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.