The fireflies in early evening reach upward towards the sky with their own light show as a prelude to the starry lights to come just as they did when I was a boy. The only difference now is that my sons and their cousins are enjoying the nightly show in the same yard where I used to play. For much of the summer, my sons have been at “Grandma Camp.”
Camp Grandma is an idea that has really taken off in our country in the last few years. In homes with two incomes, summer break presents idle time for the children, and grandparents often have the desire and the extra time to devote to the grandkids. In some homes where money is tight, sending children to Camp Grandma is a great alternative to a costly traditional summer camp.
Some grandparents put on a formal camp that includes a schedule and themes. Sometimes those themes will center around skills that the grandparent wants to pass down. For instance, I’ve read of grandmothers that teach granddaughters how to sew or how to cook by passing down a favorite family recipe. I have even seen actual camps that host a week for grandparents to bring their grandchildren.
I try to allow my sons time to spend time with both sets of grandparents during the summer. There are lessons to learn, memories to make, and moments to share. We have spent a week with grandma on the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia in the past. This year we have been camping, kayaking, trail biking, and don’t forget about chasing those fireflies!
Camp Grandma with my mother is not as structured as some of the other camps. Bedtimes and wakeup times are not official, and that adds to the spontaneity of the day. That is part of the fun. My sons and their cousins can stay up late playing video games and talking. This year, the youngest cousin learned how to ride his bike without training wheels and to tie his shoes at Camp Grandma.
As parents, we spend so much time meeting the immediate needs of our children that we often don’t sit down with them and talk about family history and what life was like when we were growing up. That is the beauty of Camp Grandma. Intertwined with all of the fun are lessons and life stories. These stories may begin with, “When I was a little girl…” It is a way to pass down memories and really connect. Other lessons have been about table manners, how to treat each other, and not wasting food and soft drinks. There is something very important about this connection.
Tomorrow my youngest son heads out with his other set of grandparents. They plan to take him to a wild animal safari park in Florida this week. They also told him that they are planning to stay at a hotel and may be able to swim in the hotel pool. My mother in law has opted to take the kids individually so that each boy has a special week of bonding time with their grandparents. The adventure for the oldest one will include shrimping onboard the Lady Jane in Brunswick, Georgia.
Camp Grandma is a win, win, win. It is a great way to fill the summer days for the children and gives them a true sense of family. It provides an opportunity for grandparents to have an extended visit with their grandchildren where they can bond. It also helps parents with the solution of an affordable place to send the children that has substance. It can give a couple the chance to rekindle the love in their relationship that existed before childrearing. According to the theme song for Phineas and Ferb, the annual problem of our generation is finding a way to spend summer vacation. Camp Grandma is a great way to spend it.
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.