We all know how excited we are when summer comes around, mostly because that means we get to have extra time with our grandchildren, since there’s no school! And please just admit it: secretly, you want to be the fun grandma or grandpa – the one the kids can’t wait to see, the one they don’t want to leave!  You want to be their absolute favorite! Summer is just the time to make your mark and transform the weekly trip to grandma’s into a week of “Summer Camp at Grandma’s!” The kids will be beyond excited to see how you’ve transformed their visit! Here are some tips to help you plan…

Grandma Camp Plan & Schedule

Grandma (or grandpa!)  plans activities to go along with the theme for each day of the week. At the start of camp, the campers (kids) pick fun camp names and agree on a set of camp rules, such as “treat fellow campers kindly” or “always tell a buddy if you are going to the bathroom.” Camp starts at 9am and goes till about 12:30-1pm (By that time mom & dad will have enjoyed some personal time, and you will be wiped out!), and also includes a snack and lunch, which the campers help prepare. Since you’re in the kitchen with the kids, use that time to teach them about healthy choices and show them that good food is also yummy food, after all- you are the ‘camp director’!

Here’s a sample weekly schedule. Feel free to switch it up and adapt to your grandchildren’s interests and ages.

Monday – Fashion Fun Day Get some materials together from Michaels or Wal-Mart and make some hand-made cute flower headbands for the girls and let the boys each decorate shirts with iron-on designs. The headbands can be made with foam coasters cut with scissors and stapled to elastic.  After they are done creating their fashions, think about a fashion show for the gals and guys to show off their creations.  We’re only giving you a suggestion – get crafty- kids love a great show!

Tuesday- Olympics Day Set up the backyard with obstacle courses, relay races, and bean bag tosses. If you have a pool set up a diving/jumping contest; be sure everyone follows pool safety rules. Get a poster board and set up a scoreboard for activities that are appropriate to each child. They will love checking challenges off their list! Just make sure you keep an eye on scoring…we don’t want anyone running home to mom saying they didn’t win at least one activity!

Wednesday – Field Trip Day Grandma & Grandpa take the campers out all day long! If you live near a beach, take a nice long walk and swim to start the day off. You can have a sand castle contest to see who gets to hit the ice cream truck. (Again, don’t pick just one winner!)  Follow up that ice cream with a little lunch (we know that’s backwards, but hey! It’s Grandma Camp!), then story time at the library, and finally the playground.  By the end of the day, all the kids and grandparents will be exhausted!

Thursday – Craft Day To start the morning off, get the kids to play with lots of fun craft supplies: ribbons and trims, paint markers, faux jewels and pearls, brads, pipe cleaners, stickers, glue dots, etc. They can each decorate piggy banks, jeweled flowerpots, paint seashells, or create a fort/club house.

Snack for the day can be a “Hodge Podge.” Each child picks three snack items to dump in a bowl and mixes them together for a crazy what’s-in-the-pantry trail mix. Some treats they will love: M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, gummy bears, goldfish/animals crackers, cut-up fruit, nuts, Rice Krispies/favorite cereal, chocolate bits, raisins, and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Friday- Secret Shopping Trip! Okay we all are guilty of wanting to spoil our grandchildren, right?! So here’s your chance! Tell the parents you’re taking the kids out for their last day activity. Once you’re in the car suggest a trip to the nearest department store of choice or toy store. We’re not saying go crazy and let the kids get anything they want… BUT, we are saying let those grandchildren pick out a gift or two that will complete their memory of “grandma camp”. We suggest a LEGO set that can be done as a family once you’re home, or an easy bake oven for those mini-chefs! Just make sure you don’t let them pick a gift that will make their parents not want to send their kids to your camp anymore!

Lessons Learned If you know that you will be expecting your family for summer camp, try planning the camp far in advance, so you have time to shop sales and gather the materials for all the activities. Biggest tip:  plan many activities and be flexible. Some activities might not hold their attention, which makes the activity shorter as they lose interest. And some activities may take much longer than you anticipated. Overall, we hope your week with your grandchildren is as successful and memorable as can be!!