One of the things that I love about Camp and Retreat Ministries is the opportunity to experience something new, to participate in the gift of Easter’s new life. Because we have six sites in Oregon-Idaho, I have the joy of being able to encounter this newness each time I visit any of our sites.
Part of what I understand in this process is that the newness that I experience is because I am not the same person that I was the last time I visited a site. I am different because of what I have learned and incorporated into my life. Also, the site is not the same as it was the last time I visited. They are different because it may be a different season than the last time, a different group may be in, and certainly a different group of people. All these factors combined make the chances of experiencing something new highly likely.
One of the ways that I try to record the newness that I experience is through photography. Typically, when I am on a site you will see me with my camera in hand, ready to take a photo of something that has caught my eye. There are times when I go looking for something specific like a sunrise or sunset. There are other times when I simply walk, waiting for something to grab my visual attention.
After all these years of taking photographs I have learned that there are, for me, two things that will catch my eye: variation in light and variation in color. Sometimes these moments take my breath away and I am fully present in the moment and other times I find the experience more profound after I put the photo on the screen.
The two photos that I share with you today are examples of each type of experience. The photo of the Trillium and the spider (above) was one when I was more moved after seeing it on the screen, because I had not seen the spider when I took the photo! I was taken aback with wonder, as I had never seen a white spider before, and I was in awe over how perfectly camouflaged the spider was. The photo of the mushrooms (at right) was one that captured my attention in the moment. The little group of fungi filled a small grotto formed by decaying wood and sword ferns. In subsequent years I went looking in the same area for these mushrooms and they were nowhere to be found.
I would love to hear from you about your own experiences of wonder and awe at our sites. Is there something that consistently triggers this for you? Have you been inspired to respond with photography or poetry or music? Let me know!
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: White spider hiding on trillium; group of small mushrooms in the forest; both at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).
We are anxiously awaiting the guidelines to be released by the state of Oregon for the operation of overnight camps for school-aged children (K-12). We did receive word a few weeks ago through the Alliance of Oregon Camps that the Governor’s office was set to approve operation of overnight camps for kids. In that announcement it was stated that it was the Governor’s intention to release the guidelines in mid-April. Whatever the guidelines, they will be the minimum standards for us as we plan the operations of our sites for this year and in the years to come. Thank you for your patience in this process of waiting and wondering. We will be communicating soon with our camp and retreat community with information about summer camp 2021 and beyond.
Whether it's a tiny white spider on a Trillium blossom, or a giant wave crashing on the beach, our sites are diverse showcases for God's amazing creation. Camp & Retreat Ministry also showcases the awesome wonder that occurs when we discover God's love in a child's new-found independence at camp, or a teen who blossoms through a new cabin friendship, or an adult who relishes the opportunity for spiritual renewal on retreat. We celebrate the transformations, large and small, that occur each year at camp. We hope you will respond with your donation!