Braids, Bracelets and other “Just Camp Things”

When you hear the phrase “just camp things!” what do you think of first? Have you ever had a moment when you realized a normal part of your life was actually not a regular thing for everyone else? There’s a good chance that “it’s a camp thing.”

Recently, I’ve been going to fitness classes where we spend 20 minutes biking, 20 minutes lifting, and 20 minutes doing yoga. I have short, thick hair so I have to get a little creative for it to stay put through three completely different activities. So, I’ve showed up to classes with every version of braids, french twists, and bobble ponies you can possibly imagine.

Normal, right? But it has shocked me how many adults have asked me how I know how to french braid – doesn’t everyone!? But I’ve realized that it was summers spent with “sisters” unrelated to me in braid trains by the lake that afforded me this skill – an experience not many people get to have, I’ve learned. Even as an adult at camp, two braids just can’t be beat for a long day on the waterfront!

The phrase “just camp things” reminds me of friendship bracelets on water bottles, weeks without a phone, singing nonsense songs, skits, footie pajamas, costumes galore, moo-offs!

 

But it’s not just the skills to braid hair or twist embroidery floss into patterned bracelets that are unique gains from camp. Without camp, my friend group wouldn’t have a go-to fire builder when we get together. Maybe you would have never stepped foot on a sailboat, or ridden a horse. Perhaps we would all have a harder time taking a step away from our phones and other technology without knowing we can actually do it for days and weeks on end.

As we get another day closer to camp 2022, I feel so much gratitude for the “just camp things” ahead of us. For all of us currently in the ‘real world’ patiently waiting for our ‘camp world’, the silly novelties of camp life can’t come soon enough. Where else can you rock your tropical shirt Mondays, tie-dye Tuesdays, pigtail Fridays, and footie PJ Sundays with pride?! Nowhere but Runoia!

 

The Power of Play – for ‘Kids’ of All Ages

It’s the middle of the school year – our teachers and students have made their way out of winter break and back to school – although maybe just virtually – and camp feels both so close and too far away. Most of our campers have a full semester of school left before they make their way through the Runoia gates this summer.

During the school year, I tutor students in math. We learn so much together by practicing our multiplication tables, solving equations, and challenging ourselves – but each week when we’re together, we also play. I’ve seen games and play help anxious students open up, and even the best students to have fun and reinforce their skills. Play is often seen as the reward after the work, but play itself is a valuable tool for learning, de-stressing, and figuring out our world.

The power of play is clear to researchers, teachers, and camp professionals alike. Play is known to bust stress, foster imagination and creativity, increase physical activity, build confidence, resilience, and social skills, and much more.

But the power of play is not reserved for the youngest of our kids – you would have seen play often in my high-school classroom, too. Even my senior students – some as old as 18 – loved the simultaneous respite and excitement of the chance to play. It’s an honor as an adult to provide opportunities of play to the ‘too old’ kids, who may have learned that it’s embarrassing to play at their age. At Runoia, those walls come down and silliness reigns – and the best part is seeing our staff, CITs, and older campers set the example for our younger ones. Even our admin – especially our admin – can be some of the most enthusiastic partakers.

 

When I think of this, my mind goes immediately to some of our silliest EPs – evening programs – like Miss Tacky and Powder Faeries (if you know, you know!) In the case of Miss Tacky – perhaps the EP that our senior end campers get the most excited for – it’s amazing to see the creativity and imagination that our campers bring to the table with a simple prompt and the liberty to create.

 

 

While Runoia’s EP and program offerings provide more structured playtime, our schedule honors the all-important unstructured playtime as well. During sublime time, campers can be seen all over camp playing gaga, doing cartwheels on the grass, or making up games in the water. On trips, we often made up songs to get us through long paddles, played games while a meal was cooking, and built faerie houses.

In our current world – where we may fall in the trap of confusing screen time with playtime – it’s all the more vital to offer our kids, and ourselves, a space to unplug and safely play and explore. Here, I’m counting down the days until I can witness the power of play in our campers and tap into my own silliness and creativity once again.

 

Meet The 2014 Director Team!

Introducing the Runoia Administrative Team to our Staff

At Runoia we work as a team. We connect daily about campers and families and staff. We like lots of reminders as we have a lot of people to keep track of in our jobs.  We like to receive your questions. Contact any of the Director/Admin team and let us know what’s on your mind. If the person you emailed doesn’t know the answer, they will help you find the solution!

You’ll find a lot of other helpful leaders in your activity area when you get to camp.  Meanwhile, feel free to email any of us with your questions and/or any concerns or if you’d like to share ideas with us or just say “hi”!

Alex Jackson

AJPrimary responsibility during the summer:

Director of All Programs and Schedules (including your schedule!) Transportation to and from Camp and Staff and Camper Programs

Email: alex@runoia.com Fun Fact: I really like frogs and collected them growing up and now I own a Costa Rican black and green tree frog!

Abby Burbank

AB Primary responsibility during the summer: Abby joins us this summer as a Summer Resident Director.

She joins our team to help run camp this summer and will focus on Junior End staff guidance and supporting our health care team and program director. Her years of camp experience and serendipity-like timing to join us this summer makes for a great opportunity for Runoia and its families.

Email: abbyb@runoia.com Fun Fact: I have been to all 50 states.

Jai Kells

 JK

 Primary responsibility during the summer: Jai lives at camp in the summer and has the pleasure of being the Senior End Coach and Support for Cabin Counselors and this summer she will add: Director to the Runoia Kitchen

Email: jai@runoia.com Fun Fact(s): I have been known to eat an entire watermelon in one sitting!

Gines Satchi

GSPrimary responsibility during the summer:  Gines is the summer Director of Program – supporting key leaders to run safe and engaging activities. He is the Director of the Runoia Waterfront ensuring safety and fun on and in the water this summer. Email: gines@runoia.com Fun Fact: I have jumped out of a plane 76 times!

Pam Cobb

 PCH Primary responsibility during the summer: Supporting and guiding this amazing team of Runoia Directors. Business management of camp and strategic planning for camp. Come have a K-cup coffee or tea in my office this summer! Email: pam@runoia.com Fun Fact: I am the fourth generation in my family to own and operate a camp in Maine.