Garth and Rosemary Dougan

We Must Stop Blinking

It happened again. We blinked. And suddenly we’re on opening day of orientation for summer staff at Campus by the Sea. Really???  Did’t we just wrap up the summer of 2014?  We must stop blinking.

So here we are, on a plane to Los Angeles, where we’ll be met by daughter Lisa who will deliver us to the boat terminal. There we’ll meet up with several dozen eager/anxious summer staff who will begin the exciting/challenging process of becoming a community in seven weeks or less.

This never gets old.

We’re (obviously) getting older…but this never gets old. We love Campus by the Sea and we love family camp. An unbeatable combination.

Before we land on the desert island later today, I’ll catch up with ourselves by reviewing the past month.  Right after returning from Pennsylvania late on May 17th, we had one day to get ourselves (and our home) together, one full day of counseling, and then we welcomed my sister Laura and her husband David for a brief but very sweet visit. In just over 24 hours, we met them in Ogunquit for lobster rolls with a dear friend of theirs, walked and talked miles and hours, and staged a small and very successful surprise party for Laura on her May 21st birthday. Loved every minute of it and hated to send them off mid-afternoon Thursday, but to quote my mom, “we’re thankful for every minute we get to spend with them.”  We always lament how sorry we are we’re not neighbors. 

Barbara Steele and Betty Ann Bleu joined us in surprising Laura on her birthday.  So fun!!

And just like that, it was Memorial Day Weekend and we were off to Cumberland Wilderness Retreat to launch their first family camp. Through the collaborative efforts of Nate and Jeannie King (with whom we’ve had a long relationship and partnership in ministry) and Keith and Marcia Thompson (long time friends of the Kings), we had the privilege of experiencing family camp for the first time with a group of 15 families.

Because family camp to us is more familiar and broken-in than a well-worn Rainbow Sandal, we can forget how unusual in the best sort of way this experience can be. For the 13 families for whom this was totally new, it rocked their world. And mind you, we were not in a highly developed, well-resourced conference center. Oh no. We were camping. Porta-potties, outdoor grill, a big sideless tent to meet under . . . on the ground. Yes, we were camping and everyone loved it. Just several hours in to it, a 6-year-old boy raised his hand enthusiastically and asked, “Are we going to get to tell you what we think of family camp?”  “Sure,” answered Nate King, who was emceeing.  “This is the BEST camp ever!!” he exclaimed.

And so it went.  We had all the normal components of family camp: adult small groups followed by teaching on family and marriage by us, a great kids program, lots of intergenerational interaction, worship, hiking, swimming, and s’mores at the end of the day—all working together to affirm the goodness of community, of family, of celebrating God’s generosity in nature, in relationships, and in life. It couldn’t have gone better, to be honest, and we were pleased to join ranks with the Thompsons and Kings in helping to make this happen.

“If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings . . .”  These families joined the ranks of those who have wildly embraced the simple but profound truth of this song.

The outdoor kitchen: breakfast on a grill!

Fishing was a favorite pastime and all who got their lines wet were
handsomely rewarded with many fish . . .

. . . which fed the group on our last night.  Best fish fry ever.

Baptisms were done at the quarry lake and it was very inspiring to see
five young ones proclaim their desire to follow Christ.

The family camp photo!

Final moments of family camp, gathering around the Thompson family
as they move from the area so Keith can attend seminary.

The founding families: The Thompsons and the Kings,
after three exhausting days of serving everyone at camp. Tired but content.

Back to Boston Wednesday afternoon, with counseling on Thursday, then off to California on Friday, May 29.  No, we didn’t unpack completely. The purpose of the trip was to attend the Celebration of Life service honoring Garth Dougan, held in Santa Rosa on May 30.  We took advantage of the trip and spent 8 hours on Friday meeting with the interim director of Campus by the Sea, Ray and Diane Schnickels, and the veteran leaders of camp, Greg and Wendy Jones.  Our dear friends John and Marilyn Nugent opened their home for our marathon meeting, providing a quiet, lovely setting in which to get lots done. We were thrilled to have time with this team, especially as we adjust to the transition from working under Dave and Kim Noble the past six summers. We consider them dear friends and will truly miss them, but are very thankful that Ray and Diane will serve in the interim. They have deep spiritual passion and will be used by God in a big way for however long they stay.

Saturday, May 30, was Garth’s service and it was beautifully orchestrated by his daughter Eileen. It was so good to be able to both grieve and celebrate together as those who loved Garth deeply.  Lisa joined us for the service, and I know her presence meant a lot to Rosemary.  We enjoyed reconnecting with many longtime CBS friends as well.  

Many of the CBS contingent who attended Garth’s Celebration of Life service in Santa Rosa.
Lisa and Rosemary sharing the love.

The last two weeks have been a blur of counseling, meetings, packing, cleaning, socializing, having houseguests, preparing for the summer, preparing our house to be used by friends in our absence, etc. They’ve zoomed by!  We’ve been thankful to have the time at home to get these things done before we begin our marathon summer of family camps.

So here we are.  We are in the midst of staff orientation this week and are beyond thankful for the great team the Lord has brought together.  Early indications from our program staff meetings are that we have a wonderful group of students who are passionate about loving and serving Jesus.  Our times in the Word have been rich and deep and we’re quickly becoming a cohesive group.  Our all-staff meetings (facilities and program) have also been marked by camaraderie and unity. We are anticipating a fruitful, growth-filled summer. Thanks in advance for praying for us.

We’re mostly “off the grid” for the summer, so our cell phones are off (no reception in this cove) and we’re avoiding Facebook. We’ll be online (email) in a limited fashion and I can’t say we’re sorry.  It is heavenly to be free from most distractions here in this sacred cove.

I know we’ll likely forget not to blink, and August 2 will be here and we’ll be heading to New England for family camps at Camp Berea. Just like that. Blessings on your summer.  May you find time and space in which to be refreshed and renewed.

First program staff meeting 2015.

First “selfie” with 18 staff who hiked Scar for the first of many times.

Welcoming Joe Yardley to the team on Wednesday, flying in from NC after orientation at UNC.