Friday, December 16, 2016

The News from Magruder 12/11-17

As a large part of Oregon found itself blanketed under snow this week, we saw flurries on the coast along with some below average temperatures. Below average on the coast hovers around freezing, so we're in no place to whine, but there is something about a chill from the ocean air that seems to get into the bones a little deeper. We've definitely felt an unusual chilliness this week. You can tell when you spend a little too much time close one of those older windows. These days you will be reminded of the cold even if you manage to get away for a time.
There has been a lot of shuffling in the office recently, and new people are filling new spaces. Because the camp has entered its slow season, December has become the ideal time for us to go through filing cabinets, rearrange, recycle, and relocate folders and files. As we go through our archives deciding what is important to keep around and what will help us declutter our office lives, we are walking through years and years of camp paperwork. We are building forts of filing cabinets, electronics to be recycled, and banker boxes filled with camp financial records. We are doing this in hopes of having tidy, comfortable spaces to do our work. I believe in creating spaces that encourage growth. It's really what camp is for if you think about it. 

Though it's been cold and we've had a few moments of precipitation, the skies have been clearer than normal, especially at night. The full moon rose up over the coastal range on Tuesday night, bright enough to cast a shadow. The beach sand and the foam of the ocean waves by moonlight were beautiful, and the stars glimmered along with the lights from Rockaway Beach and Manzanita. I get a nostalgic feeling walking under a cold, clear night sky. Something about it feels open and rugged. During Christmas time, it's tough not to think about Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, feeling the cold air of a desert night, looking up at the glimmering stars. 

We are in some rare quiet moments at Camp Magruder. There is time to reflect on cleaning up our spaces, on peace, on the stars over our heads. I have great hope that all this internal work will lead us to better our outward work as this quiet season gives way to another more busy one. This Saturday the Magruder staff will gather for our Christmas party. Jay and some kitchen staffers will put together a Christmas dinner. We'll exchange White Elephant gifts and likely reminisce on 2016 like you do when you reach the close of a year. 

We'll part ways for a little while to be with our families and celebrate the season. Then, we'll come back together and get back to the work of this camp. We'll continue to clean and organize. We'll put together plans for training and new staff. We'll check the reservations and be sure they are in order. We'll put out the welcome sign and wait for the next guest groups to pull and come into the office. Then we will be reminded of what all the quiet reflections and work to put the house in order were for.

But, for now we are still in this time of quiet. This time of anticipation. This time of taking silent walks under the stars as we breath our visible breath into the night sky. These moments to think about the baby to be born. Moments to remember what we've seen this year. Moments to remember our guests, our seasonal staffers, campers. Moments to wonder how they are faring these days. We will hold them in our hearts like Mary, as she did in the stable, that space that she and Joseph moved into and created to make into something transformative. We will hope in our quiet time that the experiences to come at this place will also transform the world. We hope will come to us rugged and open like the night sky, and we will walk out into it amazed.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Magruder staff. We'll be back with more posts in the new year. 


Friday, December 9, 2016

The News from Magruder Dec 4-10

The temperature the past few weeks has trickled lower and lower, and this week on Wednesday morning the sun rose to reveal a thick layer of icey frost covering the grounds here at Camp Magruder.  Somehow the frost made up for the bitter cold, as if affirming its presence.  Plus, it's a pretty site to see frost creeping out to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn't get much from the winter storm advisory that predicted ice, and possibly even snow, but the local schools took extra precautions and closed in anticipation.

Something about cold weather really does usher in the anticipation of this season.  Piling on warm sweaters and bundling up next to the fireplace are some of the most iconic ways to embrace the Christmas season.  Last week the office staff loaded up and headed over to Bay City City Hall to help them organize their donations for the Christmas Store they hold for low income families across the northern region of Tillamook County.  There were tables and tables of toys stacked high, and then fewer, but still several, tables stacked with clothes and adult gifts.  Observing a community take special care and concern for its children, the most vulnerable members of its population, left me feeling hopeful.  It also made me hope the adults that needed that special care and support, too, were receiving it in their own ways.  I continue to be hopeful that we will find ways to love and care for each other even in a season of the world that feels dominated by negativity and hateful discourse, especially if you check social media too often.

I was named Hope by my parents, who say they just knew the name fit when they heard it.  One of the kindest compliments I receive is when people say the virtue is fitting for who I am.  In this season of Advent, I remember that sentiment more frequently, thankful that my name is a reminder of such an important action.  "To hope," I believe it helps us spring into action, it helps us envision something better, something attainable.

The quiet season here at Camp Magruder is a lot about that hope.  There aren't many guests that come through.  Many days the mail lady is the only car outside of the full time staff to drive under our welcome sign.  We spend our time in the office, hunched over computers, scouring emails and charts often tracking growth, often imagining the future.  We remember the guests that have visited us over the past year.  Sometimes I still receive snail mail from summer campers.  We think back to the spring, summer, and fall, we hear laughter echoing the grounds where the frost now sits, we think of the kids who are back at school, and we hope that what we do right now, what we do at this place will grow something in someone else that can build a world that's easier and kinder to live in, a world where we continue to find ways to love and care for each other,  not just in this season of Advent, but in every season.

By: Hope Montgomery, Program Director

Friday, November 18, 2016

The News from Magruder 11/13-19

This week has been accented by a quiet that hasn't been familiar in about 7 months. Last week, we bid our last outdoor school group of the year farewell, and we have our last major retreat weekend beginning Friday. The camp will begin it's hibernation phase. The kitchen staff will get a break from nearly three meals every day of the week. Lights will be turned off and stay off for a bit. As the rain and cold take their residence on the coast, we are also finding ourselves easing into new rhythms.

