Top 20 Ways to Find Peace at Camp Magruder

Whether your planning your 1st trip to Camp Magruder or your 101st, there are always new ways to discover peace on your time away from the routine. We’ve listed our highest rated ways to get there, whether you’re a summer camper, retreat guest, outdoor schooler, or volunteer. Start planning now. Even the thought of some of these will give you peace. Look for more top 20 lists in 2020. 

20. Smell the herbs in the garden: On the east side of the Dining Hall you can treat your nose to all sorts of relaxing scents like mint, rosemary, basil, and much more. Take a little taste if you like, just be sure to leave enough for the kitchen.

19. Take a break on the deck behind Sherlock Lodge: A panoramic scene of Smith Lake and tall evergreens unfolds in front of your eyes on the Sherlock Deck. Take a few deep breaths and make watching this scene your #1 priority for the time being.

18. Watch children play on the playground and in the sandbox (maybe even join them): What’s better than watching children discovering play and adventure, getting sand between their fingers, being reminded of what it was like to be a kid? How about returning to childhood yourself, getting your hands sandy, forgetting about the world outside of this little playground for a moment?

17. Take a nap just because you can: Time moves slower at camp, and you should too. Lay down somewhere and drift off. You’ll wake up fresher, ready for whatever is next. Added bonus if you find a nice comfy place outside on a sunny, breezy day and fall asleep to the sound of the Pacific.

16. Make a Pilgrimage to the Big Spruce and put your hands on its ancient bark: Just off the lakeside trail is a stand of old-growth Sitka Spruce, and there is one in particular that’s well worth visiting. This mammoth tree is at least a few hundred years old and stretches high into the sky. Put your hands on it and imagine all it’s seen over the years.

15. Stay in the campfire circle as the fire burns down and it gets dark: After a round of campfire singing, don’t be so quick to rush back to your cabin. Linger and the let the fire mesmerize you. It will get darker, your eyes will adjust gradually, and you will feel more at home in the night time surroundings.

14. Listen to the birds early in the morning on the pier at the end of the Wetlands Trail: On a spring or summer day, you will hear a chorus of birds as you emerge onto the pier. The red-winged blackbirds and sparrows will dart around the tall grass, leaving you with a beautiful, relaxing song.

13. Walk the Labyrinth: Let the winding path of Camp Magruder’s Prayer & Meditation Labyrinth slow down your tendency to want everything immediate and quick. This ancient practice is designed to put you in a place of contemplation, of noticing your surroundings and your thoughts.

12. Explore the West forest of Shore Pines at Sunset: Around sunset, the woods bordering the
beach are magical, with golden sunlight filtered through the needles of the Shore Pines. It’ll be fine to get a little lost here for a while--the ocean is never too far away.

11. Savor the taste of a warm meal from the kitchen: Take a few extra moments to hold the taste of good food in your mouth just after you’ve sat down to the table to eat and feel the gratefulness from eating your fill. Don’t worry if people stare. They know that food’s good too.

10. Find the bench on the Great Dune: Hike up the highest point on camp property. When you find the bench sit down to catch your breath and to see the incredible view. Watch the ocean waves make their way to the shore, wash out, and start all over again from your little perch among the treetops.

9. Morning Vespers at the Outdoor Chapel as the sun first peaks over the mountain: Gather with your group at the Outdoor Chapel when there is still a mist on Smith Lake. Sing your songs, listen to an inspirational message, pass the peace. As the sun rises you will feel yourself quickly warmed. Is it just the sunlight or something else working with it?

8. Take a rowboat to the middle of Smith Lake on a calm day and stop paddling: It is such a serene feeling to stop rowing out in Smith Lake and feel the openness surrounded by water on all sides. You might hear conversations on shore, watch the train pass by, see an eagle looking for food, but all those things feel slightly removed from your own little spot out on the water.

7. Hear a Song in the Dining Hall: The acoustics in the Camp Magruder dining hall are incredible for hearing choirs. Close your eyes and hear the harmonies resonate off the tall walls, the high ceiling, and the rafters. It is as if a chorus of angels visited to give your group their own private concert.

6. Take a warm drink to the Meditation Patio and do your morning prayers: Camp Magruder’s kitchen staff makes coffee as soon as they get in, and there’s always hot water for tea. Grab your warm drink and steal off to the meditation patio to see the world wake up on Smith Lake and connect with a higher power with the steam rising from your mug.

5. Stay a little after a meal and have a conversation while everyone is leaving: We often schedule ourselves so rigorously, there is no time even to stretch out a good conversation. Stay a little longer, savoring that food and leaning into a good talk with someone. The KP crew will clean up around you, meanwhile you’ll have a conversation you may not forget for a long time.

4. Sing with all you’ve got alongside other people singing with all they’ve got: If you feel the spirit moving at campfire, evening vespers, morning watch, or any other place a group breaks out into song, give yourself over to it and sing with all your lungs will let you. You may hear something not just you, not just your neighbors, but something altogether new. To be part of something like that can be life-changing.

3. Lose yourself in a game on a sunny afternoon: At camp we believe as a culture we don’t take the importance of play seriously enough. Get out there and use your body. Don’t worry if you win,
don’t even worry if you’re good at it. Play puts a blanket over anxiety and wakes up the spirit.

2. Reconnect with an old friend from camp: You know that feeling when you see your friend get out of the car after it’s been a year and you both take off running to each other and hug and it feels like everything in the world is ok right now? I think that’s all I need to say.

1. Sit next to the ocean as the tide comes in: Of course any Camp Magruder list isn’t complete without the ocean. Make that short walk down a sandy trail to the Pacific. As you near it the sounds of ocean waves will get louder. You’ll feel the air change. On the beach, the sky will open up to you in panorama and you will feel small, yet still a part of something enormous and extraordinary. Take time to engage all the senses while you’re there. Stay till it gets dark if you can. We think God is speaking somewhere in all of it. Pretty sure I’ve heard it a time or two.