The Tradition of Cousin Camp

family the grands Jun 14, 2020
Cousin Camp

A couple of summers ago we started the tradition of cousin camp. All of our grandchildren over the age of 3 as well as any of my siblings’ kiddos that want to join come to our house for cousin camp. So far, it’s only been a one day event, but the plans are to make it 2-3 days of fun at Yammi and G-dah’s house with the cousins for the summers ahead.

Parents are not invited to cousin camp. It’s strictly grandma and grandpa time. This also gives mom and dad a day or more of a break if they don’t have any littles under 3.

Why Cousin Camp?

We all know that nothing and I mean NOTHING makes a grandma happier than having all of her little birds in the nest together. But, there are other benefits to getting the cousins together as often as possible.

Cousins are Our First Best Friends

Nothing gets my oldest two grandchildren more excited than when they’re going to be together for anything. They live apart and don’t get to see each other a ton, but they are truly each other’s best friend. They love to be together and they are so sad when their time is over. There are now three younger kiddos who are part of the cousin group but the bond between those two is lifelong and strong.

Any opportunity to get this group together strengthens that family and friendship bond. And having that support system into adulthood is priceless.

Cousins "Get Us"

Because we all come from the same crazy family. We don’t have to hide anything.

And we share the memories. My grandchildren will remember with fondness the Moonbounce at Yammi’s every Thanksgiving and how their dads would get in there and have a beer while they jumped around. They’ll remember the summer weeks at the lake. And at the beach. How on vacation they and their dads made siren noises and called Yammi the “fun police” because she worried about the kids getting hurt all the time.

Cousins share a family history and together they can pass down the traditions and stories.

A Day of Cousin Camp

First and foremost, cousin camp calls for T-shirts. The first activity is always some sort of create your own t-shirt project. This can be done with tie dye, fabric paint, fabric markers, rhinestones, or anything else that you might like to use. This gives each of the kids a memento of cousin camp from each year.

The remainder of the day is broken into varied activities based on the interests and ages of your grands. There are always:

  • another arts and crafts activity
  • an organized outdoor game
  • swim time (this is typically a pretty big chunk of the afternoon)
  • down time (very important for Yammi and G-dah)
  • free play time.

When we start making cousin camp a few days long, one of the days will incorporate a field trip of some sort – to the zoo, an indoor playground, museums, etc.

5 Tips for Making Cousin Camp a Success

Have Your Day Mapped Out, But Have a Plan B

Create a schedule for each day.

However, be ready for things to change. Maybe the weather will affect your plans.

More than likely, depending on the number of kiddos and their ages, the activities that you are scheduling will take way less time or sometimes more time than what you planned. It helps to have several “backup” activities ready for these occasions.

Plan all activities ahead of time, so that you are able to purchase and organize the materials that you need and have them at the ready.

Unstructured Time is Key - For Everyone

While a schedule is important, it is also important not to tightly schedule the day. You’ll want to allow for those “plan B” times when activities take longer or shorter than you planned. More importantly, the kids are going to want time to just run around and be with their cousins – especially if they don’t live near each other. It’s important for them to have some unstructured time to bond with their family.

Have an Extra Pair of Hands

Anytime there are multiple children at Grandma’s an extra pair of hands is always a recommendation. Particularly if you have grandchildren at all different ages. The smaller ones may need extra help with something. Someone may need help in the bathroom and you need someone to be with the other kids. This can allow you to fix lunch for everyone and have someone else watching them during a free time. And, if there’s a pool involved, the more hands on deck, the better.

The extra pair of hands can be Grandpa, a young teen down the street, or one of the older cousins. It will make a world of difference and help Grandma to really enjoy cousin camp, as well.

Carve Out An Hour After Lunch for Quiet Time or Nap Time

Everyone will need this. The younger kids may nap. The older ones can rest with a book. And Grandma can catch her breath from the morning and make sure she’s got everything set for the afternoon.

It’s important to try to separate everyone during this time, if at all possible. First of all, to give everyone a break from each other. Secondly, so actual rest happens. Often, if you put more than one cousin in a room for a rest time, shenanigans can ensue.

Some Sort of Water Activity is a Must

If you don’t have access to a pool you can:

  • Set up a couple of kiddie pools and some games around those (i.e. the duck matching game)
  • Have the kids play in the sprinkler
  • Set up a slip and slide
  • Super soaker fights
  • Water balloon fun
  • Water table activities for the littles

Water activities are always the favorite for all ages, so allow extra time for enjoyment of these. By the time they swim or play in the water and everyone changes in and out of wet clothes, 2-3 hours can easily pass.

And When It's Over?

Pour youself a nice glass of wine, take a deep breath, put your feet up and pat yourself on the back for another successful cousin camp experience for everyone. Especially you!