The Ultimate Guide to Grandma Camp

The Ultimate Guide to Grandma Camp

Tree Sun Butterfly Camp sign - Hosting and Planning Your Own Grandma Camp - Adventures in NanaLand

What's In This Guide?

  • This is the ultimate guide to planning and hosting your own Grandma Camp (or Cousins Camp)!
  • You will be able to organize and plan things like how to plan a schedule, find supplies, create kid-friendly meals, put together the perfect theme with activities and games, and so much more!
  • You will find all the resources you need to make your camp a memorable event for you and your grandchildren!


Who Is This Guide For?

  • If you want to spend some quality time with your grandchildren and have more fun than you’ve ever had in your life. . .
  • If you are a busy grandparent who would like to figure out a way to get the grandchildren together with you and create memories to last a lifetime. . .
  • If you need to wrap your mind around trying to organize and pull off a grandma camp but just aren’t sure where to start. . .

This Guide is for YOU!


What Exactly is a Grandma Camp?

While some actually call it grandma camp, others call it cousins camp. Some even call it grandparent camp. No matter what you call it, you just want to get those little grandchildren together and call it FUN!

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to call it grandma camp. Honestly, a grandma camp is whatever you want to make it. It can take any form you want from a week-long event to a single day camp as long as it involves the grandkids.

You don’t necessarily even need to get your grandkids together in person. While it can be a bit more challenging, you can hold a “camp” with your long-distance grandchildren as well.

A grandma camp usually involves dedicated time together where you play, learn, explore, discover, and connect with each other. Camp can be a unique bonding time for grandparents and grandchildren. Above all, camp gives you a chance to be together that is different than the norm and dedicated to just the grandkids.

It’s super exciting to hold a camp for the grandkids! We’re here to help you in planning your own grandma camp for maximum fun and memory making!


Are you ready?? Let’s go. . .

Illustrated map with red flag in one spot

Let's Get Started!

Let’s begin by thinking about where you’re going in order to end up with the best camp ever!

In this chapter, we’ll help you get things off on the right foot while answering some of the most asked questions about holding a grandma camp.

Chapter 1

Hosting the Perfect Grandma Camp: Begin With the End in Mind

You could certainly become quickly overwhelmed when thinking about putting together your grandma camp. Well, that’s where we come in. We’ll try to help you get organized, give you a roadmap, and put your mind at ease.

Let’s start with some of the most asked questions from our grandparent community. It will give you a great jumping off point!

How Should I Organize My Grandma Camp?

As we mentioned above, there are many ways to organize your grandma camp. The most common types of camps are Day camps, week-long or multi-day camps, long-distance camps, preschool camps, or actual camping camps.

You can find more information on each of these types of camps in our Grandma Camp Resource Guide.

What Should I Call My Grandma Camp?

While there are no specifics on how to come up with a name for your camp, most grandparents will choose to either use a generic name like Grandma Camp or personalize it a bit more by using their name.

A fun generic name is Cousins Camp. After all, this is where the cousins gather together as friends. Of course, simply calling it Grandma Camp, Grandpa Camp, or Grandparent Camp are all acceptable.

Personalizing the name of your camp may be more memorable and fun for your grandchildren. Camp (grandma or grandpa name) is easy. You can combine the names as we have done with Camp NanaPapa. 

Or, if you wanted, you could dump the grandparent names all together and use a last name, a fun word or phrase, or something that describes your family.

There is definitely no right or wrong answer here. However, you may want to find something that you want to stick with for the long term.

Who Should I Have At Grandma Camp?

Let’s chat about who should come to your camp. The door is wide open on this subject. Honestly, there are no rules here, only your preference.

A few things to think about when deciding is at what age will the kids begin coming to camp. This could be at a certain age or ability. Also, you need to consider the “maintenance” that the kids will need such as diaper changes, dietary needs, etc. So, consider how young is too young?

On the other end, will there be a top end? Is there a time when the kids will be too old to attend?

Another thing to consider is whether or not to include any long-distance grandchildren. This may involve getting on video chat with them if they cannot attend in person.

