Grand Camp 2021 and “The Rock!”

The last week of July was Grand Camp at our house. The following week was recovery. Sort of.

Thus (and for other reasons), progress has slowed on developing the podcast, but the goal has not been lost!  Just delayed. (Hang in there with me…. Anticipation!) This reminds me of an old saying: “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” Well, sometimes they are denials, but not necessarily. So, we develop patience and perseverance. A higher goal for me than the podcast, of course, is time spent with our grandsons. Grand Camp is our main, yearly opportunity.

Paul and I hosted our first Grand Camp in 2017 when we were still living in Arizona. Utilizing our 26 foot camper hitched to our gorgeous, cream and gold colored Ford Lariat that we drove across the country, we set up Grand Camp at “the Findlay Family Farm” near Findlay, Ohio.

We set up our first Grand Camp in 2017 on the farm where my mother grew up. There’s our camper and truck.

Grandpa Cramer built this barn in 1935.

2017. The boys and Papa O fly across the farm yard in front of Grandpa’s sturdy barn!

Aiden and Ryland (now ages 12 and 9) live in southern Ohio, so we don’t see them on a regular basis, although we see them more, now that we live in Indiana.  Then comes Grand Camp. BAM!  We have total responsibility for the boys for a whole week!  Wow!

“Grand Camp: Grandparents and grandchildren together in a grand location having a grand time.”

Of course, our times are not all “grand,” but we’ve built plenty of precious memories. And there are the ordinary moments, some “boring” moments (to the boys), many over the top exhausting moments (to Nana O — me!), and some taxing moments for Papa O (who carries the weight of the responsibility in many ways). Amidst it all, we experience good times.

After a huge June this year, we scheduled three calm and restful weeks before Grand Camp, but several turns busted our plans. Even our steps toward starting a podcast were interrupted!  “Lord… help!” (One of my favorite prayers besides, “Lord, have mercy!” and “Lord, Thank You!!”)

Here’s what’s up — with Grand Camp (GC) and with plan-busting turns.

Grand Camp 2021. The boys didn’t know what to expect at Sweetwater, but they loved it so much that they returned another day.

Each year Paul and I plan Grand Camp themes, research possible outings, make menus, organize spaces, activities, select books to read, and sketch out schedules.  In practice the schedule is stretched and modified at points, but it creates a framework from which to build.

For our theme this year, Paul and I chose “God is My Rock” and Paul chose the theme verse, Deuteronomy 32:4. It is interesting to read it in several versions:

They boys read it first from the NASB translation (my favorite). Ryland had fun with it, and Aiden thought it was strange.  Makes total sense. Ryland is Mr. Sports, while Aiden is Mr. Thinker.

“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”

Reading aloud, Ryland yells dramatically in a deep, scruffy voice, “The Rock!” “The Rock!”

Aiden furrows his forehead. He reads the verse and notes that it starts with an incomplete sentence. Then the rock is called  “he.”

So we read it in the NIV: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

From childhood to great age, we are always learning that God is our Rock — our stability, sustainer, and protector — faithful, good, and sure.

Our GC days follow a pattern involving read alouds, yard games (especially croquet), bike rides, meals, daily outings (often with Papa O and not with Nana), indoor games (Mexican Train and Uno), projects (rock painting one day), and bedtime readings and prayers with Papa.

Arcades at Sweetwater. The boys love to compete with Papa O. Sweetwater is a music business, selling instruments, recording equipment, offering recording booths, classes, and concert venues. It is family friendly (thus it has an arcade, cafe, and such.)

We began the week with a PowWow, explaining the theme, goals, menus, book readings, and activity options, and we  reviewed expectations. The boys gave their input, which helps us to further shape the plans.

Daily outings create anticipation. This year, our outings included the Papa O usuals: putt-putt, arcade games, and bowling. Our big ones this year were an afternoon at Sweetwater (, an evening at Promenade Park, and a day at the Allen County Fair.

Aiden and Ryland at the Allen County Fair.

The week ended with a Family Fiesta in our back yard: a taco bar picnic on our patio followed by yard games. Everyone in our little family was there: the boys’ parents, Charissa and Seth, and our Chicago daughter, Amanda, along with the boys and us. Seven in all — as well as a baby brother or sister “on the way” for the boys, due in January.

Sisters, Amanda and Charissa, relaxing in the back yard while the boys play croquet.


We called a family PowWow in the middle of the afternoon as we all sat on lawn chairs in the far back yard under the huge Cottonwood tree, near the boys’ croquet court.


Aiden is ready to give his box to his parents. The giving of the boxes begins the Family Pow Wow.

