Friday, October 16, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder 10/11-17

We saw more cloudy days on the coast this week, as we move through October. The mornings have been crisp and cool, warming up a touch as the day goes on, then cooling back off as night comes on. We are still waiting for the rain, but the clouds are a big change from the sunny days we've been treated to so regularly. Out walking today, I looked to the tops of the mountains to our east and saw where the clouds drifted over the tops of the highest trees. Somewhere behind them there was a blue sky, veiled for the time being.

We had a split week at Outdoor school, which means that the crew hosted two separate groups--one the first half of the week and the other the second half. They have to squeeze in shorter time the lessons they typically do with one group during a week. They start a day earlier, and it's obviously more tiring than their normal weeks. They say goodbye to one group, and pretty quickly, the bus for the next group pulls in.

I generally hope for groups to spend as much time as they can at camp, and not just because it ensures my paycheck. If you take one day to camp, you change your perspective, jump into a new place, shake up the rhythm. If you spend two days, you start to feel your clock shift, you get out of your normal routines. If you stay three days or more, you find yourself in a new rhythm, a new community. This length of time encourages reflections, examinations of who you are, it's ripe for life changing revelations. On a two day retreat, about the time I get settled into something new, it's time to go. Think about the days you went to camp for a whole week. When you left, it felt different. You had time warped to something different.

Of course, I think anytime spent out of the normal routine is good for us. It's one of the big reasons we should take Sabbath. We need some time to wander around in something different, to see life differently. It challenges us, helps us grow, makes us realize there is something important outside of our day to day agendas. So, one day is better than none. One hour is better than none. But, as we step deeper into that time warp, the more chances we will come out changed. I wonder how these students have been changed by the week. I hear so many people from teenagers to senior citizens tell me the fond memories they have from outdoor school. How they remember their time at Camp Magruder and relish the chance to return.

The students spend time playing games, hiking, sitting around camp fires, eating together, drawing samples from the water. What all are they discovering? In finding newts in the lake, is someone getting over nervousness about woodland critters? Are kids learning about cleaning, sweeping, and washing dishes for the first time? Are they going home thinking about the trash they create about the trees they walk under? Did someone find a crush for the first time on a fellow student sitting around the camp fire, seeing them in a completely new way? What will they take with them as they work back into the regular school rhythms? Will it be any different when they return to home room and sit down in the seats Monday morning? It may take years to know all these answers.

Thursday evening, I was driving with my wife back from Tillamook. It was near sunset and still pretty bright. As we neared Garibaldi and the Tillamook Bay, we both noticed a pretty thick marine layer, blanketing the bay and the surrounding mountains. As we entered, the scenery changed completely. It seemed like we had jumped ahead several hours, because it was almost completely dark. The car lights came on. We had entered into a different dimension. We could only see what was right in front of us. We knew there should be water nearby, we near there were trees and mountains, but we did not see them. We had to just trust that they were still there. We found camp in this thick foggy air. Just hours later the sky was clearer and you could see the stars.

Friday afternoon, I spent a few hours taking the needed projectors, extension cords, and tables to the lodges. During these quiet moments of preparations at a place, it's a great time for memories to return. The camp moments you recall as a kid, the people you met, the things you realized about yourself standing out in the open under the sky. I wonder what will come this weekend, what beautiful things might happen in front of us. I wonder how our time here will change us. The clouds spent the whole day here, and they look to be here for the weekend. We are often staring into a fog.
Even our best predictions of what's ahead are guesses. But, maybe we will learn more. We'll walk into the fog of another week, on our best days full of faith, hope, and love.

This weekend we welcome Tigard UMC, Brush Prairie Baptist Women's Retreat, UMCOR Kit Camp, and Aloha High School Choir. Pray with us that their stay with us brings something new and special.

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