Sunday, May 29, 2016

The News from Magruder 5/22-28

This week we've seen mostly pleasant days out on the coast. There's been the occasional drizzle here and there, and we've had stretches of gray overcast, but sunshine has not eluded us for too long on any given day. There's still a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings, but the middle of the day often encourages you to shed a layer or two and soak up the warmth on your bare arms. As we move nearer and nearer to summer, the air itself seems to be inviting out to spend more time in it.

In addition to our regular Outdoor School group this week, we also welcomed Sunnyside Environmental School for their 7th grade Marine Biology Trip. This group would have several Magruder staff led activities which generally means there are more opportunities to get to know the group a little deeper.

This was our first guest group to do boating since the new boat dock pier was completed, so it became necessary to move the rowboats and rescue boats back over to the boat dock slips. I got out to the lake in the morning, before the group arrived and went to the work of flipping the heavy row boats onto their hulls. I made a few trips from the boat closet with oars and a life vest. My little dog Digby was out, assisting with all of my labors along with sniffing the bushes for raccoons.

I find great pleasure in these moments, setting up all the pieces for activities, anticipating groups to come and what they will do. It is the quiet before the storm in many ways. There are these intimate moments of closely inspecting the equipment. This time to listen to the sounds of the birds, gauge the wind and the sky. Time slows down, and you absorb what is right around you, allow it to tell you things and educate you.

I sat Digby down in each boat, rowing from shoreline to boat mooring. We stood, propped on the sides of the boat, scanning the water, this strange world compared to the hard ground he is used to scampering over. I rowed each boat in this fashion, and the world seemed to open up as we moved farther towards the center of the lake. Life feels a bit different on top of the water, even if it is just a lake. As we made our voyages, I thought of all the people, myself included, who would ferry a boat out into this expanse of water and look at the panoramic view rising up all around of tree covered mountains and dunes. What a pleasure it is to be one of the caretakers of these experiences.

I love how connections grow with a group during their stay. It begins when a group of 20-30 campers come walking down the gravel drive to the boat house to hear the rules. They are shy or cocky, trying to figure you out as you talk to them. You begin to check everyone, seat everyone, remind them of rules and paddling techniques. These stretches continue in other activities. You see each other at meals. Some begin to say hi when you pass at random. You get to know some, and they make it a point to tell you goodbye before they leave. Who knows what it will be like, when paddling the boats to their place or wheeling out the targets for archery or setting out the plates for meal time. You could be making preparations that lead to something far bigger than a simple activity.

On their last day, Sunnyside put together an art show in the Kimberly Center of the Edwards Lodge. They displayed dioramas in cigar boxes, hand made drums and kites, and several other projects. The students had boated, swam, dissected squids, built forts and tunnels on the beach, and sat down with us three times a day to share food. Thinking about their work, I imagine all the things we create in our life, and how we can express ourselves in so many ways. I think about the watching and the inspiration, then the motivation and the doing.

The next day, as our school groups completely cleared out and Memorial Day weekend began, we welcomed our holiday Family Camp and Camp to Belong, a retreat that works with foster care families. At Magruder, we would just reset and wonder what unique experiences lay in store with this new set of people. There were a few moments of quiet to breath in the smell of the trees, take in the sound of the ocean. Some time again to set the table for a new set of visitors, also with no idea all the possibilities one visit might hold.

As you center your prayers on the holiday, on memorials, on safe travels, on quality family times, consider all our guests this weekend, that their time spent is truly special.



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