Last Thursday, several of us went out to dinner with Northwest ESD's outdoor school staff, who would leave the next day. We went to the new Thai restaurant in Manzanita. It was packed inside, so we ate on the little porch under the cool night sky. We swapped stories, jokes, fun facts about ourselves. There was this collective exhale you could feel for all of us. The work was coming to a close. We could recline in our patio furniture with a warm plate of pad thai, and just enjoy the company of one another. They would not have to wake up tomorrow to prep for the next group, they wouldn't have to get their lesson plans together, go over student lists, or coordinate with teachers. It was a great opportunity to live in the present moment, to enjoy each other.

We've had some beautiful evening skies on the coast this week. Nearly everyday has offered a sampler platter of coastal weather. We'll see overcast, drizzle, sunshine, cloudy skies, dark opaque night sky, then starry nights accented by the late arriving super moon. As we reach sunset (which is happening around 4:45pm these days) many days the clouds have opened up just enough to let sunshine reach through and play with the colors of the ocean and sky. It's created some beautiful backdrops for an evening stroll. These are moments you want to put everything else in your mind on the shelf so you can fully enjoy what's in front of you. Out on the beach on days like this, it's pretty evident that there aren't many more compelling things around for the time being.

The Magruder 2017 Budget has been my primary focus for the past week or more. It is my first time to be in charge of the Magruder Budget, so I wanted to give it a particular amount of attention and fine-toothed combing. It is a way of translating visions and dreams into numbers. There are so many things to consider, so many things to prepare for, so much to prioritize. We look at how we will take care of our guests, our staff, our grounds, even the world around us. Money is certainly not all of it--it won't solve all our problems. But, irresponsibility with those resources will harm us more and more as we go along. It is such a challenge to look at an entire year and further in the course of several days. Once the budget was finished, though, this feeling of exhale came for me again. The feeling was certainly there because the task was finished, but it also came because of how the work brought our dreams and goals into clearer focus. It was exciting to feel this closer connection to all we might accomplish next year. It makes it easier to relax in these slow months, knowing our plan more intricately.

This afternoon Dan and Katherine Moseler visited to see the camp for the first time. Dan is the Conference Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator, and he wanted to check out our tsunami evacuation areas and trails. I got to show him our beautiful camp, while we talked about issues we hope we won't see happen. We climbed the big dune to the points where we will evacuate in the case of the big earthquake. It has a beautiful look-out of the ocean, which on this day was very calm and dark blue. We made our way through the camp, looking at our buildings, and I told Dan and Katherine about how much has changed at Magruder since it opened in the 40s. How the ocean had receded with the building of the jetty. How a shipwreck was recovered when they excavated the basketball court. We made our way on the beach path to the ocean, and there it was again. An absolutely beautiful scene sprawled out before us.

All of us were on a time limit. We would need to get going and on to some of our other tasks. I had emails to send out and prep work for our weekend groups. Dan and Katherine would need to leave soon to get home to Hillsboro by dark. But, in that moment, we couldn't resist stopping for just a few minutes for nothing other than looking. Seeing the sun beginning to color the sky through the clouds. To see the ocean calmly arrive at beach sand. To see Neahkahnie and the other great coastal mountains behind it, because the air was so clear. We needed to inhale a few times. Exhale a few times. Just be in that single moment, and let the blessings of that soak in.

This weekend we host Rose City Park United Methodist and Southridge Highschool Choir. We hope you'll join us in prayers that their time is full of blessings and moments to exhale.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The News from Magruder 10/23-29

Hello loyal Magruderites. It's been a long time since we sent one of our weekly dispatches. We had a pretty challenging summer, and when there was extra time, we found it prudent to pour whatever we could into our guests' experience to be sure Magruder stayed as special to our guests as ever. But life now is settling back into a steadier rhythm which affords more time to send this little updates on life at our little camp.

We've felt a chill in the air that signals Fall is in full swing and Winter isn't too far away. We've had many wet, rainy days this week. If you forget your rain jacket on your way out during a week like this, you're going spend most of the day in damp clothes. The nights are coming on more quickly as well. In the evenings, as outdoor school forms the lines for supper, Carrier Dining Hall is lit up. There's such a feeling of warmth that exudes from a place like that on a rainy, chilly evening. Going in for a warm meal feels like going home--only the family is a little bigger.

Towards the end of the week, UMCOR Kit Camp started their 3 night long retreat. This group creates kits for United Methodist relief efforts in many places of need. If you got into the Edwards Lodge, you'll find it full of tables with sewing machines, irons, and lots of people dedicated to improving lives of people who don't have the supplies they need. They are sewing bags, diapers, clothing, and before the end of the weekend, someone will make a long drive to deliver what's produced to a major UMCOR depot in Salt Lake City.

Friday morning it was overcast and drizzly. It looked like another one of those days you'd need to keep the rain jacket close. Then just after lunch the clouds cleared and the sun began to shine like a summer day. The was staff jack-o-lantern carving day, so we went out to the picnic tables, and Jay pulled a wagon full of orange gourds out to our spot.

As we chose our designs, cleaned out the pumpkin guts, and began our artwork, the clouds cleared and the sun began to shine, making it feel more like July than October. We kept commenting on nice the sun's warmth felt as we laughed and carved our our jack-o-lanterns. As Fall moves along, and we find more time to catch our breath, it is a joy to share some of these moments with each other. To laugh at each other's attempts to make artwork. To enjoy this beautiful setting that we often overlook when there are so many tasks to complete. These moments are important, so we can know how to properly guide our guests to these renewing experiences.

