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.

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