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Camp proves to be fun for grandparents, kids

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By Stephen Thomas

SHEPHERDSVILLE – Grandparents and grandchildren had a grand time at Shepherdsville Elementary’s Camp Grand.The four-day summer program, created specifically for grandparents raising their grandchildren, was created and sponsored by the Shepherdsville Elementary Family Resource Center and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA).Shepherdsville FRC coordinator Traci Gould said the camp was designed to offer mutual assistance for grandparents, offering a place to discuss their issues with experts and with other grandparents in similar situations.Gould said 35 families enrolled in the school were in the “grandparents raising grandchildren” situaiton. After receiving a $1,000 mini-grant for the camp idea she and FRC volunteer assistant Robin Mann contacted local agencies for further assistance.For the inaugural camp Gould said only Shepherdsville families were invited. Gould said the camp’s goal was to enhance grandparent-grandchild relationships while offering valuable assistance and support.“The only requirement to attend was that the grandparents were the legal custodians of the grandchildren,” Gould said.Lunch was provided throughout the week for Camp Grand participants.The many camp programs were divided into three types of sessions, some for just grandparents, some for the children and some for the entire family.Programs for the entire family included activities such as basket weaving, presented by the Bullitt County 4-H Cooperative Extension Service, and “Cooking Together,” presented by Mann and Lori Nelson with the Bullitt County Health Department.Grandparent specific programs were designed to show available resources that could assist in parenting the grandchildren. Among the programs were medication issues and discussions hosted by Cynthia Arnold of Passport, discussing how grandparents could use their insurance for the entire family.The Kentucky Parent Information Resource Center (KYPIRC) hosted a number of programs for grandparents ranging from Internet safety and awareness to “Nurturing Yourself,” a program offering physical fitness and stress relief tips.Hebron Middle School Youth Services Center coordinator Amy Risley presented a program on Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).Other grandparent programs included family budget issues with Bullitt County Extension Agent Ruth Chowning, preparing savings for grandchildren with Park Community Federal Credit Union and helpful advice from Bullitt County CASA.For the grandchildren, programs included safety and crime prevention tips from the Shepherdsville Fire and Police departments. More summer safety tips were provided courtesy of the Bullitt County Public Schools Safe and Drug Free Schools program.Belinda Bunnell, representing the Bullitt County Public Libraries’ Summer Reading program, presented stories in person. Kentucky Educational Television (KET) supplied Camp Grand with books and projects relating to quality television viewing.Melody Hyppolite, an impact worker with Seven Counties Services, Inc., presented a program relating to the situation of incarcerated parents.Sadie Murphy attended Camp Grand with her grandsons Dodge and David Murphy. She and her husband, Chester, also have a third grandchild, Hayley. Murphy said she and the boys enjoyed attending Camp Grand.“We loved it,” she said. “It was nice to know that other families are doing this. We all shared the same situations.”One of the biggest lessons Murphy learned during the camp was communication skills.“It helped me to realize there’s a big gap between us and the grandkids,” she said. “Communication was the best thing I took away from (the camp). It’s a different generation, we can’t raise our grandkids like our kids.”Debra and Richard Mudd attended the camp with granddaughters Lauren and Caitlin Glidewell.“(Camp Grand) was the greatest idea in the world,” Debra Mudd said. “We had the time of our lives.”Mudd was surprised that there were so many grandparent-grandchildren families in the community. She felt Camp Grand was a wonderful opportunity to acquire resources and advice. She was also pleased that Camp Grand was offered free of charge to each eligible family.Mudd said the family plays board games at home that were distributed at Camp Grand courtesy of Seven Counties. Popular games such as “Candy Land, “Chutes and Ladders” and “Jenga” were enhanced to allow more family communication and therapeutic interaction.According to Gould, the game boards were redesigned with special instructions geared toward in-depth family discussion.“When you land on a certain space the instructions tell you to say something about how you feel,” she said.Murphy said the games helped her family play together more than ever.“We already did a lot of stuff together, but this is more entwined with our feelings,” she said. “The kids have serious issues. (Camp Grand) showed how to incorporate the games with feelings and open up communication.”Gould mentioned that future Camp Grand events would be scheduled. She added that the events would likely become available to the public if there is enough interest.Following along the inaugural camp’s success, Gould said a family support group for grandparents raising grandchildren may also be established.Whatever happens, Murphy and Mudd both showed interest in future Camp Grand programs.“We literally had a blast,” said Mudd. “I was really pleased with it all.”“I had a good time and a very positive time,” said Murphy. “I really enjoyed it.”For more information about Camp Grand call the Shepherdsville Elementary Family Resource Center, 955-4003.