camping w grandparents

Want to bolster your relationship with your grandchildren?

Camp Grandma: A few of their favorite things

How about hosting a two or three day Grandparent camp right in your own home! You’ll carve out some of that quality time with your precious grandkids and make memories they’ll never forget.

There’s a lot to think about and plan if you take on this challenge. Families are very busy these days so you’ll want to plan your camp and get it on your family’s calendars early—possibly six months in advance.

Take stock of the ages of your grandchildren. If you have lots of littles you’ll plan simple events and add in some nap times. If the kids are older, you’ll want to keep them busy and plan lots of active events. One great idea is to have children twelve and older come a day early to help you set up. They’ll have the status of camp “counselors” and help the younger children with all the fun activities throughout camp.

Once you have the date planned, you’ll want to think through each day’s events, meals and sleeping arrangements. Some grands choose a theme and plan the whole camp around that theme. Others just choose crafts, games, menus and outings that suit their grandkids’ interests.

A month or so before the camp, send out invitations which include important information such as a packing list, a general idea of activities, and any rules that you may wish to enforce. I would guess that screens and phones will be put away during camp. You might include a sample daily plan to help parents and kids know what to expect.

Here are some ideas to help you plan your unique Grandma (or Grandpa) Camp:

  • Meals

Kids like their meals to be quick and tasty. You can do a lot of preparation before camp to make each meal as easy as pie. Choose healthy meals that don’t take a lot of time and add snacks and treats, too. Be aware of any food allergies or special dietary needs as you plan. Be sure to include every child in the food prep and clean-up sometime during camp.

  • Activities

Plan your activities with the weather in mind. You’ll probably want to do as many activities as you can out of doors. Adjust the difficulty levels or assign older helpers to team with those younger to ensure a good level of success. There are endless possibilities for fun activities. Some of them might be:

  1. Playdough or clay
  2. Water play
  3. Bubbles
  4. Sandbox play (you can use tubs filled with rice or corn meal if you don’t have a sandbox)
  5. Sidewalk chalk
  6. Riding toys
  7. Kid crafts (take a look at pinterest for tons of ideas)
  8. Painting 

Games

  1. Tag games
  2. Badminton, volleyball
  3. Croquet
  4. Cornhole
  5. Scavenger hunts
  6. Hide and Seek
  7. Jump Rope
  8. Jacks
  9. Red Light, Green Light
  10. Red Rover
  • Sleeping Arrangements

Your sleeping arrangements will be dictated by the ages of your grandkids and their preferences. In general younger children will want to sleep indoors and older kids will want to brave the backyard. You may have tents or pop-ups to create a comfy sleeping area in your back yard. Sleeping bags and beach towels will be on your packing list.

  • Outings

You’ll want to plan one or two events away from your home. Perhaps a trip to a nearby park that ends up at the local ice cream parlor. Or a nature walk that supplies found objects for tomorrow’s art work. There may be a museum or other destination that you know your grandkids will enjoy. Keep any expenses to a minimum and focus on family interactions.

  • Evening Fun

After super-busy days with lots of calories burned, you’ll want to find some relaxed, but special evening events. After dinner you can play some of the above games or engage in one of the following:

  1. Skits   Break the kids up into small groups and give them time to plan a short skit around a given topic or sentence. “The Three Bears find Goldilocks in their House” or “You wake up in space. What do you see?”
  1. Stories   There are many games that involve telling a story and having each child add their part. Or take this opportunity to have one grandparent tell a story about their own childhood. Even better tell a story about one of their parents and watch them take in every detail.
  1. Singing  This would be a great time to break out a guitar or some rhythm instruments and teach a camp song or two. Kids love to sing and the evening setting around a fire or just out of doors creates an atmosphere that will bring out their best.
  1. Quieter Games  like charades or Pictionary are fun to do at the end of a long day.
  1. Outdoor Movies shown on a large screen (bedsheet).
  • End of Camp BBQ

Your children, the kids’ parents, will be eager to pick up their children at the end of camp and quiz them on what they’ve done. Why not plan an end of camp barbecue for the whole group? You might even make it a potluck and have the parents bring some of the meal items. 

Some Grandparent camps choose one of the older children to take video of the entire camp experience and show the footage at the final evening event. By then everyone will be tired and yet, they’ll hate to leave.

No worries. You can make this an annual event and plan an even better Camp next year!