Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lately I've been thinking about rest. 
I do not rest well.
I like to get things done and usually have too much guilt to carve out quality quiet time.
It is a problem. 
Camp life can translate into working on multiple projects at once...
there is always a mountain of mail.....
there are hungry campers to feed....
there are programs to plan, details to tend, emails to answer...
There is the constant scramble to stay ahead of whatever is coming next.
I usually fail when it comes to embracing the richness of each moment.
But today, I found these words and they reminded me to wonder.....

To Come Into the Water
Requires a road
That never ends
But flows, inch by inch,
To where we have come
Drawn to the light glistening
Out of the dark
Into the miracle fire.

Come into the water,
A river home awash
With shoes, toys, food, song,
And children, children churning
Around tables and our ankles.
We are led by three girls
In pink raincoats scampering over
Root strewn trails, when suddenly 
We all shimmer,
Wet with faith as we settle
Into rest here at Drift Creek,
Gratitude rising with the rain
For the mingling of God's great love
And the pleasure of this sabbath.

Former DCC Director, Ron Sears, October 14, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Slow to Change....

Lately I have been thinking more about childhood memories. I guess it's because I see our children transforming into teenagers right before my eyes and wonder where the time has gone. One of Tony's favorite childhood memories was making apple butter in a giant copper kettle with his family. This year we decided to introduce that tradition to DCC and pulled the kettle out of storage for the 2012 Annual Meeting.

Knowing the importance of the kettle in Tony's family history, it got me thinking more about my own childhood. When I was growing up we had no sidewalks and one of the first things Shanti became aware of upon our move to Oregon was the absence of a smooth flat surface for riding her bike. When she first started speaking English she referred to the old sidewalk in front of our 100 year old home in goshen as "bumpy town" and the newly paved alley behind us as "smooth town." She preferred smooth town for practicing her cycling skills.

 As a kid, I would spend about a week each summer at my grandmother's house. She lived in town and there were plenty of sidewalks on which a child could ride. My favorite route was to ride circles around the Sheridan Mennonite Church which was right next to her home. For what seemed to be hours, I would ride around and around the building and think about things. I maintained a curious fascination with that building for much of my childhood, and to some extent, I probably still do.  There was something almost forbidden about the church and while I remember feeling warmly welcomed there, I was also aware that I didn't quite fit in. Yet I fondly remember Vacation Bible School in the basement; the comforting smells of chicken noodle casseroles wafting through the sanctuary and thinking how cool it felt to sit up in the balcony. I was back in that church recently.  Not much has changed in the past 30 years.  I found myself smiling when I found the women's restroom to still be the same shade of pink! My hunch is that the vintage serving trays used for fellowship meals are likely the same ones that were used at my parents' wedding.

 Last week a parent sent an email describing the eager anticipation that her children were feeling about DCC's upcoming Annual Meeting.  I posted her comment on facebook and within minutes Cara Ediger responded that her childhood experience had been the same; that she could hardly wait to go to DCC with her family for Annual Meeting.

I have also witnessed folks walk into the lodge, breathe deeply and declare, "Ahhh, it still smells the same!" And I imagine that for people visiting DCC for the first time in a while, there is comfort in seeing those bold orange tables still lined neatly in rows.  Yes, some things at camp have been upgraded, but much is slow to change. The smells of freshly baked bread, the crackle of a cozy fire, the breath-taking feeling of dipping your toes in the cold creek, the sense of community one feels worshipping around the campfire. It is difficult to not feel awed by the presence of God when you are here.  I still find myself looking up at the towering trees nearly 40 years after my first visit and the feeling is still the same...."WOW."  I am grateful for the perspective.

When I look at the faces of campers each summer, I know we have a ginormous responsibility. The childhood memories of 100s of campers are being created right in front of me. They are developing their faith journey among us. This weekend, among family and friends, will make an impact and shape not only who our children are now, but also who they will become. Like me, Drift Creek Camp will forever be part of their childhood memories. My hope is that when today's campers look back on their camp experiences, they will recall not only being welcomed, but fully loved and accepted, enveloped fully by God's grace and part of a community of believers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So hard to let go....

This past weekend we had the pleasure of hosting a wonderful group of quilters and scrapbookers at camp. I have come to understand that the nature of being a quilter, a story keeper or an artist of any kind, is to hang on to things....you never know when you might need something or perhaps a particular scrap has the potential to become the perfect embellishment for that "someday" project. The magic of a quilt scrap is that each piece tells a story. My parents received a wedding ring quilt as a marriage gift from my grandmother. I can still hear dad telling me how Aunt Ellen wore this dress and Aunt Lois wore that dress, while dad and his brothers wore certain shirts; bits of which were sewn lovingly into the blanket. For a time I had the privilege of keeping that quilt on my bed. I recall feeling extra warm not only from its weight, but also by the stories it told.

