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Going to Grandparent Camp

Intergenerational Programs Bring Families Closer


grandmother and granddaughter bonding

Activities at grandparent camp promote bonding between the generations.

Photo © Uwe Krejci | Digital Vision | Getty Images

Why should kids be the only ones who get to go to camp? The last few years have seen increased interest in camps for kids and grandparents. Different entities offer grandparent camp, and they can vary widely in length, cost, activities and amenities. The emphasis can be on learning, nature, spiritual growth or a combination thereof. If you enjoy traveling with your grandchildren, you should definitely consider grandparent camp. Many programs can be found through a web search, but here’s a sampling of some of the options.

Sierra Club's Just for Grandparents and Grandkids

Clair Tappaan Lodge, built by Sierra Club volunteers in the 1930s, is headquarters for this laid-back camp, scheduled for July 20-25, 2014. Although every day features hiking, swimming, skating or other activities, participants are welcome to make their own itineraries as well. The location is near Donner Pass, roughly 35 miles from Lake Tahoe. Minimum age is 5, and the cost is $695 for adults and $595 for children. A similar camp, called a Multigenerational Family Adventure, is scheduled for June 23-29. The location and cost are the same.

Historical Virginia Camp

Stratford Hall Grandparent Camp allows participants to experience 18th-century life on a Virginia plantation. Held at Stratford Hall in Virginia, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, this camp is perfect for history buffs. New activities that are planned for 2014 special programs about spying during the Revolutionary War and about early house building. Other activities will include fishing and looking for fossils, as well as experiencing plantation life by sampling bricklaying, playing the recorder and cooking in an open-hearth kitchen.

The dates for 2014 are June 24-26, July 8-10 and August 5-7. Cost is $360 per person with a price break for family groups over two and repeat campers and a discount for local, non-residential participants. Accommodations are provided in a guest house. Children can be as young as those who have just completed first grade and as old as age 12, but teens can attend with grandparents and serve as camp assistants, paying a discounted price.

Sagamore Summer Camp

Why not start with the granddaddy of them all? Since 1985 Grandparents' and Grandchildren's Summer Camp have been offered at the Sagamore Conference Center, Raquette Lake, New York, in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. Two types of programs are available at Sagamore: programs booked through Road Scholar, and SagaGrands, booked directly through Sagamore. The Sagagrands program serves children ages 6-14 and will be held July 20-25.

Various dates are available for Intergenerational Camp with Road Scholar, including Family Week, scheduled for June 30-July 5. Prices start at $853. Besides Family Week, "Adirondack Camping Adventures," "Grandmothers and Granddaughters" and "Grandparents and Grandchildren" are offered.

Other Road Scholar Programs

Road Scholar, associated with Elderhostel and formerly known as Exploritas, also operates a number of programs that can be loosely categorized as summer camps. Many of these programs are in exotic locales and therefore fairly pricey, but they are fantastic if you can afford the cost. Road Scholar also operates a number of intergenerational programs that are more affordable. For example, an exploration of the crafts and music of the Ozarks starts at $679 per person. Accommodations at Road Scholar camps are usually hotels and resorts. If camping or more primitive accommodations are involved, the program description will make that clear.

Haw River in North Carolina

The Haw River State Park Grand Camp welcomes children who are rising 2nd to 8th graders and their grandparents. Haw River State Park is near Browns Summit, North Carolina. Activities include hiking, fishing and nature studies. Dates for 2014 are August 6-8 and 11-13. Cost is $150 per person, and accommodations are in a cabin or motel. One unusual aspect of Haw River State Park is that it is in the early stages of development as a park, so is not open for public use. The conference center that is one of the few facilities was previously owned by the Episcopal Diocese.

Nyquest Grandparent Camp

The Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario is the home of this Grandparent Camp, held at Lakefield College School. Grandchildren from ages 2-12 are accepted to this camp, which will be held Aug. 8-10. Activities run toward the traditional -- swimming, canoeing, hiking and stargazing. The cost for this three-day, two-night camp is $260 for grandparents and $120 for children, in Canadian dollars, with taxes not included.

Grandparent University

A slightly different type of grandparent camp is offered at some universities. Typically these two or three day camps allow grandparents and grandchildren to sleep in university housing, take classes together and visit neighboring attractions. Obviously the university is trying to attract future students, and the welcome should be warm. The University of Wisconsin-Madison originated the Grandparents University concept in 2001 and has a patent on the name. Some of the programs below are affiliated with the original Grandparents University. Others have adapted the concept and use variations of that name. One caveat: As you are searching for these programs, be aware that the term "grandparent university" is also widely used for programs for grandparents raising grandchildren.

Church Camp

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option and you’re a person of faith, church camp may be just the ticket. More and more church camps are offering a grandparent/grandchild experience, and they are usually open to participants of all faiths. Some of these will be primarily the usual camping experiences, with some singing and devotionals around the campfire. Others will have a heavier spiritual component. Hundreds of these camps are available; those listed below are only a sample.

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