Friday, July 27, 2018

The news from Magruder July 22-28

This week Camp Magruder entered into one of its fullest weeks of the year. We welcomed the
Northwest United Church of God youth camp, which topped out around 220 people. This group has been coming to Camp Magruder for many years and never fails to impress with their attention to detail and hard work put into making the camp a memorable one. During this week campers will ride horses on the beach, kayak, water ski on Lake Lytle, receive dance lessons, and attend a formal banquet along with much, much more. For as many people as this camp brings, they left about 50 on a waiting list this year. It is a testament to the hard work they put into the program.

Due to how thoroughly this camp handles their schedule, we are able to give our program staff and some of our administrative staff time off, which is a blessing in the midst of the hecticness of summer. It gives them an opportunity to recharge and start the second half of the summer off with a fresh battery.

Weather-wise the week has been accented by a stubborn marine layer that parked above us for most of the week. We started off with sunshine and near perfect mild temperatures. Then about Monday low clouds moved in over our little area and took up residence. Often you could drive a few miles down the road and be reunited with sunny summer skies, but in our particular spot the clouds stayed around for nearly the whole week. There wasn't really any precipitation to speak of, but the clouds did keep it rather cool. Several times we even turned a little heat on to take the edge off.

It is a well known cliche in Oregon that if you don't like the weather just wait around, and soon enough it will change then probably change several more times over. It is a good lesson not to get too used to one thing or depend on just one consistently. Our world is full of change, and life is a progression of changes. Growth is an important part of life, and change is part of growth's definition. It can be difficult to swallow the notion that things will keep changing and we must keep adjusting.  I found after we became accustomed to the idea that this week might not be our typical late July week that it didn't seem to phase the campers at all. Sometimes our idea of how something should be is the biggest roadblock to enjoying what it actually is.

Wednesday a United Methodist pastor from Mississippi named Roger Shock dropped by the office. He and his wife, Jan, were visiting the Oregon Coast and, in a passing conversation with a friend, heard there was a Methodist camp nearby and decided to check it out. Hope and I were in the office and talked to them about where we were from. It turned out Roger was born in the town I was born in, and his wife went to college there. Roger graduated from college a few miles from where Hope grew up. They had babysat people we worked with at camp before moving to Oregon. We gave them a tour, talked about the history. They were wowed by the beauty of the place. They bought a few Magruder shirts to wear back home. It is crazy how small this world can seem even with the knowledge of how much distance it spans.

On Friday night our chef Nick put together an authentic Greek meal. I got in early before everyone else, because I needed to get the baby home for bedtime. We munched on pita bread with house made humus and tzatziki. We went to our table near the Carrier dining hall piano where a cabin of girls were practicing a song. We ate this incredible food as they sang. Both of us swayed back and forth taking our time with dinner looking out the windows onto a beautiful backdrop. The clouds had finally cleared and sunlight was beaming through. It was one of those moments you sit back and relax through, because you know it doesn't need to be rushed. Change will be coming around the corner, but lets see this moment through.

This weekend the United Church of God will be finishing out their camp. Be in prayer for their experience with us. We hope your week is a special one.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The News from Magruder July 8-14 2018

This week we welcomed youth campers for our second program week of summer 2018. These are the weeks where our staff and volunteers hold camp for campers of all ages. We play, we eat, we learn, we worship, we make new friends, we talk about ways we want to go out and change the world. While we only have 3 of these youth weeks a year, this is a major part of what we do at Camp Magruder. These experiences give summer campers memories that last the rest of their lives. These experiences prepare staffers to go out into the world and be spiritual leaders. Experiences like these helped shape me into who I am, and continue to guide my decisions and beliefs.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, child, tree, outdoor and natureThis program week has been special to me for many reasons. At this camp we have many staffers and counselors who got their start the first summer I was at Camp Magruder. In 2015 we knew that in about three years we would see these counselors mature, being the leaders for a new generation of young counselors. We are seeing that this summer. This is also the largest program week I have seen in my time at Magruder. We have a mini camp with larger numbers than last year, and Elementary or about 40 campers, a Middle School of about 40, and a Senior High camp we rebooted and have impressive first-time numbers. We have a great set of Deans for each camp, a great set of Volunteer Counselors, and a group of Resident Counselors who are coming into their own.

On the first day, as I walked down the main road past Sherlock Lodge and the Main Fire Pit, I passed multiple clusters of campers and counselors, could hear singing and laughing in multiple directions. There was a palpable energy in the air that comes where there are hundreds of people moving in a place. This is the sort of energy I long for during our weeks at camp. That feeling you get when activity is taking place all around you, and you know it is building towards something good as a collective. You know all these pieces of the collective stand to be impacted by that positive energy that is floating on the breeze because we are coming together to live, play, and connect.

During Camp Store snack time, I sat next to two mini-camp campers who had just gotten their snacks. I asked if they had had a good day so far. Both answered in the affirmative, and to my question of what had been good about it, they answered that they had become friends. They said they had really wanted to make friends this week, and they were excited it had already happened. I said that was awesome. One camper asked if I would help open his goldfish and then his rice krispy treat, to which I obliged. Eventually something exciting happened on the playground they couldn't resist, and they told me goodbye. Before leaving, the one I had assisted stopped, waved, and politely said, "thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it." It was a happy moment for all of us.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, ocean, beach, outdoor and natureWith my feet more firmly under me as a director this year, I'm finding more time to be out on the grounds as camp is going on. I managed to be a part of nearly every age group's worship this week. I found myself in the Sherlock Lodge as counselors painted and created mixed media artwork out of strips of paper that we had written our hopes and worries on. I found myself on the meditation patio in an intimate worship full of personal sharing that ended with us looking at stars over Smith Lake. I was part of a walking worship that ended in a circle of people at Marvel Field as Venus began to shine above the ocean. I was in the Edwards lodge as Elementary campers answered questions about the week and offered up prayers full of depth and thoughtfulness surrounded by their crafts, pieces of nature, and a few burning candles.

