Friday, May 13, 2016

The News from Magruder 5/8-14

Sunshine has been on our shoulders much of this week, and as the calendar tells us we are closer and closer to summer, the sky is saying the same thing. We've had warm days that draw you outside and encourage you to look up into the tree canopy as you walk. Breathe a little deeper. Smell the spruces and the spring flowers. It is out there, floating in the air we step through. And this air recently has been a pleasant air.

Rik and Tommie finished up the boat dock pier this week, putting the side railing to prevent anything rolling from rolling off the edges. The pier looks and feels so solid and strong. It is set up to be more accessible for people with mobility challenges. It is anchored to concrete to hold up better against future rising water. We can now begin to move the row boats back to their rightful summertime parking spot. This project took hard work and resulted in lots of sore backs. When you see the finished product, we gloss over the impressiveness that buildings and bridges and other structures remain standing in the place they stand. There's so much brain work and muscle work that goes into making those things that hold us up each day.

One of our Resource Staff members, Rikki, paid us a visit on Wednesday to practice swimming in preparation for her lifeguard class in about a month. Rikki was one of our strongest staff members
last summer and likely will be again this summer. She totally has the physical ability to swim and rescue people, but she's got a big phobia of tests. Last summer when I gave her an archery test, she got incredibly nervous, felt anxious each day leading up to the test. Then she scored the highest of all the staff. Swimming is definitely an activity that requires physical ability, but just as important, maybe more, is the ability to calm yourself and remember to breath. Much of what Rikki and I talked about was just slowing down and finding confidence, trusting your breath. If we can get in touch with that, often that's the most important thing day to day to holding ourselves up.

As Rikki and I walked down the main drive of the camp, I thought about how many times we will both make that walk in the upcoming months. The sun is coming out, the crisp warm smells of the season are becoming more pronounced. It all helps you imagine the summer more realistically. We have been planning all Spring, talking to volunteers about the opportunities of camp, training new people, developing new processes, and preparing fun and memorable experiences. I think about how these little experiences are pouring a foundation for something bigger we will build. I don't know if Rikki realizes this, but everything we talk about, everything she does to get ready may lead directly to something big a great for someone else. We are building something that will grow taller and taller, stretch wider and wider.

The Hillside Christian Fellowship's Men's Group arrived on Thursday for their annual retreat. This group of men have been coming to Magruder for many years. Their leader, Dave, talked about how some of the men here now came as boys, how it felt like a homecoming. Last year, this group built a fort on the beach that was bigger than my office. There were walls and even a partial roof. The structure of the fort was on the beach for the rest of the summer and part of the fall. Many groups
used the structure. We used it for a beach fire during staff orientation. A group of us sat there on the 4th of July. Retreat groups used it as a chapel for evening worships. It was finally completely dismantled when the Pacific high enough to wash it away in the early winter. One of the first thing the men talked about was building a new fort.

After welcoming Hillside, I was crossing the field, and outdoor school was doing their last campfire of the week. Staff member Basil saw me and waved me over, saying I could join them if I wanted to. I sat in the circle as the night came on and a chill entered the air, watching songs and skits, seeing this little community that had just formed over the week finishing up its time together, laughing playfully. From my observer seat, I thought of how we will be doing campfires soon, we will be dismissing a group of middle schoolers for the evening, we will be working to create this feeling of family around a campfire as the stars come out above our heads.

At lunch today, as the students were eating their last meal of pizza, carrots and hummus, I sat at the staff table, watching everyone pass by to their seats. One student passed, made eye contact with a head nod, and I said, "How's it going? Have you had a good week?" He said it had been great and, "I wish I could stay longer." I told him I wished he could to, then I said, "You can just come back as a counselor someday." I love planting those thoughts. So many of us find our selves in these fantastic
moments, moments that will at some point come to an end. It feels like it's over, but what if it's not? What if there is a way to return, a way to continue to be a part of it? What if that moment was just the foundation for something you didn't even know you were building? Something that will rise much higher, stretch much farther.

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