Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2018 Summer Camp Dates: Changes to MADD Camp Dates

As Camp Magruder prepares to announce the 2018 summer schedule we want to share a few changes to our Music Arts Dance & Drama (MADD) camp that we hope will help the camp grow and bring even more high schoolers into its special community and incredible incorporation of artistic expression. Last year, due to a wet and icy winter, MADD was moved to the July summer camp week, and this year it is moving back to the traditional June week.

Also, in 2018 MADD camp will be held June 17-22 which changes it from a Sunday-Saturday camp to a Sunday-Friday camp, matching the rest of Magruder’s children/youth camps that week. This change will drop the cost of MADD by $90 which we hope will include more high schoolers who may have declined camp in the past for financial reasons. It will also make coordinating travel and rides to pick campers up more convenient for parents with children in multiple age groups.

What will most definitely stay the same is MADD camp’s ability to create a meaningful community of young people who accept and care about each other. It will continue to bring in talented artists who share their gifts to make something beautiful and wonderfully fun to be part of. Campers will still make memories that will stay with them the rest of their lives and friendships in just one week that remain for decades.

We hope these new dates make MADD camp more accessible for campers to feel its impact which has touched thousands over the years. If you know someone who is passionate or even interested in the Arts and who might want a powerful life-changing experience, tell them about the special week that is Magruder MADD Camp.  

Keep a look out at Summer camp dates will be posted and registration will be open soon. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The News from Magruder October 15-21

The coast is inching itself more and more into the rainy season as each week goes on. We have had rain nearly every day this week at Camp Magruder, but on none of them has it rained the entire day. Still, there is enough precipitation to make camp a pretty soggy place. The lake level is rising. The newts are getting more and more adventurous. The ocean is roaring, sounding like its even closer than it actually is. But, we are still having visits of sunshine nearly every day as well. For now, we are getting the sampler platter for weather: rain, overcast, sunshine, wind, calm.

It is incredible to me how our bodies are tuned into the world, even for people who live lives mostly out of nature. When it gets dark, our bodies are more compelled to sleep. When the rain and cold weather come, our stomachs call for warm drinks and our legs and chest call for warm, soft blankets. As the rain comes on and the nights begin sooner, we can feel the slow time of the year on its way to Camp Magruder, even though we still have about a month of groups. It will be the preparatory period, the time to plan, the time to deep clean, the time to redecorate. Then the afternoon sun comes out, and our bodies tell us it is time to go outside and be with people.

This week Outdoor School had a split week, where one school group is in for the first half of the week, and when it leaves another group comes in on its heals and stays until the end of the week. This set-up makes for a pretty hectic Wednesday mid-day. One group eats lunch at 11:00am, loads up their luggage, gets on the bus and leaves. Then another group of buses show up, unload their luggage, orient the new students, then have lunch at 1:00pm. It is an impressive logistical feat that happens multiple weeks at Camp Magruder each Spring and Fall.

While we were setting up chairs and tables for our upcoming retreat group, Kevin told me about how powerful the ocean has been this week with the wind and rain. He said driftwood was getting dragged out and tossed back onto shore, that some major reshaping was happening out there. He talked about how there was a large driftwood post that had been planted in the sand near the jetty early in the summer, and he wondered how long it would last. In the morning it was there, and in the afternoon it was not. We've had a large log blocking the center of our North beach trail way too large to move by hand that our chainsaws wouldn't cut through. It's occupied the space where the trail opens up to the beach for 5-6 months now. This week it was picked up by the ocean and set back down a little farther down the path. This is a time of turnover and transition. A time of shifting identity a little bit.

Hosting a site like this, we have so many identities. We are welcoming hosts. We help facilitate and
environment of learning where we hope to equip people to better do good. We work to get guests open to the spirit that might be moving in nature and in the community they build. We work to make people comfortable with this unfamiliar surrounding. We pray for people and hope that our time spent together transforms both of us. We hope that this time we spend together makes a difference, when we see the cars arrive all the way up to the time we tell them goodbye and turn the lights out.

On Wednesday, I made it back to the office after the 11am pizza lunch. I began getting back into my office brain, answering emails, drawing out plans for the work we have in front of us. The rain came down and the wind tossed the trees about a little. Several yellow school buses passed the office window. I could hear the commotion of students getting off the bus. I could hear the outdoor school leaders cheering with enthusiasm as if they hadn't just finished with another group moments ago. I smiled hearing all the sounds harmonizing into something that is quintessentially camp life. Another round of people transporting themselves to a new world, something for the body, mind, and spirit to respond to, to take in, the breathe out, and let it make some of them new too.

This weekend we are hosting the Oregon Mycological Society, a group passionate and curious about mushroom hunting. As they brave the wind and rain of the Oregon Coast, spend some moments in prayer with us that their time will be life-giving and memorable.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Camp Magruder Has a New Logo

We are excited to introduce a Camp Magruder logo we will use in our communication representing the camp. The logo represents features of the camp that are unique to Camp Magruder and symbolize some core beliefs we have about who we are and the way the spirit of God moves through our beautiful site.

Camp Magruder’s most distinctive feature is the ocean. From nearly every part of camp, you can hear the Pacific Ocean. The ocean shapes the landscape and the weather. The ocean is larger than we can visualize, deep in a way that is difficult to comprehend. We can never know the entire ocean, we only know the part we see at our shoreline. But, even this encounter with a small part of this enormous, powerful thing can be revolutionary, life changing. The water represents how we cherish this thing so much bigger than us and seek to remember how it is constantly present and shaping us into something new.

Shore Pines, like the one featured in the logo, make up much of the woods bordering the beach sand. They were planted by Magruder leaders over the years. Some of the trees produce arm-like branches that start near the trunk. They are called Octopus Trees and many campers and guests have enjoyed climbing them over many years. Magruder began with the vision of a small group of faithful church members with a dream. Over the years, many branches have sprung from that trunk, taken their own direction and bore their own branches. The Shore Pine represents how we celebrate the many ways this camp has provided Christian hospitality and environments of learning for wide ranges of groups who make the world better. We also celebrate how all these possibilities sprang from the trunk planted many years ago by faithful dreamers.

Look for our new logo on our social media outlets, our shirts and other keepsakes, and on our paper correspondence in the near future. We hope you'll begin to recall some of your wonderful Camp Magruder experiences whenever you see this image. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

The News from Magruder September 24-30

Fall has come to Camp Magruder. It is such a joy after living years of life on this planet to be able to feel the arrival of a season with the senses. There is a Fall dryness to the air, a crisp feeling as leaves and needles make their lazy drop to the ground. The air still wants to be warm, the sun still wants to hang around a little longer, but their strength is fading. It is a sweet lazy feel on days like this after Outdoor School has left and our weekend retreat groups have not yet arrived. The birds and squirrels are out making final preparations before the winter. The light is dwindling a littler earlier. Still, on the right days, you can go out and feel the sunlight on your shoulders and a cool breeze balancing each other out perfectly.

As the week turned over, we began the second half of our Needlework Camp. This is a camp with many repeat campers, but we also had several new needleworkers. During an afternoon break, it is a great pleasure to drop by the Edwards Lodge and navigate the labyrinth of sewing machines and in-progress quilts. These slower fall days afford a little more time to stop and have a conversation about the projects or whatever other conversation project comes up. The doors are open to let that crisp fall air mingle with the work. Fall lends itself very well to sitting, working with your hands, having a good conversation.

