Friday, October 23, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder 10/18-24

The air is feeling more and more like Fall at Camp Magruder. Rain is visiting, but not taking permanent residence. Monday was a very rainy day, but even then, the sun managed to peek through. We have lots of dew and fog in the mornings and evenings, so there is more of that familiar Pacific Northwest feeling of waterdrops and squishy trails. The newts make their slow parade across the driveway. They seem to know a lot of things we don't always pay attention to.

The slightly cooler temps and moisture increase have brought mushrooms on in droves. As you pass through the woods at Camp Magruder, it's difficult to avoid stepping on the little fungi that have sprouted up from the ground just in the past few days. The edible mushrooms have surfaced as well, and the mushroom hunters on staff have begun the race to gather the largest score of tasty molds they can get their hands on.

One morning I was out and I ran into Rik, Tommie, and Mark as they were making the rounds, inspecting the camp grounds. An outdoor school staffer asked Rik if he had seen any good mushrooms, and Rik reached into his hoodie pocket and pulled out a blobby, white mushroom. "This is a maitake." You never know what Rik will have gathered up and be keeping in his pockets. Each one of us is full of anecdotes--we have so many things we've gathered up over time just waiting to be shared with those who might find interest.

The tides are always in flux on the ocean, and recently we've seen that the high tides are coming in a little closer to our tree line. Something in these changes has brought in piles of seaweed or kelp to the shore and deposited them in varying ranges up and down the beach. These little stacks of ocean grass will be with us for a while. Some will be blown off to other places, others will be swallowed back up by the sea. The ocean is full of surprises, and it's hard to say what it will bring next, what will leave, what will return.

As I walked to the dining hall on Wednesday, I heard beyond the trees a new group of outdoor school campers practicing for the first time the outdoor school "announcements" song. It's basically a song the whole group will sing at announcements time that draws the attention to the speaker. It unifies them on one thing, immediately breaks up all the little conversations going on, and gives the kids a routine. They know right after the song its time to listen, so no one has to try to tell them to. It can become this fun, silly song they song. One of those things we try to do well at camp--trick the kids into thinking they are just doing something fun, when you actually also want them to be quiet.

The song begins with claps and the word "announcements" broken into three parts and chanted: "A-NOUNCE-MENTS," twice. Then they begins singing, "..and I say hey, yeah, yeah, eh-uh. Hey yeah, yeah. I said HEY. What's going on." If you are a child of the 90s like me, you probably recognize it from the one hit wonder song "What's up," by Four Non-Blondes. I was in high school when this song was big, and it was one of my favorites at the time. I remember when I'd hear it feeling like it was saying something "deep." It was connecting to me in such a powerful way with this disaffected sort of angst that so many teenagers carry with them. I couldn't even now really explain what this song is getting at, and I'm not sure 4 Non-Blondes could tell you either. But, it was like the music was getting at something I couldn't explain.

How many songs do we go back to like this? If this song came out new today, I would laugh it off and turn the channel. But, it didn't come out in 2015, it came out when I was at a very different place in a different time, so it reminds me a little bit of who I was back then, feelings I had back then that are different, some that are similar. Some feelings I miss, some I'm glad I've moved on from. I wonder how it will be different for these kids if they hear this song on the 90s rewind on the radio and realize that it's the  outdoor school announcements song. What memories will it bring up for them? How will the song mean something different to them than it does to people my age? How will we feel something that is very much the same?

We walk through this life gathering up things, even when we don't realize what we are gathering. We decide over time what will hold onto and what we leave behind on the sand to blow away. What we hold onto says something about who we are, what is important to us, what we think we need to survive. On these beautiful fall days, where the sun has warmed away the fog and morning drizzle, I try to take the longer route to my destination, listen and feel a little bit more, hoping there will be something in that time I want to take from the day. I hope as we, the ones blessed to travel to the spot on the ocean will find messages tucked away from the divine, and that we will scoop them up and put them in our pocket to share with anyone who's interested.

This weekend, we host the Hillsboro High School Choir and the Oregon Mycological Society. Help us pray that their stays are filled with joy and peace.

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