Friday, February 26, 2016

The News From Magruder 2/21-27

We've had yet another week with several beautiful, sunny days out on the coast, and we're liable to start getting spoiled if this climatological behavior continues in the weeks to come. The world continues to wake up, and we'll begin to see more and more guests on a regular basis. Camp Magruder will be waking up in many ways.

The bulbs in the planters in front of the office have birthed little stems from the soil, adding color to our life and reminding us even further of our progress through the seasons. The buttercups came up a few weeks ago. Bleeding Hearts showed up last week. This week we saw beautiful little purple buds in the planters. Angie expects tulips in the next week or so.

The ocean has continued to shape and reshape the beach. The tides have carved away even more sand, creating layers of walls. We have the original wall of about 5-8 feet created over a month ago, but now there is another wall below it of another 5-8 feet. Standing at the south entrance to camp, you'll find yourself a good 10 feet above the surf. These tides have uncovered rounded stones scattered up and down the beach. On one of my afternoon visits to the beach I found piles and piles of driftwood washed up all up and down the beach. The day before there had been almost nothing. Now from the surf line of the last tide in, there were hundreds and hundreds of logs and stumps.

I am curious what the beach will look like in the summer time--what landmarks, what beach mainstays will still be around. What will disappear? What surprises will I encounter the next time I visit the ocean? It is interesting to me that the more I witness these constant changes to the beach, the more I feel like I know the beach. When we see something in many incarnations, we know so much about what it is capable of, we know more about the possibilities. We know more of the ways it will mean something to us.

On Wednesday our Insurance agents visited the camp to do a walk-around, getting specs on the buildings and accessing the replacement values of all of camp's structures. Everything from the biggest lodge to our garages to pavilions to buildings that aren't even currently being used needed to be seen, so if a tree falls through them or flood waters ruin them, our agents will know what it will take to bring them back.

It was meticulous and potentially tedious work that ended up taking us just about the entire work day, but I really enjoyed the time we spent. I was enjoyable to walk the camp and introduce people to all these special places that make up Camp Magruder. Steve explained when each building was originally built, when there were additions or renovations, when there were other additions and renovations. From building to building, I imagined how the camp looked and felt in it's early years, how it grew. All the ceremonies and dedications. All the people who have slept in these cabins, all the stories that have been told. The laughing and crying, the revelations, the memories that rushed back when people returned.

I think about all the people who have passed through this camp over the years, forming memories, the ways those memories leave a mark on the camp and shape it. The ways the camp has shifted, how parts have been added, parts taken away and other parts added in their place. I think about how all of us get a certain window of time in a place like this--we get to be one piece in the story. We will witness a constant change and evolution, and then we will also witness the things that spring up regularly in their season, signaling to us a certain time is near.

We walked through all those buildings, past voices upon voices from the past. We left our voices to mingle with them, to become another chapter in the story. The more we see of this story, the more we become a part of it, the more we will know it. This place is capable of many forms, many incarnations--we only yet know some of them. We look at it, we listen, try to absorb as much of it as
we can, so the picture will be fuller, so we can share that big picture with many people.

Yes, spring is coming. New seeds are birthing new flowers. Bulbs from years past are producing their latest offspring. The ocean brings us gifts daily and takes away as it chooses. Life and great, powerful water are springing up all around us. We should take some time to go out to meet it today. We should take some time to get to know it very well.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The News from Magruder 2/14-20

This week we saw the steady rain we've come to expect this time of year on the coast. Even though the thermometer hasn't warned us of any drastic temperature drops, it's felt colder outside. Maybe it's the wet air that just gets into your bones more. Or maybe it just looks like it should be cold and our bodies are fine to indulge us in the delusion.

We opened up the camp week with Magruder's annual Choir Camp finishing up their retreat. This is a camp that invites choir members from all over Oregon and Idaho to come together and learn several choral pieces to perform on Sunday night. If that doesn't strike you as something, I'll explain again. A group of people who don't normally sing together get together for two days, and by the end they perform about an hour's worth of songs in beautiful harmony.

Monday morning, the choir campers had a night's rest following their performance and just had clean-up, worship, and a set of skits by their staff called "Monday Morning Surprise" left. We were treated to skits with singing toothbrushes, medieval suitors with frequent costume changes, puppets, and animal head gear. This group was full of such kind souls, such a range of talents, such a delight just to sit in the corner and watch.

One of the great blessings of working at a camp is the opportunity to welcome so many different people, passionate about so many different things. I will hear stories I could never gather together all on my own. I witness skills I couldn't compile in ten lifetimes myself. Because our great passion here at camp is to welcome people and create community, we reap the benefits of all those passions brought together under one roof. It is an amazing thing to witness sometimes when people offer up their gifts, their great loves and put it together into this bigger gift, this greater love.

Several building touch-up projects continued this week. Jay managed to get the main wing of the kitchen painted in a light blue color that reminds me of cool mint over the Christmas holiday. Jay has been working since a piece at a time to get the store rooms, his office, and the gluten free part of the kitchen painted as well. They are also hoping to get new tile in those areas before we start serving mid-week groups in March. Rik is carrying on with the renovation of Atwood, setting tile in the floors, that the rest of us agree looks very classy for a camp bathouse.