Our first week of outdoor school campers arrived on Tuesday, a large group of kids very excited to be at camp. The dining hall was noisy and full of energy at each meal. There is so much energy in the first week of camp. The staff is one their toes, still getting the routine under their belts. You walk around knowing many people are doing something for the first time. Reality is shifting, becoming something new. Of course, reality is being altered for the campers who just got off the bus and a new place, with a new bed, new roomates, an ocean right outside their window. All this while the seasons are also becoming something new. There's a freshness to that realization, knowing you are entering something new when you wake up and leave out the door in the morning.

On Wednesday temperatures climbing into the 80s. It honestly felt like one of the hottest days of the year on the Oregon Coast--at the end of September. Still, in the midst of the heat, it did not feel like our warm days in the summer. The air was different, there were pockets of cool air as you walked through the woods. The leaves were turning yellowy and brown. This is warmth you don't take for granted, because it could be gone the next day, maybe the next hour.

On Thursday I dressed in long pants, long sleeves, and wool socks. By the middle of the day it was so warm, I felt the need to change into short sleeves, running shorts, and sandals. I came back from lunch feeling much more suited for the weather. Not more than an hour later, though, a marine layer floated in over camp, and the temperatures dropped significantly. Now I was getting chills, closing all the windows, without the sun to warm my shoulders and heat up the office. The fall change can be quick and unannounced.

Regardless of the face Fall is wearing, I am finding it relaxing and refreshing. We are excited for all our Fall groups to experience this air, these changes with us. Let's go out and crane our heads straight up to look at the trees as they change. Let's sit down for a long conversation with the windows open listening to the birds chirp and the ocean ebb and flow in the background. It won't stay like this forever. Take it in while you still have the chance.

This weekend we welcome Christ UMC, Salem UMC, Trinity UMC, and University of Portland Campus Ministries. Take some time with us to lift them up in prayer.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The News from Magruder September 3-9

The final days of our summer season came this week with our Labor Day Family Camp which started last Friday. On of the first evenings of the camp, we took the group wave jumping. Tom, who has been a camper for several decades went wave jumping for the first time. It was a special moment for him and our staff. It's an awesome thing to witness something happening for the first time. 

As we stood on the beach, watching campers enjoy the ocean there was a smoky haze in the air. The sun was still high in the sky, but it was the color it normally takes on as it sits behind the horizon. We are far from any of the forest fires raging in Oregon right now, but reminders like smoke in the sky set up residence with us this week. Much like the news of the fires this week, regardless of what we did here on the coast, the knowledge that parts of our dear state was burning loomed in the background. It was our regular meal conversation, our regular prayer request. 

Our Labor Day Family camp left on Monday. We spent time with old friends and new ones. Tom also got on the trampoline for the first time. It was a proud weekend for all of us to see him take on those challenges he has seen here at camp for so long. When the campers left, we put on our swimsuits and began the work of taking down the trampoline and swim boundary lines. This is big symbolic act that represents the end of summer to the permanent staff. We unhooked them from their D links, pulled them in, soaped them down, rinsed, dried, folded, and tucked them away on a boathouse shelf. 

As we worked through the afternoon, the sun remained shrouded in a smoky haze. We frequently made comments about how odd it felt. At the end of our trampoline breakdown, we deflated the giant blue doughnut. Everyone laid on it. This was very relaxing work for us. We sprawled out like we
Smith Lake with trampoline and swim boundaries freshly removed
were laying in a hammock. Everyone laughed as they sunk deeper and deeper. Some of us fell asleep. It was a nice way to close out our time together. We have seen a lot this summer. We've worked ourselves into late nights. We've had uplifting moments and disappointing moments. Now, it was just six of us laying on a giant trampoline while it deflated. It felt lazy and satisfying and intimate.

We welcomed the Campus Compact of Oregon, an Americorps training event. A day later we would welcome seniors from Oregon Episcopal School. There is something uplifting about spending days welcoming and cleaning up in the kitchen with young people on a mission. There is a great deal of energy and hope and courage. It's one of my favorite ages to work with, because they are so gifted and excited for new work, and they are also still molding who they are. They listen more readily, trust a little easier, put themselves on the line more quickly. 

These young people have changed our world this summer, and they will return to their other respective worlds soon. I hope they go out seeking the same kind of change there. We are quite literally in a world that is burning right now. But, I feel optimism after weeks like this living in loving community. I know we can not avoid tragedies. But, I have seen that there is love to counteract the terrible things. I know there are people among us seeking to make the world better. I have faith in them, and in all the powers guiding them.

This weekend we welcome the Annual Men's Retreat, Linfield Concert Choir, PSU Ambassadors, and the women of Primera Iglesia Ebenezer. Pray with us that their time will be fruitful. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The News from Magruder, August 27 - September 2

As August came to a close at Camp Magruder, we saw our summer slow down near the season's end. If you are a regular reader, you've noticed our several month long hiatus from blog posting. It has been a busy year at the camp with a great deal of staff turnover, an ACA visit, and Troy having his first child. This all, of course, is in addition to the normal summer busyness.

This week, we hosted the Western Oregon University Ambassadors as they prepared for their Fall. It was our only group, which gave the summer staff ample opportunity to clean, to go on a few outings, and give good attention to the WOU Ambassadors as they boated, swam, and did archery. It feels very relaxed compared to our weeks early in August, where the entire dining hall was filled by guests. It is nice to close the summer out with chances to reflect and spend intentional time together. Meaningful things can sometimes just fly right past us if we don't take moments to soak them in, to ponder them, to articulate what they mean to us. The end of Labor Day Weekend finishes what we call the summer season. We don't want it to just pass us by and be gone.

Early in August the cross that looks out over the beach went missing. We don't know what happened to it, but it did not seem likely the cross was lost to winds or the ocean. That cross had stood there for a long time--it was not the first, but it had a great deal of sentimental value to many of our campers and staff members. It was disappointing that the cross which was a symbolic beacon to many people who know Camp Magruder had vanished, that there was an empty space where it had stood. 

This week our staff picked several pieces of driftwood from the beach to make a new cross. A Summer Staffer Andrew had created a temporary cross to stand in place of the old one until a new one could be constructed. They used one of the pieces from that cross. Rik took the pieces and fashioned a new cross. On Tuesday evening, we carried the cross, together as a staff, to the beach where the old one had stood. We wrote prayers on pieces of brown paper and buried them in the hole we dug for the new cross, then we planted it and filled in the hole with sand. 

We gathered around it and placed our hands on it. We prayed a prayer of dedication. We not only prayed for the cross as a symbol and what it will represent to us and generations of campers. We prayed about loss and disappointment. We prayed for the hope that can rise up out of loss and wished for that in our lives and the lives of so many around the world. We are at no loss for sadness, pain, anxiety, and disappointment these days. I know the staff here at Camp Magruder all want us to grow something big and wonderful out of all the occurrences that impact us negatively. We hope not to dwell in the pain, but fill those empty spaces with something new and beautiful. Something we create together. Something that will carry the wisdom of the past and a hopefulness and ingenuity for the future. 

On Friday our Labor Day Family Camp arrived. The weather is still warm and sunny on the coast, but we know that the leaves will soon be falling from the Alders. The sea air will turn cooler. The clouds will return, and rain will begin falling more frequently. Monday is the last day of our Summer Staffers' 2017 term. We will put up the lake trampoline and the swim boundaries. Camp Magruder will have served another summer. The Summer Staff will go on to school and jobs in other places. We will focus in on evaluations, Outdoor School, preparations for the Spring and Summer of 2018. We hope, though, that this summer will stay with us. We hope that when we return to that spot on the beach so many people recognize and see the cross there, that lots of memories and emotions will
return for us, that it will mean much more than it is.

