Creating Your Own Grandparenting Camp

Last Thursday and this Thursday we are interviewing book contributor Barbara Ann Baranowski, who wrote the story “Gone Camping” for Grandparenting Through Obstacles. Barbara and her husband do not live near their grandchildren, and they wanted to find a way to help them grow in Christ during the short times they were together. After praying about it, God gave them the idea to create a special camp-like experience for their grandkids over the summer. It was soon dubbed “Nana Camp” by the grandchildren!

Barbara kept the camp simple, but made sure it included Bible stories, memorization verses, songs, crafts, games, and fun play times. She also gave her “campers” a special keepsake to take home with them to remind them of Nana Camp.

In our book, we suggested some ways that virtually any grandma or grandpa could start their own grandparenting camp:

  • Pick a theme for the camp then choose activities to support that theme. Your theme could be creation, God’s grace, forgiveness, God’s power, and so forth.
  • Plan the camp for the middle ages of your group. You can always allow the older children to help the younger ones.
  • Plan your activities around your expertise, whether that’s art, science, or baking. If you have a passion for something, your grandkids will join in your enthusiasm. And, if both Grandma and Grandpa are helping out, this is a great opportunity for both of you to share skills and interests with your grandkids.
  • Be sure to create opportunities for the kids to ask Jesus into their hearts. Don’t ever assume that children have a personal relationship with the Lord. Always give them a chance to get to know Him in a safe environment.

The best part about a grandparenting camp is that you really don’t need any special equipment or even a fancy place to hold it. You can have it in your own backyard or at a neighborhood park. The most important ingredient is you–and the spiritual memories you will provide for your grandchildren.

If you do prefer a get-away time with your grandkids where you can truly bond with them in a fun and biblical environment, you may want to consider an established family camp, such as Grand Camps, hosted by The Christian Grandparenting Network.

How about you? What special moments or activities have you created for your grandkids that make them want to keep coming back to “Nana’s” again and again? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Don’t forget to come back Thursday for Part 2 of our interview with Barbara Baranowski.


Meet Cavin Harper!

I know we typically post interviews on Thursdays, but I wanted to conduct a special interview today with Cavin Harper, Founder of the Christian Grandparenting Network, based in Colorado Springs. Cavin recently interviewed me and Dianne on his new radio program, “Not on My Watch.” The program aired this past Sunday and will be available on the Christian Grandparenting Network website later today.  We hope you will take a listen! In the meantime, I’d like to have Cavin share about his organization and passion for helping grandparents.

GTO: Welcome to our GTO blog! Cavin, you were asked to write the foreword for Grandparenting Through Obstacles. What in particular attracted you to this project?

Cavin: The stories from grandparents who have or are in the process of working through the major obstacles facing them and other grandparents today. I like that these are real-life stories; not theoretical jargon.

GTO:  That’s what attracted us to the project too! We knew a lot of grandparents with incredible stories to share. You’re the Founder and Executive Director of the Christian Grandparenting Network, which is a national organization for grandparents. When did you start CGN, and what prompted you to do so?

Cavin: I started CGN (originally called ElderQuest) in 1998 to help those approaching “retirement” years re-evaluate what retirement really means. When my first grandchild was born, I knew God wanted me to challenge this generation to live for the next to make sure they grew up knowing the Lord. Over time I felt God wanted us to narrow our ministry’s focus to grandparents—to mobilize them to intentionally represent Christ to the next generations.

GTO: Grandparenting Through Obstacles focuses on the various challenges Christian grandparents may face when trying to impart their faith to their grandkids. What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Christian grandparents today?

Cavin: In many ways it’s the Baby Boomer grandparents themselves (which I am) who tend to be self-absorbed, focusing on their own agendas and goals. Too often we fail to recognize the things we do that alienate our grandchildren or adult children. Our job is to be authentic and compassionate without being judgmental in a world that is vastly different from the one we grew up in. We’re also challenged to cultivate intentional, inter-generational relationships. We’re in a unique position to build the bridges that impact the culture and reconnect the generations according to God’s design.

GTO: That’s an interesting perspective, and quite a challenge you throw out to Christian grandparents. How does CGN help today’s grandparents meet these challenges?

Cavin: We’re committed to building a movement of grandparents for Christ who are resolved to radically engage the next generations with truth, righteousness, and authentic faith. We aim to provide resources and opportunities to help these grandparents, and we work to create settings where grandparents and their grandchildren of all ages may grow, serve, and worship together.  Some of the ways we do this include:

GrandCamps—an opportunity for grandparents to spend five days with their grandkids in an intensive time of relationship building, skill development, and spiritual formation

GrandAdventures—a variety of inter-generational events focused on serving others

G@P Groups and Grandparents’ Day of Prayer—gathering grandparents to worship and pray together

“Not on My Watch” Radio Program—a weekly broadcast to encourage, challenge, and motivate grandparents and parents to reach the next generation, often through the amazing stories and resources God has made available to us

Website—we use our website and other social media to help connect grandparents to the network of tools and people available to help them in their journey with their grandkids

Thank you, Cavin, for sharing your passion and the mechanisms you’ve developed to help Christian grandparents pass along their faith. I encourage you to check out CGN and all the resources it provides. While you’re there, don’t forget to download the September 2, 2012 podcast from “Not on My Watch,” where you’ll hear me and Dianne discuss Grandparenting Through Obstacles.