Over the weekend, the weather continued to smile on us. We say two beautiful days that we were not expecting in late October. The Salem Photography Retreat went to Cape Meares, Netarts, and Barview. On Saturday, it was Big Mike's birthday, and the Hillsoboro High School Choir group very happily sang a happy birthday song to him at breakfast. Kit Camp made well over one hundred bags to distribute. And, our completed jack-o-lanterns are on display in the dining hall creating the atmosphere that speaks to how we are always growing as a family, how we celebrate this season, these people, and God's presence in it all.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The News from Magruder 7/17-23 (featuring guest blogger Anna Allen)

This week we asked Resource Staffer Anna Allen to tell us about her summer so far. 

This summer has been filled with a lot of ups, downs, changes, and crazy in-betweens; and it’s only half way over. Looking back it has been a lot of new experiences, things I will never forget and somethings that I wouldn’t mind forgetting. I have grown up coming to Camp Magruder as both a camper and a counselor, and this is my second summer on staff. Each of those experiences brought a different view of what camp was. None better or worse than the others; just different.  This summer has definitely proved the point that every experience is different depending on the type of groups you see or don’t see. I knew coming into this job as resource staff that it would be very busy and a lot of hard work, but there was so much that I didn’t think about. There is a lot more effort that needs to be put into things like planning activities, or even just facilitating the activity whether it be challenge course or lifeguarding. It is somewhat silly when you think about it; of course there needs to be a lot of planning to make camp work. But for some reason it didn’t seem like it took that much effort when I was 11 and watching the summer staff go effortlessly from one activity to another.  Maybe the campers think that same way about this staff now.

Another interesting thing I notice about being on staff is the connections we make with groups and the groups where there isn’t as much connections. There have been a mixture of groups coming in where they require a lot of activities facilitated by the camp staff, and those groups who just require an hour or two during the day and the rest of the time they are off doing their own thing. There are times when it is nice to have less responsibilities with the groups, because we get to enjoy our time a little more or do some work projects around camp. But at the same time, there isn’t that close connection that is found with the program week camps, or small retreat groups that need a higher presence from the staff. But each group has their own way connecting. One group in particular that I have on my mind, they only required about two and a half hours of leading either boating or swimming and the rest of their stay here was not facilitated by Magruder staff. At the beginning of the week I was a little sad that we didn’t spend much time getting to know the kids or staff, but as the week went forward I found myself having made those connections anyway. Even though I only spent short amounts of time with that group it was still nice to sit and talk to them about what they wanted to get out of that week and what their favorite aspects of camp were. Even though it was just small talk, there was still a connection made.

Another part of the camp experience that is fascinating to compare groups with is the camp store. During the program week camps that Magruder offers, most kids know what to expect in the camp store; some candy, drinks, shirts, sweatshirts, and a couple odds and ends that we have at the time. The retreat groups that come in are sometimes shocked at what we have in the store. One group in particular who hadn’t been to Magruder before was so excited that they could buy a shirt to show off to their friends where they got to spend time during the summer. Even though they had never heard of Camp Magruder before coming, they were still excited to wear something that had the logo on it.

It's also interesting to see how different groups have different levels of awareness in how they clean up. Ever since I was a kid coming here as a camper I always remember being told to leave camp better for the next group than how you found it at the beginning of the week. There have been some groups that take a lot of effort to make sure that the cabins are cleaned, the trash is thrown away, and all of their stuff is picked up. Those groups seem to make it almost like they were never at camp. They want to leave it better for the next group. Then there are groups who don't seem to see all the ways what they leave affects camp.  It is a little disheartening to realize that all of us at some point leave a mess in the beautiful places we love.  

The thing that kept popping up in my mind was however I react I need to remember the mission of Christian hospitality.  If one of the main goals in our mission statement is to spread Christian hospitality, why not lead by example instead of waiting for another moment to have that be true. What good is it going to do to complain about groups that might not even realize what they are doing? I think, for me, the best way to handle is it to take the extra time to clean it up for the next group that comes in so they see the Camp Magruder that I know and love. And to teach groups in the future the importance of why trash should be picked up from the ground, or that cans and bottles go in the recycling bin instead of the trash can. Being frustrated at a particular group isn’t going to solve anything. Learning to forgive and move forward will keep camp a happy place and one that is open for all.

Anna is serving her first summer on Resource Staff after being a Resident Counselor, Counselor, and Camper. She lives in Burley, Idaho, but her heart will always be in Nehalem, Oregon. You can find her this summer lifeguarding on the docks or shooting arrows at archery. If you tip your kayak on Smith Lake, she'll be on her way to pull you back to shore. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The News from Magruder 7/10-16 (featuring guest blogger Rikki Earle)

This week, we asked Resource Staff member, Rikki Earle to be a guest blogger and talk about the week from her perspective.  

This was our second program week of the summer, we had first grade all the way up through high school. The weather proved its unpredictability this week with a mix of drizzly rain, the kind that is just enough to be annoying and cover your glasses with rain drops. We also had some days full of sunshine. Sunday came with much excitement for us staff. The check in process has changed a lot since I was a camper. It is smoother now, but there was always something exciting about waiting and watching your friends drive into the grass, unloading their gear and running to meet each other in the center of the field.

I worked a lot with the Mini Camp; first and second graders sure are a crack up. It made me realize how much I missed being the dean. That age is a ton of fun to work with; they are so curious and energetic about everything. I think secretly I was happy to hand the reins over to someone else. A lot of work goes into planning and leading a camp, I don’t know that I would have had the time or energy to plan a week worthy enough for the campers.