It was the end of the week, and we welcomed car after car pulling in to take their kids home. Campers hugged their counselors, then ran to their parents and hugged them, then ran back to their counselors and hugged, then hugged their cabin mates, then hugged their counselors again, then hugged their camper friends again, as it goes. I looked at the counselors who had tears in their eyes, because this week had impacted them so profoundly. I have seen that many times, because I have been to camp many times. This sort of feeling is one we have worked hard to cultivate, and we have seen it this summer in new and exciting ways.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, water, child, sky, outdoor and natureAs counselors debriefed after the last camper left, I heard them recalling their experience. They weren't dwelling on how tired they were or on which camper was the most frustrating. They were lifting up the great successes and growth they had seen. They talked about how we were bringing the mission statement into reality. They talked about how we must next take this culture out with us and share it to the world. These kids are getting it. Not only do they get it, they are in love with it. This week is part of our dream coming true. As these campers go home and rest from all they experienced this week we also dream that they are thinking of how they might become more a part of this, about how they will someday be those counselors making it the highest priority to create safe places for us to be who we are, accept each other, connect to something bigger than us, to be transformed by it. Whether they know it or not, they have already started.

This weekend we host Portland State University International Students, Mountainside High School, and Calvary Chapel Bend. Hold them with us in your prayers. We hope for big, great things.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Magruder Reaches Fund-Raising Goal! Next Step $35K from Gray Family Foundation

Camp Magruder is happy to announce we reached our $17,500 fundraising goal in order to receive a maintenance grant from the Gray Family Foundation for $35,000. Around 50 people and organizations contributed to make this campaign possible.

Old Boiler we will replace
New energy efficient water heaters
With the funds, Camp Magruder will replace important parts of the
infrastructure of Carrier Dining Hall that were highly inefficient and failing. Most of the building’s hot water and heating were provided by an outdated boiler system that went down just before summer season began. Camp Magruder will replace the inefficient system with on-demand water heaters and heat pumps using a fraction of the propane. This will also allow for removal of all the pipes protruding from the ceiling of Chappell Hall meeting room, taking the first step in a long-term project goal of making that space more welcoming.
Wetlands trail bridge
getting a facelift

In this campaign, a donation was also received to repair and update
the bridge spanning part of Smith Lake on the wetlands trail that had been patched up after a tree fell on it several years ago. With any remaining funds, we will continue our replacement of Carrier Dining Hall’s single pane windows with more energy efficient versions that can open for fresh air.
Unsightly pipes that can now be removed

This process was such an uplifting experience for the Camp Magruder staff. Each day we received word of a new donation we felt the many hands involved in this work. Thank you for joining us in this mission to create spaces for learning and community drawing us all closer to each other and the spirit moving our camp. Stay tuned—we are shaping new plans that we’ll be ready to share later in the year to continue to improve this wonderful place.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The News from Magruder, May 20-26

The summer is upon us at Camp Magruder. We, of course, know this from the longer days and the higher frequency of sunny skies. We are also realizing its approach by the higher frequency of guests. This week was one of our biggest of the year, with an Outdoor School split week along with Sunnyside Environmental School. On the Wednesday when the first half of our split week left and the second half arrived, we served around 450 meals from our kitchen for lunch.

Thankfully for our small kitchen staff, we had a couple of visitors volunteering with us. Their names are Sam and Sarah Richardson, and they are on an amazing adventure to learn more about Christian Camping in the United States. For several years they have been traveling in an RV around the country, staying at religious camps and volunteering. During their time, they interview staff, take pictures and video, and write about what is unique about each site. Their project is called From Camp to Camp, and you can learn a lot more about their journey on their website. Serendipitously, they ended up visiting Camp Magruder on one of our busiest weeks of the year.

Walking around camp during this week was such a treat for the senses and the spirit. The weather was beautiful and warm. Everywhere you went, you were bound to pass a group of middle schoolers on to their next lesson, project, or activity. You'd hear kids singing their silly songs, watch kids journaling or drawing,  or momentarily eavesdrop on the conversation in progress. Encountering the camp so full of life does something for your own spirit, offering a sense of peace despite the busyness and hectic coordination necessary to make sure everyone has a bed and is fed.

At the beginning of the week, I felt a familiar vibe from the Sunnyside middle school students. The "I'm cool and not too interested in talking to you," vibe that middle schoolers (and lots of other ages for that matter) enter into a new situation with. By the end of the week, though, I knew about 2/3 of their names and they knew me. At some point, we had taken plates to the kitchen together, scrubbed dishes, learned how to paddle a kayak, or just shared goofy exchanges while standing in line. When you look out over a crowd of middle schoolers at the beginning of the week, it just looks like a sea of indistinguishable faces. By the end of the week, you recognize them. You want to make a point to say something to each of them as they pass you in the dinner line.

We also received lots of support from far away through several more generous gifts through our Amazon Wish List. So many people have been shipping us items, and each postal box is quite literally a little gift from someone who loves us. We get a notification when something new is on the way, and then a day or so later something shows up in the mail box. This has been such a heart-warming undertaking, because when you put yourself out there and ask for something like that, you have no idea if someone will step up and take care of the request. We have been so surprised by how many have joined this effort in such a short amount of time.

And as this post is being written, we are just about $1,000 worth of donations away from receiving our $35,000 grant from the Gray Family Foundation for maintenance projects. With these funds, we will update our failing boiler system to much more energy efficient heat pumps and on-demand water heating. The donations and grants are coming at the perfect time.

On the last day of our visit from Sunnyside, Sam and Sarah were also loading packing up their RV and moving on to the next site. In the hecticness of breakfast--refilling trays of food as they depleted, answering questions about ingredients for special diets, giving and receiving praise for a wonderful week--the Richardsons came downstairs to give me a hug goodbye. I wished them well with safe travels and lots of great adventures. I look forward to following their journey online and hearing more about what they discover along the way.

I look forward to the lessons they will learn about what our camps have to say about our faith. I hope to hear the insight they are gathering in the future. I hope their voices are heard by all of us. I look forward to continue to cross paths with them at National Gatherings and social media posts. Even more than that, I am so happy they are part of this growing family of people who have been part of the wonderful things that happen at this camp. They are a few of the many hands offering to shape this place, to build it, to impact its ability to do great things. Nick talked to me after that crazy Wednesday, saying if Sam and Sarah hadn't been there he didn't know how they would have made it.
It's true, they were lifesavers. I am seeing more and more of these in this work. More and more of the ways that there is help for the hard work, willing to offer what is available towards the efforts to transform lives.