The cross as a symbol is full of messages. It began as a symbol of pain and disappointment. But, it was taken over hundreds of years and generations and has blossomed into many nuanced meanings. Now, the cross as a symbol is incredibly complicated. It means many different things to different people. We hope through the work we are doing here that when people see the cross they will feel hopeful, they will feel welcomed, they will feel comforted. We hope the time spent this summer has worked to grow that meaning for us and for our guests. 

This weekend we host our Labor Day Family Camp. Next week, we host the Campus Compact of Oregon and the Oregon Episcopal School Senior Trip. Pray with us that these groups have experiences that will stay with them for years to come. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

The News from Magruder April 16-22

Spring continues to toy with our emotions out at Camp Magruder. On several days this week, we had the types of beautiful days that are legendary on the Oregon Coast. Crisp blue skies that make you feel like you have some sort of special glasses making everything high definition. Whales have been spotted near the jetty the past few days. Life is waking up at camp. Then, there are still days of rain and wind that seem to come out of nowhere, drenching the ground and our socks. Our roof project continues to be postponed, because we can't string together enough dry days to get the roofers out here. 

The week started off on Easter Sunday. Magruder has hosted a sunrise service for the local communities for many years. This year we moved it from Carrier dining hall to Sherlock Lodge. Anytime you make a change with something that is a long-standing tradition there are many potential pitfalls. People may end up at the wrong place, because it's so routine to go to the old place. People may miss the old place because there is a special attachment with it. There are routines built into the old place that may not transfer to the new one. It is a scary thing to try something new. Still, Sherlock made much more sense for us this particular year, and so it was moved. 

While I was traveling between lodges to get supplies before the service, I encountered two ducks who have been spending a lot of time on Smith Lake the past few weeks. They were in the gravel lot near Carrier, and they quacked around until I got too close for their comfort, and they retreated through the air back to safer waters. I thought about how very soon they would have several little balls of fluff following them around over land and water. I thought about how life is returning to this place in nearly all its forms and how that is such a perfect setting to reflect on Easter. 

As the service began, I looked around at this community of people who had woke before dawn to participate in this ritual, how I'm growing to know many of them and share faith with them. I looked over at my wife who also worked early and helped me transport pastries and coffee to Sherlock. I thought about how this feeling could come about anywhere--in Carrier, Sherlock, on the porch outside, on the beach in the rain. The power of that time spent really has more to do with the way we fill the space than the actual space involved. Those spaces that means so much to us, mean that because of how we fill them. 

This week we welcomed St. Pius X Catholic school, and they have the special distinction of being the first group to do boating at Magruder this year. To prep for them, I woke our fleet of row boat from their winter hibernation, flipped over on the side of the swim area. These boats are heavy and sturdy, and it takes the correct lifting techniques to avoid dropping one on an important appendage or finishing out the day with major back pain. I turned #2 and #5 over, scooted them into the lake, and attached the oars. It began to drizzle, then rain harder, but this had an incredible calming affect on the lake water itself. I sat in the center and began the familiar motions rocking forward and backwards, taking the boats over to their slips at the boat dock. This seemed almost like something sacred, something holy. 

Boating didn't happen that day. The moment the rain stopped, wind began to rush in making the water way too choppy for a bunch of middle schoolers with minimal boating experience to navigate the lake. The next day we tried it again, and this time we were successful. It continued to rain, which again had a calming effect on the lake. I was soaked by the end of the morning. My toes and fingers felt icy. But, I had done some true camp work. The work of getting outside and having an adventure, even if the conditions weren't perfect. The work of exposing people to something new, something maybe out of their comfort zone. The work of playing in a way that soothes and heals. Even if the weather was going to continue to toy with us, even if the conditions are not the way we idealize them in our minds when we imagine a boating period, the most important thing was the way we filled the space on that particular day. 

This weekend we welcome Cornerstone Church High School Retreat and First Unitarian Church of Portland Men's Retreat. We pray that they are able to fill the space with something life-changing regardless of what the Spring weather decides to give us. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Camp Magruder Welcomes new Executive Chef

Camp Magruder is excited to announce our new Executive Chef, Nick Atkins. His influence will continue Magruder’s proud reputation for serving tasty food made from quality ingredients with special attention to locally sourced. Nick began work with Magruder the beginning of March, and our guests and staff have already enjoyed many wonderful meals prepared under his guidance.

Nick is Oregon born and raised but has traveled all over the world, spending years in Hawaii, New Zealand, British Columbia, Mexico, Greece, and also Paris, France where he studied at the Conrad Hilton. He came to Magruder from Seattle, where we worked in the restaurant industry. Nick began looking for ways to get out of the city and make a bigger difference in the world and it landed him with us. He also loves ocean swimming and diving, sailing and windboarding, and tai chi to start his mornings.

Nick brings a warm spirit and his kind grin to life at camp. We are excited about the ways his presence and work will help us further our mission of providing Christian hospitality to every camper and guest group who visits, not to mention the good it will do for our taste buds and stomachs. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The News from Magruder April 2-7

It has felt quintessentially Spring out at the coast this week. Our unpredictable seasonal visitor has toyed with our emotions all week long. We have stretches of sunshine and warmth, followed by downpours. One part of the day, you stare out your window wishing to go outside, hoping some task will come up to draw you out. The next part of the day, you stare out your window at the miserable conditions, hoping that nothing pulls you outside into it. On Friday, we've had high winds and periods of rain. Both the rain and the trees are being tossed in strange directions by 40 mile per hour winds.

Outdoor school returned from Spring Break this week, and we welcomed a middle school group from a school in Hillsboro. On Monday, I crossed paths with a few Outdoor School staff members prepping for their high school counselors. We walked towards the dining hall together discussing the previous week. One staff member had gone to Crater Lake during her time off. She showed me a picture of herself standing in front of a 20 ft. snow drift. She said they didn't get to do all that much, but they pretty well had the place to themselves.

I enjoy the possibilities that await in a simple stroll from the office to the dining hall. On mornings like this, I make a hot cup of tea and walk around, observing and interacting with camp life. You might have a solitary walk, spent listening to the birds, looking up into the trees. You pay attention to the breeze, to how loud the ocean is on this particular day. You might encounter kids making their way to their next activity, wrapped up in their conversations, their songs, their games, their growing up. You might find another solitary walker and join up, beginning a quick conversation to pass the time from point A to point B. All are potentially a prominent memory from the day. All could wake you up to the huge variety of ways to appreciate working at a camp.

The next step this week in prepping for roof work on the Walworth Building was to move the old bell. The bell has been decommissioned as an emergency bell when Carrier Dining Hall got an alarm on its roof. The pull rope for the bell rotted several years ago, so it wasn't even usable in its current state. The bell was located very close to a power line, so Rik had to call the utility company to shut down the lines and bring it down. This old, heavy cast iron bell slowly came down. It was originally in a bell tower at Camp Magruder, which stood close to the Miller Cottage where there's now parking for the dining hall. The tower housed the camp office for a time. It was later moved to Walworth. Rik and I gave it a good look. Both our minds were turning over the places we might put it next, the new role it might serve when we wake it up to use it once again.

