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!

CONTENTS

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!

Introduction

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. Here are some of the most common types of camps:

  • Day Camps – You can choose to hold a single day camp, half-day camp, or a series of day camps. These
    types of camps don’t include overnight stays which are usually better for your
    younger grandchildren.
  • Week-long or Multi-day Camps – These are probably the most common types of camps. They are usually best held during the summer, long school breaks, or weekends.
  • Long-distance Camps – Also known as virtual camps, these can be held with chat for short amounts of time. It’s a bit more difficult to hold the kids’ attention over the computer.
  • Preschool Camps – This works well if all your grandkids are under school age allowing you to hold camp almost anytime of year.

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. You could put your grandparent name first and then “camp” at the end.

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 yo 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.

Here are a few things to think about when deciding:

Babies in diapers – Little grandkids in dipaers can be a challen for many reasons.

  • First, it’s simply inconvenient to be changing diapers.
  • Second, having to change a diaper can cause a disruption in an activity or outing plus you have to carry the diapers with you if you going out.
  • Third, if little ones are not old enough to be potty trained they may not be old enough to participate in activities created for older children.

So, you may want to include those little ones with parental supervisoin or exclude them until they get older. Sometimes, excluding them when they are younger, gives them something fun to look forward to in the future.

Long-distance grandchildren – Obviously, if they can travel and attend camp in person, that is the best scenario. However, if they can’t then you need to decide if you could do some of the games, activities, or crafts via video chat so they can be included.

 

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.

Here are some ideas for when to hold your camp:

  • Summer – Since most of the kids are out of school all summer, this is one of the best times of year to hold camp.
  • Long weekends – There are usually some 3-day breaks off from school for the kids throughout the year. Taking advantage of these can make for some fun that you can have during times of the year other than summer.
  • School breaks – These types of breaks could include spring, winter, or in between semester breaks.
  • Holiday breaks – There are also usually days that surround large holidays that would give you time to hold a camp.
  • Preschool – If your grandchildren are young, then most days are free if they are not yet in school.

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.

First, you are going to need to think about your budget. How many days can you reasonably afford to house and feed the kids? Think about entertaining them for those days as well.

Second, you should consider your energy level. Do you have the energy for days of camp or just a few hours on a couple of days?

Third, think about the attention span of your grandchildren. What can they reasonably handle?

Fourth, younger grandchildren may not be able to handle overnight stays. Whereas older children may like to stay a few days without their parents.

These are some of the more important things to think about as you consider how long to hold your camp.

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. For instance, if you have small grandchildren attending camp, they may not be able to be apart from their parents for long periods of time. Another reason may be that you don’t have enough drivers or chaperones for an outing.

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? Don’t stress about these specific timelines if you don’t have that much time before camp begins. Simply adjust as needed, but this outline 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. So. . .read on. . .

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. You can also plan around split or blended family schedules.

    This will also give you plenty of time to think about what all you want to do and save up if needed.

    (This timeline is completely flexible and can be done much closer to camp if you don’t start this far in advance.)

Grandma Camp Plan: One Month Before

  • Invitations – Make and send out invites to your grandchildren. Be sure to include the dates and times for drop off and pick up. This gets the kids excited and looking forward to camp.

  • Packing Lists & Rules – Send out a copy of what gear the kids should bring, a reminder for the parents to label EVERYTHING with their child’s name, sleeping arrangements, what chaperones/vehicles that are needed 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. You need to think through some of these important decisions before you actually begin planning grandma camp.)

  • Menu Planning – It’s a great idea to get the menu together and a list of items you will need for each meal. Then watch sale papers to get the best prices on those items. Separate your 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 minutes. This will often cost you time and money.

  • Welcome Banner – You can purchase a vinyl banner at many office supply stores for a reasonable price. Keep it a bit generic and don’t use a particular theme. Have a place on the banner where you can add the dates each time. We hang our banner in front of our house so the kids (and neighbors) know it’s camp time!
  • Kitchen Helpers Schedule – You can go ahead and put together a 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 outstanding 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 in case 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 maintenance.

  • Volunteers & Rules for Kids in Cars – Secure a commitment from any of the adults who will volunteer to drive or chaperone any of the outings for your 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 grandkids 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. Be aware if you have a need to separate the boys and girls.

  • Plan for Teasers – This is not a must on the list, but it is fun if you want to sue little teasers throughout the month to get the kids excited about coming to camp. You can plan small things like mailing a postcard to remind them to get their things packed. Or send a text (to the parents) talking about a countdown of days to camp.
All this can be done in the weeks leading up to camp. This will keep you from going crazy the 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, 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. 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 if you’re sure they won’t change.

  • Prep Your Home & Vehicles – Over the next week, take a look around home and make sure that everything is ready. Especially, take a good assessment around the outside. Mow the lawn a couple of days before. Trim bck any bushes that might cause problems. Also make sure all hoses and other tools are secured.

    On the inside, just make sure all the rooms are ready for whatever they need to be used for. It’s a good to get your kitchen extra clean as that makes it easier for the kids to keep clean. One of my other suggestions would be to put away and knick knacks or special items that might become collateral damage during camp.

    At 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 when we want to cart the grandkids around.

  • Gather All Craft/Activity Supplies – It’s in your best interest to gather all your supplies for each activity into a box. Here’s an example: We did marshmallow shooters one year. I made sure each bag had all the pieces for each shooter. I also included some visual instructions in each bag. So, when we did our activity, I just grabbed a bag and handed one to each child. In addition, I made sure that I had a good variety of printed duct tape, scissors, and markers and put them all in the box. You can do this for any activity that has “parts.”

  • Outdoor Water Station – You can put together a simple handwashing/drinking station. I fill a 5 gallon jug with water and ice (every morning of camp) and put cups nearby. That way, the kids aren’t trekking in and out of the house to get a drink. Even though it’s cold water, you can put some soap next to the jug and the kids can also wash hands.

  • Music – Gather up some silly camp songs that the kids can sing. This can e a fun way to bring some unity Make this a tradition even if you aren’t particularly musical. It’s great to fall back on when you need to get everyone’s attention. Start playing or singing a song, and. . .voila! They are all looking at you!

  • Responsibility Charts – You can make up and print off responsibility charts for the kids to follow. You can make them visual if you have little ones. For instance, if you want to put together, “clean up after a meal” chart, use a trash can for taking out the trash, a broom for sweeping up, etc.

  • Test All Equipment – Test out everything ahead of time whether it’s a firepit, an outdoor movie, crafts, painting, a camp stove, a dutch oven, car seat installation (yes, make sure you know how to do it right!), test anything that could cause you to waste time “fixing” while the kids have to wait on you.

Well, that bring us up to T minus 24 hours. . .

Grandma Camp Plan: The Day Before

  • Shopping – Finish all shopping for your fresh/perishable foods. Now is the time to check and 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. Remember, you are trying to avoid getting a thousand questions during camp.

  • Clean Inside & Make Things Easy to Find – Clean up all the areas where the kids will be. That way you can show them what it should look like before they leave camp.

    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, etc.

    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/phone ready to take pictures and video of all the fun 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 decor that you have that will give the fun ambiance of “camping” away from mom and dad.

  • Kiss Your Sanity Goodbye – Lol! Just be prepared. . .for anything! You need to prepare mentally to have the kids around 24 hours a day for the next few days OR partial days for several days in a row OR for the whole weekend.

    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.

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 have a couple of solutions:

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, we can show you some ways to cut your budget and get the most bang for your buck!

 

  • Be realistic when setting your budget – We talked about that above, but it’s so important, we’re saying it again.

  • Keep things simple – Try not to go overboard and use as many things as you can that you already have.

  • Shop sales – If you start early, you can take advantage of sales around holiday times. Watch the newspaper and mailers that come to your mailbox for coupons or deals.

  • Use bulk pricing or online discount sites – Obviously, places like Amazon or Oriental Trading can usually give you some better deals if you can wait for shipping.

  • Cook from scratch – This is one way to save money on the food. This is where time vs. money comes into play. If you are short on cash, cook from scratch. If you’re short on time, use more prepared foods.