Along with program camps we had a few retreat groups join us. Camp Grandma was here the first half of the week. Different from the Grand Camps we host, this was just one family. The grandparents are from Bay City and they take their 5 grandkids for a week of the summer. This year they decided to come to Magruder. I was on the water trampoline with them for a while, Andrea and 4 of the kids came out and were all jumping together. Well, it was more like the boys were jumping and the girls were trying to stay on their feet. It was so cool to see the pure love they all have for each other, some of the kids are from Washington and some are from California. Even though they don’t live close to each other, the relationships they have with one another are strong. I’m sure that has something to do with Andrea and the trips she takes them all on. It’s nice to see this place I have called home for so long help connect family members that live in different places.

After Camp Grandma left, a new group came in called Camp More. This is their very first year as a camp group. Camp More is a group designed to empower teens who stutter to find their voice and use it more, as well as building more self-confidence. I spent a lot of time on the trampoline so it should come as no surprise that I was out there for a while with Camp More. I was talking to this one young lady about her goals and plans for the future. The passion and dedication I could see in her during our conversation was empowering. She is going into her senior year of high school and has more figured out for herself than I did when I was a senior. I told her that I was studying communications and special education and she made a comment about becoming an SLP (speech and language pathologist). It’s never good to put ideas in my head like that; I’m apt to change my degree plan for the 6th time.

Making connections was a hope I had for myself at the start of this week. Connecting with people and building relationships is really something that drives me and gives me a feeling of purpose. We had a lot of people come through our gates this week. I think that’s really the beauty of being involved in a camp and retreat center, knowing that this is a meeting place for so many different people and groups. We are able to bring people back together as well as help facilitate the growth of new relationships. 
Rikki is a second year summer staffer, who has also been a camper, counselor, and camp dean. If you visit Magruder this summer you may find her lifeguarding, leading challenge course, waxing poetic about Harry Potter, or singing the Stegosaurus Song.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The News from Magruder 7/3-9

This week we saw our share of sunshine, clouds, and the occasional rain. We served a variety of retreat groups, so our week was segmented by one group leaving and another showing up. In work like this there is a revolving door of opportunities. Much like the weather, we wake up one day with one backdrop, and the next day something slightly different colors our work. We learn to find beauty and passion for all of it on our best weeks, understanding the blessing it is just to get to walk in a world like this.

When the week began, we were in the midst of our 4th of July family camp, our largest family camp of the year. There are many familiar faces at this camp. Parents and grandparents who have come for years, children who have grown up coming to this camp, young children who are just stepping into the tradition. It is such a pleasure to join a community like this, especially during moments like the variety show. We were treated to kids singing songs, corny jokes, dance routines, and this beautiful air of support, encouragement, and laughter. There are moments you step back from experiences like this and catch yourself admiring the gifts on display or the courage to get up in front of people and share something, and you feel such a momentary safety and comfort with a group of people you may have just met days ago.

On the evening of the 4th, everyone was invited out to the beach to see the chaotic insanity that is the Oregon Coast on Independence Day. People hunker down in the sand late into the night, building big bonfires and setting off fireworks to compliment the huge how that the city of Rockaway Beach puts on. It was chilly and cloudy that night, though the clouds could have been the haze of smoke from all the beach fires and fireworks. Some of us stood together in the cold night air, turning back and forth looking north for a spell, then south, seeing explosions in the sky in both directions. Later we settled down with some of our family campers at a fire making s'mores, blasts still going off all around. What a nostalgic feeling to exit the beach on the way to your bed with colorful blasts to your left and right.

At the end of a week like this with several groups, 4th of July fireworks seem in some ways like a few minutes ago and in other ways forever ago. Our family campers left out, our staff cleaned up the vacated cabins, and children's retreat from Faith Center, a church out of Vancouver and Kelso. We learned a bit about their ministry and their passion for serving communities hit hard by addiction and incarceration. During those three days we also had the Appointive Cabinet for the Oregon-Idaho conference of our own Methodist Church spend a night with us. Visitors abound here at our camp, and we hope that we have made all of them feel welcome.

One day this week, while I was talking to Jay in his office, Dora and Ryan rushed in, looking for an object to help them remove something from the kitchen. Evidently, a bat had snuck in through the door of the loading dock, and of course, no one wants a bat in the kitchen. Dora stayed back and expressed her discomfort with bats, teaching Jay and I the Spanish word for bat (murciƩlago). Ryan managed to get the bat out with encouragement from a plastic lid. No need to worry if you're joining us soon to eat. Ryan disposed of the lid.

There are so many guests who have come through our doors. When I look back even over the year 2016 and think about the diversity of people, disciplines, and missions, I am proud of all the ways this place seeks to help people along on the journeys they set out on. I think about how this is a sanctuary, an oasis, an escape for so many. I think about what is shared under the roofs, between these walls, under this sky. Think of all that has been passed, all that has been seen in more than 70 years of this camp.

At the end of the 4th of July family camp, I shared in communion of grape juice and hotdog buns with some of our guests. As we finished, little Louisa, who I remember from last year's group, ran up to me and wrapped around my waist the way only a 3 1/2 foot child can. I asked myself what I had done to receive such affection from someone I'd spent so little time with. How can connections with this depth arise in such a short amount of time spent together. I thought about how I hope Louisa, her parents, her siblings continue this tradition, continue to visit us each year. I hope to see her grow and how this thing we build in this special place with shape us both.

