Read About Runoia CRH 2020 – Featured by Camp Minder Blogger Sarah Braker

By: Sarah Braker

Pam Cobb has been the director and owner of Camp Runoia for 34 summers. Situated on a sandy-bottomed lake in Maine, Runoia is an all-girls camp that teaches girls resilience and independence. Cobb and her team have always modeled these traits, but in 2020 they showed the Runoia spirit of determination and grit in ways they never imagined. They plan to do the same for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions.

While many camps made the heartbreaking and difficult decision to suspend camp in 2020, Cobb and her team successfully ran camp for 80 girls. Like other camp directors who did the same, Cobb leaned heavily on her leadership team, doctors and other experts, and followed state mandates. She was also part of a group of 16 other Maine camps that were able to solicit advice and best practices from each other.

Cobb and her team faced innumerable and often overwhelming challenges, and she acknowledges that there is still so much uncertainty leading into the summer of 2021. As she herself plans for any number of scenarios for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions, she hopes that her peers can learn from what worked for her at Camp Runoia in 2020.

For Cobb and her team, there was no question that camp was going to be very different in 2020. Instead of approaching summer with the goal of keeping as many things the same as possible, they leaned into these differences. They made some difficult decisions, but they ultimately helped her succeed. Specifically, they:

  • Adjusted the typical way that campers were organized 
  • Changed how activities were run
  • Limited off-campus activities and on-site visitors, and
  • Created plans for various levels of Coronavirus outbreaks among staff and campers

A New Name

One of the more innovative decisions suggested by Cobb’s co-director, Alex Jackson, was to give camp a different name in 2020. Jackson recognized that Runoia was going to be completely unique, and wanted to differentiate and acknowledge the forthcoming experiences of campers. Jackson chose the name ‘Camp Runoia Harmonyville.’

Read more of this blog by Sarah Braker at Camp Minder here and find out about Runoia’s protocols here

Find additional information about some of our Maine camp group in today’s WSJ article.

Love, Aionur

What the Teachers Say

First, let us express our gratitude to teachers. We’ve always been fans but this fall, we have seen teachers turn into super heroes. They have multi-tasked, connected with their students, doubled their lesson planning and most of all put their own health at risk to help others.

This past summer many of our counselors who also are teachers learned a lot about navigating covid and creating systems to help keep themselves and others safe.   One moment that really strikes us is when we completed staff training in those complex and uncertain times and we prepared to welcome our campers the next day. We created our graduation for staff training as we often do with a clever connection to our theme “Camp over Corona, All the Things, We Can Do It – Our Vision is 20/20” And each administrative leader got up to share something with all the staff. A pep talk of sorts. Colleen “Cleen” shared this:

2020 has been quite the year

It’s felt lonely and we have known fear

But look round at this staff

Hear those distant laughs

How lucky we are to be here



Remember June and July? We had been in shut down mode and living in our homes and apartments for four months. It was a poem reflecting on the connection camp creates and what a milestone it was.

And, then in the spirit of Harmony Land (the meaning of Runoia is Harmony) she added this Haiku:

Harmony is here

This world seems new as our friends

Smiles still seen through masks

“Cleen” thanks for the poetry, the reflection, the inspiration. We send our energy to you as you finish your fall semester teaching in New York. You truly are a hero and have helped all of us be better teachers.




We Rejoice in Phase Two!

In the midst of a global pandemic, our responsibility to the health of our campers and staff, the greater Belgrade Lakes community and campers and staff families, home towns and cities is paramount.

With the results of negative testing at camp, we have rolled out phase !! of our summer. Campers’ household groups expand to at least twice the size, more time is spent with more people without face coverings, and camp is rolling along with activities, surprises memorable moments, face to face connections problem solving, beautiful sunsets and fun. Our careful plan to methodically increase concentric circles for contact tracing is in play.

Due to our cautious roll out of phases, we feel confident by next week we will be able to move into phase III for our final week of camp. Campers’ households will expand to include entire neighborhoods and as in Runoia culture, girls of different ages will be interacting and playing together. Campers will be able to “tag up” for activities and daily camp life will be much more like normal.

We will consider CRH a success when every camper and every staff member returns home safely with memories of playing tennis, swimming in Great Pond, water skiing, horseback riding, connecting with new friends and meeting up with old camp pals become subjects of school essays and college applications.

Meanwhile, our gratitude to the families who believed in us and the hard work of staff at Runoia who are making this possible is enormous. In the camp time warp, every day feels like a week and every week a month. hundreds of things happen in one day and life feels full. We linger on the moments created and take stock in the memories to hold.

Sincerely, Aionur


Update from Camp May 1

Hello Dear Families,

Maine Summer Camps and our lobbyists met with Government officials from the Governor’s administration yesterday. Today over 160 people from Maine camps met with MSC executive board to hear of outcomes of the meeting.