This week the camp directors of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the Methodist Church held their meeting at Camp Magruder. In all, there are 6 camp site with directors, and a gathering like this can be a great uplift for camp staff. There is something about sitting at the table with people who do the same work. There's the common knowledge, knowing someone gets what you're going through. There's the stories that everyone easily relates to, that we can laugh at or feel the weight of. Then, there's that chance to help each other, to share our successes and challenges, to pass along little tricks we've picked up, to collectively work on solutions. And then, there is just the chance to let loose a little and play with the people who share our passions.

Late Tuesday night the directors stayed up in the Edwards Lodge playing board games, swapping stories. There were lots of laughs, lots of friendly teasing and joking. In managerial positions, we often find ourselves stuck in this constant need to be serious, to take things seriously. We should be serious about our work--it's a sign we care about it. But, one of the foundations of any successful camp is fun, and I would imagine most of us fell in love with camp in a time when we were having a whole lot of fun. As I looked across the room and watched this group of people who manage these big budgets and thousands of retreat guests, who are steering these ships that are so important to so many people, it was comforting to know we are still laughing and allowing ourselves to play and engage. It was good to feel that we have not forgotten the grease that keeps these gears turning.

Late Thursday night, the wind began to pick up, and it has continued. The advisory is on until 11pm Friday night. There's also a high surf advisory, and those two forces combined make the Pacific look very formidable to a beach visitor. I'm watching out the window as the trees bob back and forth. The office is making creaking noises as gusts build up. There is motion and power all around us, swirling. Spring is keeping us on our toes. In all the chaos and uncertainty, it is good to get out and walk around, even in the crazy moments. The more I look and listen, the more I find myself connecting with things that give me comfort and ease the anxiety brought on by regular change and uncertainty. So many beautiful things happen on any given day--even just a few tastes of them make for good medicine.

This weekend, we welcome an Adventist Young Adult Retreat and the Cleveland High School Choir. Join us in these feelings of welcome, keep in your prayers that they find joy and rest out here on the coast.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The News from Magruder, March 26 - April 1

It was a Spring Break week on the coast, which may or may not have been on your radar depending on what your line of work is or if you have kids. At Camp Magruder, it meant a break for Outdoor School, who I'm sure enjoyed it after two straight split weeks. Being on the coast, it also meant there were more people in on the weekdays than is normal for this time of the year. When you're out at the grocery or eating dinner at your favorite restaurant and notice it's pretty packed for a Tuesday, you scratch your head for a moment then remember, "Oh, that's right. It's Spring Break."

We opened the week with the honor of hosting a memorial service for Jon Brown, a prominent figure in our community. We had been a regular at Magruder's Easter sunrise services over the years, and his family felt like it would be a fitting place to memorialize him. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Jon before his passing, but it was evident by the numbers who showed up on a Monday afternoon how much his life meant to the Rockaway Beach area. 

The Magruder staff was present to help the family set up and to facilitate parking. I spent most of the time waving vehicles into an organized parking plan. The weather was interesting--one moment it was sunny, the next it drizzled. We rotated through this weather all day, really we rotated through this all week. Once the cars were parked, I snuck into Carrier to see a room packed with a range of ages and backgrounds. People traveled from neighboring states to be here. There were infants and toddlers all the way up to elderly here to pay respects. Jon Brown was a teacher, but it was obvious his influence went well beyond the classroom. The next day, my wife and I were meeting with a local lawyer, and he talked about how he had been at the memorial himself, how next to his parents Jon was one of the biggest influences of his early years. 

I thought about how this place will forever be tied into this story for the people who were touched by Jon Brown's life. How the act of choosing a setting can be sacred and make a place sacred for a huge group of people. Over 300 people joined us on a Monday afternoon in our dining hall that has been on this spot almost as long as it has been called Camp Magruder. I think of how many other stories are tied up in that building, how it has been made sacred over the years for so many people, from young worshipers finding their faith to outdoor school kids discovering a passion for wild things to much more random chance encounters that change someone's life forever. 

Spring Break slowed life down for just a moment at Camp Magruder. Slowing down is crucial to healthy life. We will find ourselves busier and busier as summer approaches and passes. There is much work to be done. We hope that our impact is a lasting one. We hope people are changed a bit when they spend time with us. We hope what they experience furthers the sacredness of this place. It is important to remember, but it is also important to continue to practice to bring a place into something new even as we remember what it has been and what it has done. If that doesn't happen we are doomed to forget it--and we don't want to forget things this holy, this impactful, this important.
Things are becoming new again at Magruder. The flowers are blooming, Green buds are opening up on the bushes. The alders will open their leaves soon and we will be mired in sunshine and greenness. It is Spring Break everyone. We often look at it as a time of rest, of taking a break. But make no mistake there is important work going on even now. the work of appreciating, the work of noticing the beauty surrounding us, the work of remembering those who shaped us, the work of making even ourselves new. The sun is visible more and more each day. Summer is on the way. Let's go out into the open air. Let's hear the ocean. Let's do something wonderful with our moment here. Let's leave this space full of memories that will inspire someone else to call it holy and sacred.

This week, we've had the joy of hosting Brush Prairie Baptist Women's Retreat. They were originally scheduled for the fall weekend when tornadoes hit the coast, so we are happy to finally welcome them back. Keep their time in our prayers. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The News from Magruder, March 19-25

The rain is slowly letting off at Camp Magruder, and we are beginning to have more days where we aren't totally inundated with water. This is not to say that every day is dry and sunny. Even now, most days rain still manages to fall at some point. But, we are seeing glimpses of the blue sky. Our skin has even seen sunshine here and there. It has been a very rainy winter on the coast, and a string of sunny days sounds like almost too much to ask for. We are seeing hints that it may return, though.

This week was a split week for Outdoor School. On these particular weeks, one school group comes in at the beginning of the week, leaves on Wednesday, and another group comes in on its heels to finish out the week. It adds an extra day to ODS's typical weekly schedule, and presents some logistical challenges on that Wednesday where one group is coming in and one is leaving.

Imagine the feat it is for these staffers to finish up with a group and take care of all that you do the last day of camp. Cleaning the cabins, packing, eating the last lunch, wrapping up your sessions, saying goodbye to everyone, putting a ribbon on those meaningful relationships that were established in those three days. Now imagine as you are doing all that, also managing to do all the things you do as you welcome in a new group. Helping them get off the bus and find their way in a new place, giving introductions and introducing the staff, eating the first meal (right after the other group ate their last), teaching them songs, learning their names. Think of the emotional transitions for staff members that has to happen in quick succession. They do this and do it well, but it is an impressive undertaking.

I think about how this is the life of a healthy camp. You welcome the stranger, and the stranger leaves a little bit more a friend. This is powerful and life-changing work on both sides. It has an impact on us. A good retreat experience can stay with us for weeks, months, years. But when you work at a camp, it's important to be able to put feelings and experiences on their proper shelves, so you can go back to them later. It won't be long before you will need to be totally present for the next group. In a world that puts so much value on multi-tasking, camp sometimes requires a good organized shelf where we quickly switch from one item to the other.

Towards the end of the week, we were also joined by a Church of God Men's Retreat. We hosted participants from all over the country, who gathered on the Oregon Coast for a time of fellowship and worship together. This group along with our outdoor school group presented more logistical challenges, mainly in the realm of dining. This is also a big part of camp life. On the surface, what is often seen is the relationships, the care for the buildings and grounds, the way we try to make it nice to the eyes and comfortable for the guest. The underground work is the scheduling, the coordinating among staff people, the meetings just to figure out how to hold people in the same place at once.

