How to Host a "Camp Grandma" or "Cousin Camp" for your Grandchildren
Fun Tips for Planning "Grandma Camp" With Your Grandchildren
Grammy. Gammy. Na-na. Mee-Mee. Mee-Maw. Grandma. No matter what your grandchildren call you, you are special to them. You are an important part of their lives, and they are blessed to have you. If you have the energy, time, and patience, consider hosting a "Grandma Camp". It is a fun way to bond, and course Grandpa can be part of the fun!
A "Grandma Camp" is where all of the grand kids are invited to visit, for a night, a few days, or even a full week if are brave enough. You will plan fun activities, meals, and just time for the cousins to interact with one another.
I am not a grandma, , but I hope to have the privilege of hosting a "Grandma Camp" someday. (Note to self: Stay on very good terms with my future daughters-in-law, so they'll trust me with my grand kids for a week.)
Here are some ideas for hosting "Grandma Camp" or"Camp Cousins"for your grand babies!
Set the Date Several Months in Advance
Whether you have two grand kids, or eleven grand kids, it's very possible that schedules will conflict. Therefore, it's best to set a date several weeks, preferably months, in advance. It is not too early to plan for a full year before. This will also allow the parents to perhaps, plan a small vacation for themselves while they are kid-free. (I do not recommend they go too far away, such as on a cruise, in the event that their child becomes ill.)
Having plenty of time to plan the Grandma Camp will help lower the stress-level, and allow you more time to kid-proof your house, and borrow necessities such as extra beds.
Ask Parents for Input
It is great to ask the parents for their input on this fun time. Ask them if they think the length is appropriate. In some cases, four days would be the maximum, in other cases a full week or longer would be great.
Ask the parents what they would like to see happen, or not happen during this time. For example, some parents might not be comfortable with you taking them swimming unless there is extra help to monitor the kids safety.
Plan the event at the same time as Vacation Bible School or a Local Day Camp
Does the thought of entertaining your grandchildren 24/7 make a you little nauseous? One thing to consider, when planning a "Grandma Camp", is to host it at the same time as another event they could attend for a few hours in the day. If you attend a church, check to see if they will offer VBS this summer. If so, try to plan the Grandma Camp during VBS.
Also, there might be a local day camp they could attend for a few hours. This might be hosted by a children's museum, local college, or community center. (I would definitely try to find a reputable one, ask around for recommendations, you do have to be careful with this.) If you choose the day camp, do not have them attend for more than six hours a day.
This will allow you to get a little break during the day, and it will provide an enriching activity for them as well.
Make Pizza Pops
Fix Great Meals They Will Love
Sure, they need to eat their veggies. But, this week is a little different. I highly recommend fixing meals that they will enjoy and love. That means giving the cauliflower casserole and other non-kid friendly recipes a break.
It will not hurt them to enjoy meals such such as pizza,waffles etc for just a week. (Hopefully the parents will understand!) Y
ou could also make a point to take them out to eat to someplace fun such as Chuck E. Cheese or Mr. Gatti's. Yes, of course you do need to fix vegetables and some sort of nutritious foods, but try to focus on meals where they will want to come back.
Make Kool-Aid Playdough at Cousin Camp
Plan Fun Activities
Every Grandma Camp must be filled with lots of fun activities and playtime. Yes, this means giving the TV a break. Some great ideas include visiting a nearby zoo, science museum, water park, bowling alley, putt-putt golf center, roller rink and more. I recommend planning one fun activity a day if you are not coordinating the camp with VBS or a day camp. (If you are, you should still plan some fun activities but they don't have to be every day.)
Please note it is very important to interact with them when you take them out. Recently, at a children's museum I watched a grandmother sit and read a book while her grandchild played with exhibits. I guess there are worse things, but it seemed so sad that the grandmother wasn't joining in on the fun.
There are also plenty of fun activities you can do at home. If they are younger grandchildren, you could have fun play dough together.
It is also a great idea to purchase a variety of board and card games to play with them. Some include Uno, Skip-Bo, Clue, Candyland, Monopoly, and others. You might also want to buy a puzzle for everyone to work on together.
Make Tie-Dye Shirts at Grandma Camp
An additional fun idea is to create matching t-shirts for the grand kids and for yourself as well. You can have these made at a local t-shirt shop or online on eBay or Etsy. Or, you could make matching tie dye shirts together! Hopefully, they'll enjoy wearing the shirts after Grandma camp is over too.
Make a Group Memento to Remember the Grandma Camp
Another fantastic idea is to create a craft or project that can be saved as a memento from the event. One suggestion is to visit a local paint-your-own-pottery spot. You could create a plate, platter, or other item with everyone's handprints, footprints, and/or fingerprints. To find one in your area, google "paint pottery" along with your town or city's name.
Another idea is to collect their handprints on fabric for a handprint quilt. (You might be able to find someone on eBay or Etsy to make one for you.) You could also just paint a collage together, make bracelets (if its all girls) or other crafts.
Take Photos Together
Now would be an excellent time to take a good group photo. If you have four kids or less, (or mostly older children) you can always attempt professional photos. (I highly recommend visiting a place where they are able to photo shop heads in and out of photos to get everyone's best.) Of course, candids from home during the week can be just as special!
If you are really creative, you might even take photos and make mini-scrapbooks together of the activities during the week. It will be a wonderful keepsake!
Allow Them to Call Mom and Dad Often
This is important to help with separation anxiety or homesickness. It's a good idea to keep your first "Grandma Camp" short if they haven't been away from mom or dad very long.
Be Patient, Friendly and Cheerful
This is kind of a given, but the article wouldn't be complete if I didn't include it. If it seems too overwhelming to you at times, just put a smile on your face, and remember that it will all be over soon. And, perhaps you could wait a few years until you host one again. Try to create lots of happy memories for your grandchildren.
Read Funny / Interesting Books Together
Try to fit story time in the schedule of Grandma Camp. Even if they are ten years old, they are not too old to sit and listen to you read them a book!
Visit your local library and ask for advice from the librarian. Some books to consider are:
- No More Jumping on the Bed! by Tedd Arnold
- No More Water in the Tub by Tedd Arnold
- I Wish that I Had Duck Feet! by Theo LeSeig and B. Tobey
- Wacky Wednesday by Theo LeSeig
- Splat the Cat books
- How to Baby-Sit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
- How to Baby-Sit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
- Your Very Own Robot (Choose Your Own Adventure)
- Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
In addition, you could take your grandchildren to the library and have them select books for you to read to them. If possible, try to take them to library story time as well.
Grandma Camp is not easy, but it is a wonderful way to show your Grandchildren how much you care. Happy Grand-Parenting!