Grandparents leaving a legacy of Christian summer camp
Older generation encourages young people to invest “in things with eternal value”
A new phenomenon is taking place; grandparents are returning to Christian summer camps alongside their grandkids.
Andrew Douglas, director of Circle Square Ranch in Arden, Ontario, says grandparents are more frequently choosing to give the Christian summer camp experience as a gift to their grandchildren.
“Grandparents are seeing the value of summer camp, the value of adventure and seeing their grandkids meet Jesus,” Douglas says. “They know amazing things can happen at camp, it’s a time of spiritual growth.”
Ontario resident Phyllis Switzer says sending her grandkids to camp is a powerful way to positively impact their young lives. Rather than buy her grandchildren electronics and toys, Switzer buys flashlights and sleeping bags and helps pay camp fees.
“It helps them get excited for camp,” she says, adding she also challenges her grandchildren to help raise money for their week at camp. Something as simple as putting up old toys for sale at a garage sale allows them to take ownership of their summer camp time.
“It’s investing your time and money in things with eternal value,” Switzer says, adding while it’s not inexpensive, in the end camp is worth it when considering the spiritual and relational return on investment.
When grandparents help send kids to camp, it also blesses parents.
“They’re helping with the cost of raising kids,” Douglas says, as costs for parents sending multiple children to camp can quickly add up. Parents are also grateful for the week to focus on one another.
“This is a way for grandparents to invest in the couple’s lives,” Douglas says. “That time is gold when you have young kids.”
“We’re seeing grandparents bring the whole grandkid clan to camp,” Douglas says.
Grandparents are also joining their grandkids at family camps, giving them a chance to spend time together, without the hosting duties like cleaning and cooking. Opportunities for spiritual conversations abound during the week, which is filled with chapel and devotion times. There are also fun activities such as swimming, wall climbing and riding horses.
“Grandkids leave transformed,” Douglas says.
“This is our legacy,” Switzer says. “Leaving a heritage of Christian camp.”
Talking with other directors from across the country, Douglas says it seems to be a relatively new trend, as other directors see more grandparents volunteering at camp as well.
“Grandparents want to plug into a ministry, some are volunteering during the week their grandkids are at camp,” Douglas explains. Staying in a nice cabin, flexible hours and volunteering with activities like arts and crafts are all draws.
“It’s good for a camp to have multi-generational volunteers,” Douglas says. “We have lots of young staff, but then you have a grandparent who can offer wisdom and mentorship… it’s a very healthy way to run a Christian community.”
Grandparents themselves also leave energized after a week full of laughter and rowdy worship.
“They see God move, they see kids fall in love with Jesus, you rediscover God,” he says. “We’re seeing this happening and want to encourage more grandparents to get involved.”
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