All things to think about.

We cover this topic in more detail in the Grandma Camp Resource Guide.


When Should I Hold My Grandma Camp?

You can hold a grandma camp almost any time of year. You only need a few hours for a single day camp. However the cousins usually like being together for more than that.

Some ideas for when to hold your camp might be during the summer (of course!), long weekends, school and holiday breaks or anytime if your grandkids are still preschool age.

How Long Should Camp Be?

Again, this answer is definitely up to you. However, we do have a few suggestions for determining the right amount of time for you and your grandchildren. Some of the more important things to think about would be budget, your energy level, the attention spans of your grandchildren, etc.

Our Grandma Camp Resource Guide will give you more insight into determining your camp length.

Should Parents Be Involved in Grandma Camp?

There are a lot of things to consider here. Grandma camp is a great time to bond with the grandkids without their parents around. It also gives the parents a bit of alone time without their children.

Having said that, there are some reasons to have parents be part of the festivities especially if you are including little ones.

You’ll have to think through specifically how you do or don’t want parent involved. Think about how it will affect the kids both positively and negatively.

Illustrated map and compass - Grandma Camp

What's the Plan?

Your plan will be your roadmap and compass to hosting the perfect grandma camp.

Start with a good plan, end with a great camp!

Chapter 2

It All Starts With a Plan: Be the Hostess With the Mostest

Setting yourself up for success just feels good, right? The outline below will give you a basic understanding of what needs or can be done ahead of time.

Also, remember that many of these things are optional and can be added to, substituted, adjusted, or plain cut out. These are the things that we do for our camp, but yours may look a bit different.

One quick word. . .don’t get overwhelmed by this schedule. We have a wonderful FREE checklist to help you with all these steps at the end of this section. However, don’t stress about the specific timelines in our Grandma Camp Checklist if you don’t have that much time before camp begins. Simply adjust as needed. With that said. . .read on. . .

Grandma Camp Plan: 4 - 6 Months Before

There are two things that you will want to do as far in advance as possible – plan the date and choose a theme (if you’re having one). It is a good thing to plan out your dates for camp well in advance so families can plan and you can save up if needed. Having a theme chosen ahead of time will help make all the other planning easier. If nothing else, it will keep you focused.

Grandma Camp Plan: One Month Before

About one month before, you could start sending out invitations and packing lists to get the kids excited. You will also want to begin planning the menu and setting up your schedule. It’s also a good idea to begin thinking about the sleeping arrangements, schedules, and planning your menu. All these things can be done in the weeks leading up to camp. This will keep you from going crazy the week before.
This one is not a must, but it is fun. . .Plan for Teasers – If you want to use little teasers throughout the month to get the kids excited about coming to camp.

Grandma Camp Plan: One Week Before

The week before camp will be your busiest time. Make any last-minute arrangements for outings, schedules, etc. Start prepping your home and vehicles. Also, you can put together some responsibility charts and gather up any craft or activity supplies that you will be using. After you’ve done that, you will know if there is anything that you forgot. This is a good time to either shop for or order those items. DON’T wait until the very last minute!!

A really fun thing that we like to do is give the kids “welcome” packets. 
If you have a goodie bag or welcome packet for the kids, get those put together. We will usually use some type of drawstring bag or small backpack for them to use during camp with their welcome items inside. These are our favorite drawstring backpacks. They come in all colors and they’re not expensive. Great combo, right?

We cover all of these things and more in our Grandma Camp Resource Guide. It comes with a free planner to keep your planning organized. This way, you will be prepared in plenty of time.
Well, that bring us up to T minus 24 hours. . .

Grandma Camp Plan: The Day Before

The day before camp starts should be just getting together and making your home (or wherever you are holding camp) ready for the kids to show up. You will want to shop for the perishable food, set up the sleeping/changing areas, do any decorating you want, and clean the house really well. (Trust me, it’s easier to clean up afterward if you start out with things clean before the kids arrive!)
We know that this sounds like a lot, but don’t worry. . .we’ve got your back. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. . .

We're happy to share our Grandma Camp Checklist with you!

