Friday, September 25, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder, 9/20-26

This week, the coast held off the ensuing fall, at least as far as the sky goes. We were treated to sunny skies and mild temperatures, the type of days you just want to stop and look at. We've had a lot of good cloud days this week--days where the puffy clouds frame the scenery. They seem to make the mountains look bigger, the oceans a deeper blue. We saw the first day of Fall this week, we know this cannot last.

Outdoor School welcomed their first group of students on Tuesday. The staff spent last week training, then on Monday they welcomed a group of high school counselors and trained them. They walked the counselors around, teaching them the lessons and activities that they worked to perfect last week. It is this series of lessons being passed along. These outdoor staff members have been studying this for years, they've learned to teach this. They teach the counselors, who have some prior knowledge  how to assist with the lessons. Then they will pass it on to the students who may be hearing it for the first time. All of these groups are learning something new by taking part in learning/teaching activities together.

I remember one of my first years on a camp summer staff I learned to facilitate a high ropes course. I was learning under Neil, one who had been a summer staffer himself. I was nervous about this work, because it was scary. Kids would depend on me to protect their safety high above the ground. Neil taught me, watched me go through the steps, encouraged me. When I was comfortable enough, Neil called the next staffer up and had me give him the instruction. He said that you learn something better when you have to teach it (he watched and filled in the gaps, of course). I would use the same techniques years later when I was training people. I learned more each time I taught. We all learned from each other.

At Wednesday dinner, the Outdoor school staff did their customary, "tip for the Earth," where they did a skit on plastic bags versus reusable cotton totes. Then, Bobcat got the kids' attention and asked Peter to come out. It was his birthday, and she instructed the group on how to sing, "Happy Birthday," dividing them into separate parts. Peter is one of Camp Magruder's three chefs. He works the evening shift and takes care of a lot of the seasonal staff, bringing leftovers to Gate House and always knowing allergies. Angie had found a gluten/dairy free cobbler recipe for Peter who can't have either, and she cooked it up for him earlier in the day.

I think about how many times Peter saved leftover cinnamon rolls or cookies for staff members. How the rest of our dining hall staff know other staff members' personal favorites, and how they pass them along spreading this tasty joy to everyone. I hope Peter felt some of that appreciation as one hundred something middle schoolers sang to him, as he blew out the candle on his cobbler. I hope that we are passing along that kind of joy and love to each other in a way that teaches all of us. I hope we are learning from each other and growing to something new, some better version of ourselves.

This week we saw the Equinox, the last day of Summer, the first day of Fall. We had equal parts daylight, equal parts night. July doesn't seem that long ago, when the sun was setting well into the 9 o'clock hour. Before we know it, we'll be at the
Solstice of the other end, where dark skies have a monopoly. We mark these days and wonder how it moves so fast. We look at how old we are and think of years past, what we knew then, what we know now, how we got here. Who knows what lessons we are passing on right now, what lessons we are learning? Who knows how they will be passed on, what will come from the new lessons we learn together. Of the ancient ones that have been passed down longer than we know.

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