Friday, March 16, 2018

The News from Magruder: March 11-17

It’s been an exciting week here on the coast.  The weather has been outstanding. We’ve seen temperatures comparable to our summer season except usually in the summer the grass has dulled to brown.  Middle schoolers in Outdoor School have filled our grounds. It’s been nice to have them back. We can sometimes hear them singing or laughing from the office, and you can’t cross camp without catching a snippet of a field study or hear the very distinctive clumping of a middle schooler in rain boots on a trail nearby.  The weather and the campers’ return syncing up easily lifted spirits around here. The ocean was a pretty blue green several days this week.

Camp life is very in tune with the seasons.  For many of us the spring work is very different than the winter work.  In the kitchen, the days of deep cleaning and experimenting with recipes are traded in for jam packed days serving lots of hungry middle school mouths.  The housekeepers’ schedules becomes more constant. In my work, spring means it’s time for staff and leader trainings. It also means summer is just around the corner.  I check the summer camp registrations regularly. I get excited when I see familiar names. I wonder about the campers belonging to those new names I see, too.

This week at Outdoor School we had two different middle school groups.  On Wednesday one group left and literally moments later, another group arrived.  Throughout the whole week, the same counselors, generally high schoolers, remained.  Those high schoolers are essential to the operation. Their willingness to serve is what makes it possible for those middle schoolers to be here.  It’s obvious a lot of times that those high schoolers are willing to come back because they’ve experienced how powerful a week at outdoor school can be already, when they were in those middle schoolers’ shoes.  I’ve watched them throughout this week more closely. Their interest and joy in being at camp is infectious.

Middle Schoolers arriving to Outdoor School
This year, I check one registration list slightly more than I check the others.  We’re offering a new Senior High camp this summer. I find myself drifting over to its registration list in my down moments.  It’s what humans do: we try to anticipate what’s coming. I read the names signed up so far. I imagine what it will be like.

We already offer Senior High Coast Adventure and Music, Arts, Dance, Drama (and tech) camps both for high school students.  The arts camp, or MADD, is known for the incredible community it builds as it prepares for its annual production at the end of its week.  It’s one of our oldest, most successful camps. Senior High Coast Adventures hosts a small group of campers that travel to different sites around the coast together.  They enjoy an intimate, tight knit community they build in relationship to their experience in nature.

We’re excited about the potential of this new camp.  We hope to offer many different options for high schoolers at our camp to grow and flourish and continue in their spiritual journeys.  It’s our goal to build safe spaces for high schoolers to ask hard questions and talk together about what those questions mean with other campers their age.  We’ve asked Sam Hatch to dean it. Sam has been the Middle School II dean in July for the past two summers. That camp has thrived, and Sam’s energy is naturally warm and welcoming.  As much as we need and love our high school counselors, I know from experience the impact that the mentors and memories of being a high school camper had on me, too. We believe even more powerful communities are possible after Middle School camp; we want our high school students to have that opportunity.

I dragged a chair out onto North Ball Field to write this week’s blog.  I didn’t feel good about being inside on a day as pretty as this one. I don’t know the next chance I’ll have to sit out and enjoy the weather.  I think of the speed of my everyday life, how often it keeps me from sitting still and basking in the sunlight. I can only imagine how much more busy high schoolers are now than when I was there.  I think it’s important to offer the space for them to relax and reflect in fellowship with their peers and mentors that care. I can’t wait to see what this summer will hold.

If you feel so inclined, one of the biggest things you can do to support Camp Magruder is to share our photos and blog posts either on your personal social media or in real life with the people you love.  I look to the summer and ahead at the rest of our spring, excited for the potential. The potential to share in this with others, to make fellowship and keep growing in those hard questions, to see many different seasons of life together.

See a full list of our children and youth, intergenerational, and family camps at  Please email or call me, Hope, if you have any questions.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The News from Camp Magruder February 25-March 3

It's been a quiet week at camp.  We had the pleasure of hosting the Grace Lutheran Council Retreat this past weekend.  They came out of Corvallis, and there were about eleven of them.  It was just enough people that we were able to push two tables together in the dining hall and all eat together.  Nick and Peter, our chefs in the dining hall, tried new recipes for them that they don't get to practice for larger groups.

This was our last down week before the Outdoor School staff returns for the spring season of Outdoor School.  Many of us talked of looking forward to welcoming back the ODS staff.  They are a crucial part in the community we have here.  The work they do in sharing environmental education with middle schoolers across the region feels important.  It helps round out the work we do the rest of the year.  Part of our mission in the church of the United Methodist Oregon Idaho Conference is to assist in developing an understanding of our interconnection with creation.  I hold that part of our mission close to heart; I don't feel alone as a part of our year round staff in appreciating the good work the ODS staff does in sharing that.