On Friday, we welcomed a Conference for Women in Graduate Sciences and a Korean Catholic youth group. On Saturday, counselors and deans for our second program camp joined us, and campers will come in the next day. Camp Magruder is continually becoming a place people seek to stop and rest. We pray that what they find here will be something they'll want to hold and take with them and that at least some of these guests will return, so we can see all the ways they've grown (though we could do without the bat coming back to the kitchen).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The News from Magruder 6/26 - 7/2

Summer on the coast is beginning to really show itself, with cool overcast mornings, giving way to beautiful warm, sunny days. These are the days that make you happy to be working at a camp, because you know even if most of your day is taken up by indoor work there will be a moment you get outside. When you do get out, you'll find yourself surrounded by the green of the pines, cedars and spruces, the blue of the sky, the soothing sounds of the ocean waves just yards from where you stand.

This week we hosted Camp to Belong, one of our most endearing partnerships. This organization works within the foster family community to make the relationships within the system more meaningful, to be sure foster kids don't fall through the cracks of life. This particular camp takes siblings who have been separated within the foster care system and lets them spend a week of camp together. It is powerful for the campers, which makes it powerful for anyone involved in helping create the experience.

For most of my 25 years in camp work, I've been near some sort of camp experience that incorporated campers from foster care systems. I've gotten to know kids from the system. I've watched some grow up and seen how even just one week of camp a year can influence that growth. I've heard the difficult stories. I've sat with them and tried to be a witness to the sadness, anger, shame, the disillusion that so often comes from at some point having such an undependable family structure. These experiences resonate forever, even if a stable family is found. There are questions that will always be difficult to answer.

I, like many of the counselors I mentored, went in with this feeling of inadequacy. When we heard the stories, when we got to know the campers, we felt unworthy of the work. I had somehow managed to avoid abuse and neglect. I had not been pushed to the edge to survive. I had gotten pretty much everything I needed, and I hadn't done too much different to deserve it. It didn't seem fair, and it wasn't. What could I possibly offer these campers who had seen things I could not understand on their level?

We all spent time struggling with this. It is the struggle we inevitably come from as we realize there are much more terrible things happening in the world than our own pressing concerns. Many of us broke down under that helpless feeling, understanding more deeply the real pain in the world and our own guilt at our self indulgence, thinking we had some kind of serious problems. That helplessness may have been insightful, but it did not help the campers in front of us in need of love. I realized that my life which had been so full of love and abundant blessings wasn't given to me because I had earned it, but it was a gift. A gift to be used as a tool. I was to take that love that I had grown to know so well, and I was to share it with those who did not. No, I didn't understand their pain, but they were teaching me about it. And I did understand love, and I could teach them about this thing that had been so elusive to them so far.

On one of the first nights, Camp to Belong had a carnival in the central field with lots of blow-up games, bags of popcorn, saltwater taffy, and lots of campers dancing, playing, and laughing. Even if you don't participate in the blow-up obstacle course, the bouncy house, even if you don't throw and hit the target at the dunking booth, you can't help but smile and have your spirits lifted by watching campers enjoying these events. Then when you know these are siblings who may only be together for this one week enjoying the bouncy house, your heart gets bumped up a few more notches.

This week's group had some serious attention issues. Charlie, the leader of Camp to Belong Retreats had a hard time getting the group quiet, even to make simple, quick announcements. It's certainly frustrating, but you realize that we are hoping to help people move down the road, and we often have to meet them somewhere we didn't anticipate. As long as we can get them a little farther down the road, we've done good work with our time. Maybe someday we'll see them travel much, much farther down that road.

At the end of the week, I managed to sneak away from camp late in the evening to have a Skype session with my sister who lives in Tennessee. We try to talk about once every week or two, but this past month I have been occupied by so much that's happening here at camp. When we were
teenagers, in similar age ranges to last week's campers, we would spend just about every week night in the room of the other. We would stay up making jokes about our homework, updating the other on personal life, and playing the music we were currently into. This felt much like one of those nights. There were certainly things we talked about our teenage selves would have found somewhat lame, but we did touch on the latest Saturday Night Live.

I think about how much that bond continues to shape me in ways I don't understand. I hope we don't hoard all the goodness we've experienced to ourselves, I hope we share it for others to experience. I know we are lucky to have received all the love we have. I realize more and more that it isn't promised. There are many out there in great need of that love overflowing from our cups. I see how Christ went out and poured that cup freely. I hope we don't forget our cup could feed many.

This week we host our 4th of July Family Camp, then Faith Center, the UM Conference Appointive Cabinet, and the University of Oregon Women's and Graduate Sciences Program. As you pray, let's hope the love we share spreads far beyond us to where it is needed most.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Meet the 2016 Staff: Sarah Allen

With the summer here, we want you to get to know our Summer Staff a little bit better. We got our 2016 staffers to tell us a little more about themselves. We hope you'll get a chance to meet all of us this summer, because we are excited to meet you. Our next staff profile is for Resident Counselor Sarah Allen. You may also see Sarah at Camps Latgawa and Suttle Lake.

Name: Sarah Allen

Hometown: Nehalem, OR (Currently living in Burley, Idaho)

School/Job: Boise State University

Major:  Masters of Social Work

Favorite Color: My favorite color changes depending on my mood. I really love blues and purples, and sometimes bright neon colors.

My greatest spiritual gift is: I think my greatest spiritual gift is listening/caring for others.

Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Favorite Camp Magruder Activity: Anytime on the beach!!!

Favorite Food you’ve had in the Magruder Dining Hall: Either Mac and Cheese or Grilled cheese!

