Friday, July 13, 2018

The News from Magruder July 8-14 2018

This week we welcomed youth campers for our second program week of summer 2018. These are the weeks where our staff and volunteers hold camp for campers of all ages. We play, we eat, we learn, we worship, we make new friends, we talk about ways we want to go out and change the world. While we only have 3 of these youth weeks a year, this is a major part of what we do at Camp Magruder. These experiences give summer campers memories that last the rest of their lives. These experiences prepare staffers to go out into the world and be spiritual leaders. Experiences like these helped shape me into who I am, and continue to guide my decisions and beliefs.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, child, tree, outdoor and natureThis program week has been special to me for many reasons. At this camp we have many staffers and counselors who got their start the first summer I was at Camp Magruder. In 2015 we knew that in about three years we would see these counselors mature, being the leaders for a new generation of young counselors. We are seeing that this summer. This is also the largest program week I have seen in my time at Magruder. We have a mini camp with larger numbers than last year, and Elementary or about 40 campers, a Middle School of about 40, and a Senior High camp we rebooted and have impressive first-time numbers. We have a great set of Deans for each camp, a great set of Volunteer Counselors, and a group of Resident Counselors who are coming into their own.

On the first day, as I walked down the main road past Sherlock Lodge and the Main Fire Pit, I passed multiple clusters of campers and counselors, could hear singing and laughing in multiple directions. There was a palpable energy in the air that comes where there are hundreds of people moving in a place. This is the sort of energy I long for during our weeks at camp. That feeling you get when activity is taking place all around you, and you know it is building towards something good as a collective. You know all these pieces of the collective stand to be impacted by that positive energy that is floating on the breeze because we are coming together to live, play, and connect.

During Camp Store snack time, I sat next to two mini-camp campers who had just gotten their snacks. I asked if they had had a good day so far. Both answered in the affirmative, and to my question of what had been good about it, they answered that they had become friends. They said they had really wanted to make friends this week, and they were excited it had already happened. I said that was awesome. One camper asked if I would help open his goldfish and then his rice krispy treat, to which I obliged. Eventually something exciting happened on the playground they couldn't resist, and they told me goodbye. Before leaving, the one I had assisted stopped, waved, and politely said, "thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it." It was a happy moment for all of us.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, ocean, beach, outdoor and natureWith my feet more firmly under me as a director this year, I'm finding more time to be out on the grounds as camp is going on. I managed to be a part of nearly every age group's worship this week. I found myself in the Sherlock Lodge as counselors painted and created mixed media artwork out of strips of paper that we had written our hopes and worries on. I found myself on the meditation patio in an intimate worship full of personal sharing that ended with us looking at stars over Smith Lake. I was part of a walking worship that ended in a circle of people at Marvel Field as Venus began to shine above the ocean. I was in the Edwards lodge as Elementary campers answered questions about the week and offered up prayers full of depth and thoughtfulness surrounded by their crafts, pieces of nature, and a few burning candles.

It was the end of the week, and we welcomed car after car pulling in to take their kids home. Campers hugged their counselors, then ran to their parents and hugged them, then ran back to their counselors and hugged, then hugged their cabin mates, then hugged their counselors again, then hugged their camper friends again, as it goes. I looked at the counselors who had tears in their eyes, because this week had impacted them so profoundly. I have seen that many times, because I have been to camp many times. This sort of feeling is one we have worked hard to cultivate, and we have seen it this summer in new and exciting ways.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, water, child, sky, outdoor and natureAs counselors debriefed after the last camper left, I heard them recalling their experience. They weren't dwelling on how tired they were or on which camper was the most frustrating. They were lifting up the great successes and growth they had seen. They talked about how we were bringing the mission statement into reality. They talked about how we must next take this culture out with us and share it to the world. These kids are getting it. Not only do they get it, they are in love with it. This week is part of our dream coming true. As these campers go home and rest from all they experienced this week we also dream that they are thinking of how they might become more a part of this, about how they will someday be those counselors making it the highest priority to create safe places for us to be who we are, accept each other, connect to something bigger than us, to be transformed by it. Whether they know it or not, they have already started.

