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.