First week of fun – Great Pond camp life

Our first session girls arrived last Sunday on a hot and sunny Fine Maine Day! After unpacking and meeting/getting reacquainted with their cabin mates, everyone got a chance to take their swim tests and enjoy a quick dip in the lake – our fabulous 8,000 acre Great Pond. Supper was a delicious combo of spaghetti and meatballs, salad and vegetables, garlic bread, and brownies, and it was wonderful to hear the laughter of new and old campers alike ringing through the dining hall and outdoor tents. Evening program for our junior end campers included a game called “Mostest” in which each cabin worked together to create cheers and songs and even wrote and performed a commercial for Runoia! Senior end played Family Feud, while our oldest girls in senior village had their own special campfire by the lake. Milk and Crackers were enjoyed by all before returning to cabins to make community contracts and gain a better understanding of what each of us need to be our best selves at camp this summer. Counselors began reading their cabin books aloud as girls settled into beds for the night. We miss our loved ones who are not with us here at camp, but homesickness is easily overpowered by all of the fun and excitement everyone is having doing activities and spending time with friends. 

The first full day of camp was another hot one! We started with an orientation in which we found out (or were reminded) where everything was around camp, practiced vehicle safety evacuation drills, learned how to put on our PFDs for when we go out on the blue waves in boats, and played many get-to-know-you games. Activities started after lunch and rest hour, and we had almost all campers swimming in the lake for recreational swims! Horses walked and trotted around the ring up at the barn while a fleet of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, aka “Floatilla”, headed out into the cove. Our Harmonyland girls took a little hike to our Fairy Ring campsite and built fairy houses out of leaves, sticks, pine needles, and birch bark. After supper, our junior end girls enjoyed a beach night on the waterfront, and our senior end girls got to play a variety of land sports and even got in an evening swim to cool down before bed. Campers fell asleep looking forward to the first activity block starting the next morning.

The first activity block flew by with shacks going together to give each area a try, from flotilla’s on the lake, climbing in the trees and learning the art of shooting sports everyone found something they loved and an activity to work at throughout their session here. The heat meant lots of lake time and evening programs were modified to include much appreciated swims. The sounds of splashing and laughing in the cooler evening air could probably be heard by our Camp Runoia alumnae neighbors over in Echo Cove.


A bit of rain and cooler weather provided opportunity to focus on our arts skills, work on fitness and get some impressive dance routines going! Nothing stops us and we kept activities running and the fun going. The gaga pits are full at free time with some intense games going on and everyone being included. 

We are so grateful to have camp full again. To see our girls that we missed last summer, to welcome new friends into the Runoia family and to be able to spend amazing time together on Great Pond. In person, unplugged life in the woods is pretty fantastic! We have been able to watch a nest of baby barred owls learn to fly and hunt in the evenings over the kickball field. How lucky we are to live’in harmony with nature’ and get to have these experiences on our beautiful lake in Maine.

We are ready for another week of fun and frivolity, growth and learning and deepening the friendships that we have started to make.  Making life long memories and developing life long skills every minute of the day!


From Equestrian Coach to Covid Cop and Everything in Between

I’ve been involved with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association(IEA) since 2013, starting as a team coach. Over the years, I’ve fulfilled a variety of roles at the organization’s horse shows from manager to secretary to announcer to steward. During our 2021 postseason, I was called on to fulfill a new role, COVID Compliance Supervisor AKA Covid Cop.

As part of the IEA’s plan to safely return to showing, extensive guidelines regarding COVID protocols were created. As the 20-21 season went on, it became apparent that managing the implementation and enforcement of these rules fell outside of what the show manager & steward could manage, given their other duties, and the role of COVID compliance supervisor was created.

According to the press release from the IEA COVID task-force the COVID compliance supervisor should feel comfortable moving around the horse show reminding/enforcing attendees (coaches, riders, parents) to properly wear their mask, social distance, and leave immediately following their rider’s last class. Having spent my 2020 summer at Camp Runoia, I had already created great habits regarding masking, hand washing, and social distancing. I took those habits forward into my job at a local high school as we resumed hybrid in person learning beginning in October. Stepping into the role of COVID compliance supervisor was in my wheelhouse.

Having safely traveled a lot during the pandemic, I have learned that masks, physical distancing, and following CDC guidelines work! However, getting others to buy in can be challenging. Most recently at a zone finals show, I had many people come up and thank me for taking on the role. They understood that there’s still resistance to following the rules. One thing I learned early on in the pandemic was to not argue with people who weren’t following the rules, but to remind them that they signed up to participate and by doing so agreed to follow the rules. Keeping personal beliefs and politics out of the conversation, and focusing on the agreed upon rules of participation. In fact, if we all follow the rules, we can focus on having fun and enjoying the sport.

