grandchildrenMy mother has never been one to sit idle for very long and isn’t about to let her guests become couch potatoes either. Over the years, she’s cooked up some pretty creative (some people might say “outlandish”) activities to keep family and friends active and having fun.

Astonishingly, her activities have even managed to captivate the elusive attention of my niece and nephew (now 15 and 20). When they’ve spent a few days at what my family affectionately refers to as “Granny Camp,” her shenanigans have succeeded in breaking the magnetic pull of their smartphones and kept them entertained for hours, if not days, at a time.

In case you are finding it more and challenging to entertain your own grandchildren as they approach and enter their teens, my mother has agreed to share some of her secrets. However, just remember that delivery is everything. You have to join in the fun, too!

The thrill of the hunt

My mother’s signature event is the scavenger hunt. Hiding clues all over the house for the grandchildren, with one note leading to the next, she ends the hunt with a treasure. The challenge isn’t in scoring that prize, which is generally just candy or a bauble from the Dollar Store or drugstore, but instead in thinking like Granny and figuring out her incredibly cryptic clues.


No kid would ever pass up the chance to draw that bow Katniss-style (your grandkids will know what I’m talking about!), aim and release arrow after arrow at a big red bull’s-eye … even if every single one of those arrows misses. What an adrenaline rush! At the last Granny Camp, my mom attached a balloon to the bull’s-eye and the first one to pop the balloon got a hot fudge sundae. My mom won at her own game!

Arcade-style games

Sometimes the simplest, silliest games are the most fun. Take my mom’s “toss the penny” game, for example. She places a bowl on the floor positioning the first player about three or four yards away. He or she gets a handful of pennies, tossing the pennies one by one, in bunches or in a single handful into the bowl. Whoever gets the most pennies in the bowl wins. You spend a lot of time counting and picking up pennies, but it’s seriously addictive trying to figure out the best strategy for hitting the bowl!

Run off some energy

My niece plays volleyball, basketball, and softball and also runs track; my nephew has played football, basketball and lacrosse; and in her day, my mother played softball and field hockey. When the kids come to visit, my mom has been known to host backyard soccer, wiffle ball, badminton or volleyball games, or even an impromptu game of catch with some lacrosse sticks from my nephew’s trunk and a ball. Typically, Granny isn’t chasing balls anymore, but you may find her slamming a few wiffle balls into the neighbor’s yard now and again.


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