Planning Grandma Camp: A Complete Guide
Some call it cousin camp. Others call it grandma camp. Still others call it grandparent camp. What ever you call it, get those little grandchildren (or cousins) together and call it FUN!! We’re here to help you in planning a grandma camp for maximum fun and memory making!
Here in NanaLand, we call it CampNanaPapa. So for the rest of this post, we will refer to it as grandma camp and call the little people grandkids. . .because, I do not want to keep typing all those names. My fingers would fall off! But whether you are a grandparent getting the grandkids together or a parent getting the cousins together, it’s all the same.
It’s super exciting to hold a camp for the grandkids! If you need help to set up a timeline or schedule to get it all together, check out this post for putting together a schedule for successful camp. After you have your schedule together, I recommend you block your planning into 3 phases: The months before, the week before, and the day before. Let’s get started on planning grandma camp!
I apologize that this post is a super long one. I put lots of detail in so you could get your camp planned with minimal surprises! If you would like a FREE Checklist of how to schedule a camp, fill out the form below and download it today!
*This post may contain affiliate links. All this means is that we get a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click through to the product. Please see our disclosure page for more details.
Grandma Camp Plan: 4 – 6 Months Before
- Plan the Dates – It is a good thing to plan out your dates for camp well in advance. This way families can plan around vacations and other obligations. In our family, we have grandchildren whose parents are divorced and spend time with their dads during the summer. So, we try to get things arranged well in advance so that we know what dates the kids are available or can arrange for them to be with their mom. This also gives you plenty of time to think about what you want to do and save up if needed.
Grandma Camp Plan: One Month Before
- Invitations – Make and send out invites to the families that has the dates and times for drop off and pick up. This gets the kids excited and looking forward to camp. Along with this, I send out little tickets that give them the date and time for the first day. They have to bring their ticket to get their unity item (either a t-shirt or cinch sack). I usually include some water bottles with the theme on it and a flashlight.
- Packing List & Rules – I send out a copy of what gear the kids should bring, reminder for the parents to label EVERYTHING with their child’s name, which activities are for all the kids or just older kids, sleeping arrangements, what chaperones/vehicles I will need, and all the rules (including what discipline has been laid out) for camp. (Just a note: When planning grandma camp, don’t leave out the discipline expectations. This is just as important for the kids as it is for you. Look through this post on what to think about before you actually begin planning grandma camp.)
- Menu Planning – I get the menu together and a list of items I will need for each meal. Then I watch sale papers to get the best prices on those items. I separate my list into dry and canned goods (that can be purchased ahead of time) and fresh items that will need to be purchased the day before camp begins. This is also the time when you need to check with parents on current dietary needs of the kids.
- Purchasing – Watch for the best prices on food items, craft supplies and paper goods that you will want for camp. When planning grandma camp, you don’t want to break the bank by waiting until the last minute. This will often cost you time and money. Utilize Amazon or Walmart as they both have 2-day free shipping on some orders. Oriental Trading has bulk items for craft or theme ideas. Most dollar stores will have things you can use for crafts or décor but are subject to availability. So if you shop early, you have time to wait for them to restock. This also gives you a chance to find coupons that might apply to items you need. Remember that you will need supplies for protection as well – sunscreen, bandages, insect repellant, etc.
- Welcome Banner – The first year, I purchased a vinyl banner from my local party supply store for about $20. I kept it somewhat generic. There is a place to put in the date every year and to welcome the kids to Camp NanaPapa. We hang it on our front porch so the kids (and neighbors) know it’s camp time!
- Kitchen Helpers Schedule – You can go ahead and put together the Kitchen Helper’s schedule and create some badges or special aprons for the kids to wear while they are helping. It just makes cleaning and prepping a little more fun!
- End of Camp Awards – If you want to do a closing ceremonies and awards, you can prep these ahead of time. Print out some generic awards where you can fill in the child’s name and accomplishment. This way, you can be watching during camp for those funny moments to create a fun award for each child.
- Daily Schedule of Events – Create a sheet for each day of camp that you can display for the kids to see. Trust me! It will save on the kids constantly asking you, “What are we doing next?” I create these on my computer but don’t print them out until the day before. Sometimes there are changes to the schedule.
- Research – Do your research for any outings you want to take when planning grandma camp. Don’t wait until you get there to find out that the Dino Museum or Zoo is closed for cleaning during your camp. Check times, dates, availability, cost (sometimes prices change depending on time of year), advance ticket sales (can sometimes save you money), group pricing rates, passes available (I have grandparent passes to some of the venues in my local area), travel time, best time to visit, and any other pertinent info you may need.
- Volunteers & Rules for Kids in Cars – secure a commitment from any of the adults who will volunteer to drive or chaperone any of the activities for camp. Check on car seats and make sure you understand all the rules of buckling up those kiddos in the car.
- Sleeping Arrangements – You may need to have separate rooms, tents or just sleeping space for the Littles to be comfortable. Make sure you know how to set up and take down the tent if you’re using one. Or make sure that there is enough room in the living room for all the sleeping bags. This year, we got a few of those little cots for sleepovers. Some of the children needed those to be able to sleep well. Or you may have a need to separate boys and girls. Make sure you have that planned out as well.
- Plan for Teasers – This is not a must on the list, but it is fun if you want to use little teasers throughout the month to get the kids excited about coming to camp. I plan small things like mailing a postcard to remind them to get their things packed. Or a text to the parents to share with the kids talking about a countdown of days. Our family has a Group Me message board where I put up a picture of Papa and I in front of the banner telling the kids how excited we are and that we can’t wait! Like I said, it’s not a must for planning grandma camp, but it’s fun!
