Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Maria and Pablo lived in a tiny village in Mexico. Because Christmastime at their house did not include many gifts, Maria and Pablo looked forward to the Christmas festivities at the village church with great joy and anticipation.

To honor the birth of Christ, the church displayed a beautiful manger that drew crowds of admirers. Villagers walked miles to admire the manger, bringing lovely, expensive gifts for the Baby Jesus. As Maria and Pablo watched the villagers place their gifts in the soft hay around the manger, they felt sad. They had no money to buy gifts for their family and no money to buy a gift for the Baby Jesus.

One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo walked to the church for that evening's services, wishing desperately that they had a gift to bring. Just then, a soft glowing light shone through the darkness, and the shadowy outline of an angel appeared above them.

Maria and Pablo were afraid, but the angel comforted them, instructing them to pick some of the short green weeds that were growing by the road. They should bring the plants to the church, the angel explained, and place them near the manger as their gift to the Baby Jesus. Then just as quickly as she had appeared, the angel was gone, leaving Maria and Pablo on the road looking up into the dark sky. Confused but excited, the children filled their arms with large bunches of the green weeds and hurried to the church.

When the children entered the church, many of the villagers turned to stare. As Maria and Pablo began placing the weeds around the manger, some of the villagers laughed at them. "Why are those children putting weeds by the manger?" they asked each other. Maria and Pablo began to feel embarrassed and ashamed of their gift to the Baby Jesus, but they stood bravely near the manger, placing the plants on the soft hay, as the angel had instructed.

Suddenly, the dull green leaves on the tops of the plants began to turn a beautiful shade of red, surrounding the Baby with beautiful blooms. The laughing villagers became silent as they watched the green plants transform into the lovely star-shaped crimson flowers we call poinsettias. As they watched the weeds bloom before their eyes, Maria and Pablo knew they had no reason to be ashamed anymore. They had given the Baby Jesus the only gift they could--and it was the most beautiful gift of all.
-Story by Stephanie Herbek

Don't forget to give from the heart this season and give the gift of camp to friends and family. There are a multitude of programs throughout the conference that are sure to delight your loved ones. Visit to check them out.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meet Steve

"The cross and flame on the boathouse caught my eye while driving down US 101 years ago when we were living in Gig Harbor, WA. I recall being impressed that there was a United Methodist Church camp situated on a lake next to the ocean. I was directing camps for the Boy Scouts of America at the time and thought that it might be exciting to serve at a camp like that someday. Years passed and we moved to Spokane, Colorado, and Maine. Wanting to move back to the Northwest to be closer to Melinda's family, I answered the Camp Director position posting for Camp Magruder. Coming out to interview for the position, I discovered that Camp Magruder was the United Methodist camp that I had seen on that lake by the ocean years before. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways." Steve began work as the Camp Director at Camp Magruder in December 2007 with his wife and three children joining him after the 2007-2008 school year wrapped up.

"I love camp. 9,000 people visit every year and it is a joy to make their acquaintance and to be their host in this remarkable ministry setting. I want people to know that a lot of people who they will probably never meet had a vision, reached deep into their pockets, and through no small effort worked to build this wonderful ministry site called Camp Magruder. People should know that hundreds of volunteers shape that vision for thousands of campers every year by serving as counselors, deans, event coordinators, chaperones, and seasonal staff. Still others reach into their pockets and give a portion of their resources to the ministry so that future generations may come to know and love Christ at Camp Magruder."

"My hair seems to grow a bit whiter with each passing year and the mountains I climb aren't quite as tall but my passion for camping, like the embers of the campfires of my youth, fanned by countless people, is a fire that burns within, a fire sparking embers that I hope others will catch and carry into the future."

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Starfish

There's a story about a little boy at the seashore. As he walked along the sand, he noticed hundreds of starfish that had been washed high up onto the beach the night before by a fierce storm. He knew they would never make it back to the water on their own, so he started picking them up one by one and carrying them back to the water so they would live. His older brother came along and said, "That's stupid. Why are you even bothering to do that? There are so many of them, it's not going to make any difference." The little boy looked down at the starfish in his hand, dropped it into the water, and said, "Well, it makes a difference to that one."

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)
Then those "sheep" are going to say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?" Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me you did it to me."

August H. Strong reflected on our ability to often miss God’s unexpected deeds. The day before he died, Strong wrote the following, “When you come to the end of your life, will you say that you have never seen God? The answer must be that you have never seen anything else.”

We invite you to slow down this busy season to go find God. Look in the crowded stores, at school, in conversations with strangers, during volunteer opportunities, in your families faces; in your everyday life. How awesome and different the world would be if everyone trained themselves to look for and serve God in everthing they did?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

This week we find ourselves thrown into what seems the middle of winter with rain, wind, more rain, more wind, and even more rain. Camp has weathered the storms this week fairly well. We had sustained winds of 34.5 mph on Tuesday as well as wind gusts as high as 66 mph. Did I mention we had lots of rain? We've had nearly 3.5 inches in just under a week.

