Saturday, June 24, 2017

Grandma Camp 2017 - The "Big Kids"

I wonder every year if the "big kids" in my group of 10 will appreciate summer days at Grandma Camp. The boys, twin brothers, will be nine on August 29th. Cousin Brielle will be seven on the same day. Will Boy Scouts, soccer, Minecraft, gymnastics, and the lure of dozens and dozens of friends preempt their previous enthusiasm for spending time with me alone, crafting, baking, play-acting, and hiking in the woods? Apparently not! My most soul-satisfying moment of the year is when I'm told, "All they talk about lately is Grandma Camp!" Whew! Good for another round!

This is an overview of the fun we had together last week!

Over the course of winter, I pick and choose from a myriad of ideas spanning creative construction, nature appreciation, and "showmanship." The latter prepares us for the backyard talent production* we perform for ticket-buying parents at week's end. We're currently fascinated with magic, so a new treasure trove of tricks is enthusiastically greeted. Oh, the looks we love on faces in the audience when a deck of cards disappears before one's very eyes! Or, when lengths of rope are cut in half and then unfold intact! Yep! We know exactly how to make those things happen - and we're not telling! (Well, actually, grandma is! a later post - so your kids can wow an audience right outta their chairs like we do!)

The "big kids" never get tired of baking, so we gather 'bout the kitchen counter and take turns mixing and stirring and expertly cracking the eggs we need. Special requests are always honored; this year chocolate chip cookies filled that obligation - as well as patiently waiting tummies!

Our quarter acre backyard woods is an appropriate venue for exploring and seeking sights of scampering wildlife. This year we left tempting trays of treats in populated places and fired up a newly purchased trail camera to capture images of those mysterious creatures who only come out at night!*

I'm really most comfortable with artsy-craftsy stuff.* And not only do the "big kids" share my passion for creating, they adeptly grow the seed of an idea to grand and leafy proportions with very little help from me. My fondest Camp moments? Sitting alongside those intent young crafters, camera in hand, basking in reflected pride of jobs well done!

See those projects the "big kids" are holding? Glow-in-the-dark night lights! Clear plastic jars, craft moss, and a choice of ceramic wild animals (including dinosaurs) are basic ingredients. "Moon stones," stick-on stars, and spooky little aliens "light up" after a bit of time in the sun and accompany campers into their tents at day's end.

Brielle is enamored with this busy raccoon. His habitat includes moon stones, wood chips, and carefully selected pebbles gleaned from a hike out back.

Boys envision starlit extraterrestrial vignettes. An aura of mystery inhabits their jars. What goes on here? Where does this event take place? I'm really not sure. I did ask, but the answers were as ambiguous as those pairs of unsettling red eyes!

More to come! 
*Additional info on these topics in future posts, along with details on "Ladybug Camp" for a trio of four year old little ladies that includes a very successful woodland hunt for fairies!

Here's part 2 of this series!

Previous Grandma Camp series begin here:

2015 - Part One of an 8 part series on my very first Grandma Camp, including a hunt for zombies, night hikes, and lots of (hard earned!) tips on the art of hosting your own event.

2016 - It's Magic! Part one of a 2 part series featuring kid produced magic and puppet shows.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Face Painting, Anyone?

We can't take credit for this one.
Brielle became a parrot at Disney World's Animal Kingdom!

Before I begin my story, I need to set the stage. Brielle's neighborhood is adjacent to elementary school property. The streets teem with kids. They run freely all summer long, visiting from yard to yard, stopping to lunch whenever they see a mom on a porch with a tray of cold drinks and peanut butter sandwiches. Girls, boys, first graders through fifth - it's a happy life!

Brielle has always shown artistic promise. I babysat frequently in her earliest years, making sure she knew how to wield a paintbrush with aplomb. My effort has paid off. Coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, my granddaughter has since taken up the trade of facial decor, sharing her skill freely with anyone who lines up when word goes out in the 'hood that "Bree is painting faces again!"

Twin cousins were premier customers on the day our little artist cracked open her crafty kit for the first time. Ava requested a cat design; Angeline, her fave - a giraffe. Brielle went to work. When the girls were dismissed, they raced to a mirror. Ava stared, and then declared, "That's not a cat!" Angeline just stared. In silence. But they assured that they'd be back again for more, and so, at that moment, a career was born.

My daughter, Christy, calls me sometimes when Bree decides to hang her shingle. She vividly describes the unfolding scene, sending pictures as she speaks. We can barely contain ourselves. I hear the incessant chime of the doorbell, the chatter of girly voices. The word has gone out. "Bree is painting faces!" Mommy breathlessly apologizes, pausing to tend to two more standing on the porch. They'd like an appointment. They want to see Brielle.

I overhear each prospective client firmly questioned about parental permission before they line up to morph into a "tiger," or a "poodle" or a "polar bear." Not to worry. Brielle handles all of those requests, plus more!

Where moms and dads and grandmas-on-the-phone may see something else, the carefree magic of childhood is reflected in the "cats" and "clowns" reclaiming streets, sand boxes, and swing sets once each client is duly served.

I suppose the goal of the art of theatrical make up is to induce shock and awe. With that in mind, may I invite you to concur that my granddaughter has, indeed, dropped the mic in this pursuit?