Which actor would play you in the movie about your life?  Sarah Hyland

What is your spirit animal? Polar bears! I absolutely love them and think they are such amazing animals

Favorite get to know you question: If you could spend the rest of your life only eating one food, what would it be?

Ideal Vacation Spot: Paris

Dream Job: Any job that would pay for me to travel all over the world.

Fun Fact about me: I was once an extra in a movie.

Something you want to say about this summer: I am super excited to be spending the whole summer in such a wonderful place on the coast

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Week at Magruder 6/19-25

This week and our summer opened with a sunshiny day, which is what you hope for. When the cars pull in to drop off excited campers, you want the sun to beam down on you and them as you greet each other. You don't want to have to cover your head or feel your sleeves begin to drench in the rain. We will, of course, make due in the rain and still manage to have a good time. After all, it's camp. But, the sunshine is a beacon of something, an encouragement to be warm and welcoming.

Our first Program Week included Elementary I, Middle School I, and MADD (Music, Art, Drama, and Dance) Camp. It is a joy to see familiar faces return, a year older. It is an equal joy to welcome new faces, knowing they will become familiar in a matter of 5 days. It is a whirlwind how things can change from the start of one week to the end. The first camper pulled in, then another, then another. The check-in line grew, shrunk, grew again, slowed until each camper was checked in.

There are these inevitable moments of satisfaction while a camp week goes on before your eyes. No week goes completely smoothly. Outside us, there are things happening we don't understand, things that hurt to know, things we don't exactly know how to respond. It is great comfort to walk next to the field as children and youth play games, getting to just be kids. That there are teenage, young adult, and older out there also tapping into their childlike qualities. It is a comfort to see that that play is
fostering something. That playing silly games with hula hoops, potato sacks, and tug-of-war rope might be building something that could eventually smooth out the bumps, something to redeem the things we don't understand.

There is nothing like the feeling of walking a stretch of land and having people greet you by name, give you high five, run up for hugs, ask you to play the next round of gaga. There is something to community building that refreshes the soul. Beyond that, though, we need it. The more community is broken the more we hurt, the more we take on a yoke all alone. I was so proud watching our counselors in their element--many counseled for their first time, but I felt like each camper was in the hands of young people, wise beyond their years. I watched their energy as they played, I felt so touched by what they were doing, and I dreamed that this would be the seeds planted of our church.

I think of talking to a camper on the deck of a cabin after a touching worship, where we swapped stories and offered comfort to each other. I've had so many conversations like this under a starry night sky, as we pondered our place here, what it is we are doing, why it is things happen as they do. When you push off the boat the next day, say the mealtime blessing, wave goodbye as the car pulls out of the drive to Highway 101, those conversations linger. Each time you interact, there is a part of you being passed back and forth without even thinking. This is what it means to live side-by-side. This is what community looks like.

The week passed quickly. It is hard to believe it is already over. A few months from now, we will likely consider how quickly those months passed since the first camper pulled in. We will do this with our lives inevitably. I thought, as I watched the MADD performance, seeing these youth in the prime of their lives dancing, performing, laughing how nice it would be just to freeze that moment and stay in it for a time. No doubt, there are moments of doubt and pain in store for everyone some time or another. But, singing together, clapping, watching these gifts on display, the parts of the world we'd prefer to hide from seemed to be hiding from us. All that was clear was the time we shared together.

I can see how those campers will hold onto that moment their whole lives. I wished I could sit there with them in that happiness longer. We would soon step out of Sherlock Lodge, then the next day the cars would pull in and drive out. I hope, though, that time stays somewhere, that those campers decide they will not lose that feeling completely, that they will bring it up in the darkest times and it will be comfort. That they will be that version of themselves because it is their best shot at happiness, their best shot at love. I hope that what we do here matters.

This week, we welcome Camp to Belong, a week-long camp that reunites siblings separated in the foster care system. Among the many other prayers you life up for us, join us in praying for peace, reunion, and joy.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The News from Magruder 6/12-18

This week, we saw many, many things. There was sunshine, there were clouds. There was wind and there was rain. We spent the week in staff training, while also hosting several retreat groups. Adam,
Anna, Ben, Carlee, Dawn, Emma, Forrest, Maddy, Melia, Rikki, Rose, Sarah, and Tanner were on hand getting to know each other, learning hard skills, exploring their faith, and envisioning all the ways they might grow and challenge themselves this summer.

It was a whirlwind of a week, as training weeks tend to be. We had long days and late nights. We had hilarious dinner conversations. We piloted boats on the lake and waded into the ocean. We studied scripture, sang songs, and built fires. We played games and practiced emergency responses. We discussed diversity and safe sanctuaries. We became a family.

On Thursday, many of year round staff joined the summer staff on the beach for a fire where we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  I remember looking around at this family that already seemed so close to each other. It didn't matter who you sat next to. We had shared so much in just a week.
Who knows what this little group will look like by August. We were supposed to finish up on the beach at about 7:00, but Hope and I looked around at everyone, and we just couldn't bring ourselves to end it yet.

There's something magical about beginnings. We are brought together by so many different forces. We vaguely know the purpose when we arrive. As time moves on, a deeper understanding grows. Our bond to each other motivates us further. We start to realize that what we've entered into is much larger than we imagined before. There is so much promise, so much hopefulness. I've seen enough of these to know that there will be low points, bumps in the road, valleys. But, I have faith this group will push on and find some pretty brilliant high points.

On the last day of our training, we ended at the prayer labyrinth. I had the staff consider what they had arrived with, what they had brought to camp on their way to the center. At the center of the labyrinth, I asked them to consider the past week and what it meant to them. Then on the way out of
the labyrinth, they were asked to consider the coming summer and how they hope to walk out into it.

