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.

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