The Runoia “Log” and More Traditions

Double entendres abound when I think of the word “log” – all related to Runoia traditions. My mind races to our weekend campfires and the logs we use to build the campfire. To camping trips and “hugging” trees – from before Leave No Trace… “hugging” was our phrase for finding a small standing dead tree we could hug out of the ground and saw into logs for our campfire.

Then I think, “Ah ha!” it’s the camp “logs” – the written logs of each summer’s camp activities and antics dating back to the summer of 1910. The logs have been scanned and uploaded through a generous donation from the Tabell family. They are available on our website – just click here.

And, last but not least, my mind recognizes the bi-annual newsletter of the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization (CRAO). The CRAO was founded by the Cobb Family with support and guidance from Jody Sataloff and Jack Erler to provide a “Campership” fund for campers to be able to attend camp. A volunteer organization that has developed efficiently and with enthusiasm over the years to provide partial camperships for over 20 campers each summer. 10% of Runoia’s campers receive some kind of assistance.

With the guidance of past-president Andrea “Nandy” Florey Bradford, the name of the fund was updated to honor Betty Cobb. The fund is now the “Betty Cobb Campership Fund”.

Find out more about the CRAO in volume 31, issue 2 and the ongoing mission in the Fall 2018 newsletter “The Log”:

CRAO Fall 2018f LOG



Runoia Summer Camp Raids & Pranks; scale 1-10

Back in the day, the use of the word “raid” meant when one group of campers or staff did something to make another group laugh or be surprised or think to themselves, “Oh! How clever!”.  A few classic Runoia raids had to do with major shenanigans by counselors.

Examples include:

Moving canoes to the Kickball Field and decorating them with a tapestry of multi-colored spinnaker sails running off of a pole erected between the maze of canoes.  Level of effort = 10, level of cleverness = 10, level of surprise = 10, level of regret raiders had when they had to put everything away in the morning = 100.

Taking an entire dining hall table with place settings and plates taped to it, benches and chairs and moving it to the Majorie (float).  Level of effort = 10, level of cleverness = 10, level of surprise = 10, level of anxiousness by cooks when table was missing = 100.

Placing Betty Cobb’s car keys in a Pine Island Camp hat in the parking lot and moving her car to the lawn at the beach.  Level of effort = 10, level of cleverness = 10, level of surprise = 10, level of furiousness Betty Cobb displayed upon discovery = 100.

As time went on, raids morphed into a surprise trick or act that often left one group mad at the other. Somehow, the name raid also morphed into prank and they were less complicated and less clever:

These included stunts like taking a person’s under garments and running them up the flag pole only to be discovered in front of everyone in the morning. Level of effort = 2, level of cleverness = 1, level of surprise, embarrassment and humiliation = 100.

Or taking everyone’s pillow in one cabin and hiding it in the Pix of another.  Level of effort = 1, level of cleverness = 1, level of surprise = varies but enraged campers who had gross pillows became a directors’ problem.

One entire cabin of shoes all tied together and strung around the dining hall. Level of effort = 5, level of cleverness = 5, level of surprise = 10, level of effort by raiders who had to untie and return all the shoes = 10!

Right around that time, Runoia directors decided raids were not such a great idea as children’s feelings were getting hurt or they lost belongings or campers were prowling around at night and safety was a concern. The concept of doing nice things for others came up but never really stuck year after year (people still do a lot of nice things for each other in that pay it forward kind of way). The concept of doing funny, surprise things around camp like: random fairy houses, 4 and ½ shack built at the flag pole, honey bears being painted and left on the tables, still happens.

A new tradition emerged about 7 summers ago where the oldest campers in Senior Village (SV) at Runoia get to do a fun prank/raid type event that is meant to surprise and leave an indelible impression of our graduating campers upon others without wrecking anything or hurting anyone or wasting resources. These 15-year-old seniors have been thoughtful and fun and funny over the past few years.  An all-time favorite that is the prank that keeps on giving:

Tiny SV14notes stuck everyone all over camp that we are still finding four years later in 2018!

Level of effort =10, level of cleverness = 10, level of surprise = 10

Keeping it fun and clean; the Runoia way.


Perseverance Builds Lifeskills at Camp Runoia

After watching the final round of the PGA Masters tournament, all I could think of was “that’s serious perseverance”. Sergio Garcia had played in over 70 Major PGA events and finally won his first Major on April 9. He was graced with the iconic green jacket and history was in the books.