There are so many ways to be part of sculpting those transformational moments here at Magruder. These days I'm seeing it at every turn. We hope you feel a part of that too.

This weekend we host our Memorial Day Family Camp and Camp to Belong. Next week is our last week of outdoor school. Take some quiet moments with us to celebrate the spring and prepare for an equally wonderful summer.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The News from Magruder: April 29-May 5

It's been a beautiful spring so far on the Oregon Coast.  We see blue skies several times a week and the temperatures (mostly) hold at decently warm temperatures.  April was a busy month.  We hosted two training weekends for counselors and summer camp leadership for our Program Camps.  One was for volunteer deans, chaplains, and counselors; the other was a training retreat for our paid Resident Counselors that travel between Magruder, Suttle Lake, and Latgawa.  It was nice to see so many familiar faces and to be reminded of how many people it takes to make camp happen.  Nice to remember that and see our community that rises up, believes in it, and partners with us to put it all on.  Throughout the rest of the month, Outdoor School carried on in full swing.  We welcomed a Men's Group from Imago Dei the last weekend of the month, which also started some of our first chances to lead activities this spring.

St. Pius Middle Schoolers perfecting their rowboat form.
This  week along with Outdoor School, we hosted St. Pius Catholic School, a group of about 50 middle schoolers.  Troy and I would watch them all file in for their meals each day, engulfed in conversation and chattering excitedly.  We spotted a few that reminded us of middle school versions of past staff members and laughed.  They were a fun group.  Troy and I lead boating for them on Wednesday and Thursday.  Rik and Kevin, our maintenance men, have been working for almost a year now restoring our rowboats.  As I pushed each team of rowboaters out, I was able to really appreciate their improvements.  They're really beautiful with their new finishes and restorations.  The new row boats glide across the water elegantly now and remind me of those quintessential camp moments (which include teaching, reteaching, and making dramatic flailing movements trying to help middle schoolers understand how to row in rowboats).  At Troy's session, he had one group of kids catch a snake.  Boating with them was a great way to shake off some of the rust before the summer.

Todd Bartlett, our executive director, hooked into the Giant Swing.
On Thursday the Camping and Retreat Ministries Board arrived for meetings that would take place through Saturday morning.  I joined them at meals.  They were excited to be here.  On Saturday morning, I got up to join them for breakfast, and I sat down next to Todd, our executive director.  Not far into the meal, he leaned over, grinning, and asked me the likelihood of the Board being able to squeeze in the opportunity to go off our Giant Swing.  The Giant Swing is our only high ropes challenge course element, not to be confused with the Big Swing that once stood over our evacuation hill before a storm tore down the tree it hung from.  The Giant Swing is aptly named; it's giant and will make your heart stop for just a second when you first start to swing.  When you're at the very top, you can over the tree tops, over the archery range, past the south Challenge Course to the ocean.

Knowing what's it's like to spend a weekend sitting through the meetings, discussing important topics and the future, I wanted to be able to make sure the Board had the opportunity to have their try at the Giant Swing.  So just before lunch, one-by-one every member of the Board that wanted to swing got their chance.  Every participant made it to the very top of the element, which is not usual, and it was really fun to see everyone whoop and holler.  It's hard not to vocalize surprise or the jump of adrenaline with a drop that fast.

I climbed up the ladder with each member to hook them in and give them one last encouragement just before we pulled them to the top.  When you look into someone else's eyes at the top of that ladder, you peer for a second into eyes mingled with fears and excitements that are more obvious, easier to read, than the eyes we often peer into on the ground.  I usually run the Giant Swing for youth and the occasional counselor or leader.  I'm accustomed to that heightened fear and excitement looking back at me through younger eyes.  It was really neat to see it from the eyes of the leaders and directors on our Board.  That experience helps me spot those emotions when they're more subtle as we stand with two feet firmly on the ground.  It also helps me understand a little better each person's brand of fear and excitement and all those emotions that come out of that and exist in-between those.  It was a joy to spend my Saturday morning with them.

I reminded over and over again all of the preparations it takes to make camp happen.  It takes our volunteers coming to get trained every year -- volunteers to live in the cabins with campers, to dean each camp, to lead us in our spiritual practices.  It takes our Resident Counselors, who travel and train to make each week of camp the best week for someone.  It takes Rik and Kevin, making sure our boats float and our buildings stay strong.  It takes our Camping and Retreat Ministries Board, guiding us, securing and deciding our often-unseen foundational needs.  It takes you, reading this blog and sharing in our community even when you're not here.  It takes me, ready to greet you when you come through the gates to this special place.

If you're looking for another way to support our community and help us prepare for the summer.  Camp Magruder has made an Amazon Wish List for the Summer 2018.  It's a range of things, some big, some small, that we need for the summer.  New markers for hours spent in the Boathouse and for decorated door signs that will greet campers as they arrive to camp, new mic stands for that legendary Variety Show comedy skit, more arrows for our archery range to replace old and missing ones (even though, we know none of us *ever* miss the target!  Nope, not us!).  We'd love your help in preparing for the summer.  Using this link ( can visit our list.  We've listed each item's priority level and how many we need for this season.  There are items ranging between $6 and $200.  Any gift is so valuable to us.  We hope you'll share this with your family or your Sunday School class or the friends you've attended camp with each year.

Then, we hope to see you soon.  Camp is just around the corner; register at

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Foundation Series: Sacred Places Set Apart

"Provide Sacred Places Apart"

A Perspective from Camp Magruder

The famous naturalist John Muir was also very good at work. He managed businesses, ranches and made a good living of it when he was focused. During his life there were several stretches where Muir was entrenched in domestic life, throwing all his energy into providing for his household, which he was very skilled at doing. I’ve read that when he stayed in that state of productivity for too long, it would take a toll on him until his wife would “shoo” him back to the wilderness (perhaps as much for her own sanity!). And, it is through those wilderness experiences where he was the "John Muir" we mostly read about.