Over the years I have become more aware that my tendency is to hang on to things, and to hang on tightly. This past year we endured the hard lessons of letting go. First it was letting go of control with the camp road being closed for construction. This was not easy. I fought and fought to come up with some brilliant alternative that would save DCC from having to lose $80,000 from the operating budget. Thankfully, we were able to shuffle things around and reduced that to about $60,000. But the gap was still wide. The loss of "control" and scary unknown, at times, made it hard to breathe.

In the end, not only did camp consituents pull through and raise the necessary funds, the closure afforded time off to spend two weeks hosting Shanti and Saroj's birth sister and her family who came to visit. The experience of connecting with people from across the planet that you don't really know, but have this insanely strong bond with, was humbling, as was the shower of support from all who love camp! So in some strange way, the closure also offered unexpected blessings.

When Tony and I bought our house built in 1901 in Goshen, it had an extra bedroom. We never had a guest room growing up and so that was a luxury I couldn't wait to plan for.  I longed for family and friends to come from Oregon to visit so preparing a guest room quickly became my priority.

It started with a lovely red and white quilt that I picked up at an antique auction. From there, things blossomed. We found an old metal bed at a garage sale and a dresser at a thrift shop and I quickly painted all that I could red. Soon I added a red checked border around the room that complimented the quilt's Irish Chain pattern. I sewed valences from old pillow cases with petite red and white buttons and lettered inspirational quotes on the shades so that guests would have a fun surprise when they retired. A vintage typewriter sat on the desk while old black and white photographs adorned the walls.

Our work at the Brew allowed us to open our home to traveling musicians who performed at our little coffee shop on Main Street. It didn't take long for customers to hear about the red and white room and they wanted to contribute! Soon Barb's red and white crochet work was added to the dresser, Eric's grandmother's lamp was added and my sister sent a tiny red dress to hang on the wall. The room became a life-size collage, an expression of hospitality and what I wanted our home to be.

I grew up in Oregon and have always loved it. But I loved Goshen too. There are different things in each place that I love, but I love them both, differently. When we moved back to Oregon, it was not without tears and an awful lot of letting go. But we decided to pack up most of what we could from our red and white room so that we could rebuild it on the west coast.

That has not yet happened. For the past five years much of our stuff, and certainly all of the "extras" remain in storage. It is shockingly difficult to live without your stuff! It's hard to have creative urges but no have access to your tools to see that inspiration come to life.

Last fall we headed to the barn at my parents' where they are generously letting us store way too much stuff! We were looking for some Christmas decorations that we had stashed in a closed rubber bin. While we looked, we discovered that one of the bins had been disturbed and had cracked open just enough for a family of mice to move in.

Of course they had chosen my most beloved bin. they made their home right inside the red and white quilt. They shredded the pillow made from a different salvaged quilt and destroyed anything made of cloth, including Barb's runner. It was all in ruin. And if the torn shreds of memories and fabric were not enough, those little buggers left everything tainted with an almost unbearable stench!

I crumpled to the floor. I couldn't have imagined the grief. It came pouring out.....anger, loss, frustration, and unbelievable sadness. I knew these items were just things, but with deep attachments. At the time, the loss of a broken dream and the connection to what had been our home, was overwhelming.

The spring of tears was unexpected and I see now that my sobbing frightened my children. Later I sent an email to a dear friend in Goshen who had helped paint the room. The tears came as I typed. Saroj walked in and said, "Mom, are you STILL crying? Hasn't it been at least an HOUR?" And, as I shared this story, a year later, I found the tears creeping in again.

I have to wonder why it is so hard to let go when most of us have far more than we need. I have plenty of other blankets and even a quilt or two....but the belongings of "the red and white room" were more than just things, and I was not ready to let go, to be emptied of my own plans.

I suppose that has been the lesson all along. A huge part of my job at camp is to plan. To track details and prepare for what's next. But with the summer road closure, there was a letting go. I have now had to let go of the idea of rebuilding our guest room...But I suppose the good news is that now there is the opportunity of a fresh start and I'll just have to wait patiently to see what is in store and know that for me, and for guests down the road, it will be enough.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Long road ahead

I think just about everyone in the Drift Creek circle has heard about the upcoming road closure. If not, and you're wondering what my gray hair is about, here's the skinny: a culvert 3 miles from camp needs to be replaced and work will require that the road be closed in order to remove the broken culvert along with 50 feet of land that lies heavily above it! The work will be close to the creek and could potentially pose a threat to salmon if rain water would wash unwanted debris into the creekbed. So work is scheduled for July 15-September 15 in hopes of avoiding work-delaying rain.

Sounds simple, but the reality is that having the road closed will completely shut down DCC operations. Groups that normally rent the facility following our summer camp, will not have access. The financial impact is enormous! In a normal year, DCC depends on summer revenue to supplement the slow winter months. In 2012 we will miss out on $60,000 in revenue, which translates to $1000 per day. OUCH!

The losses would be even greater if people were not so flexible! We're squeezing our program into about 2 and a half weeks to make room for one rental group prior to the closure, which will reduce some of the losses. 

