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Grandma Camp on a Budget

Imaginative Themes Pull Everything Together

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Grandma Camp Book shows how to create a great grandma camp without breaking the budget.

Chock full of forms, patterns, hints and lists, this book will make hosting grandma camp easy.

Photo © Denise Hooper
In the summer of 2009 I saw an TV interview with a grandmother who had just hosted her tenth Grandma Camp. I sat with open mouth as Denise Hooper talked about her themed get-togethers with grandchildren and displayed the clever invitations, crafts and games that make her camps special. Best of all, nothing was expensive. Many of the supplies she used were recycled goods or were inexpensive purchases from a dollar store or party store. "She should write a book," I thought, and now she has.

The Blueprint

Grandma Camp on a Budget is a large spiral-bound book of over 100 pages with lots of lists and illustrations. The first 20 pages of the book are dedicated to general information and advice. The rest of the book is dedicated to specific ideas for carrying out 12 camp themes.

Hooper's camp is a two-day, one-night event. Children must be out of diapers to be included, and older grandchildren are included as camp assistants. The children usually sleep in a tent in the backyard. Hooper's general advice is sound and includes some items that novice Campers might not think of:

  • Have a signed consent form for each child, with up-to-date medical info and parents' contact information.
  • Involve the children in food preparation, and they will be more likely to eat.
  • Post a schedule of events, with drawings for the kids who aren't readers.
  • Let the grandkids know that electronic devices are not to be used except for a designated time each day.


As solid as Hooper's general advice is, when she starts detailing her themes and how she carries them out, her book comes to life. Here's a sample:

  • At Actors Camp, grandchildren are greeted by paparazzi as they arrive. They don sunglasses, lounge poolside and put their handprints in a "Walk of Fame." They also create a talent show or skit to perform for their parents when they are picked up the next day.
  • At Dinosaur Camp, grandkids go on a dig, make a baking soda/vinegar volcano and visit a museum to see dinosaur bones.
  • At Secret Agent Camp, grandchildren receive passports and are assigned to special missions. They break codes and search for missing microfilm. Creating "I Spy" bottles is the associated craft.
  • At Pirate Camp, the little buccaneers don eye patches and bandannas. They make pirate hats from newspaper and swords from cardboard and aluminum foil. They also make miniature pirate ships and go to a nearby pond to sail them.
  • At Wild Safari Hunt Camp, the grandchildren hunt for stuffed animals, dine on tropical fruits and take a field trip to a zoo or petting farm.


Hooper's book contains loads of extras. There are outlines to fill out, checklists to check off and evaluation forms for both grandparents and grandkids. For each themed camp, Hooper includes an invitation idea and other extras, such as recipes, instructions for crafts and patterns for homemade games. In a modest disclaimer on the back of her book, Hooper writes, "I am by no means an expert in any field. I simply wish to spark your imagination and kindle a desire to enjoy your grandchildren." I disagree. I think she's a genuine Grandma Camp expert, and I'm happy that she has decided to share her expertise with the rest of us.

Watch the 2009 video featuring Hooper and visit the Grandma Camp website, where she posts pictures and suggestions for more fun things to do with grandkids.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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