I walked the path with them, finding myself very close to staff members at moments and far away after one quick turn. I thought about how there will be plenty of moments this summer where we will
feel the same way, distant then close. How we will be working in parts of camp, completing different tasks, tackling different problems that may seem to set us apart, when in reality we are on the same path, right behind each other.

Many of us made it to the center at the same time. I sat on the ground, crossed legged on the floral center pattern. I bowed my head to pray and meditate. When I looked up, I saw the faces of these people, deep in reflection and prayer. There we were tightly squeezed together in this peaceful moment, the ocean waves and bird songs in our ears. It felt so comfortable sitting still, sunshine on my shoulders, surrounded by this group of people who will give themselves to our work this summer.

We would each get up and make our way back around the winding path. I was exhausted, glossy
eyed, slower than normal. It was a long week for us all. But we were walking out, walking into something new and big. I looked at each one of them as we made our way into the beginning of our summer together. I felt proud to be associated with this group of people. Proud to walk next to them. Proud to be trusted with this cause. Proud and humbled all at once.

Very soon the first campers of our children/youth program camps will arrive. Pray that their time will look something like our dreams for them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meet the 2016 Staff: Forrest Deters

As the summer gets closer, we want you to get to know our Summer Staff a little bit better. We got our 2016 staffers to tell us a little more about themselves. We hope you'll get a chance to meet all of us this summer, because we are excited to meet you. Our next staff profile is for Resident Counselor Forrest Deters. You may also see Forrest at Camps Latgawa and Suttle Lake.
Name: Forrest Deters
Hometown: Dallas, Oregon
School: I’m graduating from Central High School in Independence, Oregon, and next fall I’ll be attending Willamette University
Major: I am very unsure of what I want to study, but I’ll be involved in the choral program and probably pursuing a degree in physics, biochemistry, or communications with a double minor in political science and environmental science.
Favorite Color: green. But not, like, dark green or neon green. More like a nice, vivid, deep green. Like really really good looking grass or something.
My greatest spiritual gift is helping people love themselves.
Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Peter 4:8
Favorite Camp Magruder Activity: BEACH SOCCER or hiking the Big Dune
Favorite Food you’ve had in the Magruder Dining Hall: grilled cheez 4 dayz
Which actor would play you in the movie about your life? David Tennant
What is your spirit animal? The mighty llama
Favorite get to know you question: Who’s your favorite superhero?
Ideal Vacation Spot: some island somewhere
Dream Job: particle physicist
Fun Fact about me: I really, really, really, really like the Pentatonix. Also I administer and curate a Go-Gurt Memes Facebook Page on the side.

Something you want to say about this summer: I am so excited to meet all of you and to spend an entire summer at camp! Hoping to make some good memories.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The News from Magruder 6/5-11

At the beginning of the week, the first of our summer staff arrived. They were here to get certified as lifeguards, to be trained as level 1 archery instructors. They brought a shift with them, a feeling of beginnings. It is the infant stages of our summer. We are learning to walk, grabbing things and looking closely at them. It is a time of growth and the growth must be quick. In about three months, we'll be saying goodbye. This group will know this place like a bedroom. We'll have inside jokes. We'll memories that will already be changing us.

Yes, we are about to begin the summer at Camp Magruder. We have started our orientation, even as I type this dispatch to all you loyal readers. The planning has already started. The preparations are being made. Growth is happening already. Learning is happening already.

It is time for wave jumping, for row boats. It is time for s'mores stuck to fingertips. It is time for sand hidden in shoes and socks.

These are the days of late nights telling jokes and stories, the days of hugs under the spruce trees, the days of sand candles, wood cookies, and tie dye t-shirts. The days of new friends and old friends. People we look up to, people we fall in love with.

These are the days of smelly wet towels, life jackets, sun screen, and bug spray.

We will walk through the woods in pairs or triads or 5x5, singing silly songs like canon. We will warm ourselves by the fire as the darkness takes hold. We will share pows and wows, peaks and valleys, highs and lows, the places we saw God.

We will stand in lines by the ocean looking out over the vast sea and sky feeling a small part of something big. We stand on top of large hills looking out over treetops and thank God that we have even a small time here together.

We tell secrets we've never told here. We make promises we keep here. People find themselves here.
People are themselves here. People discover who they want to be here.

These are the days of blue skies and sun. These are the days of swim trunks. These are the days of huckleberrries and salal. These are the days of smoke smell in t-shirts. These are the days of laughter through goodbye tears.

We are preparing for late nights and early mornings. We are preparing for washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms. We are preparing our smiles for cars pulling into the North Ballfield. We are preparing
our singing voices, our gaga serves, our campfire stories.

This is where we make bracelets and memories, sand forts and life-long friends.

It is time for growth. It is time for sunshine and light. It is time for giggles and embraces. It is time for teary eyed goodbye hugs. It is time to get back to nature. It is time to meet new brothers and sisters. It is time for summer camp.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Meet the 2016 Staff: Carlee Hunt

As the summer gets closer, we want you to get to know our Summer Staff a little bit better. We got our 2016 staffers to tell us a little more about themselves. We hope you'll get a chance to meet all of us this summer, because we are excited to meet you. Our next staff profile is for Resident Counselor Carlee Hunt. You may also see Carlee at Camps Latgawa and Suttle Lake.

Name: Carlee Hunt

Hometown: Salem, Oregon

School: Linfield College

Major: Undecided (maybe environmental science, or something related, but I’m not really sure!)

