Camp Villages allows generations to bond

Dee Jonas, left, of the Village of Pennecamp, plays pickleball with her grandson, Finn Lindekugel, 14, right, at Fish Hawk Recreation Center. Finn was visiting The Villages from Oregon.

Ted Schneider’s one true love was baseball. He enjoyed playing the sport for years and even coached junior leagues. But the Village of Buttonwood resident said life caught up to him as he got older. His knees started hurting, so he couldn’t play as much, but he wanted to remain active in The Villages, so he looked to golf. Today, he plays about two to three times a week in the community with a group of friends. “(I like) the challenge,” Schneider said, about golf. “The challenge is very difficult.” Like Schneider, many people are introduced to new activities after moving to The Villages, and they quickly become some of their favorite hobbies. Camp Villages gives those residents an opportunity to share the hobbies they’ve found in The Villages with their grandchildren. Through introductory events that teach the fundamentals of an activity, such as a Full Swing Clinic or Learn to Sew, residents can bond with visiting family members while sharing The Villages lifestyle.

“Just like teaching their grandparents, we want the grandchildren to learn new creative and innovative activities,” said Pam Henry, recreation manager of resident lifestyles, parks and public relations with The Villages Recreation and Parks Department.

“We choose (specific events) because the whole point of Camp Villages is that intergenerational programming, so it’s that experience that grandparents can bring to their grandkids,” added Jackie Prim, recreation supervisor of lifestyle events with the recreation department.

Schneider has been working with his grandson, Curtis Schneider, on his golf game during his visits to The Villages over the last three years.

“We play together, and we have a great time,” Schneider said.

They wanted to get a few new tips, so Schneider and Curtis attended the Camp Villages Full Swing Clinic on Monday at Palmer Legends Country Club.

Curtis was excited to learn more about the sport from the PGA teaching professionals at the interactive clinic.

“I really like golf; it’s very fun,” said Curtis, of Georgia.

Many of the events offered at Camp Villages are modeled after popular activities in the community, whether they are sports, arts and crafts or something else.

Nan Christiano and her granddaughter have bonded over sewing, a passion Christiano picked up about 15 years ago in The Villages.

She wanted her 10-year-old granddaughter, Katie Patton, to give it a try, and she’s grown to like it, too.

Katie has done small sewing projects with her grandmother, but Christiano wanted her to learn more of the basics, so the Village of Summerhill resident took Katie to the Camp Villages Learn to Sew event July 16. There, Katie learned to sew a pillowcase.

“I like sewing a lot,” Katie said. “I do a couple projects every now and then, but I’m not the greatest.”

But she and Christiano keep practicing, and Katie likes that when she finishes sewing she has made something beautiful.

“You’re proud of how you created that,” the New York resident said.

Richard Lee, of the Village of Liberty Park, has taken his grandson, Darroch Lee, to the Camp Villages Taekwondo Basics event for the last three years.

“He loves it,” Lee said, of his 8-year-old grandson from Belleview. “He learns the different forms. He understands that this is self defense.”

Lee has helped teach a few of the taekwondo events offered at Camp Villages and hopes the grandchildren who attend want to continue learning taekwondo when they go back home, like Darroch has.

Darroch currently is taking taekwondo lessons in Belleview, and occasionally comes to The Villages to join his grandfather and his taekwondo group.

Lee is excited that his grandson has picked up on one of his interests.

They’ve been to one Camp Villages taekwondo event so far this summer but they’re planning to attend Friday’s Taekwondo Basics event, too, because they just can’t get enough.

“It’s good bonding,” Lee said. “I remember when I did a couple things with my grandfather, and I think maybe one of these things (Curtis will) still remember when he gets older.”

Villager Dee Jonas and her grandsons Finn Lindekugel and Jackson Klein have bonded over pickleball.

Jonas, of the Village of Pennecamp, picked up the sport about five years ago, and started playing with Finn and Jackson when they visit.

She took them to the Camp Villages Pickleball Clinic on Friday to sharpen their skills.

“I want the boys to know the rules and just get a little bit of the technical part of the game, so when they come visit they can enjoy the game even more because they’ve had a little bit of instruction,” she said.

Finn and Jackson, both 14, had fun at the event.

“(I like) just having the knowledge to be able to play when someone asks you to play,” said Finn, who was visiting from Oregon.

Village of Caroline resident Jeannie McGuinness attended a Camp Villages Pickleball Clinic with her son, Brian McGuinness, and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Grace McGuinness.

Jim McGuinness, Grace’s grandfather, learned to play pickleball in The Villages, and Brian got the hang of it from him.

They wanted to introduce Grace to the sport to see if she enjoyed it, too.

“I hope she likes it and she wants to play so we can play together,” Brian said.

Grace enjoyed learning new skills at the clinic and can’t wait to play against her dad.

“I hope I’ll beat him,” she said.

The 19th Camp Villages summer program runs through Aug. 9. Visit or call 352-753-1716 for a calendar of remaining events.

Summer Jarro is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5404, or