This weekend we host Portland State University International Students, Mountainside High School, and Calvary Chapel Bend. Hold them with us in your prayers. We hope for big, great things.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Magruder Reaches Fund-Raising Goal! Next Step $35K from Gray Family Foundation


Camp Magruder is happy to announce we reached our $17,500 fundraising goal in order to receive a maintenance grant from the Gray Family Foundation for $35,000. Around 50 people and organizations contributed to make this campaign possible.

Old Boiler we will replace
New energy efficient water heaters
With the funds, Camp Magruder will replace important parts of the
infrastructure of Carrier Dining Hall that were highly inefficient and failing. Most of the building’s hot water and heating were provided by an outdated boiler system that went down just before summer season began. Camp Magruder will replace the inefficient system with on-demand water heaters and heat pumps using a fraction of the propane. This will also allow for removal of all the pipes protruding from the ceiling of Chappell Hall meeting room, taking the first step in a long-term project goal of making that space more welcoming.
Wetlands trail bridge
getting a facelift

In this campaign, a donation was also received to repair and update
the bridge spanning part of Smith Lake on the wetlands trail that had been patched up after a tree fell on it several years ago. With any remaining funds, we will continue our replacement of Carrier Dining Hall’s single pane windows with more energy efficient versions that can open for fresh air.
Unsightly pipes that can now be removed

This process was such an uplifting experience for the Camp Magruder staff. Each day we received word of a new donation we felt the many hands involved in this work. Thank you for joining us in this mission to create spaces for learning and community drawing us all closer to each other and the spirit moving our camp. Stay tuned—we are shaping new plans that we’ll be ready to share later in the year to continue to improve this wonderful place.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The News from Magruder, May 20-26

The summer is upon us at Camp Magruder. We, of course, know this from the longer days and the higher frequency of sunny skies. We are also realizing its approach by the higher frequency of guests. This week was one of our biggest of the year, with an Outdoor School split week along with Sunnyside Environmental School. On the Wednesday when the first half of our split week left and the second half arrived, we served around 450 meals from our kitchen for lunch.

Thankfully for our small kitchen staff, we had a couple of visitors volunteering with us. Their names are Sam and Sarah Richardson, and they are on an amazing adventure to learn more about Christian Camping in the United States. For several years they have been traveling in an RV around the country, staying at religious camps and volunteering. During their time, they interview staff, take pictures and video, and write about what is unique about each site. Their project is called From Camp to Camp, and you can learn a lot more about their journey on their website. Serendipitously, they ended up visiting Camp Magruder on one of our busiest weeks of the year.

Walking around camp during this week was such a treat for the senses and the spirit. The weather was beautiful and warm. Everywhere you went, you were bound to pass a group of middle schoolers on to their next lesson, project, or activity. You'd hear kids singing their silly songs, watch kids journaling or drawing,  or momentarily eavesdrop on the conversation in progress. Encountering the camp so full of life does something for your own spirit, offering a sense of peace despite the busyness and hectic coordination necessary to make sure everyone has a bed and is fed.

At the beginning of the week, I felt a familiar vibe from the Sunnyside middle school students. The "I'm cool and not too interested in talking to you," vibe that middle schoolers (and lots of other ages for that matter) enter into a new situation with. By the end of the week, though, I knew about 2/3 of their names and they knew me. At some point, we had taken plates to the kitchen together, scrubbed dishes, learned how to paddle a kayak, or just shared goofy exchanges while standing in line. When you look out over a crowd of middle schoolers at the beginning of the week, it just looks like a sea of indistinguishable faces. By the end of the week, you recognize them. You want to make a point to say something to each of them as they pass you in the dinner line.

We also received lots of support from far away through several more generous gifts through our Amazon Wish List. So many people have been shipping us items, and each postal box is quite literally a little gift from someone who loves us. We get a notification when something new is on the way, and then a day or so later something shows up in the mail box. This has been such a heart-warming undertaking, because when you put yourself out there and ask for something like that, you have no idea if someone will step up and take care of the request. We have been so surprised by how many have joined this effort in such a short amount of time.

And as this post is being written, we are just about $1,000 worth of donations away from receiving our $35,000 grant from the Gray Family Foundation for maintenance projects. With these funds, we will update our failing boiler system to much more energy efficient heat pumps and on-demand water heating. The donations and grants are coming at the perfect time.

