Maddie Bernard Communication and Marketing Coordinator
As I recently graduated college in May, and am beginning a new job, many people have asked me lots of questions about my daily work at Camp Lutherwood.
“Isn’t it the slow season right now? How do you work at a summer camp when it’s not the summer? What even happens during the rest of the year? Don’t you get lonely out there?” These are just a few of the many questions I have received over the past two months from my family and friends.
Yes- while it is true that camp does not have its usual buzz that comes from campers and summer staff, we still are extremely busy! We have had a different rental group for every weekend save for one since I started in late August. Many people assume that camp life slows down when the summer ends. It does not. In fact, Lutherwood serves more people during the rest of the year than during the summer months.
Each weekend brings a new kind of excitement. I have enjoyed seeing how flexible and versatile camp can be. One weekend it turns into a beautiful wedding venue, the next it is a fraternity ultimate Frisbee haven, and the next it is home to an orchestra retreat- with classical music drifting out of the lodge.
My favorite transformation happens once a month, when camp turns into the site of a zombie apocalypse thanks to our loyal Live Action Role Play (LARP) group. They arrive on Friday afternoon with a U-haul full of supplies, and get to work decorating camp like a dystopian society. By the time they are done, the yurt is glows and changes colors, the lodge is turned into a saloon, and about 100 LARPers have arrived in full costume- complete with face paint, modified nerf guns, and other forms of zombie protection. It is quite the sight.
But visitors don’t just come to camp on the weekends. We get quite an assortment of people arriving to camp during the weekdays as well. From past Summer Staffers showing their friends their second home, to families who have extra games to donate. Although camp is out of the way for most, people are always making the trip to “drop by.” We aren’t lonely out here.
Some of our most frequent visitors to camp are our loyal volunteers. Three older gentlemen come out to camp almost twice a week to help with the site. Since the summer has ended, they have helped camp go through some incredible site transformations. We received a new roof on the office, extended the camp road back past the archery range, blazed a new trail, and built a new woodshed.
I am amazed by the amount of work that goes on at camp behind the scenes. It seems when campers, staff and families arrive at camp in the summer months, that camp has always been perfectly groomed. The Lodge is always bustling, the site is weeded and mowed, and the pool is always clean. However, this is not the case, there is a lot of work in keeping camp clean and beautiful all year long. But in my opinion, that is another part of camp’s beauty I have recently come to see.
Camp is made great by the people who help cultivate it. So much love goes into the grunt work of cleaning the lodge, mowing the lawn. I can’t think of anyone who actually wants to reorganize wood in the pouring rain, but when I look out the window, there are our volunteers, working harder than ever.
There is a reason that so many people “drop by” camp when it is out of their way. There is a reason so many volunteers keep coming back to do camp’s not so glamorous labor. These people believe in camp’s mission, and understand the impact camp has had on so many people’s lives.
As a year-round newbie, it is powerful to see how many people keep coming back to camp, and experience camp’s strong support system. While Lutherwood lacks its summer buzz from campers, there is a different kind of energy that comes from the work of our volunteers and guests.
As the fall comes to a close and we begin to move into the winter season, I look back at how much has happened here at Camp Lutherwood Oregon since the summer. I can personally tell you, it definitely is not our “slow season.”
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