This week we hosted meals in the upstairs of Carrier Dining for outdoor school, and the Men's group in downstairs Chappell Hall. That seems straightforward enough, but that means the meal must be split in the kitchen and carried to two different locations. Kitchen staff must haul food, plates, cups, utensils downstairs. We need two KP crews. When the meal downstairs is finished, all the dishes must be brought back upstairs to be washed, then back down for the next meal. We have to coordinate this to try to avoid a traffic jam between the groups at the dishwasher. The kitchen staff must be on the same page. All this must be figured out before the groups get there to eat.

We spent a lot of time over the past few weeks, and even months, planning for these events, knowing that having two large groups like this together could be uncomfortable if we hadn't prepared for it properly. At the end of the week, most of the work done, it was a nice release to stand at the serving line with Big Mike watching our guests enjoy their meal. Our work at this point was just to watch the food and make sure the serving dishes were refilled it needed. The tough stuff was finished. We talked about how smooth things had gone, we talked about some of the characters in this group and what a hoot they were. Every now and then, I'd grab an egg roll or piece of curry pork and snack as we saw the fruits of our labors and just took a moment to enjoy life.

At the end of the day, it is a beautiful thing to see these processes go smoothly. We don't always get them perfect, but it feels like such and accomplishment for multiple groups to get their meals, to talk about how tasty the food was, to have a few moments just to greet people and ask how their day has been. It's also a pleasure to work with people committed to these types of challenges. When you get home at night, you are tired, but it is a good kind of tired, a warm kind of tired. You leave with a good feeling deep down, because you did something that could leave an impact on other people, and it has also left an impact on you.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The News from Magruder, March 12-18

We've seen signs this week that Spring is coming soon at Camp Magruder. Coming off the Daylight Savings time change, it has been very enjoyable to have so much daylight left at the end of the work day. There is a crisp feeling of life when you step outside the office door into light, knowing you have a little bit of freedom to go out and enjoy it. We have seen a few beautiful sunny days this week, reminding us of July and August when nearly every day will be sky blue and crisp. Spring likes to mix it up--a few parts Winter, a few parts Summer.

Last week we welcomed NWRESD Outdoor School Staff for their orientation. We saw several familiar faces and several new ones. This crew will become part of the Magruder staff family during their 13 week stay. They will depart just before our Summer Staff comes in. They will teach lessons to middle schoolers for weeks and weeks, right here on the coast.

This week, the first round of students arrived. We saw the big, long yellow buses arrive, a familiar, nostalgic sight to all of us. The staff stood out in the north ball field, cheering ready to welcome the students the moment they got off the bus. This group does a great job in that regard, making they students feel valued and welcomed. It's something that's important to us at Magruder, and it's wonderful to see other groups sharing those values in our space.

The day before students arrived, a group of high school counselors showed up to prep and train for the week. It was a beautiful day, with stretches of sunshine. It was a great day to be outside on the coast. It's days like these you imagine leading a group of kids into the woods to look for plants and animals, to discover all the amazing things just under our nose. You imagine yourself kneeling next to some great discovery with wide-eyed students falling in love with the world.

Of course, by the time the students arrived on Monday, the weather had totally flipped. It was chilly, rainy, and windy. So, those idealized images of lessons in pristine weather were chucked out the window for rain jackets, galoshes, and wet socks. Still the lessons must go on, and honestly there are times when less than perfect weather can make a memory more memorable.

The rain has also slowed progress on some essential maintenance projects that we just need a string of dry days to get going on. Over the next year we hope to replace roofs on three buildings: Walworth, Gatehouse, and Bunch. We're starting with Walworth, and we've even got the supplies delivered and sitting on top of the building. We just need five straight dry days for the roofers to get going. Based on recent history, that seems almost impossible. I have a hard time thinking of two dry days in a row in recent months, much less five. Spring is not a season of consistency.

Spring is a season of beauty, though. We are beginning to see early blooms open up around camp, and we know more are coming. Thursday I took a phone call out on the secret dock near the north ballfield. The sky was blue with cottony white clouds. The sun was warm on my face, I could feel color coming back to it after a long winter. As I continued my phone call, I walked on the dock and watched water come through the spaces between planks as weight shifted from one end to the other. I heard eagles call and looked in the sky to see a pair flying just north of camp, criss-crossing in the air. I thought about all the days I've spent standing on a dock on Smith Lake, blue above and below me. More of this is coming.

Yes, spring is at our doorstep, with it's unpredictable beauty. We can never really be sure what is in store for us. There are days we'll get it right and days we will be sorely wrong. This is also life, though. We can't get too caught up in our idealized versions of how each day should go. We might miss something even greater preparing to present itself.

This weekend Cedar Mill Bible Church is bringing a group of youth to spend a few days with us. Hold them and their time with us in your prayers.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The News from Magruder February 26 - March 4

The Spring is toying with our emotions at Camp Magruder. Though we're still technically in winter, we see days here and there that fool us into thinking we're farther along in the seasonal calendar than
we really are. Early in the week, we had several stretches of beautiful sunshine--the sort of sunshine that dries off all the pavements and glimmers the the spruce needles.

For morning prayers on Tuesday it was just too nice a day to stay inside. Angie, Hope, and I went out to the bridge over Smith Lake on the Wetlands Trail to do our daily prayers. As we shared our joys and concerns for the day, a cool breeze came off the lake as ducks regained their comfort zones after fleeing when we entered. The sky was blue and so was the lake. The wind made the water lap up against the shore and the piers of the bridge. It was a great time to breathe in the scenery and let God speak to us just through being in creation.

On another morning, I went to the beach before going into the office. I was out with my terrier, Digby. Just after emerging onto the beach I saw a bald eagle perched on a large stump just about 100 feet way. I grabbed up the dog, so he didn't become an eagle treat, and then tried to figure out what I should do next. I wanted to pause time and watch this magnificent animal who I had just by some coincidence crossed paths with. This is one of those amazing things about living on the Oregon Coast. If you make time to be outside long enough, and you pay attention while you're out there, you will find yourself having encounters like these regularly. Even so, it feels like a blessing, like fortune has smiled on me. I wonder if Digby felt the same way.

On Ash Wednesday we entered the Lenten season, which for many can seem like a very gloom and doom meditation 40 days long. Many see it as a time where you have to give something up, so it becomes a weight loss or quit smoking plan. It may be a time for people to put change in a jar and give it to a charity. That basically boils it down to a time that we do the things we've been putting off, but really think we should do. I like to think there is more being asked of us during the time than just to prove to ourselves we can go without chocolate, though. I think Lent is a time that asks us to get in touch with the reality of our weakness. To sit down and ponder the idea that we are not perfect and we do not have the control we often tell ourselves we have. Understanding that and grasping that leaves room for love to enter. It is comforting. It is hopeful. In this time, we can become more aware of God's presence and how God works through all the things that surround us and sustain us, even in our weak days.

I feel as if many of us have been dragging ourselves through difficult, weak periods. We've been exhausted by it. Scared by it, Angered by it. Knocked down by it. I think Lent offers us a chance to really ponder it, though. To not power through it or put it off, because there's too much going on. It invites us to sit on the floor and cry and understand it is a part of us. It compels us search for relief, to call out for some sort of hope. As we sit there on the floor in our fear and weakness, there is enough time to listen closely, to hear the whispers that we often rush past unaware. There are many things out there, many blessings there to sooth us in our weakness.