The COVID task-force worked hard to create guidelines so we could return to the sport, and consequently, we all have to follow those guidelines, or the opportunities can be taken away. I look at heading into summer the same way. I’m doing all I can to contribute to keeping our camp community safe. I got vaccinated as soon as I was able and I still wear my mask anytime I’m indoors outside of my own home or when in crowded outdoor situations. At camp, we have ACA and CDC guidelines that we have to follow.  Rules the range from how far apart heads must be while sleeping to safety equipment in activities to how our meals are prepared. I look forward to being back at Runoia in a few short weeks, surrounded by campers and staff who all believe in keeping each other safe and having fun!

By Jen Dresdow –Camp Runoia Assistant Director and Equestrian Director (preferably not a Covid Cop!)

March brings us Maple Syrup Sunday!

Maple syrup making – this is a Maine tradition you won’t want to miss – it is always the fourth Sunday in March.  Plus Governor Mills just lifted travel restrictions to Maine if you live in New England so come on up!

Plan your getaway to Maine for Sunday March 28th by seeing the sugar houses that will be open this year.

Our local Belgrade CSA Farm, Winterberry Farm will have their Maine Maple Sunday as usual with Covid protocols in place. And surprise, they are celebrating on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Quoting Danielle Pepin from Quebec’s maple syrup industry, “The maple syrup production process gets its start from one of nature’s true phenomena,” she says. “As water from soil absorbs into the maple tree during a cold spring night, warmer temps during the day create pressure that pushes the water back down to the bottom of the tree, making it easier to collect maple sap. The sap is gathered over 12 to 20 days, usually between March and late April, according to the region. Then, the tapping process begins; the sap is transported to a sugar house where it is boiled down until it becomes syrup.”

Are you not a fan of pancakes? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with 70+ recipes that use maple syrup. There’s always a good reason to have maple syrup in your fridge:

Epicurious gives us more ideas for whisking maple syrup into your cooking:

Enjoy the season for everything it has to offer and plan a trip to a Sugar Shack at the end of the month!







The Unique Treasures of Maine

When we share the unique treasures of Maine, we reveal the value proposition of our magical Pine Tree State.  During this unprecedented pandemic, we Mainers feel fortunate to live, work and play in a state where clean, fresh air, quality water sources and majestic natural settings are just a few of the vast resources that help keep us healthy, happy and safe.  We also live in a state where the elderly nest, millennials ignite and baby boomers find their roots.

There are indeed economies of scale, but there isalso incredible opportunities to embrace “the way life should be”. If one can find the best balance of work and innovation anywhere, they can find it in Maine. Helping our buyer & seller clients to find their best path of lifelong learning and living in Maine is like making the best patch of chocolate chip cookies.  You only want to use the best ingredients (your strategic partners).  Follow a well-crafted plan of action (the best recipe).  Pay attention to the bake time (do your due diligence).  And finally, share the baked goods with the ones you love (the dream home).

If you want to explore Maine, I’m here to help you find your dream home. Also, my real estate partner, Derrick Buckspan, and our REMAX Shoreline team are available to hear about your favorite house recipe and share our best approach about buying & selling  Maine real estate .  We’re here to help you mix up your very best patch! Please feel free to give us a confidential call or contact us @ or 207 831 8159

Our friend, peer and camp director of Birch Rock Camp , Rich Deering wrote this guest blog this week and we asked him to put in his contact information. He is a friend to many, lives the BRC motto “help the other fellow” and is the 2020 recipient of the



Halsey Gulick Award

Thanks Rich!

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.



Message from Camp Runoia

We research. We monitor. We plan.

Wilderness camping never looked so good!
It is just a few months until camp opens and the COVID-19 virus causes many to wonder what might be different about camp this summer. For more immediate plans, families are deciding now about March and April breaks and whether they will need to reschedule a vacation or make other plans. Yesterday, many college students were asked not to return from spring break until scientists have a better understanding about containment and prevention.
We are confident we will be in a more stable situation in a couple of months. We are closely monitoring the CDC guidelines and already have new protocols for arrival.  We have systems for sanitizing, we have supplies and we are prepared for temperature checks.
Once camp gets started we are in a great position to keep everyone healthy. We have skills for practicing good hygiene and teaching life skills from hand washing to cough covering to sanitizing.  We have confidence in our systems, our partnering with parents and our remote location. We are also realistic and so we watch and learn and implement change as necessary.
To all our families and friends, we wish you the best for staying healthy and caring for your loved ones, maintaining productivity and continuing education as we stand strong and wash our hands.

