Friday, October 9, 2015

The News from Camp Magruder 10/4-10

It's looking more and more like Fall each day at Camp Magruder. The trees here are mostly evergreen, but the few deciduous trees on property are turning yellow. We're seeing more and more cloudy skies, but sunshine is still managing to peek through at some point nearly every day. Our switch to Fall has been a gradual one this year. In the way the sun sets just a little earlier each evening, we drift just a little closer to cooler, cloudier, rainier days each week.

This week, the office staff has spent a lot of time thinking about groups to come. Steve has found much of his day occupied by groups calling to make reservations between now and this time in 2016. Most of my work has been preparing for the Summer of 2016. This means adjusting application forms, thinking about next year's staff positions, firming up next summer's dates, and contacting the people who will lead our summer camps next year.

I think about the role of Camp Dean, and what I've known it to be over the years. The way we currently do camp, it is a very important piece of what's going on. There are certainly other models, but they would cost our staff much more in either time or money. The Camp Dean is not the only factor in a good camp week--if the Dean is inexperienced, having a bad week, or just not engaged the right way the camp can recover. Camp can make some amazing things happen regardless of bumps in the road under the right conditions. Still, a good Camp Dean can send a camp over the top.

I first started to imagine myself working at camp when I sat in my camp theme times, watching different leaders. Some did not have a knack for keeping our teenage attention spans (and this was in the 90s). On the other hand, some blew me away. I learned things and grew while having fun, while making connections with the people around me. It was a revelation to me that there were so many more ways to teach something than to listen to an "expert," talk about it. I began to imagine the ways that I would do it if I was in charge. Soon enough, I was one of the people in front of a group trying to help a group discover something deeper about their faith.

As I call around, asking leaders if they would like to help again, or introducing myself to someone new, asking if they might lead a camp for the first time, I imagine possibilities. I wonder if they are imagining these things too. I remember a worship we did where we had the campers walk around the worship space and exchange the phrase, "you are loved," to each other. After the worship concluded, they went out to the other camps that were there and started telling strangers, "you are loved." They did this for the rest of the week, and in their letters to me after camp, closed with this phrase. I had no idea they might carry it this far. It was such a blessing to see this idea catch fire and get bigger than I imagined it.

I wonder what leaders think when they are asked to do something like this. I know when I am asked, I generally first think about all the other things I have to do. I think about how busy I am and how much time and energy it takes to do something like that. The memories of seeing lives transform, seeing kids grow up and realize something new comes later. The joy of laughing about something that began at camp in a way we know no one else will fully get--that is farther down the road. It takes me longer to remember returning to the camp where I grew up and worked for years to volunteer for a week, and how it was a highlight of my year. We have more pragmatic things to consider first, and, of course, we need to consider those things. Still though, we spend a good bit of our time longing for something meaningful, something life changing. I try to remind myself to make time for something I'm longing for.

The wind has picked up as the weekend comes on. The spruces and pines and dancing outside the window, and sprinkles of rain ebb and flow. Earlier in the week, we had a steady rain. I jokingly asked what was this strange wet stuff falling from the sky. Steve said, "it's the new normal." The wind brings in new things periodically. We hope it will bring the type of precipitation that will refill the lakes, cure the drought, manage the wildfires. We hope for nourishment in this time of harvest. I hope that in these months to come, when we ask for help, a group of brave souls will extend their hands. I hope this not just because of what it will do for the camp, but what it will do to those who volunteer that time. I know from experience. I know how it can change a person.

This weekend we are happy to host an American Field Studies Youth Orientation. Please keep them in your weekend prayers.

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