This is the last full week without guests we will see for some time. Outdoor School staff will join us next week and the week after we will begin to see the middle school students. From there we'll go right from Outdoor School to the summer. After the summer we'll welcome Outdoor School again until November. Our work will pick up and there will be less time to ponder, less time to prep. Still it is important for all of us to remind ourselves there is time to be silent. Time to really look at
ourselves, to be real with ourselves. Time to sit with our weakness and through it see how many blessings truly are out there surrounding us.

This weekend we welcome the Aphasia Network and Dancemode Women's Retreat. Join us in prayers that these groups find a multitude of blessings during their time.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The News from Camp Magruder February 19-25

We caught a chill this week at camp, the cold, wet ocean chills that get in your bones and won't get out. The temperatures were probably not lower than plenty of other parts of Oregon, but that wet cold is a different type of cold. These have been days you wanted a warm, hearty soup. These are days you want a hot drink within arm's reach at all times. These are the days you long for a toasty fire in your room.

As we move closer to the arrival of outdoor school, the weekdays are still quiet. We busy ourselves with the preparation, and we are at no loss for tasks, but the camp itself is still resting a bit. Soon we will have middle schoolers gracing our doorstep every week leading right up until the summer. Classrooms will be out of the classroom. Kids, rain or shine, will be out getting their lessons, learning with mind and body. In the mean time, we continue work away, hoping we will be totally prepare to receive them lovingly in a way that might transform them.

Towards the middle of the week, we welcomed our new Camp Chef. We will make an official announcement on the blog soon. The new chef had a chance to touch base with some of our kitchen staff, to look at menus, tour the kitchen. It is another moment of transition for us, another moment of welcoming someone new to the family. We look forward to growing in new ways, in seeing what our camp family looks like in a year or so.

We also said our farewells to Jay, who has been with Camp Magruder for several years now, helping to make our food a part of camp that regularly gets rave reviews. Jay is typically a quiet guy who prefers to stay in the kitchen, preparing the food, the orders, the cooks. Jay has a dry wit, that is hilarious if you pay close attention. In Thursday night, we made a taco bar and sat around the table together, sharing memories and talking about the next big adventures.

We also said goodbye to Anna who, over the past several months had become one of the prominent bakers in the kitchen. We will miss her scones, the snicker-doodle cheesecake, and on and on. But, we'll also miss her warm spirit, her smile and laugh whenever you talk to her out on the serving line. She has done wonderful things for herself and for us in this very short time she's been here.

When you work at a camp, you see so many faces come and go over the years. You see this with the guests you serve, but you also see it with the people you serve next to. Camp is very much about relationship building, and those relationships are full of hellos and goodbyes. We tell our camp friends goodbye at the end of the camp week, through tears and hugs. There are the hellos the next year when get of your car and run to your friends. There are the goodbyes we say to mentors and leaders as we graduate, as we move to new places. There are hellos waiting in the future with some of those people as well. We never know when our paths will cross again, but when they do, we sometimes feel like something was bringing us back towards each other the entire time.

On Friday, the Conference Camping Property Comittee arrived to conduct their bi-annual meeting. They toured our staff housing, talked about emergency preparedness, and discussed designations for CARE Funds that help all our camps with maintenance issues that impact health and safety. It was a pleasure sitting with these professionals who have a place in their heart for camping, who want to use their gifts to keep the property safe and maintained. As I walked them around our camp, I pointed out our buildings and the projects attached to them, but I also was sure we took time to look out over the lake and ocean, to stop on the evacuation hill to see the view on all sides, to name the trees in our woods.

These are things we do in a camp community. Walking together, appreciating the world together. In our daily lives, we often get so burden with our tasks and our personal worries and habits that it is difficult to take time to walk and observe. It takes great intention to sit at the table with loved ones and have a conversation. It is difficult to bake bread, to share it, to thank each other for their part in it.
It takes work to tell people goodbye lovingly and meaningfully. It takes great energy to give someone a warm welcome as if you have been waiting for them for an entire year. But, we love our time here, because something about places like this encourage that kind of energy. And so, something like this encourages that we will receive those gifts.

This weekend we had the pleasure to host our Property Committee, Grace Lutheran Church, and Open Meadow Alternative School's Step Up Program. Keep their good work in your prayers and your gratefulness.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The News from Magruder February 12-18

This week at Magruder has been book-ended by beautiful days with a few blustery, rainy ones in between. The ocean has been at work again, taking a large portion of the driftwood still left on the beach to somewhere else. It's entertaining to imagine where these piles of wood come from. Is there a holding zone someone out in the ocean for giant stumps and planks and trunks? When the ocean takes it back, where does it go? Does it go back out to the ocean's warehouse of waterlogged wood? Does it get dropped off at some other beach wayside for a time like a nomad before moving on to the next stop?

As it took back a stock of its driftwood, the ocean also dug out layers of sand, creating stair steps down to the beach proper from woods behind. In spots, these carvings are indeed regular step size, but if you walk farther, they become 10 foot walls, towering above your head, creating shadows on you from the morning sun. Living near the ocean like this, it is frequently evident that the Earth is always in a state of change. It's not just something that happens over centuries or millennia. It is happening minute by minute, second by second. Go out in the morning and see one thing. Go out in the afternoon and it is transformed.

This week we have been doing lots of interviews at camp. We are preparing to hire several new kitchen staff and we're also looking to name our Summer Program Intern. For the ones doing the hiring, it is both nerve-raking and exciting. We take responsibilities like this very seriously, because we know that the people here have a huge impact on what this camp becomes. There are so many factors to consider when filling these positions: skill, commitment to the mission, maturity, the fit with the current staff, the ability to challenge us and help us grow. There are often many who would do great in so many of these areas. People care about this work. We care about these people.

In thinking about interviews, it has been helpful in many areas to think about how we are shaping this place by who we hire and how we fit people into roles. We are creating a culture, we are building up something that all our guests will see. We hope it teaches them something, inspires them, makes them want something like this for themselves.

Image result for dr frank magruder oregonI think of all the people who have passed through the gates at Magruder. I've gone back and read the stories of Jesse Bunch and Frank Magruder pushing the conference to buy this undeveloped land remotely located on the Oregon Coast. I've heard the stories of people who started the programs still going at our camp. Many have come and gone, come back and gone again.

I think of a story I heard about Dr. Magruder bringing a group of teenagers to the site that would soon bear his name. The professor was an academic and not greatly known for his outdoor skills, but he wanted to take these young people for an outdoor experience. They set up tents on the site, but no one there was an expert. During the weekend, they got a taste of Oregon Coast wind and rain, spending most of the time soaked. Dr. Magruder returned with the recommendation that they build cabins at the camp.

I imagine the place during their first visit. I imagine what it looked like as the first Shorehouse and Carrier lodge went up. I think about how the trees sprang up among the shore grasses. I think about how storms have dropped some of those trees. It is constantly growing, evolving, transforming. In the same way, people are shaping the legacy of the place, creating memories, attaching meaning to the buildings and the natural landmarks. Even that is changing minute by minute. We are continuously blown away by the passion people show in wanting to be here and do the work. I wonder how the outcomes of these interviews will shape the sands of our camp. We take that seriously and prayerfully as we deliberate.

