With Grandparent's Day this week, we've been talking a lot about grandparenting lately. This post is for grandparents, parents, grandkids and cousins alike. Anyone can host a cousin camp (also known as Grandma Camp).
This summer when we were on furlough we hosted our very first cousin camp. We did it at my parents' house, and I came up with the games, schedule and menu ideas, but my parents, and my siblings (parents of my kids' cousins) were in and out almost the whole time to help out too. We painted shirts, played games, played in the “woods” had cookouts, camped out, watched movies, did scavenger hunts, picked blueberries, talked in funny accents, played in the river, pic-nic-ed, etc. It was a great relationship and memory building time!
Here are 5 tips for hosting a memorable cousin camp.
Choose your time wisely. We did ours for 2 days, 1 night since we had to work it into everyone's summer schedules, and because it was the first time and lots of younger children. You could do it longer, perhaps even a week, but don't want them to be bored as that leads to mischief. If all the cousins live close by you might consider a day camp. 9-2 daily, for instance.
Include everyone. Our kids were ages 5 mo. to 10 years, but we had parents very close at hand to help, and some of the smaller ones didn't camp out for the night. Many suggest that the kids be at least 5 to participate in over night cousin camp. Cousin camp should be for all cousins who can participate. If the little ones can't spend the night, they could come during the day. If the older ones have work schedules, they could come when not at work. Just take all that into account while planning age appropriate activities. If you have great grandparents still living, you might invite them to dinner with everyone one night and/or take multi-generational photos with them as one of your activities.
3. Plan Ahead
More so than a birthday party, cousin camp takes a lot of preparation and planning ahead of time. Games, props, crafts, prizes, activities, meals, schedules, transportation, outings… there is a lot to plan!
4. Enlist Help
Start early and get the parents involved whenever possible to donate needed items or “sponsor” meals or outings. If parents can't be there the whole time and you'll need extra hands or supervision enlist the help of other friends or perhaps teens from your church.
When planning activities, try to choose things that will require teamwork, getting to know one another, or is edifying to the other person verbally. Whether the cousins are together a lot or rarely ever, there is bound to be some misunderstandings. Don't allow the kids to selfishly pout or to pick fun at one another. Cousin Camp can be a great way to teach love, but you want to monitor well, so that the potential for good memories doesn't turn sour.
If you need some extra tips, I would suggest getting Ramons Roberson's book Cousin Camp: A Guide to Intentional Grandparenting.
If your grandkids are all spread out, you might try scheduling a virtual cousin camp using some of the ideas in my book Loving You Long Distance: Tips for Strengthening Long Distance Family Relationships. You can also follow my Grandparenting Pinterest Board where I am adding great new ideas all the time!
Have you ever hosted a cousin camp? What tips have I left out?