One of the great blessings we received while serving in the Russia, Moscow mission was the wonderful association we had with other Senior Missionary Couples. When we got together our conversations were most times centered on our families at home, and especially our grandchildren. We were several years younger than the other couples serving with us, had fewer grands to brag about, and less experience grand-parenting to share, so we listened and learned. Many had special traditions they did with their ‘grands’, as groups or individually, they felt helped create a special bond between them. By the end of our mission we had formulated a plan of our own and GRAMP CAMP was born. It has been one of the best things we’ve ever done for our children, and theirs.
All hands on deck…
Sister Joy D. Jones, General Primary President, spoke about the type of group effort and support needed to raise “A Sin-Resistant Generation” ….
“Fortifying children to become sin-resistant is a task and a blessing for parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, and leaders. We each bear responsibility to help.”
We agree with this, and work to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren. For those who live close by we attend some of their events, go on grandparents dates (usually to a movie), and get together at each other’s homes for eating, swimming, and playing games. Those who are distant get facetime chats, small packages in the mail, and occasional personal visits. I’m sure your grand-parenting looks very similar.
Our desire was to create time to do more in-depth relationship building and gospel teaching. Time where we could really build up their parents and support what was being taught them in their homes. For us, GRAMP CAMP fills that bill. It’s a time for teaching, listening, talking, playing, and so much more – and it’s just us and them.
This is how it works….
Each summer we invite our grandchildren, ages 8-12, to our home for five days (Wed-Sun) in the middle of August for GRAMP CAMP. At first the group was small, just four, but this year we’ll have eight Campers.
Every year we focus on a particular skill or experience we want to introduce them to. Thus far our themes have been bread making, sewing, and exploring the visual arts. This year we are doing musical theater.
(For examples sake I will use the activities from our bread making year, 2014.)
A theme scripture is chosen to go with each year’s focus skill. That year’s scripture was found in Matthew 4:4,
“But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Each day begins with a devotional. The theme scripture is recited and we have a short lesson centered around the theme for that Camp. For bread making we used the following scriptures as the basis for each days lesson:
- Exodus 16:1-5, 15-31 (the children of Israel and manna)
- John 6 (the miracle of the loaves and fishes and “I am the bread of life”)
- 3 Nephi 18:1-12 (Christ reinstituting the sacrament to the Nephites)
- D&C 20:75-79 (the sacramental prayers)
This time of spiritual teaching and sharing with each other has been the highlight of GRAMP CAMP for me. One granddaughter shared that she loves how together we really talk about the scriptures we read, not just read them. This helps her understand them, and she sees how they apply to her life and the situations she is facing. She said she feels the Spirit at devotional. There’s nothing more wonderful for this Grandma to hear than that.
Our last devotional, on Sunday morning, is a recap of all that we’ve discussed followed by a testimony meeting. It is sweet to my soul to hear each one express their feelings, whatever those may be. I’m glad they feel safe among their grandparents and cousins to do so. They are building a good spiritual support system in each other.
We work on our focus skill each morning. That year they made bread, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls on different days and gave the goodies to neighbors and friends. They even made the bread used for the sacrament in our Ward for that Sunday. Each seemed a bit more thoughtful as the bread trays were passed to the congregation.
But it’s not all work, Grandpa makes sure of that! They swim, and have ‘Iron Kid’ competitions against themselves and each other. We play all sorts of messy crazy games outside and our family’s favorite cards games inside way into the night. We watch movies. Each Camper gets to choose what they want to eat for a meal during camp. (Our menu has been pretty interesting.) We take field trips – that year to a bread factory – and do other fun activities away from the house. Believe you me, none of us have a hard time falling to sleep each night.
It makes it all worth it…
We are so happy when we hear those who have come to GRAMP CAMP talk about it all through the year. They try to guess and coax us into divulging what the next year’s theme will be. They laugh about the experiences they had, enjoy their inside jokes, and talk about how they are using their new skills. Each year, each new theme, has given us so many amazing opportunities to teach from the scriptures, impart some of our temporal knowledge and abilities, develop our relationships with our grandchildren – and they with their cousins – , and just flat out have a ball together. Our younger grandchildren are beside themselves with anticipation for when they will join us at GRAMP CAMP.
What are you doing? What could you do?
GRAMP CAMP works wonderfully for us. But it’s certainly not the only way to have influence with your grandchildren, and to help support your children in their child rearing. As I mentioned above, we heard numerous ways our Senior Couple friends were making a conscious effort to help raise “A Sin-Resistant Generation” , their posterity. What things have you tried?
What traditions are you creating?
The battle is real…
Speaking of the millennials old conflict raging between the cause of Christ and Satan, the enemy of us all Sister Jones said:
“Today the war continues with increased intensity. The battle touches us all, and our children are on the front lines facing the opposing forces. Thus, the need intensifies for us to strengthen our spiritual strategies.”
Those children on the front lines are not just our grandchildren, but our children faced with raising their children in the heat of this battle. We have to help! It’s not just a nice idea, it’s a necessity and our responsibility.
I’m certain President Russell M. Nelson wouldn’t mind if we added ‘men, Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles’ in his charge below:
“Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.” 
Looking backward and forward as a Grandparent…
Though you never really finish parenting, we’ve raised our kids – six of them. And they, as the cycle usually goes, are now neck deep in child rearing themselves – our eighteen grandchildren. We often laugh and tell them what they’re experiencing is payback, karma. But really, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
It’s a different world out there these days. Our adult children are dealing with social and moral issues in their parenting much sooner than we needed to, and in a more straight forward and bold way. There are also situations that we never had to face which they must now navigate through. Their support net in defending traditional practices and gospel values that time has shown benefit the family is smaller than in the past, as the tightly woven fabric of once commonly held social standards and norms has grown thin and ripped in many places.
Consider what you can do as a grandparent to develop a stronger relationship with your grandchildren, to teach them the gospel, and show them the joy living it brings to you. And to those of you in the throngs of parenting right now, look to your folks for support and counsel in raising your children. It will take all of us helping each other for our families to become eternal.
Being a Grandma ROCKS! And so does GRAMP CAMP!!!
 Sister Joy D. Jones, “A Sin-Resistant Generation”, Ensign, May 2017
 President Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters”, Ensign, Nov 2015