This week I had the pleasure of having a conversation with one of our Grandparent & Me grandparents. This grandparent shared with me the reasons for repeatedly returning to Pilgrim Center for camping events. While we would love to proclaim that it is our amazing programing, our outstanding accommodations, and our mouth-watering meals that keep people returning, it is really about the people. Everything that we provide might indeed help tip the scales of returning in our favor, but it is the relationship between people that make these events a priority for so many people.
To begin with, these events allow the grandparents a couple of days’ worth of focused attention with their grandchildren. From Sunday afternoon until Wednesday morning they are together without the distractions of television or electronics. For some people this amount of time together might seem dauting and intimidating, but we provide enough structured activities and counselor interaction to provide the grandparents with the breaks and respites that are necessary. This can be amazing time when grandchildren and grandparents who might not be able to be together on a regular basis get to know each other better and create some lasting memories.
The other relationships that are created and strengthened during these events are the friendships between different grandparents who return for the same week of camp for multiple years in a row. These are folks who might not have anything in common with one another other than the reality of having grandchildren and valuing spending focused time with those children. Once a year they come together at our facility and share with one another the laughter of the children. They share the events that have occurred in their lives in the last year, they share both the little victories and the challenges we all inevitably face. They share quiet conversation and listen to each other read bedtime stories as the sun goes down. In the end, they leave our facility at mid-week, strengthen by a rich experience with the children and encouraged by one another’s common experiences.
We have a tendency to think of our summers here at Pilgrim Center as primarily youth events, but the reality is some of our most significant events are multi-generational. When it comes down to it, the age of the participants is not what is important. It is the building of relationships and community that people are hungry for and what we are striving to accomplish.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp