Grandkid Camp

By on June 1, 2011

By Nancie Carmichael –

Do you want more fun than you can possibly imagine? And get “falling-down tired” while you’re at it—yet still come up smiling? Consider having a “Grandkid Camp.” My husband and I have been doing this for four years now and we’re hooked! When our oldest became a teenager, we thought maybe he’d not want to come. But the other day he told us he wouldn’t miss it for anything.

I know, I know. Grandkids are at various stages of growth, and we are, too. Maybe we don’t have the energy we used to. But we can tailor-make time for those special little people in our life and make life-long memories together in the sun. A friend of mine calls hers “Cousin Camp.” But whatever you call it, call it fun! Children love knowing that they are your complete focus. And doing a Grandkid Camp is one way you can be very intentional about saying, “You are important to us.”

The great thing is that you can fit it to your own situation. One couple I know loads up their RV with their grandkids and take them to the beach. We happen to live in a mountainous area and are surrounded by forest, so our setting is great right where we live. Some essentials:

  1. Decide on the date. This may be challenging, trying to fit in your camp with their parents’ schedules as well as the kids’ sports activities, etc. But persist—you can find the date that works for everyone. Early in the year, I send out a mass E-mail to our children (both spouses) and give them our possible dates. They then send me back possible dates that work for them, and we go from there.
  2. Determine the length, and what age group is eligible. For instance, we decided to make a rule that the child needs to be potty-trained. (This year, Cole just turned three and is potty-trained. Going to Grand Kid Camp was his motivator!) One couple sets the age at four. Our Camp was five nights and six days: three nights with the bigger kids and then two nights with all of them.  Another couple we know does one over night, and employs the use of a nanny.
  3. Decide on a theme.  One year we had a “Star-Wars” theme. Our Bible lesson was about God’s wonderful creation, and we spent one night out on our front lawn in sleeping bags, star-gazing. One year we did the story of the children of Israel. We tell the story; then the children act out the story, costumes and all. (They loved doing the Prodigal Son as well as the Good Samaritan). This year we are going to do a “Footsteps of Paul,” and since my husband and I will be returning from a “Footsteps of Paul” trip ourselves, we hope to have fresh insight.  Our T-shirts reflect the theme (and our craft as well). We also memorize a Bible verse that ties into the theme. We “reward” good behavior with “Bible Bucks,” and every night after camp-fire, we open the Camp Store (with treats and little toys from the Dollar Store).
  4. Be flexible. If your age span is too wide, you may want to try what we have done: Have the older grandchildren come up earlier for two or three days of “big kid” activities such as boating, golf, or hiking. Then the rest of the bunch comes. We also include a boy cousin the same age as our oldest grandson, Will, who is 14, and they are “junior counselors” together (they are very helpful with the younger children). We realize as time goes by, we may have to amend how we do Grandkid Camp, but for now, it works. One couple with a blended family of grandkids gave up trying to get them all together; so instead, they have them visit at various times during the summer. How you do it is not as important as just setting aside the time to enjoy your grandchildren.
  5. Plan a lot of activities—and then let it happen. For our “bigger kid” activities, we got each of them journals and took them on a hike along the Old Santiam Wagon Rd. and explored some historical ruins. We visited the grave of an early pioneer woman. The kids wrote about the trip in their journals; drew little sketches of what they’d seen, and even some plants that we identified along the way.
  6. Include the children in the work.  They can help make place-mats for the meal; set the table; make the salad, clean –up, etc. The “Bible Bucks” are great motivators. And they love doing things.

Suggestions:

  • Make T-Shirts for everybody with a logo and their name on it.
  • Do a lemonade stand; then divvy up the earnings and go to the dime store
  • Crafts: One year we made bird houses; another year, herb plants for the parents; another year, we painted mugs. One year they made their own place-mats. (Dare I recommend Michael’s Craft store?)
  • Scavenger hunt (one of their favorite activities!). You can hide clues with prizes in the yard. We hid the “treasures” in the forest, which they loved!
  • Swimming is always great for getting rid of energy. We also borrowed my son and daughter-in-law’s water slide that blows up. That was great fun!
  • Give “Camp Bucks” for good behavior (they can also be taken away). In the evening, open the “Camp Store” and they can buy trinkets or treats. A bit of behavior modification goes a long way!
  • Campfire every evening: We tell stories, and let the kids act out the story. (We like to do Bible stories and the kids are great at acting it out later. They get “Camp Bucks” for doing a good job.) The Camp Fire is a great time to look at the stars, and just talk. We play “High-Low,” a game every age can play. They tell their “highest” point of the day, and their “lowest” point of the day.

A couple of questions to think about and please feel free to share your answers under the comment section at the end of the article.

1.  What memories do you have as a child about your grandparent’s home? What made it special for you?

2. What can you do to make your home a great place for your own grandkids to visit?

Nancie Carmichael has worked with her husband, Bill in the writing and publishing field for many years as they published Virtue Magazine and Christian Parenting Magazine.  They now own a book publishing company, Deep River Books. Nancie and Bill have written several books together including: Lord, Bless My Child; and Lord, Bless This Marriage. Nancie has written and contributed to many books including Selah: Time to Stop, Think, and Step into Your Future; and her latest book, Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning. Bill and Nancie live in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and are parents to five married children and grandparents to ten. Website: http://www.nanciecarmichael.com/http://www.deepriverbooks.com/.

Nancie Carmichael

About Nancie Carmichael

Nancie Carmichael and her husband Bill have been involved with the writing and publishing field for many years as they published Virtue Magazine and Christian Parenting Magazine. They now own a book publishing company, Deep River Books. Nancie and Bill have written several books together including: Lord, Bless My Child; and Seven Habits of a Healthy Home. Nancie has written: Your life, God’s Home; Desperate for God: How He Meet Us When We Pray; The Comforting Presence of God; Selah: Time to Stop, Think, and Step into your Future; and her latest book, Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning. Bill and Nancie make their home in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and are parents to five married children and grandparents to ten. Nancie received her Master’s of Spiritual Formation from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2012, and in 2005, received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Western Baptist College. Website: nanciecarmichael.com

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Grandkid Camp