Because of the large number of grandchildren in our family, we decided to divide up our 15th Pearson Cousins Camp experience this summer, and we're very glad we did. We had 8 teenage grandchildren for a week in late June and could do more "big kid things" and have more "big kid conversations." Our oldest grandchild (who attended camp for 12 years) has graduated out of Cousins Camp, is married, and expecting her first child. That happened faster than we ever could have imagined. This coming year another will graduate from high school and start college. Two others will be driving and getting summer jobs. I could be very sad that they've grown up, but I prefer to dwell on the great memories we've been able to make with them.
This time last week we had 4 grands with us, ages 4 to 11. In this case, they were all siblings, but it was still good to give them lots of attention and do age-appropriate activities, serve age-preferred meals, and have conversations that work best with younger children. At home and in previous years, they were often referred to as "littles," but they balked at having that as their camp name. Instead, they chose "Skittles." We got t-shirts for them in their favorite Skittles color, and, as you might guess, had Skittles available for special treats. :)
One of the activities that was talked about and laughed about the most last week was our visit to Harmony Park Safari in South Huntsville. It is a drive-through zoo where the animals come right up to your vehicle. Some even poke their heads through the windows! The animals are looking for the feed that you can buy by the bucketfuls when you pay the admission price. Vehicles aren't supposed to go faster than 2 mph, and it's fine to stop along the way, BUT DO NOT GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE! Emus, yaks, long-horn cows, deer of all kinds, llamas, and more will give you a chance for a close encounter. The zebra was not part of the roaming animals because of being close to giving birth, and the separate areas formerly open to guests have not reopened yet following the pandemic. But I guarantee you and your children/grandchildren will still be thoroughly entertained. Just one word of caution -- don't take your "best" vehicle through the safari. Some of the animals have formidable horns!
If your grands are a little nervous, you can keep the windows rolled all the way up. These kids, however, live on a farm. They were eager to interact with the animals, sharing the buckets of feed, touching the velvety antlers on the deer, seeing their funny expressions and long tongues, etc. They squealed with delight.
I recently had a request to put past posts about Cousins Camp in one spot, so the following are ones I found from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2021.
Below are links to 3 articles I've written for TravelingMom.com under the Traveling Grandparents section that pertain to Cousins Camp. The first one gives a lot of "how we do it" descriptions, but, of course, every set of grandparents and grandchildren will have their own unique ways to connect and communicate.
Steve and I have promised ourselves that August and September will be used to finish our Cousins Camp book about the 15 years of hosting one. Stay tuned for details as soon as we fulfill that promise.