I understand that feeling, because I often find myself reaching moments where I need to get away. It’s not because my life at home is miserable, it’s not because my family isn’t totally wonderful, and it isn’t because something awful has happened to me. When I get away, I could go deep into the wilderness for days and see no other human beings, but it doesn’t even have to be that remote. The biggest factor in this desire to have something like wilderness is the way it is set apart. I need to make a break with the routine. I need to reboot the system. I need to shake up my rhythms. I need to acknowledge this new setting is different and special and let it change me.

The fact that for most of my life I’ve worked at camp (which specializes in providing experiences apart) is either perfectly appropriate because I am doing that thing I myself long for - or - ironic, because I feel the need to set myself apart from a place already set apart. Regardless, whenever I return from time spent apart from the regular, I am more the person I want to be. I have a clearer picture of what is important to me. My spirit is kinder and more appreciative. Time being with myself in an extra-ordinary setting guides me to look through a wider lens. The tunnel vision from being in the same routines is shook open, and I’m able to see much more.

A retreat experience for guests, a week of summer camp for youth, and an outdoor school learning session for students all yank participants out of their norms and plop them down into something different. Whenever we intentionally do something out of the ordinary, the next step is to acknowledge that it is special and  may carry a meaning bigger than itself. I see groups doing this all the time. They may have come to camp thinking they were just here to learn some songs for the choir, to work on staff dynamics, or to spend some time on the beach. But they leave feeling something different in their spirit, something that will linger even when they get back to the routine.

Whenever I address a retreat group, I share with them that my prayer for them is that, beyond whatever their practical reason for visiting may be or whatever good or bad they are leaving behind from home, I hope spending time here with us in this setting offers a sense of peace and rest from the normal. I share that I hope they return home feeling refreshed and better equipped to go back into their world. Setting time and places apart has an almost magical effect in that regard.

It is one reason we light a candle for worship. When we light a candle it is a signal we give to ourselves where we  acknowledge the time is special by doing something special. The act of lighting and the sensory effects received from lighting the candle changes our perception of what is around us. When I light a candle, I pay attention a little bit differently. In moments like these I know I am more likely to feel the presence of God. Regular life can pull us deeper and deeper into something easy to steer and predict. That may be great for productivity, but if it goes on too long without a shake-up, we start to have tunnel vision.
Instead, light the candle, let your wife shoo you off to the Wilderness. We must do this to grow, to live deeply in the spirit. Set time apart. Set places apart. Set ourselves apart. It will open your eyes, and you will see more clearly.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The News from Magruder: March 25-31

It was spring break here for our Outdoor School staff, so camp was quieter than it's been in a couple weeks.  On Tuesday the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) came out.  They stayed with us until Thursday.  They were our only group for the week.

Andrew, one of the resource staffers from summer 2017, came out to lead their boating and archery sessions on Wednesday.  Towards the end of their session, I walked down to the dock to make sure that everyone had what they needed as they cleaned up and got off the water.  The teachers stood out at the edge of the dock, holding up their phones making pictures.  I listened to them laugh at the way one of the students had kicked his feet up on the kayak, leaned back in the seat, and rested as he floated across the water.  I overheard them comment on the students who they'd seen enjoying this activity much more than they'd expected.

After boating, Andrew met them at the archery shed.  I'd gone out to set up the course beforehand.  I found remnants of the summer-- old target covers and target accessories left behind from some of our groups.  It's strange to think we're only two and a half months away for summer again.  I think back to two and a half months before now-- it seems like it passed quickly.

It's training season for the program portion of camp, so I've stayed busy recently planning training sessions and organizing the registrants for our April Leadership training.  Planning for these events, I feel myself shaking off the rust.  I'm more likely to be humming a campfire song or planning a worship in the back of my mind than I was two and a half months ago.

At dinner on Wednesday, Angie, who was the host for the NAYA group, told us how excited the group had been about the activities that morning.  One camper came and asked Andrew where he could buy a kayak.  The teachers told us about the science project they'd do during part of the boating session.  Their enthusiasm was soothing for me.  I can get so nervous in the work left to do that I forget how powerful just a good boating session can be.

In two and a half months, the summer staff will start to arrive.  Then the campers will follow closely behind.  I'm sure we'll all have to shake off some rust.  I might even forget a verse to a campfire song, but as I read through the names of those coming to join us for the April Leadership training, I remind myself, "These are the people that our guests will remember."  Two and a half months after camp, our guests will remember boating on the lake beside their friends.  They'll remember their counselor who helped them get the courage to do it.  There's relief in remembering that.

Happy Easter to everyone from all of us on the coast.  We hope you find renewal in this season.

If you or someone you know is sixteen years or older, they are eligible to be a volunteer counselor at any of the Oregon-Idaho UM camps this summer.  To do so, they must attend the training April 6-8 here at Magruder.  Register now at  We are always looking for deans, volunteers, and leaders.  Email to get involved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Foundation Series: Genuine Christian Hospitality and Community

The Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Camping Ministries are posting blogs about the different foundations of our camping philosophies.  Over the next few months, we will repost those blogs as they are published, too.  We hope you enjoy reflecting about our foundations with us!  If you'd like to subscribe to the newsletters these are published in go to or email

Foundation 2: "Extend Genuine Christian Hospitality and Community"

I look down the table the first official day of the start to my summer.  It’s staff orientation week.  Chef Nick has made us a special meal.  I eat a cookie in celebration, which I promise myself I won’t do again until the summer is over.  I knock elbows playfully with a returning staff member hoping to make them drip their water as they take a sip from their glass.  I listen to a new staff member tell us about her high school graduation and her family’s new dog.  I’m filled with a growing anticipation for what these people will mean to this place three months from now, at the end of the summer.