Favorite Color: Orange, because it’s a happy color

My greatest spiritual gift is: my positive energy, and optimistic attitude.

Favorite Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Favorite Camp Magruder Activity: Boating!

Favorite Food youve had in the Magruder Dining Hall: Anything related to sandwiches

Which actor would play you in the movie about your life? Jennifer Lawrence because she is fierce

Favorite get to know you question: Two truths and a lie

Ideal Vacation Spot: Any place warm! One place I have always wanted to go to is New Orleans for the food and history.

Dream Job: Entrepreneur

Fun Fact about me: I can wiggle my ears

Something you want to say about this summer: I am very excited to meet everyone and I  cannot wait to see what this summer will bring!

Friday, June 3, 2016

The News from Magruder 5/29 - 6/4

We're seeing this pleasant mix of Spring and Summer out on the coast these days. There's still a slight chill in the mornings and evenings. We're not quite to shorts and T-shirt weather all the time, but it does feel great to be outside, and in those moments when you grab about 30 minutes of sunshine on you're shoulders, it's positively golden.

Magruder started its week by concluding our Memorial Day Retreats that got to spend an extra day with us because of the holiday. We had Camp to Belong, a large camp that works with foster families, and our own Memorial Day Family camp, which this year had nearly 40 participants. On Monday morning, I woke up at about 6:30am to meet a brave group for Memorial Day family campers for a polar bear swim.

The schedule had not listed a polar bear swim, but Jocelyn had requested it, and if you truly want to pursuance people to do something the best tactic is having a cute, 6 year old ask for it. At 7am, the sun has technically risen at Camp Magruder, but it's still hiding behind the coastal mountain just east of camp. The world feels a little different before it emerges. It is quieter, mistier, you feel like the world is still waking up in the same way you are still waking up. What's better to wake you both up than to jump into a big lake that has been steadily chilling all night?

I was excited to see that there were adults joining the kids in this delightfully insane activity we do throughout the summer. There is something about jumping into the cold water that feels very much at the heart of being a kid. In our adultiness, we must spend so much of our day doing important, serious things. Things that legitimately must be done, that make our life better. As we do those things,
though, we slowly train ourselves to let go of some of that childlike wonder that keeps us full of joyand fascination with life, with this wonderful world we get to live in. I love to see adults latch back onto that childish spirit, sharing it with the young people in their life, giving them hope that growing up is basically code for "giving up all your joy."

During the week, we hosted one of PDX Village School's 8th grade classes. This was essentially a time for this group of youth, many who had been together since starting school, to be together one last time before parting ways and moving on to different high schools. It was a time for them to debrief, to play together, and to think about what their time with each other had meant. I led the challenge course with them, and before we started I asked what they hoped they would get out of the experience. Most said they wanted to be closer, to spend quality time together a little bit longer, to feel like they trusted each other more. We did some trust building exercises: simple trust falls, blindfolded walks. We did the criss-cross.

It's so humbling to step in a be a momentary part of a group's story. To pick up on some of the relationships, the baggage, the bonds, the joy, the longing to grow in the groups you encounter at camp. We get to step in a try to help them grow, to give them a space to focus more fully on that. I see so many people get closer to the idea of who they truly want to be. I see so many groups leave with a clearer picture of how they want to live in the world. These youth are like any other youth. They are figuring out how to form relationships, doing inspirational things, making goofy mistakes, for maybe the first time really asking that question, "Who am I? Who are we?" I love to be a witness to these growth points, to times at camp when a set of dots get connected. I hope that this 8th grade class takes this experience and it helps the inevitable challenges of high school be a little easier to deal with. I hope they are motivated to push on because of what they have seen from each other and themselves.

This week marked the final week of Outdoor School's Spring term. The staff that has been here for months now will pack up their stuff soon and ship out. Some are traveling to the other side of the country for new opportunities, some are going to California for the summer, one is going to Alaska. Some will hop into summer jobs and be back with us in the Fall. Others we may never see again. On
Thursday night, they did their last camp fire. There was lots of silliness. Lots of stuff that was incredibly confusing out of context (and probably still confusing in context). Everyone laughed. I noticed a few sneaking out a tear or two. As they transitioned to the more quiet reflective part of campfire, and people began singing, I started to look around at people, wondering what they were experiencing. The teachers here for the week, who got a chance to step into a slightly different role with their students. The students in a different sort of classroom, seeing their peers in slightly different lights her around the fire. The staff who had watched many schools come and go, who could do a campfire on autopilot. There were probably moments from this night some of these people would remember the rest of their lives. Which ones were they? What was it about the moment?

The staff sang their final song and the students were dismissed. They hung around the fire, making jokes, talking about some of the campfire acts with each other. It was the last night of the last week. In the moment, exhaustion and responsibility have a great deal to determine how we approach them. That is in the moment. Years to come, what will these moments mean? How many times will we go back to them as we grow older? As our older self, knowing where we've come, which moments will we see as the ones that shaped us most, that altered our path most crucially? Maybe they just
happened. Maybe we saw our self in a way we never had before, maybe it helped us get closer to who we are now or who we want to be in the future. Maybe jumping in the cold water, telling someone we wanted to trust them, standing up in front of our peers and singing--maybe that was one of the most important things we would ever do. Maybe not. But, it could happen at any moment. It might have already happened, or it could happen in the next 5 minutes. I hope we are ready for it. I hope we remember.

This weekend we welcome PNW Kiwanis, Mountain Park Church AWANA, Banks High School Graduation, and a few summer staffers getting trained as life guards. Share with us thoughts, prayers, and gratefulness that we get to share the journey with so many.