Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Camp Cousin

"I'm bored" is a phrase that can cause me to utter one of "those" responses. You know the response I'm talking about--the things you never thought you'd say to your own kids--the total confirmation that you are, indeed, a parent. When I hear, "I'm bored," my typical response goes something like: "Well, I've got plenty of things you can do" (add evil, greedy smile). That's usually enough to send my boys running and find themselves suddenly busy.

I must say that I am a bit amused at the idea that parents find the need to occupy their children's time. Really, this has to be the first generation of kids whose parents have even given a thought to how to keep their kids occupied and happy. Since when did that become our job or their expectation? Maybe it's a sign of our times; we've become so entertainment and electronic driven that our children have lost their own creativity. Or maybe it's because we've lost the "neighborhood" where a kid could disappear for a full day of self-made entertainment and come home just in time to add another ring to the tub.

Well, off my soapbox. There is one thing I do each summer for the benefit of my sons and nieces: Camp Cousin. For one week our home becomes Camp. I typically plan a variety of activities throughout the day, including an outing, a creative project, a game, and scrapbooking time. I take pictures of them all day, then get them one-hour developed at Walgreens. Several nights during the week we pull out our scrapbooks and supplies (I buy them a new book each year) and record our Camp Cousin adventures. (I was honored when one of my nieces took her Camp Cousin scrapbook to school for show-and-tell the following year.)

During the week we take advantage of the sites and activities around our city. There are often special summer activities if you'll check your city's calendar of events. For instance, our city offers family movies under the stars in the park on Friday nights. Several public pools offer a "get in free with a canned good" day. Scour your city's activity calendar and watch the newspaper for special events. Also consider those kid-friendly and touristy attractions your city offers that you may not have taken advantage of in a while.

I try to keep the creative project useful. They love to paint shirts, so that is a project I've repeated frequently. Search the 'net at places like familyfun.com or peruse up and down the aisle of your favorite craft store for inspiration.

It's also easy to find summer game ideas by doing a google search or using the above-mentioned familyfun site. Search for party games and find ones that suit your family and budget.

I sometimes develop meals for them to make. Okay, so this isn't a healthy meal, but it's one of their favorite activities (memories) that they request each year: cream cheese and nutella sandwiches on white bread served with chocolate-dipped strawberries. Hey, that's what vacation is for, right?

I try to pick up things throughout the year, particularly at Target's dollar section. Punching balloons, beach balls, cute pens--those little treats that will keep them occupied or I think I can create a game out of.

It's an exhausting week, for sure, but their anticipation and appreciation of this annual tradition is well worth it!

Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday--The "Mom, I'm Bored" Edition.


PFMommy said...

You and I sound a lot alike! I just posted my WFMW, and then I saw yours and it's very similar! Great idea for doing the whole week-long camp for the cousins.

Some of our family even does "Grandma's Camp" and all the cousins spend a week together w/their grandmas doing camp-style activities. It's a ton of fun, for the kids and the gmas!

Marty said...

I have always respected the Camp Cousin week that you do for your kids and Kristen and Alex. I think it will go down in their memories as one of the greatest events of their childhood. And the bond you've created between them. Orchids to you, Kim.