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.


Heart of Camp ~ Counselors and Staff

I have been so fortunate to do my life’s work as a camp director for over 30 years. I have had the deep satisfaction and joy of sharing the lives of thousands of children as they have grown into such fine adults. I have been honored to be welcomed by families as a partner in their parenting. I have worked with so many fine counselors. I have lived, worked and played in the beautiful out-of-doors while learning so much about myself. And I have had so much fun!

All of these experiences have been connected completely to the heart of camp – the counselors and staff. Each summer we bring together a group of young, and not-so-young women and men to work with our girls. They come from different parts of the world with diverse life experiences. The reasons they come to camp are many. Some have grown up in camp and often cite that they want to give back to the community that has given them so much. New staff members are excited about teaching skills, working with children, being outdoors, making friends, etc. etc.

For whatever reason they come, they soon realize that it is a job working 24-hour days, 7-days a week that requires being a friend, coach, mentor, big sister, role model, and parent all rolled into one. Counselors need to employ skills in decision making, problem solving, motivational speaking, organization, refereeing, group management, interpersonal dynamics, safety awareness, creativity, time management, teaching, care taking, sensitivity, empathy, and flexibility. They set aside much of their own lives – friends, family, hobbies, social life, work, school – to take on this responsibility. They demonstrate amazing commitment every day as they give so much of themselves to create a magical experience for girls.

We know that are counselors and staff could choose to do so many other things with their summers, and we are so grateful they choose to be with us at camp. These fine people truly are the heart of camp.




Simple Pleasures of Camp

Recently, I was visiting with a mom and her daughter who are thinking about Runoia for next summer. It was a great conversation with lots of questions, and afterward I replayed some of it in my mind. Something that stuck in my thoughts was one of the words I used to describe Runoia. That word was simple. So, while I have a picture of what that means to me, I realize that “simple” could be heard in many different ways. Our buildings are lovely but are also simple. We dress simply. We aren’t caught up in technology or the latest movie or music. Our days are full but not frantically busy. We’re more in tune to the rhythms of nature. These are all parts of camp being simple in a good way.

Another piece of the simplicity is wrapped up in simple pleasures. These are moments and experiences that are so much more present to us at camp then in the rest of our lives.

Some of these simple pleasures that come to mind are…

…Sunshine sparkling like diamonds on the lake… walking barefoot in the cool, green grass… lemonade… the sounds of raindrops pattering on the roof… the call of the loons… a perfect s’more… singing together… hearing counselors read stories to their campers… the smell of wood smoke… saying goodnight to the girls… a cool breeze from Great Pond… sitting in the shade under a tall tree… joyful laughter… the “thwack” of an arrow hitting the target… sitting cozily by the fire on a cold, wet day… horses grazing in the pasture… a ringing bell helping us keep track of time… morning and afternoon snacks… seeing new friends chatting happily… drifting off to sleep to the night sounds of the forest… playing school-yard games… milk and crackers before bed… picking blueberries… the smell of sawdust in the woodshop… random topics being discussed around the dining hall table… emerald green moss-covered rocks along the shoreline… the tangy scent of balsam on a foggy morning… the hush that falls over camp at rest hour… seeing everyone in uniform on Sundays… the lake turning purple, pink and orange as the sun sets… feeling contentedly tired at the end of a full day… hearing girls say, “I tried something new today”.

There are so many more but I think you get the picture. While each of us will have different simple pleasures on our lists, the pleasures all have something in common. To make the most of such moments takes our time and attention. And Camp Runoia gives you the time and space that is hard to come by the rest of the year, to do just that. Appreciating simple pleasures is a gift for the mind, heart and soul.


Camp Runoia chickens in winter

How we keep the Runoia chickens happy in the snow.

You may be wondering what on earth the Camp Runoia chickens are up to during all of this snow in Maine.  It is fun and easy to have the chickens in our Runoia farm program during the summer, the winter takes a bit more planning.

