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)