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School and stewardship

Girl with piggy bankbJanelle Rozek Hooper

Perhaps you feel it, too—the tension between sadness and relief that your children are heading off to school. I don’t know about your family, but our family’s schedule significantly changes over the summer. My husband, Brad, is an elementary school teacher, and he is able to be at home all summer. Our kids are still relatively young, just 5 and 7, not yet old enough to be gone all day working summer jobs. It means that all four of us are in the house, at the same time, almost all summer long.

However, Sophia, our 7-year-old, did go to a three-day camp by herself this summer. As with her first day in kindergarten, I think it was harder on us, as parents, than it was on her. We were so proud of Sophia for going to camp after she planned and prepared for eight whole months. In fact, she had been saving $3 of her allowance every week in order to go.

I am pretty sure she got camp fever due to the fact that for the last two years our family has attended an ELCA family camp at Camp Lutherhill. There, we enjoy activities like archery, singing camp songs and making s’mores—activities that are not a part of the natural rhythm of our days at home. We certainly don’t climb 8-foot ladders on a daily basis, something my daughter did without hesitation. She even allowed herself to be lifted, while on safety lines, significantly higher into the air so that she could swing down “for fun.”

Our kids talk about camp with great affection. Last October, when we received a flyer in the mail about a two-night summer camp for kids who’d completed first grade, Sophia immediately said she wanted to go. Because we have a culture of her helping to pay for things she wants, we quickly responded that she was welcome to go if she paid half her way.

So, in addition to the $2 she gives to God through the church every week and the $2 she saves in her Mission Investment Fund account, we added an envelope for her to save $3 a week out of her allowance for camp, and she did.

As the school year begins, what are some of the things you are hoping your kids, your grandkids or the kids in your community will learn? Are you hoping your child will become a better reader or fall in love with science? Perhaps you want your kid to be a better math student than you were. What about the things they’ll need to be successful in life, which they most likely won’t be taught in school? Have you thought about how to teach your kids about money?

The Rev. Janelle Rozek Hooper is a wife, mother, writer and daily walker. Hooper serves as Program Director for Ministry with Children for the ELCA. She is also author of Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew published by Augsburg Fortress Press.


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