Spring Equinox Is Almost Here by Guest Blogger Mark Heuberger

The first day of spring is March 20, 2021, which coincides with the vernal equinox. According to astronomers, this is the moment when the sun crosses exactly over the earth’s equator and the length of day and night is approximately the same.  The days then start to become longer than the nights, leading to those long summer days at Camp, when the sun does not set until 8:30 PM.

For Camp Runoia, the first day of spring starts us thinking about the fields, forests, and lakes warming and recovering from winter. We will soon start seeing the tiny sprouts of the ferns emerging from the earth; some ferns will grow to three or four feet high. The trees slowly become colored with buds, flowers, and leaves. We begin combing the woods for lady slippers and trillium flowers.  We are counting the days until Camp (100 till first session 2021!).

And of course, the first day of spring means that “Ice Out” is soon.

Some readers of this blog may not realize that the lake freezes over completely in the winter, covered in several feet of ice. Enough for trucks to drive out on the lake towing ice fishing huts.  At some point in spring, the ice suddenly thaws and disappears. Soon the loons will return and we will hear their calls again. Boats and docks will reappear on the lake and in a few short months we will be swimming, paddling, sailing, and skiing on Great Pond.

According to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, who keep records of ice out dates on all Maine lakes, “Ice Out” is defined as the first day when you can navigate from one end of the lake to the other, even though there may still be ice in some coves or along the shoreline.

Ice Out dates for Great Pond over the last 20 years have typically been in middle to late April, but in four of the last 20 years, ice out has been in March, as early as March 20 in 2010, the first day of spring!  When will ice out be this year? Stay tuned.

For many this winter has been especially challenging. The coming of spring, the long warm days, the new beginnings, and the new opportunities are almost here and are welcomed.

Love, Aionur

Planning Gardens and Waiting for Bird Migration at Runoia

This is the time of year, for those of us who live in northern climates like Maine, we dream of spring gardens and bird migration among other wonders of the changing season. migrating birdsDid you know March is the “most snowfall” month of the year in Maine?! Although February might seem early to be dreaming of birds and gardens, dreams are what keep us positive when we have 31 days of winter in March (a true statement in

Maple Sap Collection for Syrup
Maple Sap Collection for Syrup

Maine!). So although maple sap is flowing early this year, you never know if we’ll get another cold snap and a lot of snow.

Back to those dreams about gardens and birds. Camp Runoia’s seed order has been not only ordered but has been received. The season for sleepaway camps doesn’t match with the Maine growing season so we are sure to put in early harvesting vegetables like spinach, kale, snap peas and sugar peas and summer squash.

Lots of Fun Growing in the Runoia Greenhouse
Lots of Fun Growing in the Runoia Greenhousegreenhouse Later in the summer the tomatoes, basil, lettuce and other herbs and veggies flourish in our greenhouse.
Always a Delight to Spy an Oriole at Runoia
Always a Delight to Spy an Oriole at Runoia

The day the robins show up in April is always a sign of spring and the migrating birds coming through. We hang orange slices to attract the Baltimore Orioles – they are such fun to see.





One thing we learned in recent years from our wood shop aficionado, Ted, is painting bird houses is detrimental to birds. Who knew? So here’s a project one camper did combining our wood shop and wood burning program areas. It’s an awesome birdhouse with a beautiful floral designed burned in with wood burning tools. All made at camp! So enjoy the wonders of spring, catch those birds going by and dream next of summer and summer camp!

Bird House Made at Camp Runoia
Bird House Made at Camp Runoia

Fairies are for Real

Imagine yourself eight years old; you are at sleepaway camp, far far far from your family. You are taking in the fun and action that happens day-in day-out at camp.

One day, as you merrily cruise along in your eight year old world, you are invited to go camping to “Fairy Ring”.  Wait, it gets better. Not only do you get to camp at Fairy Ring, you get to have magical s’mores (AKA dessert before dinner) and you spend part of your afternoon building fairy houses for the fairies of Fairy Ring.

S'mores for Supper?!
S’mores for Supper?!

Consider your eight year old mind fathoming a camp out where the fairies actually live? When said fairies come to visit before bedtime, you can hardly believe your eyes. Flitting between tall pines and the evening dusk, a movement, a glow, a fairy appears!

Fairies Flitting for Fairy Ring
Fairies Flitting for Fairy Ring

The very next morning, when you wake up, the fairies have left you with your very own fairy rock painted in bright colors and glittery-gold.

This tradition at Camp Runoia has been going on since the beginning of time!

Maine the Pine Tree State

Camp Runoia in the Pine Tree State

At this time of year with the leaves now gone from the deciduous trees and the ground frozen with the first hard frosts of the rapidly approaching winter, Maine’s state tree stands out tall against the clear blue sky.  The Eastern white pine tree is our state tree for good reason as it is plentiful in our mixed growth forests.  A tall, long living tree that can adapt to many different soil types it can survive the harsh winters and grows quickly during the short spring and summer season.

pine treeWe are lucky at Camp Runoia that the pines are interspersed around camp.  They provide shade for our shacks and cool places to hang out on the hot summer days. The gummy pitch sticks to our fingers on the ropes course and sometimes leaves a patch on our shorts when we are sitting in the grass or on a rock.  The smell of the pine trees gently reminds us that we are outdoors, embracing nature and enjoying every moment of our time in Maine!

pine tree stateDid you ever learn the Maine State song at camp?

“State of Maine Song”

words and music by Roger Vinton Snow

Grand State of Maine,
proudly we sing
To tell your glories to the land,
To shout your praises till the echoes ring.
Should fate unkind
send us to roam,
The scent of the fragrant pines,
the tang of the salty sea
Will call us home.

Oh, Pine Tree State,
Your woods, fields and hills,
Your lakes, streams and rock bound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills,
And tho’ we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain,
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine! Maine! Maine!

We love our Pine Tree State!