On the last day of our visit from Sunnyside, Sam and Sarah were also loading packing up their RV and moving on to the next site. In the hecticness of breakfast--refilling trays of food as they depleted, answering questions about ingredients for special diets, giving and receiving praise for a wonderful week--the Richardsons came downstairs to give me a hug goodbye. I wished them well with safe travels and lots of great adventures. I look forward to following their journey online and hearing more about what they discover along the way.

I look forward to the lessons they will learn about what our camps have to say about our faith. I hope to hear the insight they are gathering in the future. I hope their voices are heard by all of us. I look forward to continue to cross paths with them at National Gatherings and social media posts. Even more than that, I am so happy they are part of this growing family of people who have been part of the wonderful things that happen at this camp. They are a few of the many hands offering to shape this place, to build it, to impact its ability to do great things. Nick talked to me after that crazy Wednesday, saying if Sam and Sarah hadn't been there he didn't know how they would have made it.
It's true, they were lifesavers. I am seeing more and more of these in this work. More and more of the ways that there is help for the hard work, willing to offer what is available towards the efforts to transform lives.

There are so many ways to be part of sculpting those transformational moments here at Magruder. These days I'm seeing it at every turn. We hope you feel a part of that too.

This weekend we host our Memorial Day Family Camp and Camp to Belong. Next week is our last week of outdoor school. Take some quiet moments with us to celebrate the spring and prepare for an equally wonderful summer.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The News from Magruder: April 29-May 5

It's been a beautiful spring so far on the Oregon Coast.  We see blue skies several times a week and the temperatures (mostly) hold at decently warm temperatures.  April was a busy month.  We hosted two training weekends for counselors and summer camp leadership for our Program Camps.  One was for volunteer deans, chaplains, and counselors; the other was a training retreat for our paid Resident Counselors that travel between Magruder, Suttle Lake, and Latgawa.  It was nice to see so many familiar faces and to be reminded of how many people it takes to make camp happen.  Nice to remember that and see our community that rises up, believes in it, and partners with us to put it all on.  Throughout the rest of the month, Outdoor School carried on in full swing.  We welcomed a Men's Group from Imago Dei the last weekend of the month, which also started some of our first chances to lead activities this spring.

St. Pius Middle Schoolers perfecting their rowboat form.
x
This  week along with Outdoor School, we hosted St. Pius Catholic School, a group of about 50 middle schoolers.  Troy and I would watch them all file in for their meals each day, engulfed in conversation and chattering excitedly.  We spotted a few that reminded us of middle school versions of past staff members and laughed.  They were a fun group.  Troy and I lead boating for them on Wednesday and Thursday.  Rik and Kevin, our maintenance men, have been working for almost a year now restoring our rowboats.  As I pushed each team of rowboaters out, I was able to really appreciate their improvements.  They're really beautiful with their new finishes and restorations.  The new row boats glide across the water elegantly now and remind me of those quintessential camp moments (which include teaching, reteaching, and making dramatic flailing movements trying to help middle schoolers understand how to row in rowboats).  At Troy's session, he had one group of kids catch a snake.  Boating with them was a great way to shake off some of the rust before the summer.


Todd Bartlett, our executive director, hooked into the Giant Swing.
On Thursday the Camping and Retreat Ministries Board arrived for meetings that would take place through Saturday morning.  I joined them at meals.  They were excited to be here.  On Saturday morning, I got up to join them for breakfast, and I sat down next to Todd, our executive director.  Not far into the meal, he leaned over, grinning, and asked me the likelihood of the Board being able to squeeze in the opportunity to go off our Giant Swing.  The Giant Swing is our only high ropes challenge course element, not to be confused with the Big Swing that once stood over our evacuation hill before a storm tore down the tree it hung from.  The Giant Swing is aptly named; it's giant and will make your heart stop for just a second when you first start to swing.  When you're at the very top, you can over the tree tops, over the archery range, past the south Challenge Course to the ocean.

