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Camper Story: Galen & Jeanne Breuer

Galen and Jeanne have a fun story as family campers who come each year. Once upon a time, they had an idea to bring some grandkids to family camp as a way to have some special grandparent/grandchild time. Over the years, they have added to the grandkid number with the rule being they had to be fully potty-trained to come to camp. What started in 2009 with five grandkids between the ages of three and five, has grown up to fifteen grandkids!

But before all the craziness started, let's rewind to their first experiences with camp. Galen came to camp as a kid in the mid-1970's for three years as part of his involvement with his church's Luther League ministry. He primarily remembers the fun atmosphere and hanging out with friends. Additionally, he remembers how everyone talked about what they believed in a way that was so different than what he experienced in Sunday school. It wasn't nearly as serious but at the same time, it also wasn't silly or dismissing faith.

Fast forward to their early years of marriage when they would come over to Okoboji as much as possible during the summer for the Sunday Morning Worship times. They were part of a young married couples club who would often come over, go to church and brunch, and then go canoeing or some other local activity.

As I said before, in 2009 they decided they wanted to bring the grandkids to family camp. One of the main memories they have from that year with five kids between the ages of three and five was how crucial the counselor's help was to make the week possible! They were out of practice of having little kids and the help they were able to get when it came to navigating the meal lines and activities was a huge blessing. They felt comfortable letting the kids go for 2 Hour of Power and the kids adjusted and connected quickly and well with the counselors which limited the amount of tears experienced when it was time to leave the chapel! Overall, they always felt safe knowing that the kids were well taken care of while they were at camp.

When they first started bringing grandkids to camp, they figured that, by the time they were teenagers, they would be too cool to go to camp with their grandparents. Instead, each year, the grandkids have made family camp a high priority in their summer plans even skipping other summer activities with friends to come to camp. As they gathered together from four different states, it has become a special time for them as cousins. And when they are together outside of camp times, it isn't long before they are sharing memories of being together at camp.

One of their more distinct memories of recent years at camp was the year they came as Galen was recovering from knee replacement surgery. It was a hot day and they had gone to Treasure Village during family free day to play a round of mini-golf. As the kids were all helping each other through the holes, Galen went and bought a load of water bottles to pass out among the thirsty golfers. There was another camp family at the course and they noticed how well they worked together and were willing to serve each other in simple, practical ways. For grandma and grandpa, it was a moment when they knew the connections and relationships between the kids were worth the exhaustion felt at the end of the week each year!

One of the ways in which they have most felt God's presence at camp is simply knowing that they wouldn't have been able to do camp for so many years with so many kids if it wasn't for God! They have never had any major arguments or squabbles between the kids nor have they ever faced any real complaints about going to 2 Hours of Power.

Outside of camp, it has been a great joy for Galen and Jeanne to see how their grandkids have connected with each other over the years with inside jokes from camp keeping the shared memories and experiences alive when they gather at other times of the year. The kids seem to know who they are better especially the teens when they connect the counselor. In recent years, they have also started gathering for their family Christmas celebration at the new Beach House Retreat Center at camp. It has been dubbed "Christmas Camp" among the grandkids! You can tell that they feel at home when they are at camp as they show their parents around to all the places they love when they are here in the summer.

What started as a random idea when they came to a marriage retreat in the early 2000's, has grown into a cherished family tradition filled with priceless memories. It has deepened their connections with each other and as believers in Christ. As farmers by trade, camp is a time to plant seeds of faith and then water them to make them grow.

And yes, they hope to someday be able to add great-grandkids to the tradition!

Fun Facts About the Breuers:

  • On their farm near Hull, they raise goats! When I interviewed them in early April, they had around 60 baby goats with some more on the way!

  • When they show up in matching t-shirts, they are a hard bunch to miss!

  • One year Galen and Jeanne thought it would be a good idea to have their kids join in the family camp fun. A handful of the older grandkids, I'm told, told their parents that they were not allowed at family camp because it was a special time with grandma and grandpa!

  • As the number of grandkids has grown over the years, the older grandkids have grown into being a great help with the younger grandkids.

If you are interested in starting a family tradition of family camp or spending the holidays at camp, give us a call and let us know! We'd love to see you!


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