It’s a bit of a hurry up and wait situation, as you can imagine. The governor’s panel collected the questions we had about Phase 3 of Restarting Maine and they will process the questions internally. The Maine State government is establishing a check list for opening by industry.  As they are doing with every other industry, they will come up with a guideline for camps – hopefully in the next two weeks. Grouped into Phase 3 are restaurants and hotels. Maine business owners are eager to figure out how to get back on track for tourism and summer business and summer camp.

Every industry in Maine is trying to meet with the governor’s task force so it was impressive that executive director, Ron Hall, was able to secure an hour meeting for Maine camps. Although you may have heard from the news last night and today about a restaurant in Maine going rogue and opening to serve people today, we hope everyone else follows the guidelines to keep people safe. It is no coincidence that Maine has a lower rate of COVID-19 than other places. Slowing the spread by physical distancing is working. We want to do the right thing and put peoples’ safety first.

American Camp Association released the outline of The Camp Operations Guide 2020.  They hope to release the details in the next two weeks and will hold a town hall in mid-May. They realize the window for camps to get organized to up and running is getting shorter so they are working very hard to get the contents of the guide published. You can see from the table of contents, it is a full document that will go out to over 2000 camps across the United States. Then each camp takes into consideration the guidelines and figures out how to apply them. We are eager to get going on filling out the contents ourselves. We have built some of the guidelines internally – and are waiting to weigh our thoughts with those of the experts and adjust where necessary for our 2020 protocols for health and safety.

We wanted to finish up with the week with an update to tell you the news as we learn it. What we know at the end of a long week, is we will need to exercise more patience while we wait for guidelines so we can figure out dates. In recognition of how hard this is to plan, we have extended our cancelation date from May 1 to June 1. This should give us time to set dates and protocols, allow you look at and absorb the information and make decisions that are best for your family. Although our cancelation policy was not designed for an entire camp season to be canceled or a majority of our families to cancel, we realize everyone has their own financial tolerance for the current times. We will do everything in our power to do what is fair and reasonable to support you and keep Camp Runoia going strong.

We have a COVID-19 update section of our website as a banner on our website. You can check there for the latest information.

We continue to hold out hope to have Camp Runoia run an amazing, albeit different, camp program this summer for your daughters in our 114th summer of camp.

Sending so much love and Happy May Day. We should all take a deep breath and imagine twirling around a May Pole (at least for a minute).

See you for Campfire on Sunday, May 3rd at 7 pm if you like joining us. We’ll be there with the theme, “Animals”.

With so much love,

For the Runoia Team


The Log Dedication to Our Planet by Grace Pratt

Log Dedication 2019

When I was asked to write this dedication, I wasn’t sure where to start.  What could I possibly relate to every Runoia girls’ 2019 summer?  I thought for a long time about what makes camp such a special place.  After nine summers at Runoia, I still find it impossible to explain the magic of camp to the outsiders.  How can this place bring so many wonderful people together and create such long-lasting friendships and memories?Maine Coast Trip

Loon on Great PondWhile contemplating this question, I landed upon the phrase we start every day at camp with. “Grant that we have safe and fun days and that we respect each other, ourselves and our planet.”  This pledge reflects Runoia’s core values: the importance of caring for the things and people around us.  We as a community demonstrate these values in a number of ways, ranging from picking up a forgotten plate on the kickball field to comforting a homesick friend.

Tonight, I would like to focus on the last word of that pledge.  Our planet has changed disproportionally over the last century.  While environmental issues such as climate change threaten Earth’s natural places, I’m happy to see campers, directors, and counselors alike taking advantage of every “fine Maine day” offered to them, whether that be through enjoying activities, participating in trips, or simply relaxing in the outdoors. Runoia is a magical place, but that magic wouldn’t be possible without the planet we live on.  Earth is our common ground, the reason we get to explore, grow, and connect.  Therefore, I would like to dedicate the 2019 log to our planet, and those who live in harmony with it.





Why the Camp Time Warp is Akin to Dog Years

Like dog years, some say camp days are  mysteriously measured. So much happens in one day it feels like a week. What occurs in a week equals a month.

