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Don’t Try This Alone: Why Help May Be Essential

July 30, 2019

Another Way for week of July 26, 2019

Don’t Try This Alone: Why Help May Be Essential

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

Wednesday was the day of our big outing for the week: a trip to Riven Rock Park in nearby mountains. The rustic park has the chilly and clear Dry Run (stream) running through it, a place we frequently enjoyed as a young family with three daughters. One time before we knew better (of how to access it), we climbed down a steepish bank on one side—each of us with a toddler in our arms and the oldest girl hoofing it safely down on her own. They always enjoyed rock hopping, hunting for minnows and crawdads, and we usually took a picnic lunch.

Reading our young campers the riot act before venturing out to the river.

S and Grandpa with the crawdad!

Friend Joe helps our little bit squeamish camper H with his fish.

Grandpa and Henry working the little digger Grandpa welded long ago for our daughters.

Grandpa supervises a “sword fight” with leftover “clappers.”

Grandpa helps J. put together his wooden car project while H watches.

J, at bat and S, pitching working on their baseball skills.

Super helper Aunt Doreen loves her nephews very much.

Now visiting this favorite place with our three oldest grandsons S, J, and H, (ages five, and three-and-a-half), I’m glad we had three adults watching over them. Earlier in this series I mentioned their Aunt Doreen came to help us out. This was one day we needed all hands on deck—or rocks as it were. As I made the boys sit down to go over our safety rules, I emphasized that they needed to listen to Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Doreen because sometimes children in these settings in the wilderness have wondered off and gotten lost, drowned, or hurt. They seemed properly awed, but not scared off. All of them take swimming lessons, so they know the dangers of water. The water was moving quite fast.

We eventually spotted crawdads and minnows: pretty hard for little ones to find, flitting around their feet, but finally they did! Aunt Doreen ultimately captured a crawdad in a cup, so she and S waded back to show Grandpa (who doesn’t have the agility he used to have). He was keeping watch over our picnic basket, cooler, and open car.

I was very glad Grandpa could be as involved as he was the rest of the week—despite his mobility issues. He and Doreen took the boys fishing at a friend’s pond—leaving me home alone to luxuriate in a quiet house as I made several dishes for the wider family group that came over that evening. Toward the end of the week when I was nearing the end of my rope and creativity, he blew bubbles with them, but the bubbles were hard to get sailing on a very still morning. So we scratched that in favor of a water fight with large plastic water blasters and football stadium noisemakers—the things fans clap at a game to make a lot of noise. We got out the digger Stuart made long ago, and they learned how to operate its shovel in the garden. We ended up cancelling the trip to the local pool, feeling we all needed a low key day at home. Plus Doreen had to get back to her job.

Overall, it took three of us reading books, giving baths, picking up toys, helping with shoes (some were too small, some too new to easily slip on small feet), keeping dishes washed and food cooked. We managed to keep the three of them mostly happy, mostly dry, and mentally challenged. In the future I may try a four-day camp if feasible, unless we again have good “extra” help lined up! After raising three daughters, managing three grandsons for 6-7 days (with no parents present) is a fun but exhausting challenge. No one got sick—either homesick or the other kind, not one got really hurt (thankfully!), and we had only a few bathroom mishaps. There was no major fighting, just a few disagreements on whether to play soccer or baseball, who could sit where at the dining room table, and who got which kid plates. J willingly gave up his chosen evening reading book one night, (a Berenstain Bear volume on scary dreams) when Grandma pointed out that it may be too scary for the three-year-old right before bedtime.

As adult cousins and siblings, we don’t always agree and also get irked at one another, eh? The kids helped each other too: sometimes figuring out the ins and outs of their various car seats faster than Grandpa and Grandma. Next week I’ll share the rewards we found from this very special week.

Remember, we all need each other—and everything goes better with love.


For a copy of all four columns on “Learnings from Cousin Camp,” you can write or email me and I’ll send it to you by mail or email when the series is finished. Write to or 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 a week after newspaper publication.   



  1. My favorite photo, “reading the riot act” to little campers. Lately, I’ve noticed you don’t use your grandchildren’s full names on your website, maybe a prudent move.

  2. Yes, I was elated that my daughter caught that moment on camera. 🙂
    Regarding initials, one family especially doesn’t want the children to have too much of an electronic footprint before they are old enough to decide such matters for themselves.

  3. Beverly Silver permalink

    A wonderful, 4-chapter story! Thank you so much fr sharing and all the insights! I am forwarding this on to several friends who are also enjoying your blogs!

    • The wrap up is still to come. 🙂 Thanks for commenting and forwarding, Beverly. You’re a dear with your own growing family. Best to all.

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