The Anglican Diocese of SC launched the first-ever Virtual GrandCamp on June 15th. This endeavor was birthed not only out of necessity; it was birthed in prayer. To appreciate the design process, our GrandCamp staff invites you to step back with us to the start of spring.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with GrandCamp, it is a five-day faith adventure originally designed by Christian Grandparenting Network’s Founder, Cavin Harper. The South Carolina GrandCamp is held each year at St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center (Seabrook Island) during the third week of June.
This year’s camp filled in record breaking time. Within two months of opening registration, every slot was filled, and names were being added to a waiting list. Unfortunately, our staff had little time to celebrate this exciting news. On its heels was COVID-19 and the impending pandemic.
In April, our staff faced the sad fact that, to ensure the health and safety of our grandparents and their grandchildren, GrandCamp 2020 needed to be canceled. The camp was shut down, but our mission was not. We remained as determined as ever to place tools for sharing the Gospel message into the hands of grandparents. As we sought the Lord in prayer, the idea for a virtual GrandCamp emerged.
Our first decision was choosing our theme. “With times being uncertain, unusual and uncomfortable, many people are turning to prayer in an unprecedented way. Hence the need for more teaching on and encouragement for prayer,” Cathy Jacobs explains. Therefore, we chose the theme, Learning to Pray.
Scripture says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). For three weeks, we leaned into Jesus, repeatedly praying and brainstorming, until we found ourselves holding a fully developed curriculum for grandparents to use.
Our biggest hurdle remained. We had no idea or vision about how to package and disseminate this material we were holding. That’s when God sent the diocesan Communications Director, Joy Hunter, to guide us in this incredible journey. We will always be grateful to Joy for the role she played in making Virtual GrandCamp 2020: Learning to Pray a reality.
We designed this virtual GrandCamp to equip grandparents to share the Good News, tell their faith stories and build meaningful and lasting relationships with their grandchildren.
How do grandparents utilize this virtual tool?
We understand that, because of the coronavirus, the grandparents’ situations differ. While some grandparents are with their grandchildren, under one roof, others are communicating via Zoom or Facetime. Therefore, we structured the camp, so that it can easily be adapted. Grandparents can complete the curriculum over a five-day period, spread it over an entire summer or pick and choose as they please.
Each “day” offers the following:
1) Opening worship with Irene Rose (pre-recorded)
2) One Object Lesson
3) One Going Deeper Activity
The first day begins with a general overview of prayer. Grandparents and grandchildren use the ACTS acronym and a pack of M&M’s to learn the prayer’s four parts (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication). For those who want more, the Going Deeper Activity invites them to answer the question, “Is there a wrong way to pray?” (Luke 18:9-14).
For the remaining four days, grandparents and their grandchildren take a closer look at each part, one per day. The object lessons are fun and engaging. They require minimal preparation and use common, household items.
Grandparents and grandchildren adore the Creator on the second day, reading Psalm 8 together and creating galaxy Christmas ornaments with Mop & Glo and glitter. They find directions to make a usable prayer cube in the Going Deeper activity.
On the third day, they discuss the ripple or domino effect of bad choices by building and knocking down intricate domino formations. They take this discussion one step deeper by reading about the greatest ripple effect in the history of mankind, namely the Fall in the Garden (Genesis 3). This lesson affords grandparents an opportunity to open the door to talking with their grandchildren about confession and the need for a Savior.
The object lessons for the fourth and fifth days examine thanksgiving and supplication, respectively. Family Time Ministries graciously gave us permission to use their “Prayer Wall” lesson for our study of supplication (or prayer requests) on the fifth day. Together, grandparents and grandchildren build a prayer wall by writing their requests on index cards and taping them like bricks on a wall.
Eating s’mores and singing around a campfire is a GrandCamp tradition. This year is no different. For the Going Deeper activities on the third day, grandparents and grandchildren are invited to join John and Patti Sosnowski on a pre-recorded campfire. Patti offers gourmet s’more recipes while John leads us in singing. Then, storyteller whom he is, John narrates the Fall in the Garden and our need for a Savior.
Another GrandCamp tradition is the Blessing ceremony. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of the blessing, we provide links to Cavin Harper’s video, “Unleashing the Spoken Blessing,” and Cathy Jacob’s video, “Explaining the Blessing to Your Grandchild.” The spoken blessing isn’t restricted to GrandCamp; it’s a way of life. Therefore, grandparents are encouraged to create a culture of blessing by observing this tradition whenever they are with their children and grandchildren.
The GrandCamp staff considers it a privilege to work together on this endeavor. Our prayer is that this virtual GrandCamp equips and encourages grandparents to share their faith with their grandchildren and to develop mighty prayer warriors among the generations to follow. Therefore, we rejoiced when we received the following note from Ann Walters and her grandchildren:
“My neighbor, that is also helping to raise her grandchildren, and I did camp together. Kathy Quickle, who has been to GrandCamp twice, and my grandson’s other grandmother, joined us each day via facetime for a short time, as well. I set up a schedule, menus, afternoon activities and extra crafts to go along with the curriculum from the GrandCamp team. My nephew, Tripp Gaillard, brought his guitar Thursday night to help us sing songs around our campfire.
“The children loved Irene Rose’s songs, we played them over and over though out the day. We made maracas to use with the music. One day, I said that I was perseverating on This is the Day. My grandson remarked, “Yea, but it is a great song.”
“The prayer cubes were a favorite. I went to the fix lunch and next thing I knew; the kids were throwing cubes over the railing from the loft. All cubes survived but one.
“When we did our prayer wall, I showed the children my pictures of the Wall in Jerusalem. I did a short Blessing for each child and put it on the wall. My grandson, age 5, was showing my daughter about his things he had from camp and when he pulled out his Blessing, he said that this comes from God, but it came off the printer.
“The camp was exhausting and wonderful. Each day we were blessed with the enthusiasm of the children learning the glory of God. My unchurched grandsons learned the Lord’s prayer and to say a few simple prayers. But as Lawton said, he liked going to Camp St. Christopher better. Looking forward to next year.”
By God’s grace, Virtual GrandCamp 2020 has and will continue to be an amazing adventure. But like Lawton, we hope to see you next year at Camp St. Christopher!
For more information, please see https://adosc.org/virtual-grandcamp-2020/.
By Sherry Schumann, St. Paul’s Church, Summerville