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.

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