Camp Magruder Staff 2017
The first day of summer staff orientation, one of the first questions I have the staff answer is, “What do you think it means to offer our Christian hospitality?”  Beyond meals and a place to lay their head and a camp map, how can we offer our guests something more?  On the first day of summer, that question is often met with blank stares.  They know the answers, even if they haven’t had to put it into words yet, and if they don’t-- my hope is that they will by the time they leave.  I know that when the very next week I see one of them wading hand-in-hand into the chilly Smith Lake with a camper who is determined to try something new this year.

What are we offering to guests that is more meaningful than just a hotel?  I ask myself that, too.  Those questions can spiral for me.  They begin to point to something else.  Why do we feel compelled to sing around the fire?  Will these meals nourish more than just our bodies?   Despite the beauty of Smith Lake, there are probably more fantastic places to kayak.  Why, despite the cold and wet, do I push off into the water anyway?

I know the answer, too.

My own memories beside the summer staff singing “The Fruits of the Spirit” tells me there’s more to campfire than the flicker of the flame.  The difference between the awkward, forced conversations during the first meal of camp and the middle of the week meal when campers begin to mix with friends they didn’t arrive to camp knowing is palpable.  Something tells me it’s not only Chef Nick’s cooking making that difference.  The opportunity to share a vessel on the water with a friend wakes something primal in me and helps me understand them a little better.
Camp Hope at Magruder
Camp Hope @ Magruder
There’s a quote by Martin Luther King that helps guide my steps as I try to discern that question for myself: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”  Community requires that we extend ourselves, across barriers and beyond fear to really see and welcome each other.  I believe it takes creativity to do that.  Creativity to imagine how to overcome those barriers.  Creativity to see a path to reconciliation.  Creativity that can see the light that brings us together, rather than the darkness that pulls us apart.  I believe that the work I do at camp necessitates creativity like the kind that MLK is talking about.

Camp Magruder welcomes groups from a diverse range of backgrounds and missions, and each staff member will naturally become more connected with particular groups whose missions touch closer to home or whose staff they really connect with. The summer staff work particularly close to our groups as they share meals, play games, lead activities, and sing songs beside guests that come through in the summer.

Usually by the time the summer staff has left at the end of the summer, many of them have sought me out to share their “aha!” moment in pursuing an understanding of Christian hospitality.  I remember Rikki Earle, summer staff ‘15-’17, telling me of the love and acceptance she felt when she first met the guests from Camp KC, a camp for youth infected or affected by HIV.  As they got in their cars to leave after their week of camp, the staff of Camp KC, in turn, told me how welcomed they felt by Rikki, and how at home they felt here at Magruder.  Anna Allen, summer staff ‘15-’17, saw the lives of Camp to Belong campers change because of the safe space she was able to help provide.  Camp to Belong reunites siblings separated by foster care systems.  As a twin herself, I could see the union of siblings strike home for Anna.

Maddy Hickerson, summer staff ‘16-’17, sums it simply, “Christian hospitality taught me to treat people the way God sees us.”  Community and Christian hospitality allow us to really see the people we’re serving: their pain, their joys, and their stories, and to welcome them into our home. To extend Christian hospitality to our guests is to have the creativity and the courage to invite them into our community and to help them grow in theirs.

So even though it is more than just the meals that Chef Nick has prepared for us, that’s actually not so far off.  It’s offering a seat at our table to eat and share in a meal recognizing that sitting together and eating together-- sharing our lives with one another-- is how we grow close and how we overcome those barriers that seem insurmountable.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The News from Magruder, March 18-24

Crazy weather fluctuations that are quintessential Spring have provided the scenery for the week. We have seen clear sunny skies one moment that gave way to overcast and drizzle then on to cold, wind, and hail. For the most part, I timed my trips around camp well and avoided being drenched or chilled to the core. It is interesting to see little piles of hail along the path while a perfectly blue sky provides the backdrop. It is a reminder how quickly we can shift from one thing to another. 

This week we hosted an outdoor school group from Stoller Middle School. I enjoy walking around camp when campers first arrive. There is so much energy. Leaders are playing tour guide. Kids are not quite comfortable yet. You can see on their faces they are still feeling the place out. I talked to outdoor school leader, "Joker," about this as the kids passed all around. We know from experience some of these kids will be all-star campers, some will be mischievous, some might even be sent home before the day is over. But, for now they seem much more the same as they cautiously figure out this new world. 

During our conversation an adult leader who had just arrived approached Joker to ask about room assignments, and he quickly turned and gave the appropriate "this is beyond my pay grade," response of let me take you to the Outdoor School Director. I walked in their direction and talked to a group of girls who seemed excited to be here. One said she had been to outdoor school before, and it felt like it was still a dream for her to be here now. I told her I hoped she didn't wake up too soon. 

Work on the Bunch Lodge is nearing completion, and we are excited about how it will look when its done. It is amazing what some roof work, a porch roof replacement, and the aesthetic touch-ups those changes incorporate can do for the overall look of a place. Bunch Lodge has a lot of character. It looks like a log cabin on the outside. The inside feels very homey and cozy. But, it certainly has needed an exterior make-over. I expected this roof work to be hardly noticeable--this project was more for maintenance than curb appeal. I was blown away by how much nicer the building looks because of it, though. I would next love to paint Bunch, so it matches with the color scheme of the other lodges. I'd like to put some rocking chairs out front so people can enjoy sitting under the new overhang. Its funny how a little improvement inspires more improvement. 

Campers left this morning just after a pizza lunch. Much of Oregon had seen snow. I guided a frantic set of parents to the outdoor school office who needed to pick up their child as quickly as possible, because the roads had delayed them enough to possibly miss a flight. I was grateful not to be in their shoes, needing to rush through the indecisive weather. I got where they'd find their child, and I returned to my relaxed pace, wondering what the weather would bring next. It is a bit of a dream that
I get to be here, that so many get to visit this place and be made better by it, that there is such a history of builders and maintainers who kept this place around for generations to come. I'll hope not to wake up from the dream for a little while yet. 

If you want to be part of the dream, if you'd like to visit, volunteer, or support the work we're doing through funds, contact and we can talk about ways to keep making Magruder's dreams come true.