We had some sunny days that were deceivingly cold.  The temperature dropped into the 20's, which doesn't happen often on the coast.  Being our last quiet week before ODS is back and the spring season ramps into our summer season, it felt like camp was hunkering down to get some final beauty sleep before the return of the liveliness and energy that comes this time of year.

Over the weekend, I talked with one of the Grace Lutheran Council members about the way their council retreats have changed over the years.  He told me they'd gone on retreats for many years at a different camp, and then over time those retreats become day meetings where they'd returned home in the evenings to their families before returning the next day.  Then later he worried those day meetings would become conference calls.  He told me he felt they were missing something they were supposed to have in those retreats, so he pushed for them to return again to their overnight retreats at a place set aside.  That's part of how they wound up here at Magruder.  He spoke of spending the evenings staying up visiting with his fellow council members and the jokes they shared.  He pointed out that a few members of the council had tried yoga over the weekend while one of the other council members led them.  We agreed that time together is important.  It can be hard to say exactly why, but I told him I believed in it, too.

I've spent the past few weeks interviewing summer staff members and preparing applications for other positions as we continue through our hiring season.  It's an exciting time of year.  Every time we add someone to the team, I get up from my chair in my office to tell the other staff members.  We celebrate.  There's a sense that even now, they are becoming a part of the work we'll do together this summer.

I go to career fairs to recruit applicants, too.  Often our booth is nestled between business and marketing internships or opportunities for higher paying positions.  It can be hard to explain in a two minute elevator speech why a position at a summer camp is so worth it, but the last career fair I did at University of Oregon, it clicked for many students.  I told them about the way we strive to lay the foundation for intentional communities, like the Grace Lutheran Council, to come in and achieve goals so they may return into the world and take some goodness back out.  I told them about the impact camp has had on me as a person growing up in it and the way I see that still happening in our youth and summer camps.  I talked to one student about the importance of setting that time aside to live in community for purposeful reasons.

I look forward to the work I share with the summer staff because I believe they leave here able to return to the world some of the goodness we've shared together.  We go back out holding a small flame to our chests.  I see some of our summer staffers here and there throughout the year.  They are more confident with their compassion than I knew them to be at the first of their time here.  They listen hard to others and are able to pick up the meaning behind people's words.  They share that little flame little by little with others through their everyday work.

Together, the community we make here builds.  Making room for this work allows a spark to flicker.  On the lakeside doing a science project with the ODS staff.  Sitting in the dining hall sharing a meal with our guests around one table.  Living beside each other and laughing.  I'm looking for the presence of that flame.  We hope you'll come share in it, too.

We are still hiring male Resident Counselors for summer 2018, and applications for summer 2018 resource staff members are due back March 9th.  Find more information about both positions at  Feel free to email me at or give me a call at our office.  I'm happy to tell you more about the work we can
do together.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The News from Magruder, Feb 11-17

We started the week out with sunshine on the Oregon Coast. I'm talking days where there wasn't a cloud in the sky. This did not necessarily translate to warmth. Temperatures dipped into the 30s and just below freezing on the coldest nights. Still, we were treated to some beautiful sunsets over the Pacific and unobstructed views of the stars at night. As the week went on, we saw a day or two that couldn't make up its mind. Sunny, twenty minutes later rain, twenty minutes later sun, then sometimes both at the same time. From there we've moved into overcast and drizzle that seem more characteristic of the time of year.

The busier season is just at the doorstep of Camp Magruder. In just a few weeks, the Spring Outdoor School staff will arrive and train. Coming on their heels will be the first group of week-long middle school guests, learning about biology and nature in the places where biology and nature happen. For now, though, we have a few more weeks of relative quiet. On Valentines, we can duck out a little early to be with our sweethearts. For Ash Wednesday, we can attend a service, receive the ashes, reflect on our humanity. These things are much easier to do when the camp is quiet. When you can catch yourself staring out the window deep in thought. These thoughts will turn into something beneficial. Something useful when the season is more fast paced and stressful.

On Wednesday, after our weekly meeting, I gathered the staff outside the new bell tower just outside
the Carrier Dining Hall. The bell has been mounted on the wooden frame for use in calling people together for meals and other functions. It has been rung already, but I wanted us to have a ceremonial first ring. I talked about the history of the bell. How it made its way from the UM church in Corvalis. The buildings it took up residence in at Magruder. Rik talked about where the bell was made in Seneca, New York. How it was designed tonally specifically as a church bell. How it was probably made in the late 1800s. Then I gave it a good tug and let it ring for a while. Everyone commented on how beautiful it sounded. I thought about how this bell will be heard by guests for years to come. How that sound may become attached to important memories over time. How people will hear that sound or a sound very close to it, and they will be whisked back to a very special moment in their life that happened at Camp Magruder. I thought about what that bell sound will mean to me in decades to come.

