Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Men's Retreat

I spent my past weekend on a men's retreat at Wildhorse Canyon in Central Oregon. It's about three and a half hours away from Portland and it's in the middle of absolutely nothing. Literally an oasis in the desert. If you're unfamiliar with Oregon the western part of the state is what most people think of, rain, lots of trees, rain, mountains, rain, beautiful beaches and of course rain. The state is very different on the east side of the Cascades however. It's much flatter and quite arid, more of a high desert.

This particular spot sits on 64,000 acres of ranch land. (that's 100 square miles) For years it had been used as a huge sheep ranch. That is until in 1981 when a cult from India led by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh moved in. Let the freak show begin.
During their four year invasion they spent millions of dollars on buildings and infrastructure. Much of which is still in use today. The beginning of the end came for the cult when the tried to spread salmonella via salad bars at some of the nearby restaurants. Their ultimate demise though came when the feds busted them for tax evasion. Yes, these were bright people.
Eventually they were either arrested or deported, which left the property in the hands of the state. From here a gentleman by the name of Dennis Washington purchased the property with hopes of some day turning it into a resort destination. With all the problems from the past tenants he was unable to get the proper zoning, leaving him with a very large piece of property that was great for grazing cattle, but not much else.
Enter Young Life. YL is a christian outreach organization that operates several "camps" throughout the country. It was about this time that Mr. Washington was invited to one of these YL camps during the summer. He was so moved by what he saw that he offered his property to YL, free! This was obviously great news to YL, but with that came the reality that here was another religious organization that wanted permission to set up shop.
Through many cups of coffee and discussions with neighbors and an undisputed land use process they were given the green light to start their ministry. When God is ready things happen!
That's the short version of how Wildhorse Canyon came to be.
It really is a pretty amazing place to have a retreat. In the middle of the property are 800 acres that are available for use. The hotels and meeting facilities are situated on beautiful green lawns with a swimming pool, large pond and an 88,000 square foot sports complex.

Here are some photos of the camp

I love the contrast between the sunlit hills and the dark sky.
This rainbow was only visible for about ten minutes, so I felt fortunate to get this shot.

The high ropes, aka confidence course. It's a series of obstacles and challenges you have to navigate while being approximately thirty feet in the air. I was quite alright being on the ground taking photos.

A view from the ropes course area looking back toward the "hotel" where we slept.

Really ruffing it eh?

What may seem like an ordinary pile of rocks is really a testament to changed lives. When someone accepts Christ into their life while staying here they are invited to put another rock on the pile. It's about six feet tall and around twenty-five feet long!

Cool life size bronze in the foreground. The hill in the backdrop is called Communication Hill. As the name implies it has satellite stuff (technical term) at the top. I hiked up it last year. It's a straight up climb with no switch backs. Starts off steep then gets really steep. I thought I was going to throw up a lung. The view of the canyon is spectacular from up there.

Suffice to say, I had a great time and am looking forward to going back next year.


katherine. said...

I was in Young Life in high school...(a really long time ago)

This does look like a great camp...for them..and for you guys!

Gene Bach said...

Sounds great Jeff. Too bad you chickened out on the rope thing.