This past week our 21 grandchildren, ages 6-20, gathered at our little family farm for 4 wild days together followed by 4 days with their parents for Family Camp. Parents are not allowed at Cousin Camp and this thrills everyone.
Since all of our grands are now over 4, all get to come to Camp. Our own kids are delighted to drop their kids off and run away for their own honeymoons!
How best to describe Cousin Camp?
LOUD as the kids race in the front door to read numerous posted sheets explaining everything from the schedule, to buddies, to sleeping arrangements, to teams, to the camp theme and camp verse, etc. We post it all in the kitchen so we don’t have to answer the same questions over and over. However, we do reserve the right to change anything at any moment!
LOUD as they gather in the kitchen to serve plates for dinner. Our granddaughter Callie (20) plans the meals and recruits the cooking and cleaning up teams. She likes her cooking better than mine. YAY! I do the shopping. We use all paper products because there’s no way to wash that many dishes.
LOUD is the laughter as they jump into the pond on top of each other—and as they cheer for a really big fish caught or a winning shot in the Ping-Pong tourney.
LOUD as we pile in cars to go pick raspberries at a local orchard.
LOUD as each one tries to be the first to raise a hand to answer questions in Bible Study. This year we studied Jonah. Campers have their own journals that live at the farm. They roar as they look back to previous years to their funny handwriting then.
LOUD as they race to the “party barn” for craft times.
LOUD as they engage in the whipped cream war and race in teams to complete a fantastic scavenger hunt that our friends Rachel and Preston Hansen have prepared.
LOUD when we try to get them in bed, on floors, in closets, at night. Of course, we have arguments and sibling nastiness throughout. These are normal kids!
Our Camp theme verse this year has been:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, YOUR GOD REIGNS.”(Isaiah 52:7)
Four of our grandsons, along with their Uncle Will, left last weekend for a Mission Trip with our Church to Haiti. Each of the grandkids raised money to help them go and we took time to hear about the trip and lay hands on them to pray for them.
Every year we close camp with a special candlelight ceremony called Band of Cousins, or BOC for short. We recite our pledge: “As cousins, we pledge to serve the Lord and to take care of each other always.” This year the 11 eldest cousins shared three things: their favorite Bible verse, one thing they want God to do in their life this summer, and one piece of advice for the younger 10 cousins. Tears came quickly to my eyes and John’s.
Here are a few post-camp reflections from campers:
“Starting from the very original Cousin Camp with five of us, to the most recent with twenty-one, Cousin Camp has always been a very special part of my life. I have been able to form such important bonds with every single one of my cousins, and none of them would have been possible without Cousin Camp. I love getting to play with my cousins and spend time with Ghee and Poppy. I think my favorite parts of Cousin Camp are when we ride horses with Poppy and the mornings when the first thing we do is get a big hug from Ghee. I love Cousin Camp at night when the older kids get to stay up and play cards, eat microwave popcorn, and occasionally stargaze on the roof. Cousin Camp is always one of my favorite things during the year and I look forward to it every summer! I cannot thank Ghee and Poppy enough for doing this for us every year and for putting up with all twenty-one of us, we cherish every minute of it!” – Sylvie, age 15
“My favorites: berry picking, riding horses, and cooking with Callie. We wrote affirmations for one another and put them in a special box to share.” – Bel, age 13
“I loved the late night fishing and all the tournaments.” – Jack, age 11
“I liked fishing and being with cousins.” – Alexander, age 8
“The whip cream fight was so fun and I liked playing with the dog and swinging on the Swurfer with Mimi and Saylor and sleeping with Ghee and Saylor and Mimi. Poppy slept on the couch so we wouldn’t hear him snore!” – Sloan, age 6
It’s been a very LOUD week.
But it’s blissfully quiet now and I don’t mind at all. Yes, it’s a bit lonely. I miss the 21 grandkids, my 10 kids (this includes spouses) but I am very glad I’m the grandmother and not the mother!
A reflection: I am asking God to make me “loud,” or at least very persistent in thanksgiving this summer. Too often we “pray up” an event and when it’s over we are on to something else. I don’t want to do that. I want to become more a woman of praise and thanksgiving continuously throughout each day. I know it delights our Father’s heart. Just as my heart is delighted when my kids and grands rejoice and thank me.
My grandkids have reminded me of two things: Thanksgiving and Laughter.
Lord, please increase both within me.