  • Use a mix of budget-saving methods in your meal planning – Use less meat, have parents donate food, use bulk meals (like a taco bar), plan meals around ingredients you already have on hand.
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. Let me say it again: Activities, games, outings, meals, and crafts will ALL take longer than you think they will!

When you begin to plan out your schedule, build in 3x as much time as you think it will take. For instance, if you think a craft will take about 10-15 minutes. Build in at least 30-40 minutes at a minimum. I’m not kidding here! And, the more kids you have, the longer it will take.

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.” (I’ll get to that in a bit.)

You will have to determine the length of time for the activities, games, crafts, and outings. Each of those things are so individual. Remember when planning outings make sure you build in time for travel, gathering up the kiddos both to leave and to come home, and time for any meals that you will need to eat out.

Besides the things I have mentioned above, here are some other things you may want to plan into your schedule:

  • Opening & closing ceremonies
  • Time for music
  • Meals – remember to plan time for set up and clean up
  • Morning routines (making beds, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.)
  • Bedtime routines (PJs on, brushing teeth, prayers, etc.)
  • Devotionals
  • Free time/playtime*

*Just a note about the free time/playtime. The cousins love to have time that they can just be together and have some unstructured play time. However, I have found that there is a happy medium between too much and too little play time. I’m sorry to say that there are no real guidelines for this except trial and error.

With the kids having their unstructured time, comes some downtime for you also. I referred to this earlier. don’t underestimate the time you will need to catch your breath. While the kids are playing, you can either be planning the next thing in your schedule or just taking a rest – whichever will give you more peace of mind.

The best way to start is to make a list of the things you want to put on the schedule and the time it will take to finish each thing. Then, start plugging them into a daily schedule beginning when you want the kids up in the morning until you want them in bed at night.

The best tip we can give you at this point is to know your limits. Don’t plan more than you can handle. Remember that if you burn yourself out, you won’t have a good time with the kids and it probably won’t be a great experience.

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 your grandkids invested in the meals for grandma camp.

Get the Kids Invested

One great way to begin getting kids interested in even caring about what they eat is to involve them from the beginning. Include the kids at the start when planning your menu. Allow the kids to have input on your meals for camp.

The second step is to let the kids go shopping with you. Show them the ingredients that go into the meals and show them now to choose fresh or prepared ingredients for each meal.

The last step for getting the grandkids invested in this process is to them get them helping with the prep. They can either help prep some of the food before camp or during actual meal prep on camp days.

Make It Look Attractive

Use lots of color! Fruits and veggies come in a variety of colorful shades of red, orange, green, purple, yellow. . .you name it! Children love color and enticing food choices.

Get creative with how you present the food too. If you can make shapes, animals, or anything that looks different and fun. Also, don’t underestimate the great power of a toothpick! You can use them to hold things together such as grapes put together in the shape of a caterpillar. Or it can be used in place of a fork. (Our little ones LOVE to use toothpics to stab their food and dip the food in ketchup or ranch dressing.)

Allergies? No Worries!

Do you have grandkids with allergies? That can be a tough proposition. We have a few suggestions for what to do if you have to cook for grandkids with allergies for your grandma camp.

  • Know the What You’re Dealing With! Become very familiar with what your grandchild’s allergies are and what they absolutely cannot have. Know what the substitutions are (if any). And definitely become familiar with what the implications of an allergic reaction might be and how to recognize the symptoms.

  • Read ALL Labels! Read every ingredient label even if you think you know what is in it. Let me give you an example. I had to cook for some girls at a youth camp who were allergies to sulfates and sulfites. I was going to use some hash browns in one of my meals. I learned that those frozen hash browns were preserved with lemon juice. No problem, right? Wrong!
    Who knew that lemon juice has sulfites? Yikes! So, read and understand all the ingredients for everything you prepare.

  • Homemade us Usually Best. When it comes to allergies, it’s usually better to make food from scratch as much as possible. There are always those little ingredients that get tucked into prepared foods that may slip by you.

  • Let the Parents Provide Food. This one is probably the best solution of all. Offer the parents access to your meal plans for camp. Then ask them to provide any food or snacks that their child will need substituted. Keep that frood separate from the rest of the group’s food so it’s easy to access and identify.