The Bunch Lodge roof is nearly completed. We took on three roof projects in 2017 that were heavily slowed by rain early in the year. The Bunch project was the last one on our list. It had begun leaking, and we knew it would be a matter of time before we sustained more serious damage. The roofers have also torn down part of the awning over the front porch and reconstructed it. We will put in newer, more efficient lighting on the porch with this new awning. The work adds a lot to the Bunch's look, and I think people are going to appreciate the improvements. The sunshine earlier in the week gave the roofers what they needed to get most of the work wrapped up. Bunch won't be open for this weekend, but it will be ready by the time our next group is with us.

As we close out the week, campers for our annual Choir Camp are arriving. This camp has been a Magruder tradition for decades. Choir members from churches all over the conference come together to learn several vocal pieces in just two days. It is incredible how much progress they make. This was the first group I ever hosted as a Magruder staff member, so it marks the year rolling over for me in a way. I am able to look back hold up the measuring stick to where I was at this time last year and the year before and the year before. More than anything, like many of the groups we see through the year, this group reminds me of the wonderful things human beings are capable of.

I think about how when we take part in these wonderful things there is something from it that stays with us through the rest of our days. When we hear a sound, smell a smell, see a sight, we are drawn back to it and we remember the greatness we brushed up against for a time. It is uplifting and encouraging. It offers hope and courage. And it can all be brought back very simply through the senses. We can see where we've been in the place we are standing. It can guide us where we will go next.

This weekend remember our two groups: Magruder Choir Camp and Boy Scout Troop 611. We pray they find memories to hold on to for years to come.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The News from Camp Magruder January 28-February 3

It's been a relatively quiet week around camp.  We've seen a lot of rain and tides have gone back down to the normal seasonal levels, after some impressively high tides in weeks' past.  Troy hosted two groups this past weekend OSU's Multiracial Akido Retreat and Open School's Girls Retreat.

Camp Magruder has a long history with Open School's programs, they've come at least two or three times a year every year since I've been here.  I've sat through some of their sessions and gotten to know their leaders.  They work to empower middle and high school youth to fulfill their fullest potential.  The leaders are passionate about the work they share in; I've always found that energy infectious.  This weekend they focused on promoting positive self image and empowerment of the females they were mentoring.  It was good to have them back.

OSU's retreat united students who have many different racial identities to come together to share their experiences.  It was a time for encouragement and a lot of serious conversation about identity and solidarity.

On Wednesday Rik and Kevin, our maintenance men, called Troy and me out of the office to come down to the maintenance shop to help move the bell tower they built a few weeks ago.  Rik and Kevin are both impressively talented, and I've been able to admire the structure on several walks around camp at its temporary home at the maintenance shop.  It's made of tall, wooden beams, reminiscent (especially without the bell on top, as it is currently) on a oil well.  On Wednesday, we moved it right next to Carrier Dining Hall.

Lew Schaad visited us a couple weeks ago, just to stop in and see how Magruder was doing.  He visits us every so often.  Lew shares with us old stories of this place-- how the buildings have changed over time, the hidden use of different parts of camp we'd not noticed, the stories to the people for which buildings are named.  Rik and Kevin had just finished the bell tower the last time he visited.

Lew told us the bell that we plan to put on top of the bell tower was first given to us by Corvallis UMC when they were replacing their bell.  So we got their old bell, and the bell tower was a tall, enclosed structure with a building at the bottom that served many purposes over its life span-- once an office.  Now the footprint of that building is still in the parking lot of Carrier Dining Hall, just south of the firewood shed.  Troy's found a picture of a time where there was a basketball goal at one side of the tiny square plot.  I like to imagine the many lives of that plot of cement-- as a bell tower, an office, a basketball court.  Next the bell moved to the top of Walworth building, until recently when Walworth's roof was replaced and Walworth was renovated.

Now, we get to resurrect a new home for the bell.  Right next to the dining hall, it will serve as a dinner bell that you should be able to hear from all over camp.  Its history has me thinking about Camp Magruder's identity and appreciating the OSU's students time set aside to conversations about where they come from and who they are now and who the world sees them as versus who they know themselves to be.

There's something to learn from looking back and taking in what got us here.  There's a way to honor that as we take the next step forward.  When Rik and Kevin get the old bell situated up on its new home, I like to imagine the way those first rings of the bell will wake up some old parts of camp that fell dormant.  I hope to hear stories from people who knew the bell at its different homes and the memories that ring shakes free.  I look forward to those moments.

