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Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries 

Sea Foam and Sacred Wind

This past weekend our family of three had planned to go to Camp Magruder and hang out for the weekend. We slowly made our way out of the ice and snow of the Portland metro area on Friday afternoon and arrived in Tillamook a little over two hours later. 

One of my morning walks along the beach was in the dark, flashlight in hand. High tide had been two hours earlier so there was some beach to walk on. There is a certain element of risk that comes with walking along the beach in the dark, which invigorates me.

One of the great things about much of what we do in Camp and Retreat Ministries is what we call “perceived risk.” This means the activity is safe and yet somehow provides us with a little sense of danger. I know that for those who are adrenaline junkies this is really exciting and is a sought-after thrill. For others it is scary rather than exciting, and is to be avoided. And yet, by engaging in the activity we learn many things about ourselves and our community.

As I walked south toward the Barview jetty with its flashing light warning boaters of its location, I noticed something scurrying across the sand. In that initial glimpse I imagined several things that it could have been as it moved south along the shoreline. But after my first impression I realized that it was several clumps of sea foam being driven by the wind across the beach. Not scary at all, and yet the initial movement got my heart beating a little bit.

I was struck by the way the wind drove the anchorless foam across the sand. The wind was clearly conveying the foam across the sandy beach and there was nothing the foam could do. In that moment, it was as if the rest of the world did not exist for me. I was so taken by the experience of watching the foam blow across the sand. Thankfully, the water was receding at this time so I did not have to worry too much about my shoes getting wet from the waves!

I am reminded of the biblical text of John 3:8. Jesus is quoted as saying to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Obviously, we are not foam; we do have the ability to drag our feet and resist the movement of the Sacred Wind/Spirit in our lives. When have you felt compelled by the Spirit to go in a direction that you would not have chosen for yourself? When did that involve “perceived risk”? Did you experience joy, wonder, awe as a part of being blown about by the Sacred Wind? I would love to hear your stories of your Sacred Wind-driven life if you would like to share them with me.

See you on the adventure ahead,

Rev. Todd Bartlett 
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

*PHOTO: The beach at Magruder--in the daylight! (Laura Jaquith Bartlett)

Congratulations, Geneva!

February 19 marks the completion of 25 years of service by Geneva Cook in the Camp and Retreat Ministries office. Geneva was hired on February 20, 1996, by then Executive Director Kevin Witt. Geneva has worked with five Executive Directors and many site directors during this time.

Geneva served for most of these years as the Camp Registrar, fielding calls about camper registrations, fees, publicity materials, and much more. After a challenging time finding an accountant who could handle the complexity of our financial structure, we asked Geneva to make the switch in 2017 to become the accountant for Camp and Retreat Ministries. This new challenge gave her an opportunity to learn more about the operation and to support staff and camper families in a new way. 

I am grateful for the way that Geneva used the knowledge she already had about Camp and Retreat Ministries and applied that to the financial puzzles that have only become more complex in the past four years. 

If you would like to send a thank you note, a story about Geneva’s ministry, or a memory of how she helped you, I am sure that she would love to hear from you. You can send her an email or you can mail something to the office and we will make sure that she receives it. The address at the office is: Camp & Retreat Ministries, 1505 SW 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97201.

More on Waking Up

Last week Todd wrote about a couple of books he was finding helpful in the Sacred Ground Circle experience, and invited others to share resources they would recommend. Here are some responses:

Rev. Dr. Scott Crane:
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision by Randy Woodley
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Rev. Jessie Connor:
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

Anne Kayser:
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Native American botanist.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama.
The Hate You Give, a novel by African American author Angie Thomas. 

Blessings Report

  • The return of electricity and water at the Collins Retreat Center
  • A responsive insurance agent/partner for our ministry
  • The wonder of the Wallowa Lake Camp covered with a 3-foot blanket of snow

 Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news. 

Blowin' in the Wind

The refrain from Bob Dylan's iconic hit from the 1960's proclaims that the answer to the many questions posed by the song ("How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?") can only be answered by the wind. A Spirit Wind-driven life is one that is likely to actively work to answer Dylan's questions about how we bring about freedom, courage, compassion, and peace. In Camp & Retreat Ministries, we provide opportunities for persons to be guided by the Spirit Wind--not aimlessly, like sea foam, but with the direction that comes from the Holy Spirit. Won't you help us in our mission to keep the Wind blowing strongly throughout our ministries?

Please donate today! →

Go Camping E-News is a publication of Camp and Retreat Ministries, a collaboration of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

1505 SW 18th Ave
Portland, OR 97201