Sign up below to receive your FREE Checklist today!

Grandma Camp Checklist
3 Illustrated dollar signs

Budgeting for Camp

Knowing your budget and how to make the most of it will help you plan the best camp possible.

Chapter 3

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

When planning your budget for grandma camp, be realistic. If you have a large number of grandkids, don’t expect to get away with bare bones budget. . .unless you already have most of the supplies and food on hand.

Having said that, the best ways to cut your budget and get the most bang for your buck is to be realistic with your budget, keep things simple, and shop sales and discount sites online. The planner that comes with the Grandma Camp Resource Guide is quite valuable in helping your to organize and keep to a budget.


Illustrated backpack

Let's Talk Schedule

Creating a schedule for your grandma camp can be a life saver for your sanity. Trying to remember what activity comes next with all the kids clamoring around may be your undoing if you don’t have it planned out.

Chapter 4

How to Create a Schedule with Confidence

Creating a schedule for grandma camp can seem overwhelming. However, knowing what goes on the schedule and how to time out your activities and meals will help you create that schedule with confidence.

The first rule is to understand that things will take longer than you think!

With that out of the way, let’s talk about what kinds of things to put on your daily schedule. You will want to schedule everything from the time the kids get up until they go to sleep at night. Don’t leave anything out. . .even the “down time.”

Besides the things I have mentioned above, you will want to plan meals, activities, bedtime and morning routines, outings, and yes. . .even play or free time.

Let's Get Cooking!

We all know that kids can be a tough crowd to cook for. So, in this chapter, we’ll talk about some practical ways to get kids to eat all while staying within your budget.

Chapter 5

Creating Kid-friendly Meals for Grandma Camp

Let’s face it, kids are sometimes hard to please when it comes to eating. A wise man one said that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But an even wiser man added, “However, you can salt his haystack.”

In this chapter, we’re going to talk about “salting the haystack” to get even the pickiest grandkids eating the meals you make at grandma camp.

One really great way to get kids to eat is to get them involved. Have them help plan, shop for, and prepare the meals. Make it look enticing and pretty. Using lots of color and textures will help accomplish that. Also, make sure you understand how to handle any allergies or food sensitivities.

We have a whole range of ways to make decisions regarding food that the kids will eat in our Grandma Camp Resource Guide

Enhancing Your Camp

You want your grandma camp to create the best memories for your grandchildren. Start with things that will become beloved traditions over time and the kids will never forget it!

Chapter 6

Traditions Make Your Camp Memorable

Do you want to make sure your camp is a big hit with the grandkids? Create the kinds of memories that will last a lifetime through family traditions that are meaningful and will build lasting relationships. 

Because families have so many individualized traditions and do things in their own way, it makes this a pretty wide topic. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll share with you some basic examples of new traditions to build just for camp.

Camp Traditions

  • Use invitations – use these to get the kids excited about camp
  • Opening & closing ceremonies
  • Favorite meals that you have every year
  • Music/Singing
  • Special camp bedtime routine or wake up routine

Family Traditions

  • Religious or cultural traditions (like prayer)
  • Serving together
  • Working together
  • Taking group/family pictures
  • Doing secret acts of kindness

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Brainstorm some ideas to incorporate some traditions that the kids will look forward to year after year. Those are the things that help bond you and your grands and make the best memories.

Illustrated sun

Need a Theme?

Having a theme for your grandma camp is completely optional, but it makes things so much more fun!

Can’t think of the perfect theme? We’ll give you a few tips to find the right one for your camp.

Chapter 7

Themes That Bring Life to Your Grandma Camp

People often want theme ideas for their grandma camp for a couple of reasons. One reason is that having a theme makes it easier to plan out invitations, crafts, activities, and even meals. The other reason is that it just makes things so much more fun!

Here are some basic theme ideas:
  • Magic
  • Space
  • Lego
  • Circus
  • Dragons
  • Dinosaurs
  • Seasons
  • Superheroes
  • Spies
  • Mystery
  • Ocean
  • Science
  • Zoo/Jungle
  • Insects
  • Royalty
Illustrated heart

Rules & Consequences

What do you do when things aren’t going as smoothly as you would like at grandma camp? With lots of cousins together, there are bound to be one or two incidents where you will have to intervene.

