This Week at Magruder 6/19-25

This week and our summer opened with a sunshiny day, which is what you hope for. When the cars pull in to drop off excited campers, you want the sun to beam down on you and them as you greet each other. You don't want to have to cover your head or feel your sleeves begin to drench in the rain. We will, of course, make due in the rain and still manage to have a good time. After all, it's camp. But, the sunshine is a beacon of something, an encouragement to be warm and welcoming.

Our first Program Week included Elementary I, Middle School I, and MADD (Music, Art, Drama, and Dance) Camp. It is a joy to see familiar faces return, a year older. It is an equal joy to welcome new faces, knowing they will become familiar in a matter of 5 days. It is a whirlwind how things can change from the start of one week to the end. The first camper pulled in, then another, then another. The check-in line grew, shrunk, grew again, slowed until each camper was checked in.

There are these inevitable moments of satisfaction while a camp week goes on before your eyes. No week goes completely smoothly. Outside us, there are things happening we don't understand, things that hurt to know, things we don't exactly know how to respond. It is great comfort to walk next to the field as children and youth play games, getting to just be kids. That there are teenage, young adult, and older out there also tapping into their childlike qualities. It is a comfort to see that that play is
fostering something. That playing silly games with hula hoops, potato sacks, and tug-of-war rope might be building something that could eventually smooth out the bumps, something to redeem the things we don't understand.

There is nothing like the feeling of walking a stretch of land and having people greet you by name, give you high five, run up for hugs, ask you to play the next round of gaga. There is something to community building that refreshes the soul. Beyond that, though, we need it. The more community is broken the more we hurt, the more we take on a yoke all alone. I was so proud watching our counselors in their element--many counseled for their first time, but I felt like each camper was in the hands of young people, wise beyond their years. I watched their energy as they played, I felt so touched by what they were doing, and I dreamed that this would be the seeds planted of our church.

I think of talking to a camper on the deck of a cabin after a touching worship, where we swapped stories and offered comfort to each other. I've had so many conversations like this under a starry night sky, as we pondered our place here, what it is we are doing, why it is things happen as they do. When you push off the boat the next day, say the mealtime blessing, wave goodbye as the car pulls out of the drive to Highway 101, those conversations linger. Each time you interact, there is a part of you being passed back and forth without even thinking. This is what it means to live side-by-side. This is what community looks like.

The week passed quickly. It is hard to believe it is already over. A few months from now, we will likely consider how quickly those months passed since the first camper pulled in. We will do this with our lives inevitably. I thought, as I watched the MADD performance, seeing these youth in the prime of their lives dancing, performing, laughing how nice it would be just to freeze that moment and stay in it for a time. No doubt, there are moments of doubt and pain in store for everyone some time or another. But, singing together, clapping, watching these gifts on display, the parts of the world we'd prefer to hide from seemed to be hiding from us. All that was clear was the time we shared together.

I can see how those campers will hold onto that moment their whole lives. I wished I could sit there with them in that happiness longer. We would soon step out of Sherlock Lodge, then the next day the cars would pull in and drive out. I hope, though, that time stays somewhere, that those campers decide they will not lose that feeling completely, that they will bring it up in the darkest times and it will be comfort. That they will be that version of themselves because it is their best shot at happiness, their best shot at love. I hope that what we do here matters.

This week, we welcome Camp to Belong, a week-long camp that reunites siblings separated in the foster care system. Among the many other prayers you life up for us, join us in praying for peace, reunion, and joy.


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