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.