The hens are well cared for and we thought that we would share some of our best tips for keeping the flock safe, warm and laying all winter long.  This latest nor’easter dumped 2 feet of snow on the coop and was certainly a test of our chicken farmer resources.  Typically when the weather is fine the flock free ranges and like to be out and about but once there is snow on the ground they stay in their covered pen attached to the coop.


The hens have an insulated coop and are hardy breeds so they don’t mind the cold too much.  They tend to stay inside if it is very cold.  They hate their feet in the snow so we put down lots of straw and shavings to help them keep their toes warm

A heated water bucket is essential they drink a lot even when it is cold and we have to keep it clean and unfrozen.

Grain is kept filled up as they eat much more food in the cold months as there is little available to supplement.  They love tasty, high protein treats which help them to stay warm, dried mealworms look a little gross but they get eaten up quickly.

The girls have surprisingly been laying a lot this winter even though we choose to not put a light in the coop.  Hens typically need around 12 hours of daylight in order to stay in a laying cycle.  That is tough up here in Maine with the short days and usually they stop laying for a couple of months.  Oyster shells keep the eggs coming and stop weak shells forming when there is no dirt to peck at outside.

All in all they don’t seem too bothered by the snow and cold but will be excited to get out free ranging in the Spring.

Need more info about chicken care check out our Pinterest board – ‘Runoia’s backyard chickens’ keeping hens is easier and more fun than you think!

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

Routines and schedules

One of the greatest things I love about being at Camp Runoia all summer long is the routine and schedule! bellYou never have to worry about when or what you are going to eat, laundry goes out and comes back right when you expect it to, you know when to get up and when to go to bed and the ringing of the bell dictates everything in between.

The other really awesome thing about camp when you are the family manager and chauffeur is that no one needs to go anywhere! Sleep away camp gets all of your needs met in one place. Everyone is quite happy and busy, there are no practices or play dates to squeeze in or Birthday parties at the same time in two different directions or grocery shopping to be done.  It is a formal schedule but not a hectic one.  Within the routine and structure at camp there is also plenty of time to take a minute to enjoy someone’s company or stop and pick some blueberries.

blueDon’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the last few weeks of summer, lazing around in PJ’s eating whatever, whenever and being on the relaxed plan for what to do when.  I am now ready to embrace the Fall with the new sometimes hectic schedules, weekend adventures in the beautiful foliage and a routine all of its own.  The days are getting shorter and the nights are definitely chillier but I’m sure before I know it we will be back on Runoia time again.


Run, Swim, Jump, Kick at Runoia

It’s Sports Week! What some camps call Color War, Runoia calls Sports Week. The short story is we have kicked, run, raced, swum, jumped, trotted, shot arrows, competed, played hard and played like a girl!

On top of it, we have had birthday parties, Evening Programs of “Create Your Own Country”, Pillow Football, Birthday Bash, Build A Boat to Float Contest, Talent Show, Runoia Caberet, Graduation Dinner and a Camp Fire with the theme of What Camp Friendships Mean to You.

Here are some of the pictures to tell the story:

Our Dear Trip Leaders (Some of Them)!
Our Dear Trip Leaders (Some of Them)!
Birthday Table Groups by Shacks!
Birthday Table Groups by Shacks!
The Runoia Play was a Medley Cabaret!
The Runoia Play was a Medley Cabaret!
Blue White Horse Show
Blue White Horse Show
The Epic Oak Island Swim


Blue White Swim Races
Blue White Swim Races
Blue and White Team Captains Second Session
Blue and White Team Captains Second Session
Junior Soccer Players
Junior Soccer Players
The Pine Tree in the Back Shows it's a Maine Peach!
The Pine Tree in the Back Shows it’s a Maine Peach!
Coco Crisp Enjoys his 10th Summer at Runoia and Gets His Own Blanket
Coco Crisp Enjoys his 10th Summer at Runoia and Gets His Own Blanket

We hope to see you next year!

The Runoia Team

Take a Minute: Camp and the Introverted Child

This weeks blog is by long time camper and staff member Julia Shenkar.

I’m an introvert. camp063 310

It means I need a minute. I need a minute to myself. I need a minute to observe what’s going on around me. I need a minute to think through what I’m about to say or do. I need a minute to listen to others. I need a minute to absorb information. I need a minute to identify my needs. I need a minute to get comfortable.

