Settled into the rolling hills of central Texas and nestled deep into suburbia is a little known camp home to four very excited little campers. Their matching lime green camp shirts and decorated visors let passers by know that they are part of the best summer camp in town “Camp Grandpa.” Grandma helps behind the scenes packing lunches preparing camper activities and making sure that everyone has a car seat or booster seat, sippy cups, favorite blankets and of course secret stashes of candy. Grandpa is the face of the camp. He is the guide to their many mini expeditions to places like the city dump where campers learn about where “all the trash goes,” how long it takes to breakdown, and why it is important to recycle.
Campers visit the local firehouse and speak with local heroes about their jobs and more importantly what all those tools are for on the big red ladder truck. Graduates of past camps have visited college campuses and have gotten to see classrooms where their Grandpa studied (or didn’t) when he was there. They also learn basic kitchen skills like how to mix and make “Swamp Lemonade” or “Green Eggs and Ham.” When their days come to an end, they get to visit the Money Tree that Grandpa has planted in the backyard (all the grandkids believe that this tree actually produces money) and with just one shake of that tree, their eyes open wide as frisbees as coins and dollar bills suddenly appear in the branches (gotta get me one of those trees). With their earnings, Grandma takes them to the dollar store where they can pick out one or two toys. Toys in hand and smiles on their faces they head for ice cream – the perfect ending to a couple of days at camp.
My dad has been running this camp since my nieces (now 14 and 12) were toddlers and now the next wave of grandkids is getting to spend a few days during the summer at this very exclusive camp. Sure it gives the parents a break, but I also think that the camp counselors enjoy spending time with their grandkids in a very different way than just the usual babysitting gig. My kids will be enrolled in the August session, which reminds me I better get my paperwork in!