Friday, January 26, 2018

January 22-26, 2018: Staff Retreat at Suttle Lake

On Monday morning, the Camp Magruder staff packed the camp vehicle full of sleeping bags, suitcases, pillows, and snow boots, and we left the rainy Oregon coast to head for our sister camp, Suttle Lake.  Suttle Lake is located outside of Sisters, Oregon, and we arrived shortly before dinner served to us by Able, Suttle Lake's head chef and our host for the week.  I was excited for the meals Able would treat us to because his food never disappoints, and sometimes he'll spoil me with his delicious brownies.  Monday night, he spoiled us all with warm chowder and brownies.

Troy planned the staff retreat as a way for us to start the year together by centering ourselves on our mission.  For our first session Monday night, Troy shared with us a devotion that reminded us why we were there.  He wrote, "This week, we want to try to experience what our guests experience when they visit us. Work to quiet yourself to not think of what’s going on outside. When you have a moment to relax, to explore, to be still, give yourself permission. Listen. See if you hear something that brings you peace or joy. Live with everyone during this week. As we live in close quarters, eat together, spend a lot of time together, pay attention to the benefits of living in community. Think of how we can better create an environment for our guests to do this."

It was hard for many of us to leave behind our work at camp.  I'm in the middle of organizing summer schedules and hiring summer staff.  Rik, the head of our maintenance team, is knee-deep in projects that can only be done in the winter season, when we have fewer guests.  Angie, our bookkeeper, stays busy.  Despite camp being a place where we hope to provide space for others to retreat and to rest; it can be hard for all of us to also give ourselves that permission and that time, too.

Able met us after breakfast Tuesday morning to give us a tour of Suttle Lake.  The Camp Magruder staff, as Oregon coasters that we are, bundled up in several layers and our snow boots to hike around camp while a light snow fell.  Able met us wearing a sweatshirt and shorts and showed us around Pioneer Lodge and the bunk cabins first, then the challenge course.  Angie spotted a trail that led us up a ridge and looped around through the forest to the other side of camp.  Her adventurous side spurred us all to want to see the loop to its end.  Rik made us laugh by poking fun at each of us, like he usually does, and stopping to hug a tree.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to lead the staff in some team building exercises.  I'm familiar with leading youth and guests in team building initiatives, but I was nervous to lead these very same activities for people who I worked with.  But I explained to them about comfort zones and our goals for leading groups through these activities, and we even tried a few initiatives.  In one initiative, Leslie, our head of Housekeeping, put on a blindfold while Rik lead her through a maze we'd made for her.  At the end of the initiative, I saw something in Leslie's eyes that I'd seen before in many campers'.  We talked about a sense of a trust that was beginning to build, and Leslie talked about how letting go of control and allowing Rik to help her lifted a weight off her chest.

On Wednesday evening, our last evening, we all went out together to explore Bend, which a few of us hadn't been to.  We cruised through little boutiques and antique stores.  Rik and I looked at the wall hangings and furniture and imagined new projects we could make inspired by different home decorations in each store.  Leslie bought a scarf to keep warm.  We all took turns making Aura, Allyson and Troy's little one,  giggle as we browsed.  At the end of the evening, we joined together to eat at Deschutes Brewery, where Able had referred us to try the pretzels as appetizers.

Looking around the table, I felt a great sense of warmth to share a meal with these people.  This job is still new to me, but I was reminded in that moment how each person around the table has taken special care to welcome me to Camp Magruder, to make me feel a part of the family.  The week gave me a new awareness of that family and the care we have for one another and the work we share. 

It's easy to forget to pause and allow ourselves to rest and to refresh.  It's hard to realize how badly we need that and how that can help us do the work we have.  And sometimes, the best thing we can do is to remember why we do the work we do: to provide a space for guests to form sacred communities, to live beside each other, to sleep, to eat, to learn, and to recalibrate.

Thanks to the Suttle Lake staff, we were able to do that this week, to see ourselves as guests and to benefit from the work we are trying to provide for others.  It was a great reminder for me of many of those things that make camp so important.  Trust, community, family, rest, sacred space.  I'm thankful for that time, and I hope you get a chance to share that with us, too, and sometime soon.

This weekend we welcome Open Meadow's Girls Retreat, OSU's Social Justice and Multiracial Akido Retreat, and Rana DeBey.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2018 Summer Camp Dates: Changes to MADD Camp Dates

As Camp Magruder prepares to announce the 2018 summer schedule we want to share a few changes to our Music Arts Dance & Drama (MADD) camp that we hope will help the camp grow and bring even more high schoolers into its special community and incredible incorporation of artistic expression. Last year, due to a wet and icy winter, MADD was moved to the July summer camp week, and this year it is moving back to the traditional June week.