The schedule will be adjusted to accommodate school calendars.  Camps will run back to back with no weekends between groups. In order to maximize time at camp, we grouped 5th graders with the younger 3rd and 4th graders while 6th graders will be with the older 7th & 8th graders. This seemed like a better solution than running 3 day camps. 

In 2012, camps won't begin and end on the usual Sundays and Fridays so transportation will take place on random days of the week as follows:

Parent and Me: June 15-17
High School: June 19-23
Grades 6,7, 8:  June 23-27
Grades 3, 4, 5:  June 27-July 1
Surf Camp:  July 8-13

More than ever, we hope you will join us in the summer of 2012. We are excited about what God has in store for another season and pray that in spite of challenges, the time together will be a blessing for each camper. Summer camp is why Drift Creek was created, so we're thrilled that "camp will go on!"
We look forward to seeing you, or your camper!

In the coming winter months plans will come together to create a great camp experience for children and youth. We are eager to work with counselors, volunteers, pastors and parents to create a memorable experience for each camper we're entrusted with. This is the purpose of our work. We are looking forward to serving the youth and walking with them on their spiritual journeys.

The 2012 theme, Take me to the Water:  God's love flows, will lend itself perfectly for DCC. We will dive into stories from the Bible that use water to show God's gift of life and blessing! Campers will explore the use of water in Bible times and examine water issues around the world today. Through learning experiences as well as creative response activities with cabin friends, campers will have opportunities to see God as the source of life. Through chapels and firesides, kids will gain a deeper understanding that just as God provided life-giving water in these stories, God continues to be the source of life and sustenance for us today!

If you are thirsty to learn more, look for updates at www.driftcreek.org.
Until then, please remember our staff in prayer as winter winds are always cause for concern...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fruits of the Spirit

The theme for the 2011 camp season is "Taste & See:  God is good!" Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy food. My best friend and I have been cooking together since we were kids. Back then we came up with concoctions that weren't so tasty, but we, like cheese, have grown better with age. Decades later, our conversations continue to frequently turn to food, favorite recipes, and desserts. I have spent much of my life as a hard-core chocolate lover, but during my years at the Brew, my tastes expanded and I developed a love for all things almond as well. A wonderful baker from Germany worked with us and she introduced me to marzipan. I was hooked instantly!  
So when it came time to come up with fun activities for summer camp, the on-site host, Sara Gibson, and I, immediately thought of marzipan--she too, is a fan, and really, once you taste it, who isn't? Sara is a "jump in with both feet" kind of girl (a quality I deeply admire) and had experience with both marzipan and making fondant frosting...My only experience was related to eating it! So this afternoon we decided to test our idea and created these lovely little marzipan morsels. We had so much fun creating them and we can't wait to see what fruits & veggies the campers will create this weekend!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kind friends all gather round....

It was a privilege to be at camp this past weekend for the marriage of Rosanna Nafziger and William Henderson. The gathering included family and friends from all over the country and even other parts of the world. The event was a testimony to the creative and intentional way that the two approach life in community with others.

Those in attendance were blessed by incredibly beautiful weather! Temperatures reached the upper 80s, the clear sky was bright blue....it was perfect, really. The charming couple planned every detail with caring thought. The invitations were hand-printed on a vintage letterpress. They forged their own rings from antique silver coins. The bride designed and sewed her perfectly fitted dress for Drift Creek's ancient forest setting, which created a romantic backdrop to their unique and artistic ceremony. Everything about the event, from the bride's bouquet of wildflowers and ferns to the groom strumming his guitar, reflected the personalities and interests of the bride and groom. 

Guests enjoyed artisan breads partnered with hand-crafted cheeses. 

I too was married at Drift Creek, nearly 16 years ago already...and to this day, camp continues to hold a magical place in my heart. My hope for the bride and groom is that thoughts of their celebration will forever evoke memories of abundant love from the family & friends who encircled them in the meadow where their marriage journey began. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Humble Pie

Summer camp is right around the corner, so these weeks are crunch time. We're finally getting a good sense of how many campers there will be, which in turn, dictates how many people will be on staff. This time of year makes me feel a bit like I can't breathe. There are so many details to tend to and last-minute problems to take care of that it is hard to keep up. Sometimes in our hurry to get things done we blow through things too quickly. That's what happened today. There was a mis-communication, and, unfortunately, someone was hurt in the process. Now I'm sitting here wading through the regrets of how things should have been handled differently.
It's so true what they say about hindsight being 20/20.

Today I need grace. Grace from others and grace for myself. It seems impossible to not dwell on the "we should haves." I want to cry.
I care deeply about my life's work. When you care deeply, making a mistake is humiliating. It is something bitter to swallow....But I can also see now what needs to change; how things can be improved. I am like a tree who has been pruned. It is sad that growth often comes from painful situations.

There are few things I dislike more in this world than causing people unintentional pain or disappointing them. The question is, what have I learned from the situation and how will I change it next time?