- Think Ahead to Post Camp – After camp, I like to put together pictures and little stories from the time we had together. This is fun for the parents to see and serves as a great memory for the kids.
All of this can be done in the weeks leading up to camp. Don’t put off the things that can be done well ahead of time. This will keep you from going crazy that week before. Planning ahead also can alert you to any changes you need to make in case things aren’t coming together quite as you wanted.
Grandma Camp Plan: One Week Before
- Final Arrangements for Outings – Make any final arrangements for places that you will visit. Check on things like reservations, construction on the roads to your destination, advance ticket purchases, etc.
- Goodie Bags – If you have a goodie bag or welcome packet for the kids, get those put together. This way you will know if you are missing something or are short on supplies. These are our favorite drawstring backpacks to use. They come in all colors and they’re not expensive. Great combo, right?
- Finalize Schedule – Hopefully, there won’t be any last-minute changes, but now is the time to find out if there is. If all looks right, you could go ahead and print your daily schedules.
- Prep Your Home & Vehicles – Over the next week, take a look around your home and make sure that everything is ready. Take a good look around the outside. Mow the lawn a couple of days before. Trim back any bushes that might cause problems. Also make sure all hoses and other tools are secured, etc.On the inside, just make sure all the rooms are ready for whatever they need to be used for. I like to get my kitchen extra clean as that makes it easier for the kids to keep clean. One of my other suggestions would be to put away any knick knacks or special items that might become collateral damage during camp. My our house, Papa is on car wash duty so things are ready to go. We don’t want to spend time cleaning out extra stuff from cars so we can cart the Littles around.
- Gather All Craft/Activity Supplies – I like to gather all my supplies for each activity or each day into a box. A good example of this is when we did our marshmallow shooters in the schedule above. I made sure all the pieces of PVC pipe were cut to the right length and that we had enough of each one. I put the pieces for each shooter along with visual instructions on how to put them together into a bag. That way, I only had to grab the box and hand out a bag to each kid. I also made sure that we had a nice variety of printed duct tape, scissors,and markers, and put those in the box as well. You can do this for any activity that has “parts.”
- Outdoor Handwashing Station – I brought out and put together a simple handwashing station that we use for camping. I also put out a cooler of water and ice with cups. It is great so that the kids aren’t coming in and out of the house when they need to wash hands or get a drink. Even if the boys don’t come inside to use the facilities (yes, I catch them “watering” the bushes sometimes), I still make them wash their hands. Ugh! Boys!! We just have to laugh.
- Music – Gather up some silly camp songs that the kids can sing. This can be a fun way to bring some unity. We haven’t gotten good at making this a tradition, but we’re working on it.
- Responsibility Charts – You can make up and print off responsibility charts for the kids to follow. I like to make mine kind of visual so that the little ones can understand. Here is one of our Kitchen Helpers Charts:
- Test All Equipment – Test out anything you need to ahead of time – the firepit, the outdoor movie, crafts, painting, camp stove, dutch oven, car seat installation (yes, make sure you know how to do it right!), or anything else that could cause you to waste time “fixing” while the kids have to wait.
Well, that brings us up to T minus 24 hours.
Grandma Camp Plan: The Day Before
- Shopping – Finish all shopping for your fresh foods. Check to make sure there isn’t anything else that you have forgotten at the store.
- Food Prep – Make sure to finish prepping any food that needs to wait until the last minute. Clean out the fridge and freezer and make room to store anything that needs to stay cold.
- Set Up Sleeping/Changing Areas – Set up and divide off the sleeping quarters and areas for changing clothes. Just make sure you clearly mark these areas. You are trying to avoid getting a thousand questions during camp.
- Clean Inside & Make Things Easy to Find – Clean up all the areas really well where the kids will be. That way you can show them what it should look like before they leave camp. Also, make things easily accessible and easy to find. Put food fixings on lower shelves. Stack all paper and plastic goods in one spot so kids are not hunting around the kitchen. On the flip side, make sure all medicines, cleaners, and other potentially dangerous items are stored up and away from the kids and secured. When planning grandma camp, you need to think through anything the kids will be helping with and make it accessible.
- Get Your Camera Ready – Make sure that you have a camera ready to take pictures and video of all the fun things at camp. The parents will want to see and so will the grandkids. You may want to be able to document that you really did this! Also, depending on what you may have planned for preserving the memories after camp is over, you will undoubtedly need some pictures to go with it.
- Decorate with Theme Items – Hang the banner if you have one. Put up any décor that you have as to give the fun ambiance of “camping” away from mom and dad.
- Kiss Your Sanity Goodbye – Lol! Just be prepared. . .for anything! You may need to prepare mentally to have the kids around 24 hours a day for the next few days. So, don’t be unrealistic about your expectations. Yes, you’ve spent a lot of time planning this; and yes, you want all to go well. However, don’t worry too much if things don’t go exactly as planned. Let go! And. . .remember why you are doing this.
Are you ready for one of the greatest experiences of your life? You have done a wonderful job planning grandma camp! Now go enjoy it! You will make memories and build relationships that will last long after the fun is done!
Please let us know how your camp turns out! Leave us a comment below to ask a question or tell us about your fun experiences! Like I tell the Littles. . .It’s a lot more fun when everyone shares!
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!
P.S. If you want that great Checklist for Planning your Grandma Camp, download it today!