In the middle of the week, the winds got strong and tossed the tops of the shore pines around. You could hear the roar through the night. The next day a few trees were down, but nothing significant. It would be drizzly for the next stretch of time, but on Friday morning a soft marine layer floated in, softening the sun. Everything looked like it had a fade filter on it--the mountains, the tree canopies, the lake and the ocean. A small layer of clouds came in, but sunlight managed to peek through here and there. As we ran errands from cabin to cabin, preparing for Choir Camp, we talked about how beautiful a day it was to be outside. I thought about the spring and summer to come, about the feelings it brings to walk the road from the office to Carrier, seeing people criss-crossing the paths, talking, singing, smelling the spruces overhead. They will come in and go out again. Constant changing, constant growth in ways new and ancient.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The News from Magruder February 5-11

This week much of the camp staff returned from a National Camp Leader Gathering, where we got to meet other camp professionals, attended workshops, and shared a great deal of bonding time.
Returning from an event like this is tiring for sure, but it also gives you a shot of energy for the work you are doing. There is nothing like being with a group of people who know what you know and do what you do. There is nothing like coming together as one body for the same purpose. And so, we came back to our camp with fresh perspectives and reinvigorated passion for our little camp.

When we finally parked the camp Jimmy at about 11:30pm, it was a refreshing feeling to get out and feel the cool sea air. To hear that familiar sound of waves running their course on the beach. The spruces and hemlocks waving with the wind. Our trip was fun and inspirational, but it was good to be home.

Our first day back we hosted AllOne, an ecumenical group of church leaders in the Portland area who get together to support each other and discuss issues within their church. They were on retreat getting rest from their lives of service. They focused specifically this week on self care. It is a pleasure to get to sit around the table and discuss people's lives with them. This is one of the joys of being on a camp staff--an important portion of our work includes these moments hearing each others' stories. There is something about sitting around a table with people, telling stories as you eat. It is akin to a medicine.

It has felt much more like regular Pacific Northwest this week on the coast. Each day has seen some sort of rain. These have been good soup days. Good days for a warm cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon. I love the days at Magruder, sitting in Carrier dining hall, looking at the window at the rain
and wind on Smith lake, warming myself with warm food and drink. There is little motivation to rush outside, so you just talk more to the people at your table. In our busy worlds, we often get anxious to move onto the next task. On days like this it is a little easier to tarry and continue the conversation. Grab that extra mug of tea. Let it warm you up as you talk next to the window.

The wind picked up Wednesday night, and you could hear it through most of the night at Camp Magruder. When we woke the next morning, there were small branches on the road. Newts were out on parade after a lot of rain. As the day went on, we would hear stories of flooding in our nearby cities. At camp, though, the lights were still on, the heat still worked, and we stayed on our work prepping for more guests to come and see the sites we wake up to each day. The water levels would fall by the weekend, and we would be ready to welcome our next round of guests, offering some shelter from the storm.

This weekend we are excited to host the Beaverton High School Choir and Westminster Service Group. Keep their time with us in your prayers.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The News from Magruder January 22-28

It's been another quiet week at Camp Magruder from a hospitality standpoint, but nature has been asserting itself. As we continue to work in the office on catching up with 2016 projects and prepping for Spring, it is difficult to avoid catching yourself looking out the window or listening to the things happening just outside. I think these sorts of distraction are important from time to time. We must be sure we don't get so wrapped up in one part of our life that we forget all the other things happening around us.

We had high surf alerts over the weekend, so high tides rose much higher than normal bringing huge pieces of driftwood along with random trash and scatterings of tiny Styrofoam droplets. Tree trunks you would not be able to wrap your arms around were washed up into the stand of shore pines that outline the beach. Sand was dragged away, lowering the beach about 5 feet, making that stand of trees seem much higher.

Walking the beach after tides like this, I find myself wondering where all of this came from. Where did these trees fall? What type of journey did they take to find themselves washed up on our beach? I imagine a tree falling into a river and traveling down, getting stuck in and eddy for months, then broken loose by the spring rain. I imagine it floating out in the ocean for a time before being thrown back up on the beach. What a strange journey to imagine, then to stand on its trunk for this time it will rest on our shores.

Every beach entrance at Camp Magruder is clogged with these huge pieces of wood. Some are large enough to move by hand, but some will take many people along with chainsaws and axes. The obvious reminder here is how all our efforts are temporary. That trail we hollowed out and wore down to level will not stay that way. This world is moving and it shuffles around everything that comes to rest on it, including us and including our stuff. We can work to keep it in some kind of order, and sometimes will be successful. Sometimes, though, order is too ambitious a goal.

A pair of eagles have returned to camp and have been very active above the grounds. I hear them just about everyday, and if I am outside long enough, I will usually see them too. They squawk in this loud, shrill, high-pitched tone that resounds through the hole camp. They are the king and queen of the trees. Hope says that they get very loud in the evenings when she's retired to her apartment. I think too of what their world must be like, spending so much time in the tip tops of the Sitka Spruces on the big dune. I would love to decipher what they are saying to each other when they go on like this in the tree tops. What are they communicating? What do they notice about us when they fly overhead of us walking to the dining hall?

These days it is interesting how I find parts of our live in dormancy and parts of it very active. We are constantly in this state of flux with our life and the life around us. Some of our work wanes as other parts become pressing. We are compelled by some parts of the world and repelled by others. The eagles are with us, singing in the trees once again after being away for a time. The ocean nudges us
and carves up the land just a bit, and we know it will not be the last time. In the evenings when I go out, I will grow to know a few pieces of driftwood--I will choose a few to sit on to watch the seagulls and the sunset. For a time I will know it's textures and contours. I will have a favorite part of it to sit on. Then one day, I will go out to the beach to find it gone, taken out on some new journey to some other part of the world. For a time though, I will have touched it, I will have seen the God in it. When it has moved on, it will be time to see the God in something new.

We will take a week off from our news posts as the staff takes part in the UM National Camp Leader gathering. We will return next week, though, with more stories to tell. Let's pray for each other.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The News from Magruder January 15-21

Rainy days returned to Camp Magruder this week, but they also brought warmer temperatures. With any sort of change there is a difficult angle and a silver lining if you look hard enough. This can make changes scary and difficult. It could also make them life giving. The weather here on the coast gives us a taste of perpetual changing. The beach looks different every time you visit. One minute the ground is covered in misty rain. The next it is sunny and bring. Then it is raining mixed with hail.

For now, we are still in the quiet days of the year, before retreat groups, schools, and campers are frequenting. We are deep cleaning, getting the accounts in order, sprucing up some buildings. We are doing the work to change the camp. To update it. To polish it. To mend it's sore or broken pieces. This type of work keeps you in your head, but we will soon be welcoming guests, sharing food and conversation at the table, walking the grounds marveling with everyone else at what a beautiful piece of the world this is.

In the middle of the week, the wind picked up and blew very strong. Throughout the day you could hear it howling and whistling through and around the tight spaces of our buildings. The trees danced very spastically. Water was dashed up against the jetty rocks lining the shore, not by water but wind. On days like these we are often reminded how much we are at the whim of powers much greater than us. I realize in these moments what a blessing it is to be alive, to be witness to this awesome power and continue on this journey of life.

The wind blew most of the night, into the morning. The next day we surveyed the camp grounds for damage. The power had gone out early in the morning, so I had my fingers crossed that a tree may have been down. Fortunately, the trees that were down were relatively small and nowhere near any buildings. On days when the wind is really whipping, I'm honestly amazed that most of the trees manage to stay standing. They are built to bend so they don't break. These tall, solid stems of wood, reaching up into the sky. They dance when the wind is most violent, and it often saves them.