Knowing what's it's like to spend a weekend sitting through the meetings, discussing important topics and the future, I wanted to be able to make sure the Board had the opportunity to have their try at the Giant Swing.  So just before lunch, one-by-one every member of the Board that wanted to swing got their chance.  Every participant made it to the very top of the element, which is not usual, and it was really fun to see everyone whoop and holler.  It's hard not to vocalize surprise or the jump of adrenaline with a drop that fast.

I climbed up the ladder with each member to hook them in and give them one last encouragement just before we pulled them to the top.  When you look into someone else's eyes at the top of that ladder, you peer for a second into eyes mingled with fears and excitements that are more obvious, easier to read, than the eyes we often peer into on the ground.  I usually run the Giant Swing for youth and the occasional counselor or leader.  I'm accustomed to that heightened fear and excitement looking back at me through younger eyes.  It was really neat to see it from the eyes of the leaders and directors on our Board.  That experience helps me spot those emotions when they're more subtle as we stand with two feet firmly on the ground.  It also helps me understand a little better each person's brand of fear and excitement and all those emotions that come out of that and exist in-between those.  It was a joy to spend my Saturday morning with them.

I reminded over and over again all of the preparations it takes to make camp happen.  It takes our volunteers coming to get trained every year -- volunteers to live in the cabins with campers, to dean each camp, to lead us in our spiritual practices.  It takes our Resident Counselors, who travel and train to make each week of camp the best week for someone.  It takes Rik and Kevin, making sure our boats float and our buildings stay strong.  It takes our Camping and Retreat Ministries Board, guiding us, securing and deciding our often-unseen foundational needs.  It takes you, reading this blog and sharing in our community even when you're not here.  It takes me, ready to greet you when you come through the gates to this special place.

If you're looking for another way to support our community and help us prepare for the summer.  Camp Magruder has made an Amazon Wish List for the Summer 2018.  It's a range of things, some big, some small, that we need for the summer.  New markers for hours spent in the Boathouse and for decorated door signs that will greet campers as they arrive to camp, new mic stands for that legendary Variety Show comedy skit, more arrows for our archery range to replace old and missing ones (even though, we know none of us *ever* miss the target!  Nope, not us!).  We'd love your help in preparing for the summer.  Using this link (http://a.co/i16IIHVyou can visit our list.  We've listed each item's priority level and how many we need for this season.  There are items ranging between $6 and $200.  Any gift is so valuable to us.  We hope you'll share this with your family or your Sunday School class or the friends you've attended camp with each year.

Then, we hope to see you soon.  Camp is just around the corner; register at www.gocamping.org/campsessions.



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Foundation Series: Sacred Places Set Apart

"Provide Sacred Places Apart"

A Perspective from Camp Magruder



The famous naturalist John Muir was also very good at work. He managed businesses, ranches and made a good living of it when he was focused. During his life there were several stretches where Muir was entrenched in domestic life, throwing all his energy into providing for his household, which he was very skilled at doing. I’ve read that when he stayed in that state of productivity for too long, it would take a toll on him until his wife would “shoo” him back to the wilderness (perhaps as much for her own sanity!). And, it is through those wilderness experiences where he was the "John Muir" we mostly read about.

I understand that feeling, because I often find myself reaching moments where I need to get away. It’s not because my life at home is miserable, it’s not because my family isn’t totally wonderful, and it isn’t because something awful has happened to me. When I get away, I could go deep into the wilderness for days and see no other human beings, but it doesn’t even have to be that remote. The biggest factor in this desire to have something like wilderness is the way it is set apart. I need to make a break with the routine. I need to reboot the system. I need to shake up my rhythms. I need to acknowledge this new setting is different and special and let it change me.


The fact that for most of my life I’ve worked at camp (which specializes in providing experiences apart) is either perfectly appropriate because I am doing that thing I myself long for - or - ironic, because I feel the need to set myself apart from a place already set apart. Regardless, whenever I return from time spent apart from the regular, I am more the person I want to be. I have a clearer picture of what is important to me. My spirit is kinder and more appreciative. Time being with myself in an extra-ordinary setting guides me to look through a wider lens. The tunnel vision from being in the same routines is shook open, and I’m able to see much more.


