Getting Ready for Camp
I am the grandma to ten. I have seven grandsons and three granddaughters. However, I have only been up to seven overnight campers since they must be potty trained to attend. It is looking like I may have eight campers next camp. Number eight's mommy is working very hard to help make it happen!
I do most of the preparations for the camp, and Papa is there to help with the children, the activities, and the constant cleanup the entire time we have our little campers.
A schedule is printed ahead of time, and as much prep work as possible is done for the food, crafts, activities, shower time, and bedtime.
What We Did
Schedules are cleared with parents months ahead of time. Personal invitations go out to each child with a list of what they need to bring.
Upon their afternoon arrival a snack is shared as cousins so that everyone is on the same eating schedule. Papa and I wait for the children's arrival to set up camp. The children are thrilled to help put up the tent, fill the water jugs, set up the tables and chairs, and make their beds in the tent.
The children each make their own foil dinner that is baked in my oven. They each make their own hand washing stations out of 2 liter bottles and a soap on a rope. The children are given camp work assignments to help keep things neat and tidy.
A night hike with flashlights is a tradition, as is making s'mores when we return over our outdoor BBQ. An outdoor campfire is a tradition as well, only our campfire is made from a Halloween cauldron that plugs in to create the look of flames. I have made pretend logs out of painted cardboard pieces. No heat is involved, but the children still sit around the "fire" in the cool of the evening and morning. They also love practicing their teepee fire building skills over and over.
To wind everyone down for the evening we sit around the campfire and tell stories and sing songs. Some years we have given the children glow sticks to enjoy in the dark outdoors and to take to bed with them as night lights in the tent.
Climbing into the tent with Grandma and Papa is a thrilling time and one of the favorite activities of the whole campout!
We awake to a tent full of chatty and very hungry little campers. The children get dressed for the day while Papa and I prepare breakfast. After breakfast we are scheduled with crafts and activities. I always do a learning unit such as Animals of the Southwest, The North Star or Outdoor Safety. The learning unit is always followed up with a craft project or activity.
Taking down camp, cleanup, and packing up is all part of the schedule when our camp is winding down. A final activity is reserved for when the work is done. It usually involves outdoor play and water! One year I had water balloon launchers, filled water balloons, and water guns for all of the children.
Once the camp is over I start thinking and planning for the next one!
- I would begin with a short overnight camp and build from there after you have tested your energy and physical abilities. It is harder to take away days than to add them.
- Schedule families far ahead of time. Wait to tell children until a couple of weeks ahead of time. They tend to drive parents crazy with "how many more days?"
- Give the children and parents a printed invitation with times and what you would like the children to bring.
- Arrange for extra help if needed.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do as much ahead of time as possible for food, crafts, activities, bath time, and bedtime.
- Begin rested.
Our Favorite Activity
One of my favorite activities was following a teaching unit on Outdoor Safety. We did a game we called "Search and Rescue" using some emergency whistles I had given them as part of a survival kit.
The Hardest Part
It is exhausting but worth it!
It is also very hard to get all of the pictures you want. You are so busy interacting with the children that it is hard to capture everything you would like on film.
What I'll Do Differently Next Time
I will be doing my 7th camp out soon. I don't know if I will do anything different. I have tweaked it over the years, and it is kind of scary to change what is working well for me.