The kiddos had a ton of fun this year at their “cousin camp” hosted by their awesome grandparents and great-grandparents. Inspired by some “intentional grand-parenting” here are some easy instructions and ideas to make your extended family camp experience a worthwhile memory.
What is cousin Camp?
Cousin Camp, Grandma Camp, Grandpa Camp… whatever you chose to call it, is a children’s camp experience where cousins come together to do activities and learn with and from their extended family.
How to make it work:
There is no one right way to host a cousin camp, but it is important to plan and set expectations with your family so that everyone can be on the same page. Here are a few questions to consider as you plan.
1. When will it be?
- Get feedback from family members on when would work best for them.
- Consider seasonal needs and conflicts such as school schedules.
- Plan up to a year in advance if possible.
- Example: This year, ours was during spring break when cousins were already planning to be in town.
2. Where will it be?
- This can be as simple as grandma’s house or as prepped as reserving a special camp ground.
- Example: Ours was at grandma’s house where the out-of-town cousins would already be staying. We also went on a few local “field trips.”
3. Who will attend?
- Set expectations within the bounds of what is possible and feasible for you to accomplish. Consider if you will invite only children who are potty-trained? Will you invite their parents? Are their great-grandparents who could come? etc.
- Example: All grandchildren were invited to attend ours (with the parent of a non-potty trained child also present at all times). Other parents were in and out as they were available and if they wanted to.
4. How long will it be?
- Will children come once a day for a few days?
- Will they stay overnight?
- What time should they plan on arriving and leaving?
- Example: Ours was three days long from about 10:30am until dinner time.
5. What is your budget?
- You can do a cousin camp with a $0 budget.
- If you have room to do more, what will you spend it on?
- Will you ask parents or children to contribute?
- Example: Budget for ours is unknown as grandma & grandpa supplied nearly all of the crafts, activities and food. Thanks grandparents!
6. What will you eat?
- Most likely, cousin camp will go over meals. Ensure everyone is hydrated and fed.
- It is wise to also have snacks on hand, especially if you have younger children who may need something in-between.
- Example: Grandparents provided lunch and dinner every day for us. (Thanks!) We provided dessert one night.
7. What will the rules be?
- Keep in mind age appropriate needs for expectations.
- It is easier to set rules and boundaries up front and stick to them rather than to change and make them up as you go.
- Example: Our rules were fairly simple such as everyone staying together while on field trips and sitting nicely during any great-grandparent presentation. The kids were overall very well behaved.
8. How will you keep everyone safe?
- If there are multiple grandchildren and the parents are not coming, it is important to have clear expectations with parents on the safety of their children.
- Make sure you have enough adults to balance the needs of various children.
- Example: The button safety idea from our earlier post came in handy for our cousin camp.
9. What will you do each day?
- Having activities pre-planned will help everything go more smoothly.
- Make an overall itinerary so that you and the parents know what to expect.
- Be willing to adjust your expectations. Children are children and everything will not go perfectly as planned. Keep in mind that any lack of enthusiasm over an activity is not personal.
- Focus on your top priorities and reflect on that fact that you are spending time with loved ones. That’s what matters most.
- Example: Grandma had a fantastic itinerary planned (see below).
10. What will the theme be?
- Ideally you will have an overall flow to your camp that makes it intentional.
- You may chose to take theme from a meaningful book or movie, a religious topic, an inspirational ancestor’s story, or a family motto.
- Our theme was “What you do matters.”
Sample Cousin Camp Itinerary
Credit for the following itinerary goes to our kiddo’s amazing grandma.
Theme: What you do matters. Based on and inspired by the children’s book series by Kobi Yamada (not affiliated).
Day 1: “What Do You Do with an Idea?”
1. Give out camp t-shirts and idea books
2. Read the Book – talk about ideas, talk about ideas for future cousin camps. What do you want to do or be in the future? What are your favorite things?
3. Make vision boards
4. Get to know your great grandparents better. Maternal grandparents came over for an activity and stayed for dinner. Great-Grandpa shared the stories and ideas that are culturally painted on walking sticks (a hobby he shared with his father). Great-Grandma shared some story books and the ideas they can share because she loves books.
5. When parents came back, the cousins taught their parents about what they learned.
Day 2: “What Do You Do with a Problem?”
1. Read the book and talk about different kinds of problems.
2. One way to solve problems is with talking time – use the new walking sticks as talking sticks. Show how talking sticks work.
4. Problem Solver – Grandma needs some new stepping stones and she has all this old broken jewelry and colored stones. – Make new stepping stones out of her old jewelery.
6. Problem Solver – Do a service project. Take old towels to the dog shelter, and some food to the food bank. Talk to the kids about solving problems in their neighborhoods.
7. Get to know your great grandparents better. Paternal grandparents came over for an activity and stayed for dinner. Great grandma did an art activity with the children because she and her mother were artists. Great grandpa did several flight science experiments because he and his father were scientists.
8. Problem Solver – We need to make dinner. Have the kids help make dinner, set the table, and clean up after.
9. The cousins to taught their parents about what they learned. They did a campfire/show and tell.
Day 3: “What Do I Do with a Chance?”
1. Read the book and talk about taking chances.
2. If you were given a chance to go to the Butterfly Biosphere, would you take it (butterfly is a symbol in the book)? Take the kids to the Butterfly Biosphere.
3. If you were given a chance to go for a nature walk and do a nature scavenger hunt, would you take it? Go to the park and do a nature scavenger hunt.
4. If you had a chance to try new foods, would you take it? Try a new food for our last night together
Have an idea for a fun cousin camp? Share it with us in the comments or on one of our social media pages!