After two days of learning about our Viking Heritage, it was time to change it up and have a cousin's day! For Day 3 of Nana Camp, we invited my niece’s three kids to participate in a day planned just for them. All seven cousins worked on making tie-dyed T-shirts – our first time! Then after they ran through the woods, we played field games and created an obstacle course we dubbed the “Front Yard Olympics”. It was hot so we set up a big table in the shade and everyone painted with watercolors and we did “art class.” It was so fun to have them all together doing things that everyone enjoyed.
For Day 4 of Nana Camp, we focused on our Pacific Northwest Native American history and talked about the people that have been here for thousands of years before us. We read them the story of the Maiden of Deception Pass the night before when we went to bed. The next morning, their Amazing Race clues directed them to pack their backpacks and we drove 90 minutes north to Rosario Beach. We planned for this day because of the low tides at the beach. Earlier in the spring, my husband and I experienced what I deemed a Perfect Day and I wrote about our day in an earlier blog post. We decided to take the grandkids back and hoped the weather would be good. The air was warm, the sky was blue and it was gorgeous.
Because we had just been there, it was easy to write the clues for this leg of the race in advance. We had them hiking and searching for the Maiden, finding rocks and shells on the beach, and working together to locate a survey monument on top of a big rock looking out across Puget Sound to the Olympic National Forest.
After our morning of racing, we returned to the picnic area for a break. We packed a lunch, brought a portable barbecue and my husband cooked hot dogs right on the beach. After lunch, we walked toward the south and found a sandy beach and built sandcastles together. It was a long day but really memorable.
For Day 5, our last day of Nana Camp, we learned about our Scottish Heritage and added more to our family tree. The race took them to the Snohomish Valley Golf Center in the morning where they had a private golf lesson with my instructor Val. We all played a round of Putt-Putt golf and then had lunch outside on the patio.
For the grand finale, we purchased tickets to the Everett Aqua Sox game and all wore our tie-dyed t-shirts. This team is affiliated with the Seattle Mariners. They are our local minor league team and play in a small venue, perfect for kids. Their race clues included tickets to the game, money to buy food, drinks, or whatever they wanted. While I assumed we could leave at 9 p.m. and during the sixth inning, the kids were having so much fun that when I suggested we leave there was shock and horror.
“Nana, we can’t leave until the game is over!” The Aqua Sox almost came back after being down and we went into an extra inning. We stayed until 10:30 p.m. What a way to end Nana camp week. They ate loaded nachos, pretzels, cotton candy, “dippin dots” ice cream, hot dogs, kettle corn, and drank gallons of sodas. Parents, you can cover your ears! The baseball game was one of their favorite highlights of the week along with being Vikings.
The following morning their parents started arriving and we spent the weekend together. By Sunday afternoon, it was time to say goodbye after a rewarding, exhausting but super fun week. As they were packing up, there were a few tears though. My youngest grandson said, “But Mommy, I don’t want to go home! You and Daddy go back to Oregon now and come later to get me!”
I love that now that I’m retired, I have the desire, energy, and the privilege to spend so much time with my grandchildren. Planning for several months kept me focused and occupied with creating memories and thinking about ways of teaching my grandkids about our family and our values. Pulling my husband into all of this was a bonus.
Yes, it was exhausting and probably a bit over the top but with grandkids, my philosophy is, “Why do anything halfway?” They’ll be grown and on their own sooner than I want to believe. In fact, I’m already thinking ahead to what we will do next summer for Nana Camp!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.