Create Summer Memories That Will Last a Lifetime

Christmas morning 2002. The Christmas story has been read from the Bible. Breakfast has been eaten. Presents have been opened. Four little pajama-clad children are handed an envelope that sends them on a scavenger hunt and ends with an invitation to the inaugural summer of Kamp Kannecomova.

Kamp Kannecomova was the brainchild of my grandparents, Mimi and Pop, to spend an extra week of fun each year with their four grandchildren. At the time we ranged in age from 5-9 years old, and we showed up at their house with our bags packed, full of excitement. “Welcome to Kamp Kannecomova!” they sang in excitement when we walked in the door. And just like that, we were off!  

Mimi and Pop had thought of everything – each camper was given a custom shirt for each day of camp. They had our names embroidered on them and featured a little emblem that represented what we would be doing that day. For us, this was the coolest thing ever, and for them, this was a way they could keep track of four crazy kids in case we wandered away from the group. 

We had mail time every morning with breakfast, where somehow, letters from our parents, full of encouragement and I love yous, magically appeared. Then our snack bags were handed out for the day, and we got our start! 

Mimi and Pop have always been the strongest pillars of faith and an example to our entire family, so it only made sense that they prioritized our faith at camp as well. We had Bible time each day where we listened to a short devotion and prayed together. We even had a camp memory verse that we all learned together, as well as a cute little camp song. 

Each day was full of pre-planned activities, and we were tasked with documenting our time well. We all received disposable cameras and a little scrapbook to keep our memories in. We spent countless hours at the dining room table with glitter glue and markers and tape making our scrapbooks something to behold. Which of course meant that Pop spent countless hours at the Walgreens photo counter getting numerous cameras developed and purchasing even more because we went through them like candy.

That first summer, we went to a Native American History Museum, to the Pink Palace and the Children’s Museum in Memphis, and even to watch a Red Birds game! Nothing that we did was crazy or expensive – we stayed within an hour’s radius of my grandparent’s house and had the week of our lives. 

At the end of the week, our parents were formally invited to the Kamp Kannecomova closing ceremony. During the ceremony, we recited the week’s memory verse, gave a rousing rendition of the camp theme song, shared our scrapbooks page by page, and even put on a little talent show! The audience was riveted. And then it was time to pack up and head back home so Mimi and Pop could sleep for the next week and a half.  

As we grew up, finding a week available in the summer became more and more difficult. Kamp turned into a quick weekend instead of a full week, and when we got to junior high and high school, it slowly stopped altogether. But what didn’t stop was the reminiscing. Every single time we are together, we regale the group with the hilarity of that time my cousin and I got stuck on a roller coaster at an amusement park or the time we got my photos developed and discovered a random stranger had taken some selfies on my camera at the Children’s Museum (don’t worry, I put them in my scrapbook for the memories).  

The eldest camper is thirty now, and we are all married and out on our own. There are even two new junior campers! We’re trying to talk Mimi and Pop into a Kamp Kannecomova weekend reunion so we can relive the magic of that first summer.

Creating a legacy of faith for your family that can be passed down is as easy as starting your own “summer camp”. Don’t wait for the perfect time — start today, imperfectly, and remember the reason that you’re doing it.

Here are three tips to help you kick off your own legacy summer camp:

1. Don’t overcomplicate things. 

One of our favorite days in the first year of camp was when my grandparents took us to the recycling plant to donate the aluminum cans that they’d collected for the past year. We put bags and bags of cans in the back of Pop’s truck, watched them get crushed in the giant machines, and then split the money from recycling them and go on a Dollar Tree shopping spree. We couldn’t have received more than $8 each, and it was just the coolest thing ever. I still remember what I bought with my money – it was a set of fake piercings so I could pretend I had a nose and eyebrow ring. Sorry, Mimi and Pop. 

Our scrapbooking supplies were just sketchbooks from the craft store, sticker sheets, and markers. We used our disposable cameras to document the days, and that was it. There wasn’t anything fancy about it, but we will cherish those books forever.

2. Focus on the lessons you want to pass down. 

Each year our camp was centered around a theme that bled into everything we did – the activities, the Bible study and memory verse, and the education. In our second year, along with our daily Bible time, we had etiquette lessons. You might be thinking that wrangling four elementary-aged kids, three of them boys, to teach them about etiquette is a daunting feat, and you’d be right. But you better believe that today as adults, we all remember how to set a table and what side of the street the boys are supposed to walk on, because of those lessons.

One summer, we all got matching aprons with our names on them, and the focus for the week was teaching us skills in the kitchen. It culminated in baking a cake together called a “Scripture Cake”. I’m not sure where Pop found that recipe, but it was perhaps the worst thing any of us had ever eaten. We sure got some laughs from it, though! 

3. Keep faith at the center. 

No matter how many fun activities we had planned throughout the day, Bible time was always first on the agenda. And there was no question that you would find us in a church on Sunday morning. One year, the six of us walked into a little country church, and the attendance doubled to 12 people! We once attended church in what used to be a dinner theater in Branson, and there were sinks at the end of each row. To our horror, Mimi and Pop even sometimes encouraged their little, introverted grandchildren to attend Sunday school with a classroom full of strangers, but we are all better for it! They showed us over and over where God was, and still is, on their list of priorities, and He always came out at the top. 

The years go by, and we’re all grown up, but we will never stop remembering our sweet summers at Kamp Kannecomova. Whether you’re inspired to start your own “summer camp”, or these stories gave you ideas for a different type of activity, don’t let another summer go by without instilling the legacy of faith and family in your children and grandchildren. They will always remember the sweet times and cherish the lessons you pass on to them. 

This article is by Jordan Sears and is featured in Everyday Faith Magazine.