Chapter 8

Discipline at Grandma Camp

Disciplining your grandchildren is one of the most difficult things for a grandparent to have to do. Truly, all we want to do is to hug and cuddle them and of course, spoil them rotten! But what happens when things get a little out of hand at grandma camp and you need to apply a bit of discipline?

The kids are bound to get on each other’s nerves once in a while and struggle over rules to a game occasionally. When those things happen, there are many ways to handle the situations. However, we believe that one of the very best ways is to be proactive in preventing as much as possible.

One of the ways that we try to preempt unwanted behavior is to get the kids to “buy in” on all the rules and consequences. 

Setting those expectations early is a great first step. However, it doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be some misbehavior. You will want to set up those things before or the first thing when camp starts.

Illustrated camera

Camp's Over. Now What?

When grandma camp is over, there are bound to be just a few tears or at least moans about having to leave from the grandkids. However, we have some suggestion so you don’t have any tears!

Chapter 9

Wrap Up Camp Without Tears

When your grandma camp is over, there will be a bit of relief. DON’T feel guilty about this! Look, we’re not as young as we used to be, and camp is a lot of work. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with grandkids for multiple days. Even if you’re just doing day camps, it still takes a lot of stamina, but at least you get the evenings to recoup.

This chapter applies more to those holding multiple-day camps than the single days. We have three things that are essential to wrapping up your camp and help you feel like it was a success:

The first thing is the clean up! Whether you need to just do a few dishes and sweep the floor or if you feel the need to call in FEMA, you will need a strategy for cleaning up your home or the venue where you held camp.

Please take some time for yourself now. You’ve done a great thing having the grandkids all together for a fun camp experience. Now, get a massage, take a bubble bath, go play a round of golf, read a book, or do whatever relaxes you the most. Listen to some relaxing music or just sit and listen to the quiet. Ha ha!

Preserve the memories from camp. As you know from raising your own children, these years won’t last for ever. The time will go by as fast as they did with your own. So, figure out how to preserve the memories from camp so you and the grandchildren will always remember those fun camp days.

Prepare for the aftermath of camp and you will find that it’s the perfect way to end a great bonding experience. We have more information on creating memories for grandma camp here.

Ready, Set,. . .Go!

Are you ready for more detail on planning your camp??
See the resources below to get started on your planning today!
Blank Blue Checklist


FREE Checklist

to Get You Started

 Planning Your

Grandma Camp!

Sign up for your FREE Grandma Camp Checklist today!

You will find a flexible checklist that will allow you to plan a grandma camp on your timetable.

Grandma Camp Checklist

When you sign up for the checklist, you will receive weekly emails that will give you more ideas not only for holding a Grandma Camp but other ways to connect to your grandchildren both local and long distance. (No cost. No obligation. Cancel anytime.)

Ultimate Resource

Get the Ultimate resource for your Grandma Camp! It’s a step-by-step guide that will walk you through planning and hosting your own camp.

And guess what? You get a FREE Companion Planner to help you stay organized and on top of things!

Grandma Camp Resource Guide with FREE Planner!

If you would like to get a quick-start, step-by-step guide that will get you up and running in no time. See more info here:

Happy Camping!!

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28 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Grandma Camp”

  1. Prissy Sellers

    Hi Jill,

    I am Prissy Sellers ( I paid for your Grandmacamps informational book. I paid $17 on June 6, 2023. I cant’t find anything that I have received from you. Can you please help me?

    Thanks, Prissy

  2. Heidi Pentiuk

    Dear fellow grandma, I have downloaded and payed for your guide. I can’t find it. Can you help I would love to retrieve this.
    Thank you
    Heidi Pentiuk

  3. Michelle

    Papa and I have will be hosting our first “grandma papa camp” this summer and I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for all the valuable advice you have posted! This is awesome! We have 11 jewels ranging from 5months -14 years of age and they all live within 20 miles from us and I pray 10 of them will be able too attend camp! I especially like idea of having a banner too welcome our grands! Very exciting!! Can’t wait to share our camp experience with you! Great job!!!

