed time and reading by flashlight, summer reading and reading for joy, campers and counselors read an extraordinary amount of books each summer at Runoia. Our typical count is around 7-800 books a summer. And yes, we do count!

We also have a book club each summer. Our Assistant Director, Barb St. Peter, will be selecting and announcing the book this month. Barb runs the club which meets a few times during the session to discuss the book.

Reading as a pastime, for relaxation, for knowledge, discovery or curiosity is a life skill we value at Runoia. Plus is a lot of fun! What books will you bring to camp or take on vacation this summer? If you’re a camper reading this blog, get ready for a new section in the library from my friend, Ann!