Dead branches and small limbs have been shaken from their homes amongst the trees. Trash cans have also been blown and scattered about camp. There was thunder and lightning Tuesday afternoon and on into the evening. A power pole fuse blew on the pole in front of the camp office resulting in a sound like an explosion and power being out to the Maintenance Shop and Pioneer Lodge. The storm also brought down a power line on Old Pacific Highway across from Huffman House just outside the camp gates. As of this afternoon, all power has been restored.

Each of us who remain in camp during the winter are all safe from harm and we've not sustained any property damage from this bout of weather. We're constantly amazed by those who call, write, and worry about camp as they hear about winter storms and other coastal emergencies.

As we pause this week to return home and give thanks with friends and family, we also pause to give thanks for the home Camp Magruder has become for countless people over the years. From the bottom of our hearts we thank each of you who have visited us at camp this year, donated either time or financial gifts, spread the word about our ministry, or have sent prayers our way. We hope you enjoy the start of your holiday season.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Ready for Winter

Abrams is getting a much needed and deserved overhaul this winter. Our maintenance crew were able to fix a rotting wall in that building last year before we got into the busy season, but weren't able to really finish the project the way they would have liked. Now that we have time, they have gone back into Abrams to finish what they started. This week they have installed new windows, finished sheet rock, and will be texturizing walls. Next week it gets interior paint and eventually a new floor to match that of Collins and Pines.

Our housekeeping staff are busy cleaning up cabins after their last use of the season. They are also busy unplugging appliances and preparing buildings for winter.

Our kitchen crew finished up food service for the season this last weekend. They have been busy cleaning out refrigerators, freezers, and pantries of perishable foods as well as covering dishes and unplugging appliances for the winter.

Those of us in the office have been busy working on budgets for the coming year, booking reservations for guest groups, year-end reports, and writing grants for new waterfront equipment.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meet Evelyn

"I think I was born in a tent and probably learned to fish before I knew my ABC's. As far back as I can remember my family always went camping on the weekends."

Evelyn's husband, Mark, began working at Camp Magruder in 2005 on the maintenance team. "He would always talk about Camp Magruder. When I finally went there, I couldn't believe how beautiful and special it really was."

Since then, Evelyn has dabbled in several areas at Camp Magruder. She started by volunteering with Mark on the maintenance crew, filled in at the front desk, worked in the kitchen where she received her camp name "Cookie," and most recently worked on our housekeeping staff.

"My favorite thing about Camp Magruder, besides working in the beautiful outdoors, is that you become part of an always expanding family. The christian atmosphere makes it a more relaxed and loving place to work. My job might not be glamorous, but when you love camp as much as I do, you take pride in keeping everything clean and happy."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

National Cookie Monster Day

Wednesday, November 2, marks National Cookie Monster day in the United States. What better way to share our love of cookies here at Camp Magruder than by taking you behind the scenes in our kitchen.

The magic begins with the giant mixer you see in the baking area of the kitchen. The famous chocolate chip cookie recipe hangs just to the right of the mixer on the wall.

We don't make cookies in small home sized batches, but fill industrial mixing bowls with dough. The whole process of making dough, baking, cooling, and storing these cookies can take someone an entire morning.

After a short time in the oven we have trays and trays of famous Camp Magruder chocolate chip cookies.

Because we make so many cookies at one time, we store them in big containers hidden away. At any given time we have two to three containers full of cookies in the Camp Magruder kitchen.

It takes several attempts to master the art of the perfectly baked cookie. Each person on our kitchen staff takes pride in their cookie trying to make it better than any other baker here at camp. Brandon (featured in the picture below) has been mastering the chocolate chip cookie this fall.

We've gone back and forth about giving the recipe out for our chocolate chip cookies. People say they come to camp for the delicious cookies here. By giving people the recipe, we've got to trust that there is something else in camp they'll come back for.

Enjoy National Cookie Monster day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

National Make a Difference Day

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." -John Wesley

Millions of Americans have rallied and united this week to help change the world and the lives of others in their communities. Today, the fourth Saturday of October, the nation and Camp Magruder celebrate the 21st annual Make a Difference Day sponsored by USA Weekend and the Hands On Network.

Guests of Camp Magruder have participated in several service projects over the years. They have maintained trails, worked in local soup kitchens, facilitated Vacation Bible School in local communities, chopped and cleared storm debris, built a community garden, built a compost center, re-built and maintained our fleet of boats, and donated their skills in carpentry and electrical work to various projects. Each summer 200-250 people volunteer their time as counselors, deans, resource staff, and theologians to our ministry here. Week after week campers join staff efforts to complete service projects on site. I can't even begin to imagine the number of people who have volunteered here over the years to make Camp Magruder the place it is today. We graciously thank all of you who help us fulfill our ministry.

We constantly witness the impacts that Camp Magruder has on the lives of those who pass through here and we see the way people are changed and moved to action. Not only do they act here, but they speak up for justice, equality, and opportunity in their own communities.