That's another joy of working at a camp--witnessing our fellow staffers excelling in their work. I marvel at how each person is so good at certain aspects of their job. It's a great motivation to work alongside people who enjoy their work, watching them in their element, seeing how it makes the camp better. It makes you want to be better yourself--it makes you want to fall in love with the work all over again.

This weekend, we host the Association of Northwest Steelheaders who are doing a family camp, where they will spend the whole weekend teaching people young and old how to fish. They'll talk about different species of fish, different areas of Oregon to fish in, and all types of skills from lures to cleaning. Today leadership got work, preparing for their group. They constructed a holding area just off our swim dock and filled it with fish. This will give the younger fishers a better shot at catching something. I watched as a truck pulled in filled with fish and watched as they set up a hose that looked like a plastic bag that would feed the fish from the truck into Lake Smith.

How could I have predicted even a few weeks ago that at the beginning of the week I would be watching singing toothbrushes, and by the end I would watch fish pumped into our lake through a hose? This is the beauty of camp work, but it's also the beauty of life in general. It's such a big world out there full of so many wonderful things and so many wonderful people in love with something
special. The church is fully into the season of Lent right now, a time to slow down and examine who we are and who we want to be. I hope we are all able to slow enough to witness how many wonderful things happen daily just within walking distance.

This is the NW Steelheader's first retreat at Camp Magruder. We are excited to host them. Help us in our prayers that the retreat is enjoyable, powerful, even life-changing for some of its participants.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The News from Magruder 2/7-13

Early in the week, we were treated to several glorious, sunny days--the kind that make you hungry for summer time. There are signs the sun is coming back. It is now possible to catch the sunset after 5pm, and there have been several days where we've actually been able to see the sun disappear over the horizon of Pacific Ocean water. Midway through the week, the rain returned and we've seen it each day since. Still, there are moments where the sun reminds us of things to come. Even now, I can see blue skies with puffy white afternoon clouds, following a drizzly gray morning.

The maintenance crew continues to work on improving the Atwood Bathhouse thanks to some generous donations and grant money. I passed by one morning and found Rik and Tommie emerging from their work. They looked like they had been rolled in flour or had received make-up for a play where they were playing older versions of themselves. All week, Rik's hair has been much whiter than normal and his skin tone is pale even by Oregon winter standards. It is funny how certain activities can totally alter our appearance to the point it is obvious where we have been.

A huge piece of driftwood has washed up just down from the cross and the south access road. It is 4-5 feet in diameter, and the wood is smooth and beautiful. A portion of the trunk's root structure is still attached, and it splays out from the rest of the body like a buttress. If the tide is low, it is a great place to find a seat or to climb on as the sun sets. Several days this week, I've spent time there, running my hands over the smooth surface, taking in this fantastic sight of beach, ocean, and sky. 

We saw Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday respectively, and the weather seemed to be celebrating right along with us. On Tuesday, we saw sunny skies, and then on Wednesday, rain returned with gray skies, as if the weather got in all its partying on Fat Tuesday and settled into the spirit of Lent on Ash Wednesday by offering a climate more suited to fasting and repentance. 

Yes, we've entered the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, where Christians are asked to go with less, to spend time thinking about their weakness and about offering up something to the less fortunate. Scriptures will focus on what Christ was doing toward the end of his ministry, traveling on foot with crowds of people following, healing, teaching, and offering people great hope in a time of great change. 

We live in times of big change now. Our lives are speeding up, our ways of doing things are changing. We are electing new leaders once again. Regardless of who you are or your beliefs, it's tough to deny that the world seems on the edge of some sort of change. As we speed through our busy lives, it's good to have moments where we slow ourselves and take a look at what we are becoming, where we have come from. I was pleased to see Instagram posts from some of last year's camp staffers with the charcoal colored crosses on their foreheads. I think about all the changes going on in their lives right now. I think about all the things I've seen them do already, and what they will do in the future. 

Our 2016 Choir Camp leadership arrived on Thursday, and we began prepping for Methodist Choir members from all over the state and beyond to join us and learn a whole performance in one weekend. It is amazing seeing the transition, being strangers to songs, strangers to the melodies and harmonies, then making them beautiful after several days of being in the same room, singing them. Even the songs we sing leave a mark on us. I'm sure some of these campers who have come for more than 20 years have songs that have stayed with them for years and years. We can be marked in so many ways. 

We hope you're finding time to slow down a bit during this season. Time to get in touch with the world around you. Time to examine your own life and be sure it is moving in the direction you want it to. Time to decide how we will all find our place in this new, changing world. How we will help usher in the new life that is sprouting from the ground as we speak, with each extra minute of sunshine each day. 

Keep all our guests: Boy Scout Troop 611, Choir Camp, and St. Albans Vestry in your prayers this weekend. We hope your Lent is off to a meaningful start.