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A few years ago, Donnie Cranfill of Greenville noticed that many of his friends were becoming grandparents, which significantly changed their behavior on Facebook and other social media. Suddenly their feeds were filled with photos and videos of their grandkids, and Cranfill sensed a newfound joy in his friends.

“It’s amazing the relationship kids have with their grandparents and vice versa,” he said. “When I think back, the most meaningful person in my life was my maternal grandmother.”

While he’s not yet a grandfather himself, Cranfill saw a need in the business world that wasn’t being filled and decided to start his own company, Camp Nana Papa, to help immortalize the special bond grandparents share with their grandchildren.

“It’s not a real camp,” he said. “It represents a state of mind. I had a friend who posted a lot of pictures of his grandchildren, and he would often title his posts Camp Nana Papa. I didn’t know what it meant, so I asked him. He said ‘Anytime we’re with or thinking about our grandchildren, we call it Camp Nana Papa.’ I thought that was the perfect name for a lifestyle brand that caters to grandparents.”

Camp Nana Papa, which is based in Spartanburg, offers products specific to the the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. Cranfill and his partner, Cameron Todd of Charlotte, also trademarked The Grand Life brand to offer shirts and other items with the slogan “Once you’re a Grand … you’ll understand.”

“Our main purpose at Camp Nana Papa is to help families make grand memories. It’s all about memorializing the memories we cherish, and we asked, ‘How can we help make those things easier?’ For example, one of the things we have on our website is a baking and cooking set. We’ve all baked cookies with our grandparents.”

Earlier this summer, Camp Nana Papa also published a children’s book, “The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa,” written by Cranfill and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Cranfill said the book helps explain what Camp Nana Papa is while sharing a fun story about the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

“Grandparents love reading to their grandchildren,” he said. “I wanted to have a young boy and young girl going to their grandparents’ house and experiencing the things many kids experience — from playing in a pond to baking. I wanted it to be clear that Camp Nana Papa isn’t a physical place but a special place in the heart.”

The book features a firefly character — Flash the Firefly — who is available as a plush toy to accompany the book. The book is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon, and a second book — “The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa: Finding Flash” — will release in September.

So far, the book and Camp Nana Papa products are available online and have found distribution at boutiques across America. The company’s Facebook page has gained approximately 20,000 followers in a year with little promotion, Cranfill said.

“Obviously, there is a market out there for grandparents, and we want to be a brand known across the world,” Cranfill said. “We’ve already had a second printing of the book, and it all started here in the Upstate.”

Learn more about Camp Nana Papa at CampNanaPapa.com. Learn more about its parent company, The Grand Life, at www.TheGrandLife.com.

—BUSINESS BRIEFS—

Powdersville YMCA now open

The Powdersville YMCA celebrated its grand opening July 1. Offering more than 30 programs, the new Powdersville YMCA is located in the heart of Powdersville and Wren communities at 9115 Highway 81 North, Piedmont. The facility features an expansive fitness center, group exercise studios, outdoor functional fitness area, large basketball gym with flex use, community meeting room and athletic fields. For more information, including upcoming events and classes, visit www.pcymca.net.

Community Garden breaks ground in Spartanburg

Residents of Spartanburg will soon have a community-oriented place to grow nutritious food and learn about gardening, cooking, nutrition and health, according to the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in June for the nonprofit Spartanburg County Foundation Community Garden, managed by Hub City Farmers’ Market. The garden is located at 150 S. Church St., across from Spartanburg City Hall and the downtown library. The garden will be planted, cultivated and harvested by local residents who can rent garden plots and share ideas, gardening tips and recipes. The garden is expected to open in the fall. For details, visit http://hubcityfm.org/community-garden/.

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