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. 

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