On Friday we welcome two groups: McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a group full of old friends, and our 2016 Volunteer/Summer Staff Reunion. Maddy and Carlee were the first of our former staffers to show up, and it felt like family coming home. As they walked in, I was in a single moment reminded of all we shared: the laughs, the difficult moments, the hard work, the moments on the lake or the beach I'll remember the rest of my life. Here were all these emotions and memories walking back in the door after a long drive.

This weekend, we are excited to welcome back old friends. We're excited to get out around camp a little bit more. We look forward to reliving memories from last year and discussing how much we've all grown. But in that fellowship, talk about the old times is also talk about the time to come. As we look at who were were before, it will inform who we want to be going forward. We will know a little bit more about what we want to do, how we want to carry ourselves, what we hope to be remembering at this time next year. There are many ways to look at a reunion. It is about the past, but it is also about the future.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The News from Magruder January 8-14

As the rest of Oregon was blanketed under feet of snow and ice, we watched from a short distance without much worry about driving to the store, just wondering if the supply trucks were able to keep the shelves here stocked. It has been interesting looking at the facebook and instagram feeds of all our Pacific Northwest friends at the mercy of January's winter wonderland. It has still been chilly here by Oregon Coast standards, but we aren't bundling up nearly as much as the people we see in our social media feeds.

Our first weekend retreat group of the year arrived this weekend, which meant we've still been occupying our time with off-season camp work. That doesn't mean we were sitting on the porch, watching the bald eagles fly over, nor were we working on our gaga game for hours on end. We have been doing a lot of prep work, a lot of maintenance, deep cleaning, lots of first of the year reports. We are switching onto new systems in many ways. We have a new online accounting program. Staff members are changing residences, we are planning for a summer staff reunion, some staff is prepping to attend a national camp leaders' gathering. We can see a great many things in our future, and we're trying to get the ducks in a row to be ready for it.

Speaking of ducks, several ducks have been spotting out on Smith Lake, even with most of the lake frozen over. It is an exciting time to enter into seasons where animals return. We will see those ducks swim around day after day, until we begin to see a mother with her line of ducklings following her beside the docks and under the boat house. The eagles are being spotted more frequently as well. We know it won't be too long until Gray Whales make their way past our shores, like old friends returning to visit.

When you work at a camp, you become in tune with seasons. You know the long hours and constant human interaction of the summer, the retreats of the spring and fall, the quiet and preparation of the winter. There are the seasons of animals and plants. The seasons of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. The seasons of long days, the seasons of long nights. The seasons of rain. The seasons of sunshine. Sit with each day, and you will slowly pick up on the gradual changes, the same way you'll notice the ocean tides rising and falling if you spend enough time on the beach. Stay with it long enough, and you will begin to sense it. They will speak to you.

The deadline to sign up for our Summer Reunion passed on Wednesday, and we got to see the roster of people attending from the summer or 2016. It was so exciting to see each name, and go back to memories from the summer that each person occupied. They will take a break from their non-summer occupations. Some will join us from school, some from work, some from both. We'll talk and laugh about memories from last summer, and we'll begin to grow excited about what is in store this summer.

I love to see what camp does to people. I love especially to see what the work does. I've seen people grow up in the course of a year. I've seen people have revelations about who they want to be. I've seen friendships grow. I've seen people find inspiration to do courageous things. I've seen people really begin to be themselves. I've seen God at work in this. We've seen God standing side by side in these camp times. I see these names on this roster and know there are endless possibilities when we bring them together. And, thing of how the possibilities increase in just about 6 months when we had campers to the mix at the end of a warm sunny day, sitting around a campfire after spending several days knowing each other, playing our games, singing our songs, praying our prayers, growing close.

These are the days where we are sensing the seasons changing. It is in the weather, it is in the work. We are building, planning, growing our excitement like a sapling. Sun is returning and rain too. We will see familiar friends soon. We will make new friends as well. We will introduce many new seasons. We are readying ourselves. Readying ourselves for something great and beautiful.

This weekend we were happy to host Seattle Church of Christ's Winter Rally as our first retreat of the year. Here's to many more wonderful experiences at Camp Magruder in 2017.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Magruder's New Program Director

Camp Magruder is excited to announce Hope Montgomery as our full time Program Director. Hope originally hails from Union City, Tennessee. She has served in camp leadership at Lakeshore UM Camp in West Tennessee and the Life Enrichment Center in Center Florida before coming to the Oregon Coast. Hope has been Magruder Summer Program Director the past two summers and served as Interim Program Director before coming on full time.
Hope has a kind, playful spirit and great skills guiding and inspiring
staff and guests. She is a seeker, searching for deeper connections and understandings of our world, our relationships, and God. Hope is a song-writer and guitarist with two studio albums. She loves exploring Oregon and thinks she’s pretty good at gaga, basketball, and ultimate Frisbee. Her laugh is contagious.

Hope has been an instrumental part of Magruder’s focus to help young leaders grow in their faith and develop creative, powerful worship experiences. We are excited for the continued growth we will see in our youth and in the depth and power of our program under her guidance. We feel like we are about to embark on a great journey. If you’d like to share this joy or join Hope and the rest of our staff in this exciting work, you can find her at

Friday, January 6, 2017

The News from Magruder January 1-7

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2017. We have already noticed the days getting longer at Camp Magruder. We are experiencing the cold snap along with the rest of Oregon, with temperatures staying below freezing for good portions of the day. We don't normally feel that kind of cold on the coast for extended periods of time.

Many of our staff returned this week following the holidays. I find an eagerness to get back to camp life after leisure and poor eating choices of Christmas and New Years. I am happy to take the time off, catch up with friends and family, and have the change in speed. That break sends me back rejuvenated and excited to do this work in this beautiful place. So, we have been shaking the dust off, getting projects started for a new year.

For the past several days, despite the cold, we've had incredible sunshine, not a single cloud in the entire sky. The world feels bigger on days like these. The sky has been a deep shade of blue, and the ocean matches that deep blueness. The shades look doctored, like you're standing inside some sort of instagram filter. On days like this, I find myself in love with the world, in love with working at a camp. Walking from building to building, you find yourself more easily noticing the world around you. It seems more alive, more real. All going back to this clearness of the sky.

On a day like this, you can go out to the beach and see clearly all the way to the horizon where the Pacific meets the sky. Twin Rocks is crisp, dark gray. Then off in the distance is the coast range, Neahkhanie Mountain, and the houses of Manzanita perched on the side of the hill like an old hillside village. This is the type of day to take a long walk on the beach with someone. Get into a long conversation that will leave you forgetting about time and distance. You will reach a pause in your dialogue and be surprised by how far you walked. Along the way you'll be interrupted by the urge to point out some interesting way a seagull is standing or the adorable way the sandpipers play chicken with the surf. You'll point out an eagle every now and then, which are so clear on a day like today.

I discovered this morning that Smith Lake has frozen over, the first time I've seen this in my two years. There is a thin sheet covering the entire body of water. You see the watery texture, hardened by the cold as you step to its shore. Walk out onto one of the docks and you'll hear the pinging and cracking as the ice is slightly disturbed. Water will bubble up and run above and then beneath the ice sheet. It is an interesting contrast to compare the starkness and cold of the frozen lake to the openness of the sunny sky above it. We are in a world of contrasts, and it doesn't seem as if 2017 will be too different. Last year brought many unexpected challenges at Magruder, and we expect to see new ones in a new year.

For now, though, there are moments to look at the bright, wide-open world just outside the office door, to listen to the conversation it is seeking with us. A new year has come to us once again, and we are walking out into it. We know the sunshine will not last forever, that rain is just around the corner. But, we know there will be a beauty in that as well.