Aiden brought out the gifts they had made for their parents, wrapped neatly in two, square boxes. Each boy gave a box to a parent. The boxes held rocks they had painted as well as a bead project each boy had made in the kids craft center at the Allen County Fair, for their coming sibling. Very sweet.

Aunt Amanda plays croquet with the boys and their Dad.



But we had other news to share with the family. Here is this year’s plan busting turn for us. We informed them that we were buying another house and selling this one. Yes, again. Moving again. But just 2.8 miles from where we presently are in northern Fort Wayne. When we bought this FW house, we knew it wasn’t set up to be our final “retirement home.” This place has too much property and all the bedrooms are on the second floor. But it’s a lovely place and has been great for having family and friends over.  In our three years in FW, we’ve learned much about the area and have kept a general look out for our last, Lord willing, home.

Ryland leans on Papa O’s raised garden bed which is in front of the croquet court.


It came our way, in God’s providence, in mid July. We explored the opportunity. Our bid was accepted. Now, we have to sell our home, so we are in the midst of preparing for all these changes. With all that is involved in buying, selling, planning, preparing, and executing such a change, you see why our plans for this year have been disturbed!  I can’t put all my focus on my writing and podcasting plans. I must weave all this together, and you know I have limited energy for such.

Yet, we believe God is leading us, so we take each day as it comes! Holding a week of Grand Camp, right after signing purchase papers on a new home and needing to prepare our current one for the market, required some self-discipline to avoid panic. The boys were our priority. All will work out!

Grand Camp ends this year with some family pictures. Ryland, Aiden, Amanda, Charissa (and an incognito character), and Seth. Nana and Papa are busy taking the pictures.

I’m reminded of the good advice I once heard about how to handle life when you feel overwhelmed with responsibility.  “Think of yourself as a check-out clerk at the grocery store. The line of shoppers waiting to purchase is long, but you don’t look down the line, but focus on the order in front of you. One order, one shopper at a time.”

I shared this metaphor with a cousin who recently moved across country. Now, I don’t have a cross country move to make anymore. That’s done. But I have this next chapter move to move through.

On Tuesday morning, a photographer comes to take pictures of our home for the real estate listing. On Tuesday evening, Paul and I will attend a Podcaster club meeting at Sweetwater here in Fort Wayne. Our house will be on the market by the end of next week. I’ll focus back and forth on these different goals, but the move, at this point takes priority. I can’t be only a check-out clerk; I have to also be a store manager, flexible and available. Hmm. All metaphors have their limits.

Fortunately, my grandsons remind me and the Scriptures coach me:

“The Rock! The Rock!” I hear Rylands powerful voice shout.

“He is the Rock,” Aiden reads,  “His works are perfect, and all his ways are just.

A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

Deuteronomy 32:4

Quiet time on the patio where we had our recent Family Fiesta. There’s Paul’s attractive, yellow shed. Behind it is the croquet court. Ready for another family to enjoy.

























Categories: Grandparenting, Parenting | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Grand Camp 2021 and “The Rock!”

  1. Carolyn Wilkins

    Congratulations on your new home! How exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about it! Thank you for sharing such lovely pictures of your family. Can’t believe how the boys have grown. They will have so much fun with this new little one. ♥️. Such an amazing blessing for all of you. 👶

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank, Carolyn, for your encouragement. This morning our realtor’s photographer was at our current home taking pictures for the listing. This house goes on the market on Friday. Praying for the Lord’s continued providential care. It is tricky buying one home, selling another, and working through all the details and timing! At least with this move, we’re only moving a distance of 2.8 miles.
      We’d love to see you and Charlie sometime this fall if we could work it into our crazy schedules! We will be in your area probably in September for a few days.

  2. Louis Mann

    I just ‘caught up’ with reading your blogs. I myself experience the unanticipated interruptions and distractions that our daily lives bring. We are praying for your good health and God’s grace in your life as you contend daily with the unique circumstances within your body.

    We are so glad that you get to spend time with your grandsons at ‘Grand Camp’ each year. The close proximity there in FW is certainly an enhancement compared to the divide while you resided in Arizona. I just looked at photos of our visits to that lovely home with fondness and thankfulness. I hope to be able to visit when the Lord allows me to travel again with Harry – possibly in late September and early October. By then you should be moved into your new home.

    I love your insights and openness about your struggles and your joys. Keep blogging and keep reaching toward your goals, but remember, “Many are the plans in a man’s (women’s) heart, the the Lord’s purposes prevail.” Prov. 19:21

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      It is so good to hear from you, Louis! Thank you for your reminder that “the Lord’s purposes prevail.” This assurance calms our hearts and gives us stability! We hope that you can visit us the next time you are in the midwest!

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