Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Being a (Camp Luther) Grandparent

Submitted by Jim & Kathy Wiebel

 “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.” (Mary H. Waldrip)

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.” (Donald A. Norberg)

These quotations certainly summarize well some of our own feelings about the joys of being grandparents. To be blessed, first, with two wonderful sons and their lovely wives, and now to have been gifted by them with six beautiful grandchildren in the past 11 years has made our hearts and our lives full, indeed! Not only that, but to have received a call to serve as one of the pastors at Faith Lutheran Church, Appleton, at precisely the same time as our first grandchild was born (bringing us back to Wisconsin from Florida) has been one of God’s great blessings in our lives. Living only 30 miles from each family (who reside in Green Bay & Oshkosh) has allowed us to share in their lives from infancy on by providing childcare once a week in each of their homes. Seeing life through the eyes of a child and underscoring the presence of Jesus in their lives with one of our favorite sayings, “I love you, but Jesus loves you even more!” always brings a smile to their faces. These years are something we wouldn’t trade for all the warm winters in Florida!

Jim & Kathy Wiebel with their granddaughter at their
first KinderCamp.
Living between our sons and their families, one of our family traditions has been to host a monthly “Family Feast” in order to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays together. We’re also blessed that our sons and their wives have become active members in their home churches where their children have been involved with regular worship and Sunday school activities. When we’ve had our grandchildren with us for “sleepovers,” storybook reading and prayers have become a regular part of the bedtime ritual. Now that they’re growing older, attending school concerts and sporting events have become a big part of our monthly routine. We’ve also made a priority of planning two or three family vacations together each year in order to visit relatives and new places, as well as to strengthen our family bond.

Camp Luther has also been a big part of our family’s spiritual development and faith formation. As soon as each child has been old enough, we’ve accompanied them to GrandKids Camp each summer. In the second year of their eligibility, we’ve been blessed to be able to pay for their parents to take them to KinderCamp, as well. In addition to those experiences, summer and winter Family Camps have endeared our grandchildren to Camp Luther even more! Camp’s staff and counselors have also been such a positive influence on each of us. Last summer, our oldest grandchild invited three of her neighborhood friends (none of whom are active in a church) to attend a Discovery Camp with her, made possible through the Every Kid to Camp campership program. All four are making plans to attend camp together again this summer!

If we can offer any advice to new grandparents or to grandparents who haven’t had the blessing of living as close to their grandchildren as we have, it would be to encourage your own children in their spiritual walk with the Lord and, whenever possible, to reinforce that with calls, cards, FaceTime, etc. with your grandchildren. And when they’re old enough, to invite them to go to GrandKids Camp with you, or help to make it possible for your children and their families to attend events at Camp Luther, or a church camp closer to them. There’s just nothing quite like sharing your love for God and His awesome creation like spending time together at Camp Luther! That’s been our family’s joy for over 40 years…and counting!