Cousin Camp: Making Memories for Your Grandchildren

These days, the likelihood of brothers, sisters, first cousins, and grandparents all living in the same town is slim to none. And while new means of communication, such as social media and FaceTime, make it easier for us to keep up with one another, it’s just not the same as living life together in the same town. It’s easy to get to know your family when you’re passing your cousin in the high school hallway, or bumping into your sister at the grocery store, or when you’re picking up your grandkids for a quick ice cream date after dinner. However, it’s not so simple to really get to know someone, what they are struggling with, rejoicing in or walking through when you live hours (or even days away) from your loved ones.

With this in mind, one grandmother (who happens to also be a DaySpring staffer) was determined to strengthen the bond between her grandkids. Eight years ago she began holding “Nena Camp,” - one week out of the summer when “Nena” has all the first cousins over for a fun, friend-making experience filled with picnics, crafts, donuts, devotions and more. Want to know more? Check out this brief interview with Nena:


When did you start hosting “Nena Camp?”

“I began having Nena Camp (also known as Cousin Camp or Camp Grandma) when our two oldest grandchildren were three years old. We played dress up, colored with sidewalk chalk, had lunch with great grandparents and just an all-around wonderful few days together, without parents! The only rule I enforce is that the child must be potty trained. Nena does not like changing diapers and besides it gives the child (and parents) an incentive to get them out of diapers!”


How do you kick off “Nena Camp?”

“Each year begins with a new t-shirt. These are taken home and saved as a keepsake so they will always remember our time together. We even tie-dyed our own t-shirts one year. This year’s theme is “Cousins Make the Best Friends.” Isn’t that awesome! My prayer is that the cousins will develop a relationship and create a bond as children that will carry them through adulthood.”

{Looking for other keepsake ideas? Check out DaySpring’s Gifts for Kids for inspirational jewelry, books, pillowcases, plush animals and more - perfect keepsakes for any Nena Camp!}


How do you incorporate your Christian faith into your time together?

“Our activities have changed as they have gotten older but the message has remained constant. We take Jesus with us everywhere we go and with whatever we are doing! We pray for safety before we set out, we pray at meals and we have a devotion each evening at bedtime.”


What activities do you plan?

“I try and incorporate something new each year. Some neighbors have two zip lines in their yard so we are going to try that out. Other activities have included crafts, horseback riding, swimming, putting on plays, movie night (with lots and lots of popcorn, of course), bowling, rodeos, baking cookies, visiting the trampoline house, and donuts and coffee in bed!

Caves are a great way to stay cool during the summer while also pointing out how amazing God is for creating the beauty that surrounds us. We’ve had picnics at our local park. Evening baseball games are great ways to expend some of their energy. We also include a service project which at their ages now consist of visiting great grandparents! Win/Win!

You get the idea. You can make it as simple (inexpensive) or elaborate as you like. And, take lots of pictures. The main objective is to make memories.”


Is your family spread out? What are some ways you might be able to strengthen the bond between yourself and your loved ones? Maybe it’s time you start planning your own Cousin Camp or maybe it’s time for a family reunion. Whatever it may be, you don’t have to let the distance keep you from having a strong family bond. Spend some quiet time with God and ask Him for guidance. Let Him lead and He will open doors (and maybe even some hearts) that you thought might be closed forever.

Looking for more inspiration? Browse our Summer Articles & Devotions  in our Devotional Library for more inspiration and be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to receive free articles, updates from our Ecard Studio as well as exclusive deals.