Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Cooking
- 2. Craft projects
- 3. Bowling
- 4. Board games
- 5. Swimming
- 6. Perform original skits or create music videos
- 7. Visit museums or nearby historical sites
- 8. Take a painting or pottery class together
- 9. Take photos of each other and the beautiful surroundings at a botanical garden
- 10. Go on a scavenger hunt
- 11. Find public art installations
- 12. Sample ethnic foods
What’s better than spending time with one of your grandkids? Spending time with many of them! This grandma makes sure she has time with several of her grandkids every summer with an annual cousin camp. These cousin camp ideas keep the kids busy and happy!
You decided to have the grandkids together for a weekend or a week of cousin camp. You worked with children and in-law children to find dates that work for everyone and stocked the fridge and pantry. Now it’s time to plan a slate of activities designed to keep the cousins happy, busy, and entertained. Here are 12 suggestions that are kid-approved and feasible for grandparents.
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Ours is definitely not Grandma Camp. I couldn’t do it without Grandpa fully involved. At our camp, Granddaddy is the supervisor at breakfast time. He occasionally settles for cereal or cinnamon rolls, but most mornings, he offers a full, hot breakfast. His pancakes are the most highly anticipated choice, some with chocolate chips, some left plain. The grandkids love to jump in and help. If they also help with clean-up, I’m happy to stand back and watch.
Last summer, camp ended on the 4th of July, so we enjoyed creating red, white, and blue desserts to serve for this special event.
2. Craft projects
If you plan to host an annual cousin camp, it is a good idea to invest in craft supplies: glue, crayons, scissors, markers, colored papers, paints, paintbrushes, buttons, sequins, shells, etc. Sometimes it’s tough to get the older boys engaged, but they’ve learned that cooperation at craft time makes everyone happy. Besides, it really is a lot of fun to see how each child expresses his/her own personality through art.
Tell the grandkids to pack a pair of socks for camp, and they will know that bowling is on the week’s agenda. Bowling is good exercise, cool in the summertime, and quite competitive for the older kids. The young ones can have fun, too, with the help of bumper pads on the lanes and a slider device. Automatic scoring keeps everything impartial.
4. Board games
A Monopoly game tends to last for several days at our house with all its fast and furious buying, selling and trading. Kids as young as 8 can enter in skillfully. Life is a popular board game, and our group enjoys Three Second Rule and Trivial Pursuit. Checkers and Candyland keep the younger cousins happy. Charades is fun for whole group participation. Puzzles and Legos for all ages come in handy, too. It’s good to have a supply on hand which can be increased as new ones come out.
Since most cousin camps take place in the summertime, swimming is a natural activity choice. If you don’t have your own pool, then nearby water parks or community pools can cool off campers on sweltering days and help them expend lots of pent-up energy. An added benefit, if you have a lot of grandkids, is the presence of trained lifeguards. Don’t be surprised if you become unusually adept at blowing up floaties and counting the heads of campers who are in the water, especially that of an ambitious four-year-old.
If swimming isn’t possible where you live, consider a few backyard hoses or a Slip ‘n Slide. In the daily schedule for our camp, swimming is always included. The campers particularly remember the times they swam at night and another time when they swam in the rain (with no lightning nearby, of course).
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6. Perform original skits or create music videos
If you have grandchildren with active imaginations and a flair for the dramatic, those skills can come in handy in creating plays, skits, dance routines, or even make-believe commercials for favorite products or services. If you tell them ahead of time that they will have this opportunity at camp, they can bring costume items from home or rummage through your closets and drawers after they arrive. A camper with great tech ability can add music and graphics, and the resulting show can be presented to the parents on the last day of camp.
7. Visit museums or nearby historical sites
Cousin camp can be a time for learning when you add a visit to interesting museums or historical sites to your agenda. Art museums, natural history or science museums, or birthplaces of famous people can expand the knowledge of children and give them something impressive to write about in their “What I Did During the Summer” essays when school starts again. In our area, we have the Jesse Owens Museum and Helen Keller’s birthplace. Both are very inspiring and make lasting impressions on grandchildren.
8. Take a painting or pottery class together
Many art studios offer sessions where students can come in and paint for a few hours and leave with a canvas or piece of pottery that reveals their prowess and gives a visual reminder of a fun day at camp. The studio provides instruction, smocks, and all the supplies. They can gear the class toward the ages of the cousins, so that everyone has a chance to feel successful.
9. Take photos of each other and the beautiful surroundings at a botanical garden
Simply admiring flowers might not seem like fun for many children, but if you put a camera in their hands, it can make all the difference. If only a few campers have cellphones or cameras, they can pair up and take photos of each other. Or you can provide disposable cameras and give them the responsibility of having the photos developed when they get back home. Many pharmacies allow you to order prints for only a few cents each and can have them ready quickly. If your grandchildren are using digital devices, each camper might be allowed to select a few favorite photos and have them printed to take home as a souvenir of the week.
10. Go on a scavenger hunt
This can be as simple as giving them a list of natural objects to find, taking them to a park, and having them work in teams. Many cities are encouraging visitors to skip the malls and explore the attractions in their historic downtown areas by creating scavenger hunts for children. One nearby town has a lot of railroad traffic, so their scavenger trail involves hidden locomotives. Another is anchored by a huge lake, so they have bronze ducks scattered around. Still another has a popular national wildlife refuge, so they have placed bronze turtles in places where kids can find them. This is particularly appealing to the younger campers.
11. Find public art installations
Many cities are doing a great job of promoting public art with mural and sculpture trails. Having your grandchildren find, look closely, and pose for photos beside these installations creates Facebook and Instagram posts that are sure-fire attention grabbers. It’s especially eye-catching when they’re wearing their camp t-shirts. Searching for tree carvings is a fun way for kids to get some exercise and enjoy healthy outdoor activities.
12. Sample ethnic foods
Consider having an Around the World theme for your cousins camp and include visiting ethnic restaurants. Mexican and Chinese are the natural ones to consider, but what about Japanese, German, Indian, and beyond? Do you have a grandchild who was born in another country or culture? If possible, that child is sure to enjoy introducing his/her cousins to one of their favorite dishes and watching them try it for the first time. Somehow, that makes it even more of a family camp.
Depending on the number of cousins who will be attending your camp, the budget is also an important consideration. Several of the above suggestions can be carried out without any additional expense, but the rest must be modified to fit your monetary limit. For my husband and me, cousin camp is a priority, so we have it as a line item in our yearly budget. That way when the week approaches, we already have the “funds to fund the fun” ready and waiting. I’m already making plans for next year.
For us, the aim is to spend a meaningful, enriching week with our grandkids, so we greatly limit the amount of time sitting in front of the television. We also allow very restricted use of their personal electronic devices. Cousin camp is a time for growing relationships, not video game scores.
The age ranges, the personalities, the abilities, and the interests of each set of grandchildren dictate the best activities for your own camp. That’s what makes grandparenting so unique for each of us. Maybe some of these fun things can be adapted to suit your campers. I know your camp will be exactly right for you and your grandchildren. Good luck!