We found out this week that the Eugene First United Methodist Church has taken on a big fundraising effort to support our ministry here at Camp Magruder. When they contemplated the many projects that they might financially support, the youth director spoke up and helped turn the conversation into what can we do to make the most impact on the campers. Their decision was to raise the $35,000 needed to build a safe new boat dock for the guests of Camp Magruder. Fundraising is set to begin soon in their community. Financial gifts are welcome to help this congregation meet its goal of a new boat dock and can be sent directly to Camp Magruder. One person came to camp and was changed. In turn she helped her community see what they could do for someone else. It just takes one person with an open heart to make a difference.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

What will you do to change the lives of those in your community on National Make a Difference Day?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fungus Among Us

It's official, Camp Magruder has been invaded. I'm not talking about flying saucers and aliens, zombies and witches, or even ET phoning home; but there's fungus among us.

We've been anticipating mushroom season for a few weeks around Camp Magruder and now that it's finally here, things are happening fast. I'm not kidding; you can literally walk around camp one day and see almost no fungal activity and overnight something happens. It's like all the mushrooms say it's time to party and shoot up from of the ground to music that only fungi can hear. Everywhere you look different varieties are growing.

It's not just that they show up so fast thats amazing; they show up and grow for a very brief time before starting their decay. If you don't keep your eyes open you're likely to miss the whole thing.

Not only do we have a lot of fungus among us, but it is famous fungi. Camp Magruder has hosted the Oregon Mycological Society for several years each fall. In 2009, Steve Trudell and Joe Ammirati wrote the book Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest published by Timber Press Field Guide. In the book, there are several photos that have come from their Mycological Society trips here at Camp Magruder.

Take a look at a few more pictures of the fungi growing this fall at Camp Magruder.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meet the Brekke's

Here's the next installment of "Meet the Permanent Staff" of Camp Magruder. This week we meet the Brekke's.

Meet Reno:
Reno Brekke has been in his position as the Food Service Manager for a year now, but wasn't brought to Camp Magruder originally for this position. Reno is a "jack of all trades" and has dabbled in all sorts of careers in his life. When the big wind and rain storm of 2007 blew through the area devastating local communities, Reno was a general contractor and came to camp to repair a few of the significantly damaged roofs. While at camp, he was moved and decided that he'd like to be a part of it all.

"I love to see people's happy faces when they are here and know that they will take these memories with them when they leave. I believe the most important thing about Camp Magruder is that it is a place of happiness, dreams, and memories that everyone should be fortunate enough to experience."

"I feel like I was led on a divine path to Camp Magruder. This place and the opportunities I have had here have been a blessing. Camp Magruder has enriched my life as well as my families. It is such a privalege to get to work here."

Meet Cassie:
"My first experience with camping was as a child at Lake Olollie with friends and family. The kids would swim, hunt for frogs and salamanders, and explore. I remember how free and independent that made me feel."

Cassie Brekke has been with Camp Magruder for 4 years in our housekeeping department. About a year ago, Cassie stepped into her current position as the Housekeeping Manager.

"I like knowing that I am a part of a broad spectrum team that has such a positive impact on our guests lives as well as my own. From the moment I put on my staff vest, I knew I was appreciated, encouraged, and allowed to do the best I could. I have not only been encouraged to work, but encouraged to grow. This made me not only want to be a staff member, but to stay a staff member."

"I believe that the people who come through Camp Magruder have such compassion and spirit. I hope that the message and ministry of Camp Magruder continues to spread and feed people's hearts and souls. I believe that the most important thing about Camp Magruder is that everyone is welcome here; truly welcomed, cherished, and loved for exactly who they are and where they are in life."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Outdoor Education

Camp Magruder has been home to several different types of outdoor education programs over the years. We have partnered with OMSI, hosted self-directed environmental programs with schools, and had various groups contract our staff to facilitate educational opportunities for youth and adults. Since our founding in 1945, we have helped to provide outdoor education experiences to thousands of people throughout Oregon.

This week the Northwest Regional Education Service District Outdoor Science School program has returned to Camp Magruder. We are proud to celebrate the completion of one full year of partnering with them to provide quality educational experiences to sixth grade students and high school counselors.

During this, the first week of their program, we've hosted 223 sixth grade students, 23 counselors, and 10 Outdoor Science School staff on-site. The Outdoor Science School staff consists of a Site Supervisor, Nurse, Field Instructors, and Program staff; each person playing a vital role in this program's success. This program keeps the Camp Magruder and Outdoor Science School staffs very busy throughout the season.

Plate Tectonics Lesson

Each week several schools converge on-site to create a larger community. Students from all different schools and classes are mixed as cabin groups for their stay here. By living, working, and learning together students discover how to get along and problem solve with a variety of people.

Oregon in the Sand Lesson

Students participate in Earth, Forest, Water, and Animal field studies as well as the taking part in the Metro curriculum involving waste reduction and sustainability. Through hands-on interactive activities, students develop a better understanding of the natural world and how everything is tied together.

Soil Compaction Lesson

We look forward to working with the Northwest Regional Education Service district for years to come. Their mission to create environmental literacy and responsible citizenship aligns with Camp Magruder's mission of developing lifestyles of loving interdependence with each other and all of creation.

Tell us about your Outdoor Science School experience and how it impacted you. We'd love to hear some of your stories.