Have you ever wanted to hold your own Grandma Camp? So, what’s stopping you? Maybe it seems overwhelming to host a whole camp. Or maybe you just don’t feel creative enough to plan the nuts and bolts of the whole thing. Or could it be that you’re a little worried how things will go. The answer? Start with just a day or two – a Grandma Camp Weekend!
I know what I’m talking about here. When I first thought of doing a summer camp for my grandkids, it was a bit out of my comfort zone. At that point, I already had 10 of my Littles and the thought of being solely responsible for all them for a week without their parents was. . .well let’s just say it was terrifying!
And that’s really saying something, because I was the grandma who always wanted the grandkids over to my house to play and do all kinds of activities. So, if I was intimidated, I don’t blame you if you feel uneasy. However, I started small and had the kids for just a quick Grandma Camp Weekend and. . .it was such a great success, that we all wanted more!
So, if you’re thinking about doing a fun little weekend with the grandkids, here are some of my “must do’s” to make it a success!
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In order to have a successful Grandma Camp Weekend, you MUST:
K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple, Sister) Your Grandma Camp Weekend Plans
First and foremost, keep things simple! The things you decide to do may take lots of energy but try not to get too complicated. As a matter of fact, the younger your grandkids are, the simpler things should be.
When it comes to crafts or activities, doing as much ahead of time as possible so that what is actually done during your Grandma Camp Weekend is the fun part. Just know that if you think something is going to take 10 minutes, you need to plan for 30 minutes (at least!).
Keep the meals simple as well. Kids don’t like fancy or extravagant. I asked my oldest grandson what meals he wanted for our upcoming camp. He said, “Pizza twists one night. Homemade pizza the next. And Pizza twists again on another night.” Ha ha! And here I was worried about providing variety! Silly me! While you don’t have to have just one dish (reinvented each day), do remember that kids are pretty easy to please and won’t notice if the meals are similar.
And, in the spirit of keeping meals simple, just go with stuff they like. Camp is not a time to be forcing new foods.
Another thing to keep simple are your decorations or “extras.” I not only like to keep them simple, but I like them reusable as well. If they don’t have a secondary purpose, I think twice about adding them.
Prep Ahead of Time
This is by far the biggest key to a successful Grandma Camp Weekend! Do as much prep ahead of time as possible! I can’t stress this enough. If you plan your meals right, you will find that you can almost completely prep all your food. The same goes with your crafts and other activities.
Don’t be afraid to involve the kids in this step. They will get a sense of ownership and responsibility for making things go well at camp if you involve them. You might be surprised just how helpful they can be!
Prepping meals, activities, crafts and other aspects of camp, will help you enjoy camp with your grandkids so much more. If you are spending all your time creating and making and being in the thick of things during camp. . .you’ll miss the magic.
What’s the magic? Watch what happens when you are actually present and involved with the kids. That brings us to the next “Must Do”. . .
Enjoy the Kids and Have Fun
It’s easy to get caught up in carrying out the plans and thinking ahead to the next activity. But you have to remember that a great Grandma Camp Weekend can’t exist without – GRANDMA (or Grandpa)! The whole idea here is to make memories WITH the kids.
My advice is to do your best to plan. Get everything prepped as much as possible. And. . .then be present during camp. Get down on the kids’ level and don’t worry too much about the schedule and whether or not each meal is perfect.
Our grandkids have told us that the things they love the best are when we play with them in the park and sit down and roast hot dogs over the fire together. They also have loved to snuggle with us during movie night and playing games during family hour.
Probably the #1 best time ever was when Papa super-charged his marshmallow shooter during our marshmallow wars. Chasing around the kids and having them chase after us with our homemade marshmallow guns was by far one of the best bonding times we’ve had!
Expect the Unexpected During Your Grandma Camp Weekend
The old adage from Murphy just never seems to go away: If anything can go wrong. . .it will! Well, I’m not sure if it always WILL, but it certainly can. So, with that in mind, always expect the unexpected during your weekend. How?
Let me share an example of how I learned this one. . .the hard way!