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.

What do we mean by traditions? Anything that you do consistently year after year will build new traditions. You can incorporate established family traditions into your camp as well.

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. We’ll also point out some things you may or may not think of as traditions that you may want to include.

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 tings so much more fun!

Here are a few tips when considering a theme:

  • Access what you already have on hand – choose a theme for which you have existing items (craft items, decor, etc.).

  • Choose a theme that everyone can enjoy – this is especially relevant when you have multiple age groups attending your grandma camp.

  • Take the ages and abilities of your grandchildren into consideration.

  •  Pick a classification and choose something from there. Here are a couple of ideas:
    Historical – time period of an ancestor, important event, or even future (robots, space, pioneers, etc.)
    Disney – Choose a movie, a character, a place, etc.

  • Go to a party supply store, Walmart, or a dollar store and walk the aisles of party supplies. You’ll find lots of inspiration there!
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

Time In or Time Out: 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. At the opening ceremonies of grandma camp, we have the kids come up with what rules they think will be necessary for everyone to have a good time. Then, we ask them for ideas on what happens when those rules are broken.

The funny part is that the kids dole out harsher punishments than we would every think of doing. Once the kids have weighed in on the rules an consequences, they are much more apt to follow them.

Setting those expectations early is a great first step. However, it doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be some misbehavior. Here are some of our best tactics to either handle the misbehavior or to proactively do what we can to prevent it:

  • Let the kids work it out by themselves – There is real value in allowing kids to work through conflict on their own. Keep a close ear on things in case you need to step in and help. 

  • Use a “time out” space – This can take the form of a chair, a quiet room, or a kindness corner. Many families have developed their own “time out” spaces. Find one that works for you.

  • Watch the sugar intake – This one cannot be overstated. I know your instinct is to spoil the kids at camp, but wait until the last day! Too much sugar will cause tempers to be short and mood swings to be out of control.

  • Make sure the kids get enough sleep – We all know that when kids don’t get enough sleep, they are cranky and difficult. Do yourself a favor and make bedtime a fun way to end the day, and the kids will be looking forward to going to bed.

  • Make sure the kids eat well – Not enough food or overeating can cause behavior issues. Along those same lines, make sure that they are getting the nutrition they need or staying away from foods that don’t agree with them.

  • Reward good behavior – It’s always great to “catch” the grandkids doing something good. Small stickers or a punch card work wonders to get kids to think twice about how they are behaving.

  • Follow through – This one is hard for us grandparents. We want to spoil these kids and it’s tough to be the disciplinarian. However, consistent follow-through with the rewards and consequences will reap huge benefits for you and the children.

  • LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Even if you need to dole out some discipline, make sure you follow it up with tons of love and approval for them as a person.
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 will cover 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.

You can tackle this in a few different ways. You could have the grandchildren help with all the clean up before they go home, your could hire help, or you could do it all yourself.

We strongly recommend that you do NOT try to tackle the whole house on your own. This is just asking for the tears. If the house is in too big of a mess, you may never want to do camp again. . .and that’s not the point.

Having the grandkids help may or may not work well since they will not be wanting to stop playing with cousins to clean. One idea is to ask the parents to help with the clean up. After all, it is their kids, and camp is free.

Hiring help may not be as overwhelming as you think. Yes, you could hire a professional service that will probably cost a pretty penny. However, you could just hire the teenager (or two) from next door for a fraction of the cost of a professional service.

So, decide what’s best and get to it as soon as possible. Because, trust me, you won’t want to do it later! You’ll just want to collapse and relax.

Which takes us to the next point. . .

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 silence. 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.

One of the other things that we discovered is that they parents were curious as to what all we did to entertain their kiddos. They especially want to know about good behaviors, special talents their kids showed off, funny things that were said, and anything that they  learned. These things are easier to share when you have documented them.

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.

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BONUS:

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 and even a free monthly calendar with 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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24 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Grandma Camp”

  1. 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!

  2. 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 @ adventuresinnanaland.com and let’s chat about how those little ones can connect.

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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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