Also, in 2018 MADD camp will be held June 17-22 which changes it from a Sunday-Saturday camp to a Sunday-Friday camp, matching the rest of Magruder’s children/youth camps that week. This change will drop the cost of MADD by $90 which we hope will include more high schoolers who may have declined camp in the past for financial reasons. It will also make coordinating travel and rides to pick campers up more convenient for parents with children in multiple age groups.

What will most definitely stay the same is MADD camp’s ability to create a meaningful community of young people who accept and care about each other. It will continue to bring in talented artists who share their gifts to make something beautiful and wonderfully fun to be part of. Campers will still make memories that will stay with them the rest of their lives and friendships in just one week that remain for decades.

We hope these new dates make MADD camp more accessible for campers to feel its impact which has touched thousands over the years. If you know someone who is passionate or even interested in the Arts and who might want a powerful life-changing experience, tell them about the special week that is Magruder MADD Camp.  

Keep a look out at Summer camp dates will be posted and registration will be open soon. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The News from Magruder October 15-21

The coast is inching itself more and more into the rainy season as each week goes on. We have had rain nearly every day this week at Camp Magruder, but on none of them has it rained the entire day. Still, there is enough precipitation to make camp a pretty soggy place. The lake level is rising. The newts are getting more and more adventurous. The ocean is roaring, sounding like its even closer than it actually is. But, we are still having visits of sunshine nearly every day as well. For now, we are getting the sampler platter for weather: rain, overcast, sunshine, wind, calm.

It is incredible to me how our bodies are tuned into the world, even for people who live lives mostly out of nature. When it gets dark, our bodies are more compelled to sleep. When the rain and cold weather come, our stomachs call for warm drinks and our legs and chest call for warm, soft blankets. As the rain comes on and the nights begin sooner, we can feel the slow time of the year on its way to Camp Magruder, even though we still have about a month of groups. It will be the preparatory period, the time to plan, the time to deep clean, the time to redecorate. Then the afternoon sun comes out, and our bodies tell us it is time to go outside and be with people.

This week Outdoor School had a split week, where one school group is in for the first half of the week, and when it leaves another group comes in on its heals and stays until the end of the week. This set-up makes for a pretty hectic Wednesday mid-day. One group eats lunch at 11:00am, loads up their luggage, gets on the bus and leaves. Then another group of buses show up, unload their luggage, orient the new students, then have lunch at 1:00pm. It is an impressive logistical feat that happens multiple weeks at Camp Magruder each Spring and Fall.

While we were setting up chairs and tables for our upcoming retreat group, Kevin told me about how powerful the ocean has been this week with the wind and rain. He said driftwood was getting dragged out and tossed back onto shore, that some major reshaping was happening out there. He talked about how there was a large driftwood post that had been planted in the sand near the jetty early in the summer, and he wondered how long it would last. In the morning it was there, and in the afternoon it was not. We've had a large log blocking the center of our North beach trail way too large to move by hand that our chainsaws wouldn't cut through. It's occupied the space where the trail opens up to the beach for 5-6 months now. This week it was picked up by the ocean and set back down a little farther down the path. This is a time of turnover and transition. A time of shifting identity a little bit.

Hosting a site like this, we have so many identities. We are welcoming hosts. We help facilitate and
environment of learning where we hope to equip people to better do good. We work to get guests open to the spirit that might be moving in nature and in the community they build. We work to make people comfortable with this unfamiliar surrounding. We pray for people and hope that our time spent together transforms both of us. We hope that this time we spend together makes a difference, when we see the cars arrive all the way up to the time we tell them goodbye and turn the lights out.

On Wednesday, I made it back to the office after the 11am pizza lunch. I began getting back into my office brain, answering emails, drawing out plans for the work we have in front of us. The rain came down and the wind tossed the trees about a little. Several yellow school buses passed the office window. I could hear the commotion of students getting off the bus. I could hear the outdoor school leaders cheering with enthusiasm as if they hadn't just finished with another group moments ago. I smiled hearing all the sounds harmonizing into something that is quintessentially camp life. Another round of people transporting themselves to a new world, something for the body, mind, and spirit to respond to, to take in, the breathe out, and let it make some of them new too.

This weekend we are hosting the Oregon Mycological Society, a group passionate and curious about mushroom hunting. As they brave the wind and rain of the Oregon Coast, spend some moments in prayer with us that their time will be life-giving and memorable.