I was the cook for a girls’ week-long camp for a couple of summers. So, it was my responsibility to plan, prepare and cook all the food for the whole week. To help the girls pass off one of their camping experience requirements, we planned to cook a meal over a fire. One of my favorite ways to do this was to have the girls make tin foil dinners. Some hamburger, potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and onion soup mix in a piece of tin foil plopped on some hot coals of a campfire. What could be easier?
Well. . .that is IF you can start a campfire. . .Something that’s a bit hard to do in the pouring down rain!!
Yes, it rained and rained and rained. . .and rained!! I had girls who worked their fool little hands off trying to start and keep a fire going. When it became apparent that this just wasn’t happening, I had to come up with a Plan B and in a real hurry! I had 30+ girls and their leaders who were expecting something hot and yummy for dinner.
So, there I stood in the rain (well under a leaky canopy) trying to figure out what to do with the ingredients sitting on the table. I had no extra food and not even any extra spices and certainly no way to get that campfire going. In short, no Plan B. . .and a whole lot of panic.
When it comes to activities, crafts, food and other aspects of your Grandma Camp Weekend, have a Plan B at least in your mind. I try to have at least one alternate (super simple) meal ready to go at the sign of trouble. And, I try to plan at least one alternate activity in case of rain or other failed plans. If nothing else, a rousing game of tag or hide-n-seek might be just great for a Plan B!
Absolutely, Positively Get Help with Clean Up After Your Grandma Camp Weekend
When speaking about clean up, we could be talking that you might have a few dishes to wash, clean a bathroom and some vacuuming to do. On the other hand, you might be ready to declare your home a disaster area. In the case of the latter, you may want to hire some help. Yes, you could do a professional cleaning service if you can afford it or you can simply hire the teenager from next door for an hourly wage to come tame the mess.
You could always consider having the kids or their parents come help clean up also. Get creative!
Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to enlist some help or you may not want to do another camp EVER! After all, nobody likes to clean up alone after a fun weekend of playing together.
So. . .What’s the Best Part of Grandma Camp Weekend?
Making memories and building relationships with your grandkids will be some of the best time you’ll ever spend. Your grandchildren will probably not remember all the gifts you gave them. They may not even remember all the places you went together. But. . .they will ALWAYS remember the great times they had being with you. And. . .holding a Grandma Camp Weekend is a great place to start!
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!
Oh. . .and What Happened to the Failed Tin Foil Dinners?
Well. . .long story, short – I concocted a hamburger soup with veggies. It was hot and yummy just as promised. The girls deemed my creation. . .Storm Soup! It was their favorite meal of the week, and I was quite relieved!
And ever since then, I ALWAYS have a Plan B in my back pocket to save myself a bit of panic when things don’t go as planned.
11 thoughts on “5 Must-Do’s for a Successful Grandma Camp Weekend”
Everybody writes about all their fun activities and craft projects but no one has mentioned what they are. I have 4 grands 9,7,5,2 and would love to have. “Uma Camp” but don’t have any idea about where to start with crafts and activities. The two year old is a bit. young for most things and the nine year old boy isn’t all that interested in what the girls do. Help is needed for this newbie !
Yes Victoria, many of us do write about fun activities and craft projects for our Grandma Camps. There are a few resources that I can point you to so you can find lots of fun for your “Uma Camp.”
First, there are many ideas on our Pinterest Boards or you can do a Google search. If you are looking for a shortcut, we have a lot of done-for-you resources in our Grand Adventure Store.
Check out all the resources to see if you can find something you are looking for! Good luck with your camp!
