Friday, March 11, 2016

The News from Magruder 3/6-12

It's been a wild and woolly week out here on the Oregon Coast. We've seen some pretty strong storms, some with hail, some with gale force winds, making the trees dance like those inflatable dancing tubes you see out in front of oil change places. The rain has been pretty steady like it has for the past few weeks. But, the rainstorms themselves seem much more Spring than in previous weeks. Spring and Fall storms are more unpredictable, more powerful. They mark transitions when one time is giving way to another.

NWRESD Outdoor School staff arrived this week and moved in for the season. We welcomed back some familiar faces who feel similar to family at this point, and we introduced new friends who we know we'll also know the same way when they leave at the end of the season. It's such a pleasure to see the early stages of this group's time together. I can't help but be reminded of the work we will do with our own summer staff in early June. We get to witness this group of strangers brought together. At each meal they take turns asking get-to-know you questions, would-you-rathers, and getting the basics of the camp, the students, and the activities they will know by heart in just a few weeks.

This will be their home for several months, and we have the blessing of being their hosts, of being the hands and feet that provide a place to do their work, teaching middle schoolers about the animals, the plants of this area, the way that they fit into the whole picture and what they can do about that. I've had a chance to talk to just about everyone. I know just about everyone's legal name and their camp name. I know this is a time, regardless of how the future unfolds, they'll look back with nostalgia. They'll remember how they came in relatively rested. They'll remember the relative quiet, the laughs they all shared, the calm before the storm.

Flowers continue to burst out, giving us further signals that Spring is out our doorstep. Just today, I noticed a few Salal bushes with flowers that will mature into the sweet grapey berries that we will pop like candy in June and July. Some of our Rhododendron bushes have begun to exhibit little works of art along the main drive of the camp, and we are the admiring visitors to their display. We are approaching the week soon where as many spring flowers as possible will sync up, and there will be colors everywhere you turn.

On Wednesday night, we had some very powerful winds. Steve was informed that there were hurricane strength winds out on the ocean. It was the type of wind you had to lean into, the type of wind where even a short walk from building to building feels pretty daring, with trees flapping back and forth above you. Just after dinner, the lights flickered a few seconds, came back on in full a few second, flickered again, and then went out totally. We didn't actually know, but it was pretty easy to surmise that somewhere a tree had taken out a power line. It was dark everywhere we looked, so it didn't seem to be limited to camp property.

I went over to Carrier Dining Hall to find the Outdoor School staff putting on their rain jackets, preparing for a journey into the darkness. They had almost finished the dishes when the lights went out. Angie had already been over to distribute lanterns, and Steve would soon arrive to turn on the Carrier generator to keep the fridges cool. Generator-powered lights came in the one building, and everyone went back to their regularly scheduled programming. My wife Allyson and I decided to spend some more time in Carrier, since the rest of the camp was still powerless. She practiced the guitar, as outdoor school staff and camp staff passed back and forth.

This is the joy of camp life, that even when the lights go out completely, you can gather with your neighbors, pool your resources, and find a way to pass the night. It might not always be according to plan, but at camp sometimes the strongest memories are the ones where we are forced to go off script. That's often where we really get to know each other. Where we go from acquaintance to friend. From friend to family.

Tomorrow we will spend some time with those who have applied for this summer's Resource Staff, and by the end of the day, we hope to move forward in making the decisions of who will join us for the work will do at camp this summer. The next step in this journey of putting together a team and that team learning and growing, passing something along to hundreds and hundreds of guests week after week of June, July, August, and even a little piece of September. To think that some of the conversations we will have tomorrow will lead to that time around the table gathered together that the outdoor school staff is busy with right now.

It is clear everywhere you turn that things are transitioning to something new. It is often easier to identify the transition than the change when it is complete. We often have to look back and see that we are indeed changed, once the change has happened. But in that transition time, when the weather changes, when new people come in, when the flora around us erupts into color, we see the signs of something coming, something that will probably change our lives. Strong winds have been blowing at Camp Magruder recently. Something is on the way.

This weekend we are hosting Laurelwood Baptist Church's Men's Retreat and My Flights of Fancy's Spring Retreat. Hold their experiences in your prayers. Also keep your Resource Staff Interviews in your prayers. Pray for calm nerves in interviews, for clear heads in decision making, and for everyone to find a home to serve out their calling.

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