    1. Michelle, I’m so happy you found some info that will help with your camp. I’m excited for you to hold a camp for your little “jewels.” I’ll look forward to hearing about it! Have fun and let me know if you need any other info. I’m always happy to help!

  4. Andrea Urban

    Fantastic post. I need a bit of direction if you can, for my situation. This would be my first year and I think I’d like to start out with a day camp format. My sister passed in 2010 so I am trying to fill the gramma role for her grandkids, whom she never met. Some are step grands that only see each other at Christmas time, so they aren’t super familiar with each other. They range in age from 6 months to 7 years old with only a total of 6, 4 of those are potty trained. I would love to work up to a several day affair but that is not for this year. Any thoughts for creating those bonds in such a short amount of time?

    1. Wow Andrea, you have taken on a big job, but what a labor of love! It sounds like the kids really do need a little more connection to create the bonds you’re asking about. For the most part, relationships take time and attention. However, kids often connect much faster as they just want someone to play and be with. They don’t get into the complexities of adult relationships.

      I do have a lot of ideas and info but probably too much to put in a comment. Please email me at jill @ and let’s chat about how those little ones can connect.

  5. debbie young

    this is my 1st year doing nana camp and we are all super excited but it wasnt until i was penteresting activities to fill in the time gaps that I came across this site and am super excited that its a thing and I can use all your wisdom and experience. thank you

    1. Debbie, I’m so glad you found some good info here.

      There’s just not a better time of the year than Grandma Camp!

  6. Nancy Campbell

    We’re having our 10th Cousins Camp next week, Monday-Friday. We always have a theme (Hawaii, Wild West, Emojis, Character….), and this year’s theme is the Circus. We have 15 grandkids, but only 10 are coming, ages 5-19. The other 5 either have jobs or are too young. (They must be at least 4!) I found lessons on people from the Bible who have something in common with circus entertainers….Some examples are Samson, the strongman; Sarah the clown, when she laughed because God told her she would have a baby in her old age; Peter, who escaped from prison, like the escape artist; and Daniel, the lion tamer.

    We’ll have lots of fun during the week, and on Friday night we’ll have dinner with the 3 sets of parents. Friday morning the kids will help decorate outside, and that night they’ll put on a circus for their parents! I’m so excited, but I wonder (as I do every year) if I’m going to be ready in time!!!

    Thank you so much for your posts and the huge help they’ve been to me. No matter how many of these we do, we always need fresh ideas!!

    1. Nancy, I’m impressed with the connections you made between Bible characters and circus people. That’s awesome! It sounds like you’re camp is going to be so much fun, and I’m sure your grandchildren look forward to it every year.

      I’m so glad you found some helpful suggestions. And I hear ya, Sister. . .I sometimes wonder if I’m going to be ready too. Ha ha! There’s always too many fun things to do with the kids but only so much time to get it all together. ❤ Have a great time!

  7. I am getting ready to do a 3 day 2 night camp with my 4 local grandchildren. I sure wish I had seen this sooner! I have things mostly set; food, activities, etc. Because the older children have phones and all have small handheld game systems I have decided to establish an electronics “safe” to hold them all until free time each day. I have planned a Pirate Themed day for the middle day with a treasure hunt as one activity and a pirate movie that night.

  8. Is there anything similar to Airbnb or Couchsurfing for grandparents looking to travel with grandkids and connect with other grandparents with local grandkids across the US?
    We like to travel with our grandkids – ages 9 and 11 yrs. We’ve camped locally and at state parks with our grandkids. They readily make friends and enjoy playing at the park campgrounds.
    Now, we would like to make an across the USA trek – this summer if travel restrictions are lifted. We will travel from Washington state to Utah to New York state to visit great-grandparents. It would be so wonderful to have a few stop over adventures along the way with local grandparents/grandkids – new friends and local experiences.
    Am I crazy?