I have four adult children and ten grandchildren ranging from 6-19. Back when the first three were about four years old, I decided to have a tea party for them. They wore dress up clothes and lots of costume jewelry and were absolutely adorable! We had koolaid tea and little sandwiches which I cut in triangles and squares, fruit and veges sticks. The table had a lace scarf thrown over it and we used the little chairs from the kids table. I put on a kids CD for background music and gave them a little bell to summon me if they needed anything else. That was 14 years ago, and up until 3 years ago, when half the kids moved to Japan with their Marine Dad, I threw a teaparty every year. The last one I felt would definitely be “the last one”. The kids were getting older now and my first three have just graduated and the youngest, my only grandson, just turned 6 and is very much into boy things. So knowing there would be no more, I went all out! The Dollar Tree was my salvation. I found straw sun hats and even a Derby hat(for the grandson) for each of the kids. I bought lots of flowers and scarves, feathers and a deck of cards(grandson again) so that each one could make their own hat and wear it to the party. Sunday best was mandatory! When it came to setting the table the Dollar Tree was again my hero. I used my white tablecloth and took twinkle lights to put under a pretty gauzy pink fabric in the center of the table. DT has a lot of plastic serving trays and glass candlestick holders. I glued the candle holders to the trays and added another tray to the top to make them multi-tiered and very pretty. We made finger sandwiches of ham and cheese, PBandJ, plain cheese sandwiches. We had stuffed strawberries, heart shaped cookies and carrot chips, celery sticks and cucumber slices, black olives( a favorite) and a variety of hot teas. I used my china teapots and crystal dishes, and I assigned two younger children to each of the older girls, to make sure things went smoothly. and it did. We played a picture version of tea party bingo, which even the youngest was able to play. After the tea was done, we took individual pictures. I covered the french doors to my study with lots of white tulle and we made dozens of tissue paper flowers to hang on it. I have a fancy white chair that we put in front of it and each child sat there while we took their picture. We had small gift bags for each one to take home, along with a copy of their picture. As I said this was supposed to be my last teaparty, so I went all out. Well, it’s been three years and the kids as I said earlier are growing up , the group in Japan are headed back next month and we’ll all be together aagain for a couple of weeks. When I asked what they wanted to do while here, I was shoked that they all would like to have another “Grandma Tea Party”!
Oh my goodness, Teresa! That sounds like so much fun!! I wish I had more granddaughters to do this with. I’ve only had one granddaughter that lives close to me for a lot of years until her little sister was born a couple of years ago. You have great ideas! I also try to find “treasures” at the dollar store. There are a lot of fun things there. I wish I could have seen your tea party. It sounds like a great tradition to have. And, what a compliment for those kids to ask when they are grown up. Thank you for sharing this with us!
We are having our first “Grammi/Mimi & Nine’O camp (I was given 2 names from different families and grandpa well, he got his name when he had to have a toe amputated before we had grandkids…blood infection) I have my sister in law making camp shirts for the kids. Since it’s our first year we are just having the 4 oldest this year 8,7,6,5. The other 6 will have to wait until next year and be in town. I am so excited, we will sleep in a tent in the yard, my daughter will set up a projector for a movie, going to the park for a mature walk and scavenger hunt, so many things I want to do with them, there will be singing and dancing that’s something we always do, Grammi/Mimi loves dancing and not acting her age. I plan to take pictures and will have a book made for each of the kids. The best thing NO electronics!!! My rules thank you for putting this in my head, to do something so memorable. I wrote down a lot of ideas from you!
Oh Denise, it sounds perfect! I’m totally in favor of not acting your age (as long as it’s acting younger ). I’m sure you’ll make so many fun memories. I can guarantee you’ll be exhausted when it’s over, but it will be the best exhaustion you’ve ever experienced! Have fun!
Thank you Jill,
Being tired will be worth it! Having fun shopping for this. Yes, of course acting younger
I have held my own Camp Gramma for more than 10 years. I have several games planned, some that could be moved indoors. However with a covered patio we will like play them all outside. I plan at least one craft and one science type project per day. There still is enough open play time, but I try not to give them time to be bored.
I kinda struggle with the meal planning tho. I love to cook. But I want to make them fun meals. Will you share what you do for meals?
We are hosting our 2nd Annual Grand’s Grand Camp this week! I feel much more prepared than last year. We will have the grands for 4 full days. I have 4 large boxes organized with each days needed craft / activity items. I have all the meals planned and plenty to be flexible. Our grands had such a wonderful time last year, that they are over the moon excited for this year. they are ages 4 – 12, and a joy to make memories with! Thanks for all the helpful pointers! And encouragement!
Oh Karen! I’m so excited for you! I wish I could be a fly on the wall and watch you in action. It sounds like you really have it together. Isn’t it fun to watch the excitement from your grandkids? Nothing compares to that! Have a great time!!
What fun ideas