After breakfast as I walk through camp to bring in the ski boats for the morning activities, I hear the sound of sweeping brooms on porches, see campers emptying their trash cans and sorting out the laundry on the lines. Cabin cleanup has taken place for 113thsummers at Runoia. The scurry and excitement to prepare for first period after Assembly hangs in the air as I walk back to the Lodge. Runoia gals are busy building lifelong skills every day. Here’s a glimpse of the many things we’ve been up to:

In time warp Runoia fashion, this week in trip news, we accomplished a lot: Junior trips hiked to Fairy Ring and canoed to Oak Island on Great Pond for overnight camping trips. Sixty five campers voyaged to the Maine coast for a day trip to Pemaquid State Park

With just over a week left of our 113thseason our Ocho campers fit in their time window a three day stay in Baxter State Park and summited Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine

Meanwhile, Fifth Shack made their way to Mt. Blue State Park and climbed Tumbledown Mountain – complete with a glacial lake on top. A group of dedicated climbers competed at Camp Caribou (in their 97thseason of camp!) and felt pride in the time they spent on the climbing tower.

With soaring temperatures, time allowed for many dips in the lake, lots of waterfront activities and, drum roll, please, Sunday Fun Day RODEO! With lots of action of teams competing in silly events and country fair treats including cotton candy and ice pops.
The afternoon was filled with arcade games, batting cage and bouncy house fun. Even a goat walking experienced happened for a few lucky campers.

Evening programs including our very capable group of campers performing acts for the annual camp Talent Show, a crazy camp counselor dress up competition, a Cowgirl Campfire, a scavenger hunt with an all camp swim included, and Log Skits of 9 decades of Camp Runoia lore.

Time has flown this week and our Harmony Land Camp, a 12 day “rookie” program for 7 & 8 year olds (and two 6 year olds), came to a close. Our hearts sank to say goodbye to them but we are already counting the days till next summer when they return.

Did we mention Team Captains were voted in this week? Yes, they were! Nominees gave their speeches in the Lodge to their teams and the captains were announced the next day before people left for the week. The Blue v. White tradition has been part of Runoia since 1923!

One of the unusual things about a camp summer is the way time moves. At first so slowly and then it seems impossible that we have arrived at the final week. Like a flash in the sky it will be over… until next summer!


First Days at Camp Runoia

Every staff member here at Camp Runoia woke up buzzing with excitement for opening day. After finishing touches were put on cabins and everyone changed into their uniforms, you could feel the magic in the air as the first campers filtered down into their cabins. The little bit of rain we had in no way put a damper on the exhilaration of arriving at camp. 

After some time getting to know their cabin-mates and counselors, everyone gathered into the Dining Hall for our first meal of our 113th summer (spaghetti, of course). After everyone was nice and full, junior and senior ends split up for evening program, and let me tell you, the cheering and roaring laughter coming from the Lodge and the Den carried throughout all of camp. Then, after some bedtime milk and crackers, everyone got cozy in their cabins and rested up for the big day we all have ahead of us. 

Today  will be our orientation so that our new campers can get to know everything available to them at Camp Runoia, and returners can have a refresher about procedures and schedules. 

It is a Fine Maine Day, and everyone is ready to start getting into a routine. 

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of our first block of programming, where campers will have a schedule of their activities and get to go about their day participating in programs that they get to choose themselves. From waterskiing to basketweaving to swimming lessons, every last kiddo will fall into a groove and camp will begin to feel like their second home. 


We are so pleased and ecstatic to have full shacks again, and thankful that girls love coming back to Runoia summer after summer. Here’s to making this the best one yet! 



By Nina Budeiri



Why I love Camp Runoia (and You Will Too!) by Chef

I am “Chef” and I am returning for my fourth year of employment with Camp Runoia and I have to say that the experiences I have had at camp are outstanding.

I am known to the campers and staff as “Chef”.  You see, I work as a Chef for the Tri-Deltas at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois throughout the school year and wanted a summer chef job that worked with my summer vacation schedule. I researched and interviewed with several camps all on the East Coast and chose Camp Runoia because the camp had so much to offer and the people running it seemed like genuine people. I am extremely pleased with my choice.

The close relationships I have built with the wonderful staff and campers is unquestionably the main reason I choose to return year after year. I run the kitchen and ensure we have everything we need food, snacks and special occasions for our camp kitchen to run smoothly.

My first year it was a bit overwhelming finding my groove and adjusting to such a higher volume of prep for our amazing salad bar.  Eventually I created a system and the prep is efficient.  I also enjoy the challenge of preparing meals for our dietary-restricted campers and staff with food allergies and food preferences.  I’ve even broadened my creativity learning how to prepare vegetarian options. I honestly get this warm and fuzzy feeling when our campers greet me throughout the day and during meals, “Hey Chef!” or as Pam says, “Good Morning, Chefy”

The traditions and songs that happen in the camp Dining Hall make for delightful times. I think about Camp Runoia often and every time it rains here I think about the Johnny Appleseed grace.  I sometimes find myself singing the Birthday and Cake Cheer melody while I am driving.

Our traditional desserts at Camp Runoia have been incorporated into my life outside of camp including Dirty Pudding, Congo Bars– alumnae page, Strawberry-yogurt Pie and more. Peanut Butter Pie is a big hit with the sorority, my family and our beloved campers as well.

