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Planning for Cousin Camp

July 13, 2019

Another Way for week of July 12, 2019

Planning for Cousin Camp

The first in a four-part series on “Learnings from Cousin Camp” by columnist Melodie Davis.  

Do you remember when you were five and got to spend some summer days and nights at your grandparents? What do you remember?

L to R: Our boys for the week: “S.” turning 6 in September, “H,” turning 4 in January, and big brother “J,” turning 6 in November.

Today’s version of this summer tradition in some families is sometimes called “Cousin Camp” or “Grandparent Camp.” I first heard it from friends at church. They had happily hosted their grandchildren together (rather than one or two at a time) so that grandchildren from far flung families get the experience of being together for extended play and conversation with cousins who see each other only infrequently. They mostly conducted it from their own home, but others travel with their young charges or operate from a vacation cabin, tent, or motel/hotel.

When I mentioned Cousin Camp to several friends or acquaintances they responded with “what a great idea.” So it felt like a new concept for some. But children have been “sent” to their grandparents over summer vacation for decades—perhaps even centuries, even though the need for this connection seems much more prevalent in our current culture when many families live hundreds of miles—or even continents apart. I realize how extremely fortunate we are to have grandchildren, to have good relationships with them and their parents, and to be able to afford spending extended time with them now that we are retired.

Our ground rules and values for camp.

So what can you do besides the obvious things like take them to a playground, on a hike, or to the nearest children’s museum? NONE of those obvious things happened during our recent special week because we had already done the first and last many many times, and the hike was ruled out as a little ambitious given the age of our youngest “camper.” We hosted two grandsons, S and J, who are five-and-a-half (born two months apart), and one grandson I’ll call H: a tall three-and-a-half-year-old.

Neighbor and blogger Jennifer Murch has held cousin camp numerous times for her own children (not grandchildren) who live at a distance from their first cousins. Her children are now mostly teens who actively help lead the week of activities, games and excursions. Some of their ideas and amenities included a trampoline (old fashioned rectangular kind), neighbors’ above ground swimming pool, taking all the kids to Costco to eat snacks (doesn’t work so well if kids have allergies), the library, and visiting a pet store. Author and former college president Shirley Showalter and her husband also had a week with their grandchildren which she wrote about here.

Here is a modified version of the schedule we initially planned. You could easily adapt this with your own schedule and ideas. (I’ve included a few pictures giving hints at which activities we were able to do or easily illustrate.)

Saturday           11:45 a.m. Pickup grandson S. in Beckley West Va. at Wendy’s (half way meeting point)

6:30 p.m. Friend Joe hosts us for BBQ ribs and then fireworks at our daughters’ old high school

Sunday             10 a.m. church – plus play on church playground after

Daughter Doreen brings grandsons J and H from the city where their family, plus Aunt Doreen live. She helps us with the three boys for four days.

Playtime: Baseball, soccer, and playhouse, plus dinner

Older cousin S sharing his sticker book with younger cousin H. In grandpa’s chair, of course.

Monday            Backyard play, maybe put up tent or possibly fishing at Joe’s

4:00 p.m. More cousins (other side of family) come play pee-wee baseball, soccer

6 p.m. Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, gluten free (GF) smores

Tuesday            Go to morning $1 parent-approved movie, Paddington Bear 2; shop for sleeping bags at Walmart?; playground if time; letters home and field trip to post office

Evening: (Stuart and Melodie to Lion Club installation of new officers)

Wednesday       Make camp t-shirts; go to Riven Rock park and creek with sandwich picnic (GF bread). Doreen leaves p.m.

Thursday          Westover pool with new sprinklers if hot, or fishing if we haven’t been yet

Evening: West Rockingham Lawn Party with “bouncy” house; take GF sandwich for J. Music, real bingo.

Friday               Take S. half way home to meet up with Dad. (Other grandma—nearby—keeps J and H)

Saturday           Take J and H to meet their Mom at half way point near Walmart.

 

So, what went well? What had to be scratched or modified? Find out next week in this space!

 

I’d love to hear your experiences with grands coming to spend time with you. High moments, low moments, insights you gained about yourself or your grands?

What do you recall about your own days at your grandparents?

Comment here!

Or if you prefer, email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

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5 Comments
  1. My sisters and I spent time with cousins in the summer, and with Grandma L. all year round. I like your ground rules and the eager beaver grandsons. 🙂

  2. We did spend more time with cousins in the summer also. We were lucky in that the city cousins all loved coming to “the farm” to “pick eggs” and play in the haymow. Grandpa and Grandma also lived at my house until they died when I was an adolescent. Glad you approve/support our ground rules. Something got added, as well, by one of them later in the week. 🙂

  3. What fun! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the installments and see what all went on during the week – the planned and the unplanned.

    • Thanks, Trisha, as you well know … we forget the details as time goes on so this serves a couple purposes! Glad to have you along for the ride!

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  1. Why You Need Plan B during Cousin Camp | findingharmonyblog

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