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Things to Do With Grandchildren at Grandma Camp

Keep Them Busy, But Leave Room for Spontaneity

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Glowsticks make a grandkids' camp out extra fun.

Glowsticks make a grandkids' camp out extra fun.

Photo © S. Lamont

So you've decided to become a Grandma Camper. You've read basic information about Grandma Camp, and you've consulted some of the experts who have been doing this for years. But you're still not sure how you are going to fill the hours. These suggestions will kick your imagination into gear, and soon you'll have enough ideas for years of Grandma Camp.

Make Something to Use During Grandma Camp

Make something to keep belongings in, says Grandma Shelley, a veteran camper. "The first project at both of my camps is creating a tote, a basket, a bag, or anything that they can place their finished camp projects in. The craft/tote project always includes a space for their name. The completed totes are then placed all together in a row from youngest to oldest." The next-to-last activity of Grandma Shelley's camp is gathering everyone's belongings together. The grandkids are motivated to participate because the final activity is always something really fun that can only be enjoyed when everything is packed for departure.

Another of Grandma Shelley's suggestions is to make each child an individual hand washing station, created from two-liter plastic bottles. These come in really handy at Grandma Shelley's Grandkids Camp Out, since the focus is on outdoor activities, and the grandchildren enjoy using them at home as well.

Try Other Crafts

If you are a grandma who likes to craft, you’ll probably have a ton of ideas for things for your little campers to make. If you aren’t a crafting sort, check out the wide variety of craft kits available in stores and online. Remember to be relaxed about crafts. The grandchildren will bring their own unique touches to their crafts, and that’s okay. Here are some crafts that my grandchildren have enjoyed:

Outdoor Fun

There's nothing wrong with unstructured outdoor play, but you can also have organized outdoor activities. My grandchildren always enjoy a treasure hunt, where one clue leads to the next until the final clue leads to a treat of some kind. Perhaps you want to go with an Olympics theme and have off-the-wall competitions. Classic outdoor games like Hopscotch and Four Square are fun, or invest in a bocce set or Blongoball, games that will be enjoyed by all ages, even grandpas!

If grandkids will be spending the night, being outdoors at night has a special charm. Go for a walk, play flashlight tag or just invest in some glowsticks. Nighttime makes all these magical.

Remember Their Tummies

Filling the grandkids' tummies is not only a necessity, but also an activity that can be enjoyed. Older grandchildren will enjoy baking cookies or cupcakes, and younger ones can participate in preparing sandwiches or salads. Creating sundaes, banana splits or milkshakes is always a hit. With supervision, kids can roast hot dogs on Grandpa's grill, or make s'mores.

Documenting Grandma Camp

If you are the grandma and also the photographer in the family, you are going to have a hard time coordinating activities and taking pictures. Grandpa or an older grandchild may be able to fill in. If you have school-age grandchildren, consider investing in a disposable camera for each and let them shoot away. You may be surprised by what good photos you get.

Photographs make good Grandma Camp souvenirs. Create a special photo backdrop or setting and photograph each grandchild separately. Take some with the whole gang as well. Make prints at home or send them electronically to a local processor. Pick them up before the kids depart so they will have their own photos to take home.

Photo books also make good keepsakes, but creating one is more time-consuming. You probably won’t have them ready for the grandkids to take home with them. Photo books can be expensive, but some options are available for less than $10 each. Check services like Shutterfly, Snapfish and Kodak Easy Share, as well as Walmart, Walgreen’s and CVS. Photo albums or photo books can also become prized Christmas gifts, says Judy Smitley, who hosts Day Camp Grandma each summer.

Crafting a Souvenir

A special picture frame can be a crafting project and a place to put that Grandma Camp photograph. You can buy frame kits at a craft store, or make your own using buttons or puzzle pieces.

A Grandma Camp tee is another good souvenir idea. Craft stores have inexpensive shirts and fabric paints. If your campers are older, they might want to make tie-dye shirts. Flip-flops, aprons and hats can also be customized to create unique souvenirs.

Embrace the Unexpected

It's good to have planned activities, but if something isn't working, don't be afraid to abandon it. By the same token, if the grandkids come up with other ways to amuse themselves and are perfectly happy doing it, don't feel that you have to pry them away for a scheduled activity. Have a couple of movies on hand in case everyone gets tired and squabbly, and have extra indoor options available in case of bad weather. Expect the best, be prepared for the worst and always, always have a Plan B.

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