This weekend we welcome Student Reach Portland, Southminster Presbyterian, Portland First Unitarian Family, Boy Scout Troop 799, and Julie Fleming. We pray that they will leave this place a little better than they came. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

The News from Magruder: March 11-17

It’s been an exciting week here on the coast.  The weather has been outstanding. We’ve seen temperatures comparable to our summer season except usually in the summer the grass has dulled to brown.  Middle schoolers in Outdoor School have filled our grounds. It’s been nice to have them back. We can sometimes hear them singing or laughing from the office, and you can’t cross camp without catching a snippet of a field study or hear the very distinctive clumping of a middle schooler in rain boots on a trail nearby.  The weather and the campers’ return syncing up easily lifted spirits around here. The ocean was a pretty blue green several days this week.

Camp life is very in tune with the seasons.  For many of us the spring work is very different than the winter work.  In the kitchen, the days of deep cleaning and experimenting with recipes are traded in for jam packed days serving lots of hungry middle school mouths.  The housekeepers’ schedules becomes more constant. In my work, spring means it’s time for staff and leader trainings. It also means summer is just around the corner.  I check the summer camp registrations regularly. I get excited when I see familiar names. I wonder about the campers belonging to those new names I see, too.

This week at Outdoor School we had two different middle school groups.  On Wednesday one group left and literally moments later, another group arrived.  Throughout the whole week, the same counselors, generally high schoolers, remained.  Those high schoolers are essential to the operation. Their willingness to serve is what makes it possible for those middle schoolers to be here.  It’s obvious a lot of times that those high schoolers are willing to come back because they’ve experienced how powerful a week at outdoor school can be already, when they were in those middle schoolers’ shoes.  I’ve watched them throughout this week more closely. Their interest and joy in being at camp is infectious.

Middle Schoolers arriving to Outdoor School
This year, I check one registration list slightly more than I check the others.  We’re offering a new Senior High camp this summer. I find myself drifting over to its registration list in my down moments.  It’s what humans do: we try to anticipate what’s coming. I read the names signed up so far. I imagine what it will be like.

We already offer Senior High Coast Adventure and Music, Arts, Dance, Drama (and tech) camps both for high school students.  The arts camp, or MADD, is known for the incredible community it builds as it prepares for its annual production at the end of its week.  It’s one of our oldest, most successful camps. Senior High Coast Adventures hosts a small group of campers that travel to different sites around the coast together.  They enjoy an intimate, tight knit community they build in relationship to their experience in nature.

We’re excited about the potential of this new camp.  We hope to offer many different options for high schoolers at our camp to grow and flourish and continue in their spiritual journeys.  It’s our goal to build safe spaces for high schoolers to ask hard questions and talk together about what those questions mean with other campers their age.  We’ve asked Sam Hatch to dean it. Sam has been the Middle School II dean in July for the past two summers. That camp has thrived, and Sam’s energy is naturally warm and welcoming.  As much as we need and love our high school counselors, I know from experience the impact that the mentors and memories of being a high school camper had on me, too. We believe even more powerful communities are possible after Middle School camp; we want our high school students to have that opportunity.

I dragged a chair out onto North Ball Field to write this week’s blog.  I didn’t feel good about being inside on a day as pretty as this one. I don’t know the next chance I’ll have to sit out and enjoy the weather.  I think of the speed of my everyday life, how often it keeps me from sitting still and basking in the sunlight. I can only imagine how much more busy high schoolers are now than when I was there.  I think it’s important to offer the space for them to relax and reflect in fellowship with their peers and mentors that care. I can’t wait to see what this summer will hold.

If you feel so inclined, one of the biggest things you can do to support Camp Magruder is to share our photos and blog posts either on your personal social media or in real life with the people you love.  I look to the summer and ahead at the rest of our spring, excited for the potential. The potential to share in this with others, to make fellowship and keep growing in those hard questions, to see many different seasons of life together.

See a full list of our children and youth, intergenerational, and family camps at  Please email or call me, Hope, if you have any questions.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The News from Camp Magruder February 25-March 3

It's been a quiet week at camp.  We had the pleasure of hosting the Grace Lutheran Council Retreat this past weekend.  They came out of Corvallis, and there were about eleven of them.  It was just enough people that we were able to push two tables together in the dining hall and all eat together.  Nick and Peter, our chefs in the dining hall, tried new recipes for them that they don't get to practice for larger groups.

This was our last down week before the Outdoor School staff returns for the spring season of Outdoor School.  Many of us talked of looking forward to welcoming back the ODS staff.  They are a crucial part in the community we have here.  The work they do in sharing environmental education with middle schoolers across the region feels important.  It helps round out the work we do the rest of the year.  Part of our mission in the church of the United Methodist Oregon Idaho Conference is to assist in developing an understanding of our interconnection with creation.  I hold that part of our mission close to heart; I don't feel alone as a part of our year round staff in appreciating the good work the ODS staff does in sharing that.

We had some sunny days that were deceivingly cold.  The temperature dropped into the 20's, which doesn't happen often on the coast.  Being our last quiet week before ODS is back and the spring season ramps into our summer season, it felt like camp was hunkering down to get some final beauty sleep before the return of the liveliness and energy that comes this time of year.

Over the weekend, I talked with one of the Grace Lutheran Council members about the way their council retreats have changed over the years.  He told me they'd gone on retreats for many years at a different camp, and then over time those retreats become day meetings where they'd returned home in the evenings to their families before returning the next day.  Then later he worried those day meetings would become conference calls.  He told me he felt they were missing something they were supposed to have in those retreats, so he pushed for them to return again to their overnight retreats at a place set aside.  That's part of how they wound up here at Magruder.  He spoke of spending the evenings staying up visiting with his fellow council members and the jokes they shared.  He pointed out that a few members of the council had tried yoga over the weekend while one of the other council members led them.  We agreed that time together is important.  It can be hard to say exactly why, but I told him I believed in it, too.

I've spent the past few weeks interviewing summer staff members and preparing applications for other positions as we continue through our hiring season.  It's an exciting time of year.  Every time we add someone to the team, I get up from my chair in my office to tell the other staff members.  We celebrate.  There's a sense that even now, they are becoming a part of the work we'll do together this summer.

