Friday, September 18, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder, 9/13-19

Weather on the coast this week has been pleasant for the most part with cloudy skies but warm air. We've had our share of rain, but it's mostly happened overnight. This is the best of both worlds for us. We desperately need rain and lots of it, but we do like warm, clear skies when we go outside. It's a dilemma we often find ourselves in, being pulled between what we enjoy on a surface level and what we truly need.

I am new to Camp Magruder, so I don't have any prior summers to compare it to, but everyone I've heard from agrees this has been one of the driest summers they've ever seen. Most comment that they've never seen Smith Lake lower. The swim area seemed to shrink day by day. You can stand with your head above water in places that were 8-9 feet deep.

Though a little troubling, the low water has offered some opportunities. Mark and Tommie, with the help of some resource staff, trimmed the brush around the lake that was beginning to block the views from the Sherlock deck, the Outdoor Chapel, and the Meditation Patio. There are a few posts left in the water from the old dock that have been challenging to remove that we might be able to move a little easier now. And, the low water has revealed a new lakeside path that recent guests have used to see less familiar views of the lakeside.

It is good for us to make the most of any situation. We should see the good in all things, but also hope for something that is a greater good, something sustaining. Even if we get several straight months of non-stop rain, we know we should not complain. When we think about it, our best selves will see the blessings and find a way to live happily with anything when we know it's doing something important for us all.

The Columbia Basin Basketry Guild has spent most of the week with us, occupying most of the lodges onsite. In each meeting space, people work away weaving various materials into what will become a beautiful basket. It is interesting how these projects start out as a handful of straw or shaved wood. It slowly begins to look like a plate, then has a lip to it. Some will grow a wall, becoming something totally new and useful. This is something humans have been doing for thousands of years. Long ago, we figured out a way to twist and weave the common elements together into something that could carry stuff better than our arms could on their own.

Northwest Outdoor School leaders also arrived this week to train for the work they'll do all Fall at Camp Magruder. They are mostly post college, some we've seen before and some new. Each week they will teach science lessons to middle schoolers in places where they can witness all these things happen. I really believe in this type of education. A type of learning where you get to look at, hear, touch, and smell what you're learning about. This kind of learning can get kids to fall in love with a subject for life. I am so glad we can offer a place for this kind of teaching to happen.

I watch them this week as they get to know each other better, as they practice their lessons and their protocol. It's fun to watch 20 and 30 something year olds running around in the field playing deer and mountain lions. It cool to see them growing close to each other in a short amount of time. They will be such a big part of each other's worlds for the next few months. Training weeks are usually uplifting like this--they are filled with the vision of what can be, all the things they can accomplish together. It will start getting more difficult immediately, as soon as the first bus pulls up. They'll get more stressed, they won't always get along. But if their best selves prevail, they'll see the blessings even in the difficult moments. They'll find a way to make something good, something sustaining. We'll be watching through sunlight and rain.

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