A retreat experience for guests, a week of summer camp for youth, and an outdoor school learning session for students all yank participants out of their norms and plop them down into something different. Whenever we intentionally do something out of the ordinary, the next step is to acknowledge that it is special and  may carry a meaning bigger than itself. I see groups doing this all the time. They may have come to camp thinking they were just here to learn some songs for the choir, to work on staff dynamics, or to spend some time on the beach. But they leave feeling something different in their spirit, something that will linger even when they get back to the routine.


Whenever I address a retreat group, I share with them that my prayer for them is that, beyond whatever their practical reason for visiting may be or whatever good or bad they are leaving behind from home, I hope spending time here with us in this setting offers a sense of peace and rest from the normal. I share that I hope they return home feeling refreshed and better equipped to go back into their world. Setting time and places apart has an almost magical effect in that regard.


It is one reason we light a candle for worship. When we light a candle it is a signal we give to ourselves where we  acknowledge the time is special by doing something special. The act of lighting and the sensory effects received from lighting the candle changes our perception of what is around us. When I light a candle, I pay attention a little bit differently. In moments like these I know I am more likely to feel the presence of God. Regular life can pull us deeper and deeper into something easy to steer and predict. That may be great for productivity, but if it goes on too long without a shake-up, we start to have tunnel vision.
Instead, light the candle, let your wife shoo you off to the Wilderness. We must do this to grow, to live deeply in the spirit. Set time apart. Set places apart. Set ourselves apart. It will open your eyes, and you will see more clearly.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The News from Magruder: March 25-31

It was spring break here for our Outdoor School staff, so camp was quieter than it's been in a couple weeks.  On Tuesday the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) came out.  They stayed with us until Thursday.  They were our only group for the week.

Andrew, one of the resource staffers from summer 2017, came out to lead their boating and archery sessions on Wednesday.  Towards the end of their session, I walked down to the dock to make sure that everyone had what they needed as they cleaned up and got off the water.  The teachers stood out at the edge of the dock, holding up their phones making pictures.  I listened to them laugh at the way one of the students had kicked his feet up on the kayak, leaned back in the seat, and rested as he floated across the water.  I overheard them comment on the students who they'd seen enjoying this activity much more than they'd expected.

After boating, Andrew met them at the archery shed.  I'd gone out to set up the course beforehand.  I found remnants of the summer-- old target covers and target accessories left behind from some of our groups.  It's strange to think we're only two and a half months away for summer again.  I think back to two and a half months before now-- it seems like it passed quickly.

It's training season for the program portion of camp, so I've stayed busy recently planning training sessions and organizing the registrants for our April Leadership training.  Planning for these events, I feel myself shaking off the rust.  I'm more likely to be humming a campfire song or planning a worship in the back of my mind than I was two and a half months ago.

At dinner on Wednesday, Angie, who was the host for the NAYA group, told us how excited the group had been about the activities that morning.  One camper came and asked Andrew where he could buy a kayak.  The teachers told us about the science project they'd do during part of the boating session.  Their enthusiasm was soothing for me.  I can get so nervous in the work left to do that I forget how powerful just a good boating session can be.

In two and a half months, the summer staff will start to arrive.  Then the campers will follow closely behind.  I'm sure we'll all have to shake off some rust.  I might even forget a verse to a campfire song, but as I read through the names of those coming to join us for the April Leadership training, I remind myself, "These are the people that our guests will remember."  Two and a half months after camp, our guests will remember boating on the lake beside their friends.  They'll remember their counselor who helped them get the courage to do it.  There's relief in remembering that.

Happy Easter to everyone from all of us on the coast.  We hope you find renewal in this season.

If you or someone you know is sixteen years or older, they are eligible to be a volunteer counselor at any of the Oregon-Idaho UM camps this summer.  To do so, they must attend the training April 6-8 here at Magruder.  Register now at www.gocamping.org/campsessions.  We are always looking for deans, volunteers, and leaders.  Email hope@campmagruder.org to get involved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Foundation Series: Genuine Christian Hospitality and Community

The Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Camping Ministries are posting blogs about the different foundations of our camping philosophies.  Over the next few months, we will repost those blogs as they are published, too.  We hope you enjoy reflecting about our foundations with us!  If you'd like to subscribe to the newsletters these are published in go to https://www.umoi.org/ or email eric@umoi.org.

