When I visited my grandparents as a child, my grandfather would say, “Let’s see if we have a surprise.” He’d reach toward the mantel and lift a pack of Juicy Fruit from a ceramic horse-drawn carriage. The figurine—now in my china cabinet—reminds me of the love, care, and happy times I experienced.
My husband and I added a new twist to our grandchildren’s visits this summer. Like many other grandparents, we invited them to camp—Camp GigiPop. (They call my husband Poppy, but we needed a name with a ring to it, don’t you agree?)
Joe and Cynthia, long-time friends, served as our inspiration. They once hosted five little ones and a pre-teen for a four-day camp. Their kiddos wanted to swim, pick vegetables from the garden, hear Bible lessons, watch movies, and visit interesting places. (If our friends survived, surely, we could, I reasoned.)
For survival, “camp directors” must remember the key to entertaining children—flexibility. Due to schedules, our grandchildren came one at a time. I was disappointed at first, but it worked. Our budding-scientist grandson sat mesmerized at a planetarium show, and at the museum’s hands-on science exhibit, he said repeatedly, “This is really cool, Poppy.” One granddaughter chose to paint, play dress up, and make fairy houses with leaves and sticks.
Our youngest little one rode her bike at the Riverwalk. I’d planned an early lunch and puzzle time, but when we left the park, she begged to “chase” a passing train. My husband drove her to a good viewing spot. The first report to her parents was, “Poppy helped me chased the train!” Sweet memories.
The camp moment that filled this Gigi’s heart with joy was when our youngest jumped into the wading pool with her grape popsicle and said, “Gigi, tell me another story about Jesus.” What a privilege to follow God’s instruction to share His Word.
One generation will praise Your works to another, and will declare Your mighty acts.Psalm 145:4 NASB
I find it easy to verbalize praise for God’s creation with children, but how can we “declare His mighty acts”? We can share Bible stories about God’s faithfulness—the parting of the Red Sea and the way God led Gideon’s army to victory with trumpets and lamps. We can also relate our personal salvation story and the ways God has protected and guided us. His mighty acts are worth sharing.
When Moses told the Israelites to remember God’s instructions, he added,
Make them known to your sons and your grandsons.Deuteronomy 4:9 NASB
Grandparents camp is one time for doing just that.
Add your own ideas to the tips below and ask God to show you which children you can bless by setting up camp.
Tips for Successful Camp Days
- Plan extra age-appropriate activities and allow some choices.
- Include “Happy Camper” awards for good attitudes.
- Take photos and make a book for each child or create a gallery of annual camp photos.
- Teach Bible stories with puppets or drama. Tell the parable of the Good Samaritan and plan acts of kindness for a neighbor. Rake the yard for an elderly neighbor or offer water to someone working outdoors.
- Schedule a brief rest time in your day. (You’ll need it. Trust me.)
Make Memories with Camping Fun
Arts and Crafts
- Make gifts for parents and hide them until Christmas, Father’s Day, or Mother’s Day.
- Create old-fashioned paper dolls or puppets.
- Plan wood projects or nature-inspired creations.
- Use watercolors or washable paints.
Game and Puzzle Time
- Include “Duck, Duck, Goose,” Checkers, Dominoes, or other games you played as a child.
- Select puzzles according to age and ability.
- Write clues for a buried treasure hunt. Share the reasons you consider the Bible a treasure.
- Plan a scavenger hunt and include a visit to a lonely neighbor’s house.
- Try safe science experiments.
- Pet store
- A fruit or vegetable farm
- Nature trail with picnic
- Create an obstacle course.
- Plan age-appropriate relays.
- Teach games you enjoyed as a child like Hopscotch or Jacks.
If you aren’t a grandparent, children you know could benefit from your love, prayers, wisdom, and expertise. Plan to build a birdhouse, take a nature hike, or bake cookies with your favorite child.
And remember, sharing love and God’s Word with children isn’t limited to summertime. What about weekends or school vacations which are sprinkled throughout the year? For closing long distances, plan a morning “camp” via technology. (Mail a craft kit ahead and plan a Bible story.)
Laughter, activity, conversation, and “camper” hugs filled our days and hearts with joy and happy memories. What type of “camp” would your favorite children enjoy?
Grandparents Camp: Having Fun and Sharing God’s Word @jeanniewaters44 #Grandparents #LegacyTweet
(Cover photo courtesy of Myles Tan on Unsplash)
13 thoughts on “Grandparents Camp: Having Fun and Sharing God’s Word”
Oh my, but that sounds like so much fun. I’m torn as to which edition of “Camp GigiPop” was my favorite. As much as I enjoy science and things, I think the pool and popsicle time would win my vote too. While we don’t have grandchildren to spoil and teach here in Texas, we do have some pseudo-grands that we enjoy sharing life with whenever we can. A recent addition to my life is helping with the AWANA club at our church. Pouring God’s word into these young people is such a joyous undertaking. Not sure I can add much to your camp ideas, but if you know anyone with calves or sheep near y’all, it’s an idea. Whenever we have “littles” over to visit, I always work a story about stewardship, shepherding, and what it means to be a caretaker in there. God’s blessings Ms. Jeannie. Loved this heartwarming, and inspiring, article ma’am.
Thank you, J. D. I’m sure the children in the AWANA Club will be blessed by your influence. I’m glad you and your wife share God’s love with your “grands.”
Love this, Jeannie! Your heart for being a Christ-honoring grandparent shines through. And you are SO right, flexibility is the magic key! 🙂
I would add: posting notes (to self) of grandchildren’s allergies and foods to avoid, keeping to a regular bedtime routine (their parents appreciate this!), and staying away from too much sugar (parents and g-parents alike appreciate this). I’ve discovered that extra hugs, snuggles, and kisses are perfect substitutes for my tendency to over-sugar them! 🙂
Thank you for adding valuable tips, Leigh Ann. I especially like the last one. What an honor to add Christ-like influence to a child’s life.
Great job, Jeannie! Packed with great points to ponder and ideas to implement! Love it!
Thank you, Shelley. There are so many ways we can add biblical truth into activities with children. I know you agree.
I love these ideas because children need variety. And like your examples, each child has different needs and interests. With all the choices available, we can find ways to have fun with them and make memories. Wonderful article, Jeannie!
I agree that children need variety, Barbara and that we can find many ways to create memories. I admire a mom of three I know who plans activities based on her children’s interests. That’s a good way to help them develop skills and increase knowledge. Grandparents can do the same. Thank you for reading and commenting.
You have so many fun activities here, and I especially appreciate the reminder to be flexible and open to go with each child’s personalities and needs. How special that you had one on one time with each grandchild!
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Kathy, I was disappointed at first that our grandchildren couldn’t come at the same time, but we had a wonderful time with each one and they enjoyed “camp,” also. I’m sure you could add many art ideas they would love. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.
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Jeannie! You are the absolute coolest Gigi 🙂 I so enjoy your posts. Your words paint joy as a family. Your tips inspire joy for others.
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Oh, Charla, I appreciate the compliments, and I’m glad you enjoy the posts. God fills us with joy and equips us with creativity for loving children well, doesn’t He?
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He does 🙂
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