Friday, October 30, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder 10/25-31

The rain has arrived at Camp Magruder, wetting the ground and the spruce needles just about every day this week. The sun has been hiding behind overcast skies for the most part, and many staff members have talked about the urge to stay indoors with a blanket, a warm fire, and something warm to sip.

The rain has not deterred this week's outdoor school, though. Walking around camp, you see rain jackets, hoods up and pulled tight. This week there are just under 200 campers, and the dining hall is completely full with very little elbow room. Due to the rain and cooler temperatures, we've seen more fires in the Carrier fireplace. There is something about coming into a room with a roaring fire when you've been out in the cold and wet.

There is a wheelbarrow full of galoshes for outdoor students to stretch onto their feet, so they can feel free to tromp around in the mud of the wetlands, to observe the newts, insects, footprints, and other signs of lake life. If you let yourself feel too uncomfortable by the rain and the mud, it will be easy to miss something extraordinary. It is best to be able to plunge into your environment, let it coat your clothes, let some dirt get under the fingernails. There's a lot to get to know, but you must pay attention beyond the rain.

Our last scheduled boating activity for the year happened a few weekends ago, so it came time to remove the fleet of Camp Magruder rowboats from the water. As the rain and wind increases, Lake Smith becomes less and less hospitable to small, wooden vessels. Rik, Tommie, and Mark piloted the boats for one last journey, from the boat dock to the shore in front of the swim area. We flipped them over, emptying a little leftover rain water and carried them on to shore, flipping them over, revealing all the algae that had been growing since Spring.

They are the latest Camp Magruder fixture  put away to rest until next year. In the underside of those boats, in those now empty boat slips, there are a lot of memories resting as well. I'll remember the boat ride I made with a group of Somali students after rescuing them from the edge of the lake on a windy day. I'll remember rowing out with the summer resource staff at the end of the day to share where we had seen God in our day and pray about the joys and concerns in our lives. I'll recall those moments I paused from my rowing because the beauty of the mountains, trees, the blue sky and ocean clouds just struck me, and all I could do was pause and marvel at it all. It is enough to just go sit at the dock or on one of the wooden benches of the boat to have those feelings come back like an old friend visiting.

We are slowly putting things away at Camp Magruder. The yellow school buses pulled out full of middle schoolers, and next week will be the last time a group comes in for outdoor school until next year. We will say goodbye to this group of staff who we've watched the past few months. It seems like just a little while ago they were training, learning lessons. These days, they are the teachers. But, they will soon take their rest from it, with more time to relish the stories from week after week of kids gracing the mud and grass and lakewater with their feet.

Yes, rest is coming. The time to bundle up and let the roof do its job, holding off the rain is just around the corner. Then, we will recharge the battery, smile at the stories, prepare ourselves to be our best when the next group comes to our door. But, for now, there is a little more time to get out and feel the rain on your forehead like a blessing from the sky. Get out there and explore, take it in. Don't worry about soggy feet the wet hair. Build a blazing fire when you get home. But, in this hour, don't squander the chance at just a few more memories.

This weekend we host Nueva Esperanza Church Family Group. We pray their experience will bring growth and peace.

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