Foundation 2: "Extend Genuine Christian Hospitality and Community"


I look down the table the first official day of the start to my summer.  It’s staff orientation week.  Chef Nick has made us a special meal.  I eat a cookie in celebration, which I promise myself I won’t do again until the summer is over.  I knock elbows playfully with a returning staff member hoping to make them drip their water as they take a sip from their glass.  I listen to a new staff member tell us about her high school graduation and her family’s new dog.  I’m filled with a growing anticipation for what these people will mean to this place three months from now, at the end of the summer.

Camp Magruder Staff 2017
The first day of summer staff orientation, one of the first questions I have the staff answer is, “What do you think it means to offer our Christian hospitality?”  Beyond meals and a place to lay their head and a camp map, how can we offer our guests something more?  On the first day of summer, that question is often met with blank stares.  They know the answers, even if they haven’t had to put it into words yet, and if they don’t-- my hope is that they will by the time they leave.  I know that when the very next week I see one of them wading hand-in-hand into the chilly Smith Lake with a camper who is determined to try something new this year.

What are we offering to guests that is more meaningful than just a hotel?  I ask myself that, too.  Those questions can spiral for me.  They begin to point to something else.  Why do we feel compelled to sing around the fire?  Will these meals nourish more than just our bodies?   Despite the beauty of Smith Lake, there are probably more fantastic places to kayak.  Why, despite the cold and wet, do I push off into the water anyway?

I know the answer, too.

My own memories beside the summer staff singing “The Fruits of the Spirit” tells me there’s more to campfire than the flicker of the flame.  The difference between the awkward, forced conversations during the first meal of camp and the middle of the week meal when campers begin to mix with friends they didn’t arrive to camp knowing is palpable.  Something tells me it’s not only Chef Nick’s cooking making that difference.  The opportunity to share a vessel on the water with a friend wakes something primal in me and helps me understand them a little better.
Camp Hope at Magruder
Camp Hope @ Magruder
There’s a quote by Martin Luther King that helps guide my steps as I try to discern that question for myself: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”  Community requires that we extend ourselves, across barriers and beyond fear to really see and welcome each other.  I believe it takes creativity to do that.  Creativity to imagine how to overcome those barriers.  Creativity to see a path to reconciliation.  Creativity that can see the light that brings us together, rather than the darkness that pulls us apart.  I believe that the work I do at camp necessitates creativity like the kind that MLK is talking about.

Camp Magruder welcomes groups from a diverse range of backgrounds and missions, and each staff member will naturally become more connected with particular groups whose missions touch closer to home or whose staff they really connect with. The summer staff work particularly close to our groups as they share meals, play games, lead activities, and sing songs beside guests that come through in the summer.

Usually by the time the summer staff has left at the end of the summer, many of them have sought me out to share their “aha!” moment in pursuing an understanding of Christian hospitality.  I remember Rikki Earle, summer staff ‘15-’17, telling me of the love and acceptance she felt when she first met the guests from Camp KC, a camp for youth infected or affected by HIV.  As they got in their cars to leave after their week of camp, the staff of Camp KC, in turn, told me how welcomed they felt by Rikki, and how at home they felt here at Magruder.  Anna Allen, summer staff ‘15-’17, saw the lives of Camp to Belong campers change because of the safe space she was able to help provide.  Camp to Belong reunites siblings separated by foster care systems.  As a twin herself, I could see the union of siblings strike home for Anna.

Maddy Hickerson, summer staff ‘16-’17, sums it simply, “Christian hospitality taught me to treat people the way God sees us.”  Community and Christian hospitality allow us to really see the people we’re serving: their pain, their joys, and their stories, and to welcome them into our home. To extend Christian hospitality to our guests is to have the creativity and the courage to invite them into our community and to help them grow in theirs.

So even though it is more than just the meals that Chef Nick has prepared for us, that’s actually not so far off.  It’s offering a seat at our table to eat and share in a meal recognizing that sitting together and eating together-- sharing our lives with one another-- is how we grow close and how we overcome those barriers that seem insurmountable.