Friday, April 29, 2016

The News from Magruder 4/24-30

We were treated to lots of sunshine on the coast this week. In the dining hall, I noticed some sunburned faces among outdoor school leaders who had spent the week with us. Aprils on the Oregon Coast are probably an unlikely choice for prime sunbathing, but this week, there was plenty. We had some chilly days, but when sunbeams are falling on your shoulders, the chilliness is not so prominent.

In addition to our regular outdoor school group, we also hosted Washington State School for the Blind this week. The school has been bringing groups to Camp Magruder for decades, and it's such a perspective change to work with this group, to adjust your regular modes of communication to effectively interact with someone who doesn't see like you do. There are plenty of ways that we walk into cloudy or dark territory in metaphorical ways on a regular basis, but this group takes those steps in a very literal way. They navigate the same world, know the same world--they just learn about it with a different balance of senses.

On Wednesday I met the students at the beach to lead an ocean encounter with those brave enough to face the incoming surf and the cold water on the legs. We had the students put on life jackets and hold onto a rope with three adult anchors. I was standing behind in a wet suit with a life-guarding tube. I asked the students to listen to the waves, to guess how far away the water was based on what they heard. We walked closer and closer, until the water washed over our feet and everyone cooed feeling that shock of coldness.

We spent 10-15 minutes doing the dance with the water, stepping forward stepping backwards, the water moving up and retreating yards and yards. The water occasionally got as high as the mid-thigh on the students. I noticed, the longer we stayed out, they began to sense when a big wave was coming in, and I began to pay more attention to the sounds of the waves as well. A tall crest that falls evenly in a horizontal straight line would crash louder, booming on it's way in. Waves that crested unevenly would make more of a shower sound. You could hear the waves that produced a lot of white foam make a fizzing noise like soda water.

There are certainly moments in life when we are rewarded by laying back and removing ourselves from the action, and we should probably look for more opportunities to do that. Still, there are other times when we are rewarded for being adventurous and bravely stepping into something that could be uncomfortable. Every time I'm scheduled to lead wave jumping, I know there will be lots of set-up and lots of clean-up. I will get sand all over me. But there is nothing like the feeling you get when that cold Pacific water washes over you, and you look down a line of people who are so awake and feeling so alive in the moment. I watched Haley and Sarafia on either side of me, anticipating each new wave, and thought about the great rewards sometimes received by an adventurous spirit.

One afternoon when Tommie was clocking out she shared that while she was out, she noticed a coyote crossing the camp. We know that there are coyotes here, but it's a rarity to actually see one--they are kind of ghostly. Tommie barely had time to marvel at the sighting, before she also sighted Tigerlilly, the camp cat, on the offensive. Tigerlilly raised her fur, arched her back, and began going after the coyote like she was ready to attack. Tommie said the coyote was gone before Tigerlilly got to it, but we all got a nice laugh at the audacity of this little skinny cat ready to challenge a wild predatory dog. Tigerlilly is not one to back down from a challenge.

As we ended out the week, Rik and Tommie got closer to rebuilding the pier to our boat dock, which was damaged in the flooding last November. They've lifted heavy beams, waded waist-high in cold lake water, and most recently poured a new concrete slab which will provide a heavier anchor for the dock and prevent erosion from the hill above it. I enjoy seeing something being constructed. This pier should be around for decades to come, and there's something cool about having the memories of the skeleton of the thing after years of knowing the completed structure.

I wonder also how these experiences from the week will form a skeleton towards something being built. Will our moments of adventure and audacity be the building block for some greater structure being put together inside us right now? For now, I'm glad to be in the same space where so many things happen on any given day, where so many people wake up a beauty that surrounds us, washes over us, and wakes us up to a new way of seeing.

This week we have a full house, hosting First Unitarian Mens' Retreat, American Baptist Womens' Retreat, Hillside Christian Fellowship, Moalla Assembly Womens' Retreat, and Mid-Valley Behavioral Care Network. Join us in prayer that everyone finds something new and refreshing during their time with us.

Next week, we'll be taking a break from "The News from Magruder," post. Don't fear, though, we'll be back the next Friday.

1 comment:

  1. The WSSB students came back from their week at Camp Magruder talking about the joys and challenges and rewards of spending the week at camp. Some of the students had never been away from home, caught a fish, rowed a boat, or been in the ocean. Thank you, Camp Magruder staff, especially Troy, Steve and Angie, for your ability to share your love of life with our students.