You can probably see where I’m going with this but one thing you do not know about me as the owner and director of Camp Runoia… I’m married to a sports fanatic. He put the “fan” in fanatic. That means a lot of conversation comes up about all major sports events daily. There is always a sport in season. And although we don’t watch much TV, you can guarantee there is a sports game on any night you want to watch. Spring is an exciting season in the pro world because as baseball starts, NHL hockey is in the final games and NBA is in the semi finals. #nonstopsports We actually met each other over pro sports so I’m pretty enthusiastic about sports, too. (add horse events and all women’s pro teams!).

But back to Senor Garcia. Ah-maze-ing. Tied at the end of four days of battling for the win, led to a “playoff” at the Masters. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, best friends after playing over 20 years together, they tied to finish. The whole story is akin to mythology. Anyway, in the end Sergio persevered. That’s the real story. Seventy three tries at winning a major tournament in the PGA and he finally won one. One. One big one. I can feel the emotion all over again and I can only imagine how he felt.

So, the takeaway is pretty clear. Even when we are pretty good, we are not always the best at something… yet: When we try things, we need to practice and have patience in our own work and play. Whether it is getting more refined in a sport, improving reading comprehension, making meaningful connections with others, learning how to reduce impetuous behavior, developing a friendship, or understanding how the wind affects the sail power of a boat. Let me say it again: we need to practice, have patience, learn from our mistakes and try again. This is what makes pros win major tournaments and this is what makes Runoia campers grow up to be strong women. Perseverance.

Ready Set Go – All Runoia All Summer!

This is the time of summer we bring people, our camp counselors, kitchen crew, summer maintenance team, directors, assistant directors, health team and specialist together from all over the world to build team, complete certification for training, practice teaching with each and our camp neighbors and friends, run emergency drills and plan for trips out of camp. Let’s break it down!

Just like our campers need a chance to get oriented to Runoia, meet people they will build friendships with, find out all the cool stuff they can do at sleepover camp and learn the rules about how to do them safely, so do our Camp Runoia counselors.

Our director team takes charge and spends 10-14 hours each day working with counselors in small and large groups to accomplish the feat. If you are wondering why we aren’t replying to your emails right away, that’s why!

We have discovered we have an AMAZING group of people, a diverse group (age, backgrounds, cultures, citizenship, religions, the colors of our skin and the different fields of education, new staff, returning staff, campers who are now college age staff). How lucky are we?!

Here are some pictures from our two days of training thus far:

DSC_0466 DSC_0459 DSC_0437 DSC_0393 DSC_0479

Spring Training – Hitting a Home Run in the Job Market

We’ve all read about the parenting style of the Millennium Generation. Following the Millenniums is Generation Z – our current teens are Gen Z children. These parents have parented in similar ways.  Here’s a hint to parents about how to help your children: let them figure out some stuff themselves.

Parents who try to help their teenagers by contacting businesses for jobs for their children should recognize that that child is the least likely person to make the team.

On the other hand, teens who contact businesses directly, act confident, carry their resume or email a resume ahead of time before they call, ready themselves with references, have the chance at hitting a home run.  Feel free to coach them but let them play the game themselves.


Here’s ways you can help coach your children for the job market and not have them sitting on the bench:

  1. Ask your child to make a list of businesses she/he is interested in working with to help build her/his skills
  2. Discuss together how she/he will safely get to and from work. If it’s a resident job, help them come up with a list of good questions to ask a prospective employer and resident director.
  3. Encourage your child to contact her/his references for the job application BEFORE they are contacted.
  4. Practice, role play if possible, interview scenarios (phone and in person)
  5. Ask your child what they think they should wear and how they should clean up to look presentable for the interview.
  6. Other hints: A strong handshake, eye to eye contact and a smile go a long way. A smile while talking on the phone improves their tone of voice.

As a business owner whose organization hires 55-60 people under the age of 25 every summer, having a parent contact us about a job for their children is a strike out.

And parents, when your child, as a young adult, goes to work a professional job at a camp, please know that if they are over 18, we won’t talk with you about their job, the interview, the details of the process, etc. Obviously we will contact you if there is any kind of emergency but otherwise, they are an adult working at their job. You can find out that Camp Runoia is an accredited camp by the ACA, Runoia has employed many teens, young adults and 20-somethings over the years. Runoia’s website has an FAQ page for staff and our policies and handbooks are on line. Read them to help ease your own anxiety and know that we will help guide and coach your child to be a great camp

Summer Camp Work is Wholesome and Skill Building!
Summer Camp Work is Wholesome and Skill Building!

counselor.  Working at sleepaway camp is a hard job and it’s a great, healthy outdoor living experience that will ready them for many things in life. Let them get up to

bat and hit the ball. If they strike out on their own, they might actually ask you for your help! If they hit the ball and make a home run on their own, they will be happier and more connected to the process.

Beware, if you, the parent, step into the batter’s box, the umpire may have to throw you out of the game!

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!