I go to career fairs to recruit applicants, too.  Often our booth is nestled between business and marketing internships or opportunities for higher paying positions.  It can be hard to explain in a two minute elevator speech why a position at a summer camp is so worth it, but the last career fair I did at University of Oregon, it clicked for many students.  I told them about the way we strive to lay the foundation for intentional communities, like the Grace Lutheran Council, to come in and achieve goals so they may return into the world and take some goodness back out.  I told them about the impact camp has had on me as a person growing up in it and the way I see that still happening in our youth and summer camps.  I talked to one student about the importance of setting that time aside to live in community for purposeful reasons.

I look forward to the work I share with the summer staff because I believe they leave here able to return to the world some of the goodness we've shared together.  We go back out holding a small flame to our chests.  I see some of our summer staffers here and there throughout the year.  They are more confident with their compassion than I knew them to be at the first of their time here.  They listen hard to others and are able to pick up the meaning behind people's words.  They share that little flame little by little with others through their everyday work.

Together, the community we make here builds.  Making room for this work allows a spark to flicker.  On the lakeside doing a science project with the ODS staff.  Sitting in the dining hall sharing a meal with our guests around one table.  Living beside each other and laughing.  I'm looking for the presence of that flame.  We hope you'll come share in it, too.

We are still hiring male Resident Counselors for summer 2018, and applications for summer 2018 resource staff members are due back March 9th.  Find more information about both positions at  Feel free to email me at or give me a call at our office.  I'm happy to tell you more about the work we can
do together.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The News from Magruder, Feb 11-17

We started the week out with sunshine on the Oregon Coast. I'm talking days where there wasn't a cloud in the sky. This did not necessarily translate to warmth. Temperatures dipped into the 30s and just below freezing on the coldest nights. Still, we were treated to some beautiful sunsets over the Pacific and unobstructed views of the stars at night. As the week went on, we saw a day or two that couldn't make up its mind. Sunny, twenty minutes later rain, twenty minutes later sun, then sometimes both at the same time. From there we've moved into overcast and drizzle that seem more characteristic of the time of year.

The busier season is just at the doorstep of Camp Magruder. In just a few weeks, the Spring Outdoor School staff will arrive and train. Coming on their heels will be the first group of week-long middle school guests, learning about biology and nature in the places where biology and nature happen. For now, though, we have a few more weeks of relative quiet. On Valentines, we can duck out a little early to be with our sweethearts. For Ash Wednesday, we can attend a service, receive the ashes, reflect on our humanity. These things are much easier to do when the camp is quiet. When you can catch yourself staring out the window deep in thought. These thoughts will turn into something beneficial. Something useful when the season is more fast paced and stressful.

On Wednesday, after our weekly meeting, I gathered the staff outside the new bell tower just outside
the Carrier Dining Hall. The bell has been mounted on the wooden frame for use in calling people together for meals and other functions. It has been rung already, but I wanted us to have a ceremonial first ring. I talked about the history of the bell. How it made its way from the UM church in Corvalis. The buildings it took up residence in at Magruder. Rik talked about where the bell was made in Seneca, New York. How it was designed tonally specifically as a church bell. How it was probably made in the late 1800s. Then I gave it a good tug and let it ring for a while. Everyone commented on how beautiful it sounded. I thought about how this bell will be heard by guests for years to come. How that sound may become attached to important memories over time. How people will hear that sound or a sound very close to it, and they will be whisked back to a very special moment in their life that happened at Camp Magruder. I thought about what that bell sound will mean to me in decades to come.

The Bunch Lodge roof is nearly completed. We took on three roof projects in 2017 that were heavily slowed by rain early in the year. The Bunch project was the last one on our list. It had begun leaking, and we knew it would be a matter of time before we sustained more serious damage. The roofers have also torn down part of the awning over the front porch and reconstructed it. We will put in newer, more efficient lighting on the porch with this new awning. The work adds a lot to the Bunch's look, and I think people are going to appreciate the improvements. The sunshine earlier in the week gave the roofers what they needed to get most of the work wrapped up. Bunch won't be open for this weekend, but it will be ready by the time our next group is with us.

As we close out the week, campers for our annual Choir Camp are arriving. This camp has been a Magruder tradition for decades. Choir members from churches all over the conference come together to learn several vocal pieces in just two days. It is incredible how much progress they make. This was the first group I ever hosted as a Magruder staff member, so it marks the year rolling over for me in a way. I am able to look back hold up the measuring stick to where I was at this time last year and the year before and the year before. More than anything, like many of the groups we see through the year, this group reminds me of the wonderful things human beings are capable of.

I think about how when we take part in these wonderful things there is something from it that stays with us through the rest of our days. When we hear a sound, smell a smell, see a sight, we are drawn back to it and we remember the greatness we brushed up against for a time. It is uplifting and encouraging. It offers hope and courage. And it can all be brought back very simply through the senses. We can see where we've been in the place we are standing. It can guide us where we will go next.

This weekend remember our two groups: Magruder Choir Camp and Boy Scout Troop 611. We pray they find memories to hold on to for years to come.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The News from Camp Magruder January 28-February 3

It's been a relatively quiet week around camp.  We've seen a lot of rain and tides have gone back down to the normal seasonal levels, after some impressively high tides in weeks' past.  Troy hosted two groups this past weekend OSU's Multiracial Akido Retreat and Open School's Girls Retreat.

Camp Magruder has a long history with Open School's programs, they've come at least two or three times a year every year since I've been here.  I've sat through some of their sessions and gotten to know their leaders.  They work to empower middle and high school youth to fulfill their fullest potential.  The leaders are passionate about the work they share in; I've always found that energy infectious.  This weekend they focused on promoting positive self image and empowerment of the females they were mentoring.  It was good to have them back.

OSU's retreat united students who have many different racial identities to come together to share their experiences.  It was a time for encouragement and a lot of serious conversation about identity and solidarity.

On Wednesday Rik and Kevin, our maintenance men, called Troy and me out of the office to come down to the maintenance shop to help move the bell tower they built a few weeks ago.  Rik and Kevin are both impressively talented, and I've been able to admire the structure on several walks around camp at its temporary home at the maintenance shop.  It's made of tall, wooden beams, reminiscent (especially without the bell on top, as it is currently) on a oil well.  On Wednesday, we moved it right next to Carrier Dining Hall.