    1. No Lori, you’re not crazy. LOL! That sounds like such a fabulous idea! I’m not aware of anything like you have described. I’ll do some looking around. This sounds like something fun to share with other grandparents if it exists. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Our camp is next month and you have really helped my planning efforts. 8 grands ages 9-19 months. It will be fun!

    1. Mimi, I’m so excited for you! It sounds like you have a gaggle of grands like I do. Ha ha! I have no doubt it will be so much fun for all of you. Grandma camp or cousins camp) is a place where you and your grands can bond and make so many memories that will last a lifetime. I’m glad you found some helpful suggestions and good luck with camp! Please come back and share with us how it went.

  10. Susan osberg

    I LOVE and appreciate your camp info! We too do a cousins camp with my grandkids. Every July in Minnesota north woods! Have you ever heard of “the Rainy Day Theater”? Kids prepping theater plays for others… we may do The Three Little Pigs this summer. Drop cloths to make scenery. I copied outlines from book onto dropcloth from Mennards. They will paint in, etc. I have so many ideas! glad to share with you. I dont post … but will share for sure!

    1. Susan, I love those ideas!! There will probably be others who would like to try the “Rainy Day Theater.” I’ve never heard of it, but I think my Littles would absolutely love an idea like that! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome idea!! You will probably get an email from me asking about some of those other ideas. I would love to share them here with everyone.

  11. Karen Taylor

    I have so enjoyed your posts about Grandma Camp, especially as we planned our first camp. There are lots of ideas out there, but I found yours the BEST! Your tips and fun ideas were so helpful! Since grandpa helped, he suggested we call it Grand’s Grand Camp, which our grand blessings love! Our five oldest grands live in our city, and we see them often. They even have their own room at our house. 🙂 Mom and Dad had asked if we could watch them for two days so they could go on a short trip. I said we needed them for 4, because I wanted to host our first camp. We created an invitation and sent each grand a brochure that included a packing list (and what not to bring), some basic rules and a few of the things they could look forward to. I’m happy to say, it was a huge success! They are excited this will be an annual event. We have a 5 month old granddaughter across the country, and when she is older, she, and any added siblings, will be joining us! Thank you so much for all the great help!!

    1. Karen, I’m so excited for you! It sounds like you are off to a great start creating your Grand’s Grand Camp (btw, I love the name!!) as an annual event. I’m sure your grands will look forward to it every year! Last year was the first time we were able to have all of our Littles together (including the long distance ones) and the cousins were all in heaven spending 3 glorious days together. Grandma Camp is by far the highlight of the year for us and our Littles. You’ll have to circle back around here each year and let us know how it goes and what fun things you did! I’m so glad that you were able to find our ideas helpful!

      1. We don’t have a local party store close by. Could you possibly refer me to somewhere I could purchase the welcome banner online?

        1. Susan, I have never ordered a banner online. However, there seem to be many sources that could do this for you. If I were to recommend one, it would be VistaPrints.

          I have done some other types of printing through them and found them to be reasonably priced and good quality prints. I’ve never had a complaint about them.

          If you do print a banner online, please come back and let us know who you used and how it went. I would even love to see a photo!

  12. This looks amazing! Thank you! I was wondering if you have an age limit, of how old they need to be, or do you recruit parents?

    1. Hi Kris! Papa and I will take the kids full time without parents once they’re potty trained. Before that, parents need to help out during the days and take the kids home at night. As a matter of fact, we’ve had 3 sets of parents be motivated to quickly get their kids potty-trained this past month with all our talk of Camp NanaPapa coming up. Ha ha!

      We decided to make this rule, because with so many Littles, it was too hard to have to stop our activities to always be changing a diaper. Besides, it created too much baggage when we took the kids places.

      I hope you find some info that will be helpful to hold your own camp. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Karen B

    You are so organized and this all looks awesome!

    You always do such a great job at Camp NanaPapa. The kids love it!

    1. Thanks, Karen! Our Camp NanaPapa is a big hit with our Littles. They look forward to it every year! I love the memories that we are making together.

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