In my adult life, this works out great. I live by myself and I have an office with a door on it, so, whenever I need a minute, I can take one. But what happens at a place like Runoia where there are no doors or solo living situations? What happens when an introverted child needs a minute?

At home, a child may have her own room to retreat to at the end of the day. She can sit and read her book or draw without interruption, and her parents recognize times when she may need to take a step back. At camp, however, this is a little challenging. Living in a cabin with nine or more other girls and no doors between you can come as a culture shock. Camp presents a child with constant stimulation—there is always someone to talk to or somewhere to be or something to do. This is an engaging, special, and unique experience, but it can be completely overwhelming. Especially for first-time campers, a flood of emotions may come pouring out in those first few days of camp as a result of over-stimulation.

Is she homesick? Is she actually sick? Is she mad? Is she not having fun?

Chances are, probably not. The child may just be super overwhelmed and wondering when she’s going to have time to herself – when she’ll be able to take a minute.

In a camp community, there’s going to be a mixture of introverts, extraverts, and ambiverts, and it’ll be a challenge managing everyone. Here are a few ways to help an introverted camper ease in to camp life, straight from a textbook introvert’s mouth:

  1. Recognize her need for space. It’s a counselor’s job to make sure that her campers are getting the most out of the Runoia experience. However, downtime in-between activities and meal times can be a great opportunity to let your introvert do her thing—to take a minute. Shack bonding can be a lot of fun, but make sure that there’s a balance of structured and unstructured free time.
  2. Check-in. Your introverted camper may not want to sit and have an idle conversation with you, but she will value your attention. Simply saying “hello” in passing or asking how her day was can really leave an impression and opens up the door for conversation, if the child is interested. Let her know of activities the cabin may be doing before dinner. “Hey, Anna! A few of us are taking a walk down the nature trail. Do you want to come?” This gives your introvert an option while letting her know that she’s being thought of. Some campers may see an introvert as standoffish, but really she’s just not sure how to involve herself. Letting her know that she is welcome to join in on group activities during downtime is a great way to start building relationships.
  3. Find her strength. It’s redundant, but introverts are really good at what they’re good at. Introverts like to latch on to topics of interest and really dig into the details. They want to learn everything there is to know about the subject of interest and avoid things that aren’t really their speed – an expert vs. a jack of all trades. For me, my strength was sailing. In most other activities, I stood more to the side and let others take the lead because, as an introvert, I am uncomfortable jumping into an activity without making sure I really understand what’s going on. Sailing came naturally to me and, even as an eight year old, I was confident enough to get on a boat and flex my nautical muscles. If you help your introvert identify an activity that they truly excel at, their light can truly shine as they help fellow campers learn new skills and assist counselors in lessons.
  4. Realize that “introversion” and “shyness” are not synonymous. I’ll use myself as a prime example for this. Once I found my niche at camp, you couldn’t tell I was an introvert. As a young girl, it was really difficult for me to hear “oh, she’s just being shy” when I was at large gatherings – especially that first day of camp or at meal times. I wasn’t shy (and I’m still not!); I just didn’t know what to say! I hadn’t established the feel of the group. Once I am able to take the time to step back, take a minute, and observe each and every element of a situation, my personality can start to emerge.

Camp is tricky for an introvert. They usually like smaller groups, but in small groups of people they don’t know, it’s easier to be singled out. At camp, it’s hard to be anonymous—which is what I think a lot of introverts try to do in school. At camp, a child is kind of put on the spot.

But this is what makes camp so special—this blending of different personalities and backgrounds. It’s challenging for everyone the first time around … or the second, and maybe the third! As an extroverted camper, it’s important to recognize that your fellow shack-mate might not want to play “Spit” all the time. As an introvert, you’ve got to understand that there are going to be times where you’ll need to engage.  Balance is difficult, but a major key.

Whether you’re an introverted or extroverted member of the Runoia community, we all need to remember that sometimes everyone needs a minute.