I just received a one-page flyer from the Cleveland Natural History Museum advertising the “Winter Break Camps” for children. The idea is that when the kids are off from school for a couple of days, you should send them to camp.
For some reason this struck me as a little odd – no, make that “sad.”
I am sure that the Natural History Museum does very good camps (the flyer states that they are accredited). Kids learning more about science is certainly a good thing. Yet, I thought, if kids have a few days off from school during the school year, wouldn’t it be a far better thing if they did something with a parent? Maybe they could even come to the museum with a parent! Now, I realize that there are many families where both parents work, or single parent homes where the mom or dad is working. To stay home with their kids would mean taking vacation, or a personal day, or even not getting paid. For some that may be impossible, but there are others who wouldn’t hesitate to take a day off for a golf match or the St. Patrick’s Day parade!
A fourth grader going to a one or two day science camp is not the issue. This is a small reflection of a much larger issue.
How much of our children’s learning – not just about subjects and topics, but also about life and relationships and even faith – takes place apart from the family?
In the old days, children learned about trades and skills from their parents; children learned about faith around the supper table; a child learned to play an instrument or paint or even read from a parent; a child learned about relationships from sharing life with their family.
Now the SUV is the family dining room, and children are farmed out to experts to learn about golf, geography, and God. These “experts” may be far better teachers of their subject or sport or skill, but I can’t help but think that something else even more important may be lost.
This brings me to Linwood. “Faith, Family, and Friends” are the three words that seem most descriptive of Linwood through the years. For several years the Christian Council has had lively discussion about programing for children and youth. What should be done and how much should be done? We realize that one of the most precious things about a few days, or a few weeks at Linwood, is that much of the time the family is together. Sure the kids may be off riding bikes, while someone else visits the stand, and another sits overlooking the Lake. Yet, overall it is a shared experience. Thus, any programing we do needs to reinforce and not detract from Linwood being a shared family experience. What the kids do with their families and the quality of that time is far more important what they do apart from their families no matter how good it is.
“Family” brings me to another only slightly related topic. I am very excited to share with you that a book that I have been working on for the past year has just been printed and is available for purchase.
The book is Grandkids Camp Guidebook – Relationships Matter Most.
For the past seven years Jan and I have held Grandkids Camps – a week (or slightly less) each summer when our grandchildren come to our house (without their parents!) for a week long camp like experience. We start each day with a flag ceremony, have camp t-shirts and a camp pledge, go on field trips, play silly games, have campfires, and sleep in the Treehouse (among lots of other things). Like I was saying above, the point of it is having a unique shared family experience in which we can share our lives with one another.
Writing a book about the Grandkids Camps has also been an adventure. For several years friends have encouraged me to write down some of the things that we have done as a part of our camps. Last fall I began to write, and then quickly decided I needed help. I gathered a small but powerful team to advise me (including Linwood’s own Carolyn Reed). They encouraged me not only to talk about the activities of Grandkids Camp, but also to reflect on how relationships were impacted and the challenges of connecting grandparents with grandchildren (which we have found to be considerable). So, the book combines three things: 1) the significance of relationships, 2) the challenges today of intergenerational blessing, and 3) the nuts and bolts of a grandkids camp.
If you would like to know more about the book, or if you would like to purchase one (hint – kids, this would be a great Christmas gift for your grandparents!) – just go to my website www.grandkidscamp.org. I also have a blog related to the camps and the book. That is found at grandkidscampblog.wordpress.org. All of these are connected with my Facebook page and the Grandkids Camp page. Wow, am I getting into this online stuff!
Blessings on all of you,
Yours in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor
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