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.

Out on the Blue Waves

Perhaps you’ve paused to wonder, “why does Runoia reference Out on the Blue Waves so frequently”.

Well, it’s a favorite Runoia song, of course. And, it’s more than a song.

It conjures up memories for many. It reminds people of their accomplishments and achievements. It makes women recognize when they were girls, they were sailing boats, paddling canoes, surfing on wind surfers, and swimming to the Big Float, to Oak Island, across the Soapies, out to the Marjorie. Many of these references are Runoia unique names for the names of floating rafts or the area we have recreational swim in at camp. Those tales are another story for another blog!

But the important thing is girls, young and older are propelling through and over the water and learning skills Out on the Blue Waves. So, it’s a phrase that’s more than a song. Just to satisfy your curiosity, here’s the song lyrics to the chorus:

Out on the blue waves, where summer breezes blow

Our boats go sailing into sunset glow.

We leave the shoreline, to realms of dreams we go,

Out to the center of the lake where breezes blow.

and you can hear the whole song here

Enjoy and be proud of all you accomplish #runoiagals !!


Mixing it Up at Runoia

Each week campers and counselors spend on average 25 hours of their week in “regular program”. The schedule is 5 classes a day and rotate in blocks of 2 day schedules and 3 day schedules. The rest of our day is filled with cabin clean up, recreational swims in Great Pond (a lake 8000 acres in size!) a unique Evening Program, meals, snacks and Rest Hour. Let’s not forget about our wilderness trip program where each shack group is out for 2 -3 days in the beautiful state of Maine.


Two and one half weeks into the session, we mixed it up with a Fun Day Sunday. In 2018 it started with a pirate attack at Assembly:

Followed by loads of fun at different stations from photo booth to Captain’s Coming, tattoo station and Find Your Pirate Name (for instance Iron Claw Captain) lots of competition between the Black Team and the White Team.


Snacks of pirate cookies and popcorn and Pirate Booty were in store for campers and counselors alike.

The evening finale of watching an outoor movie on Mahadin with glow stick necklaces was a hit and a great way to chill out after a long day.

Mixing up our program at camp keeps camp fun and energizing and throws an element of surprise. With Harry Potter Day last year, Summer Olympics, County Fair, and Take me out to the Ball Game in previous years, we can only wonder, what surprise will be discovered in 2019?

With Love from Belgrade Lakes,


Unplugged – Camp Can Help

Happy New Year one and all! It’s the time for reflection on the past year and a looking ahead to the next. For many, it is a time to make resolutions… exercise more, lose weight, and the one I have most heard this year, is “unplug more”. I’ve been thinking about what it means to unplug, and found myself remembering when “unplugged” was not in our everyday vocabulary. Now I am not OLD but I am older, and I remember well how different life was 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Perhaps you remember some of these things too…

Waiting your turn for the home phone to call your “besties” and hearing the dreaded busy signal (no call-waiting) or no answer and no voicemail. Now we connect to anyone or multiple people in any place and at any time.

Taking pen to little scraps of paper in school to write notes to my best buds and figuring out all sorts of tricky ways to pass them. No texting, snapchatting, Instagram, etc.

Waiting with great anticipation for next week’s episode of my favorite TV show instead of binge watching a whole season in one weekend.

Talking with friends face to face, playing games, listening to music together, goofing around, and just generally, “being”.

Being in nature, whether a walk on the beach, a hike in the woods, or a paddle on a lake, and the “music” was the waves, wind, and bird calls.

“Plugging in” is not bad – it’s wonderful to be able to connect with friends and family so easily and I do enjoy some binge watching, but it can dominate us unless we intentionally keep things in balance. Camp can be an enforced and welcome balancing force. As a director, I do need to be “plugged in” at times each day, but it’s just as important for me to leave the screen and go out and play and talk with girls and counselors in our beautiful natural environment. Unplugging is just one of the gifts of camp but it is one that girls benefit from so much and most of them end up loving the experience. Catherine Steiner Adair, a Maine camp alumna, a researcher, writer and leader in the field of girl’s development has written extensively about technology and the value of unplugging for girls and families in today’s world. It’s well worth a read.