Lew Schaad visited us a couple weeks ago, just to stop in and see how Magruder was doing.  He visits us every so often.  Lew shares with us old stories of this place-- how the buildings have changed over time, the hidden use of different parts of camp we'd not noticed, the stories to the people for which buildings are named.  Rik and Kevin had just finished the bell tower the last time he visited.

Lew told us the bell that we plan to put on top of the bell tower was first given to us by Corvallis UMC when they were replacing their bell.  So we got their old bell, and the bell tower was a tall, enclosed structure with a building at the bottom that served many purposes over its life span-- once an office.  Now the footprint of that building is still in the parking lot of Carrier Dining Hall, just south of the firewood shed.  Troy's found a picture of a time where there was a basketball goal at one side of the tiny square plot.  I like to imagine the many lives of that plot of cement-- as a bell tower, an office, a basketball court.  Next the bell moved to the top of Walworth building, until recently when Walworth's roof was replaced and Walworth was renovated.

Now, we get to resurrect a new home for the bell.  Right next to the dining hall, it will serve as a dinner bell that you should be able to hear from all over camp.  Its history has me thinking about Camp Magruder's identity and appreciating the OSU's students time set aside to conversations about where they come from and who they are now and who the world sees them as versus who they know themselves to be.

There's something to learn from looking back and taking in what got us here.  There's a way to honor that as we take the next step forward.  When Rik and Kevin get the old bell situated up on its new home, I like to imagine the way those first rings of the bell will wake up some old parts of camp that fell dormant.  I hope to hear stories from people who knew the bell at its different homes and the memories that ring shakes free.  I look forward to those moments.

Friday, January 26, 2018

January 22-26, 2018: Staff Retreat at Suttle Lake

On Monday morning, the Camp Magruder staff packed the camp vehicle full of sleeping bags, suitcases, pillows, and snow boots, and we left the rainy Oregon coast to head for our sister camp, Suttle Lake.  Suttle Lake is located outside of Sisters, Oregon, and we arrived shortly before dinner served to us by Able, Suttle Lake's head chef and our host for the week.  I was excited for the meals Able would treat us to because his food never disappoints, and sometimes he'll spoil me with his delicious brownies.  Monday night, he spoiled us all with warm chowder and brownies.

Troy planned the staff retreat as a way for us to start the year together by centering ourselves on our mission.  For our first session Monday night, Troy shared with us a devotion that reminded us why we were there.  He wrote, "This week, we want to try to experience what our guests experience when they visit us. Work to quiet yourself to not think of what’s going on outside. When you have a moment to relax, to explore, to be still, give yourself permission. Listen. See if you hear something that brings you peace or joy. Live with everyone during this week. As we live in close quarters, eat together, spend a lot of time together, pay attention to the benefits of living in community. Think of how we can better create an environment for our guests to do this."

It was hard for many of us to leave behind our work at camp.  I'm in the middle of organizing summer schedules and hiring summer staff.  Rik, the head of our maintenance team, is knee-deep in projects that can only be done in the winter season, when we have fewer guests.  Angie, our bookkeeper, stays busy.  Despite camp being a place where we hope to provide space for others to retreat and to rest; it can be hard for all of us to also give ourselves that permission and that time, too.

Able met us after breakfast Tuesday morning to give us a tour of Suttle Lake.  The Camp Magruder staff, as Oregon coasters that we are, bundled up in several layers and our snow boots to hike around camp while a light snow fell.  Able met us wearing a sweatshirt and shorts and showed us around Pioneer Lodge and the bunk cabins first, then the challenge course.  Angie spotted a trail that led us up a ridge and looped around through the forest to the other side of camp.  Her adventurous side spurred us all to want to see the loop to its end.  Rik made us laugh by poking fun at each of us, like he usually does, and stopping to hug a tree.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to lead the staff in some team building exercises.  I'm familiar with leading youth and guests in team building initiatives, but I was nervous to lead these very same activities for people who I worked with.  But I explained to them about comfort zones and our goals for leading groups through these activities, and we even tried a few initiatives.  In one initiative, Leslie, our head of Housekeeping, put on a blindfold while Rik lead her through a maze we'd made for her.  At the end of the initiative, I saw something in Leslie's eyes that I'd seen before in many campers'.  We talked about a sense of a trust that was beginning to build, and Leslie talked about how letting go of control and allowing Rik to help her lifted a weight off her chest.

On Wednesday evening, our last evening, we all went out together to explore Bend, which a few of us hadn't been to.  We cruised through little boutiques and antique stores.  Rik and I looked at the wall hangings and furniture and imagined new projects we could make inspired by different home decorations in each store.  Leslie bought a scarf to keep warm.  We all took turns making Aura, Allyson and Troy's little one,  giggle as we browsed.  At the end of the evening, we joined together to eat at Deschutes Brewery, where Able had referred us to try the pretzels as appetizers.

Looking around the table, I felt a great sense of warmth to share a meal with these people.  This job is still new to me, but I was reminded in that moment how each person around the table has taken special care to welcome me to Camp Magruder, to make me feel a part of the family.  The week gave me a new awareness of that family and the care we have for one another and the work we share. 

It's easy to forget to pause and allow ourselves to rest and to refresh.  It's hard to realize how badly we need that and how that can help us do the work we have.  And sometimes, the best thing we can do is to remember why we do the work we do: to provide a space for guests to form sacred communities, to live beside each other, to sleep, to eat, to learn, and to recalibrate.

Thanks to the Suttle Lake staff, we were able to do that this week, to see ourselves as guests and to benefit from the work we are trying to provide for others.  It was a great reminder for me of many of those things that make camp so important.  Trust, community, family, rest, sacred space.  I'm thankful for that time, and I hope you get a chance to share that with us, too, and sometime soon.

This weekend we welcome Open Meadow's Girls Retreat, OSU's Social Justice and Multiracial Akido Retreat, and Rana DeBey.