I look forward to the day it is time to pack and return to camp. It is an escape from technology giving us all a chance for more face-to-face time and enjoying the joy of living in the outdoors. And let me say the fishing in Belgrade Lakes Maine is awesome. That’s where you’ll find me in my free time.

Camp Runoia staff hiring

At this time of year a large focus of our office time shifts from camper recruitment to staff hiring.

We are literally scouring the globe to find the right people to join the Runoia summer team.

Being a camp counselor is never dull! Hiring staff who will fit into our camp family is crucial.

Our returning staff are usually quick to sign back up and then long time camp staffers find us if they are looking for a change from their previous camp. Campers from years gone by often reappear on our radar as they enter the college years and find themselves with a summer available to make a return to Great Pond.  Positions quickly fill up as friends and alums also tell people about the opportunities available at Camp Runoia.

Our primary goal with hiring staff is to find the right people for our community. We want them to get to Runoia and feel like they have arrived at their summer home where they fit into the ‘family’. In our experience being happy and content produces peoples best work so having a philosophical alignment with Runoia is essential.  Staff having a true passion for working and living with children is crucial; we can easily teach people the policies, procedures and systems.  Finding caring young adults that are willing to share their skills with our girls is our focus.

Most of our staff are college age students both from the US and overseas.  Many are on a focused career track and are seeking to gain more experience working with children. Camp also provides the opportunity for a new adventure and to see a different part of the world.  The connections counselors make with their campers and peers are often long lasting and have great value.

For those that have never attended camp spending a summer in the woods of Maine without their technology can be a harder sell.   It is often a challenge to convince students (and their college tuition paying parents!) that camp can provide them with the opportunity to continue developing and honing their 21st century skills.  Often colleges are pushing career related internships and work experience that will be a resume builder. It may come as a surprise to find out that camps are often more than happy to accommodate internships and also provide an array of transferable skills that are attractive to employers. Along with hard skills there is a great deal of holistic development gained from a summer at camp.  We are happy to help translate these skills developed at camp into tangible resume language Translating-Camp-Employment-To-Your-Resume.

If you think you have what it takes to be part of the Runoia team or know someone who does there is an online application via our website.  We can’t wait to meet the summer staff of 2019 our  ‘Runoia rock stars.’

The power of camp friendships

Throughout the school year we often get photos from camp families of our Runoia girls getting together outside of camp.  The power of camp friendships is very strong and often travels great distances for a hug and to reconnect.  Family vacations might be planned around the location of a camp friends home and as girls get older they may head off alone on an adventure to see their camp people.


I recently had a weekend, whirlwind trip to NYC with my 13 year old daughter.  We had been planning it for over a year as a camp friend was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah.  The girls have been full season campers together since they were small and have a strong bond. Even though they may not typically see each other through the school year their friendship reignites once camp rolls around.  It was with much excitement that we planned the journey from Maine, fancy outfits and dress shoes packed as we travelled in snow boots and parkas!

Camp friends made up a large chunk of the kids present at the party.  It was amazing to see that our  Runoia parents recognized the value of these summer relationships and the importance of sharing non camp special events together.  They had made a huge effort to get their girls to NYC.  For some it included traveling long distances  some of it through a snow storm and also other camp families hosting sleepovers and helping with transportation.  The love and joy in the room was palpable, the hugs and bright smiles just continued all afternoon.  New memories were made in a radically different venue with heads bent close together in deep conversation, wild dancing on the dance floor and of course sad goodbyes at the end.   I often tell prospective parents to make their choice wisely and try and help them to understand that their commitment is not just to the next 5- 8 summers but also to all of the in between times.

Runoia girls love to hit the slopes and often spend time together at Sugarloaf. Maine mountains are as great as Maine camps.
Horse friends end up showing together in the Mid West










Personally it was such a treat to spend non camp, social time with our girls , an added bonus was seeing the younger and older sisters of those invited and of course our awesome camp parents.  The Runoia community is truly a large family, we show up for each other and celebrate all that we individually are.

Our Camp Runoia alumnae  also love getting together and have spring  gatherings coming up.   March 31st in Boston and April 7th in DC.  It is a great opportunity to share camp stories and fellowship.  It really doesn’t matter what years you were at camp or if you even know the other women attending.  The spirit of Camp Runoia transcends the generations and the connections, traditions,  songs and stories are common to all.

PA gathering with “Runoia Gals”

Camp is not only about having amazing summers together on Great Pond, we truly hope that our girls will remain friends long into adulthood and will share many other lifetime experiences and memory making opportunities together. As the Runoia song says ‘camp friends for long days old friends for always.’