Some of my greatest childhood memories are from the summers when I’d spend a couple weeks in the North Georgia mountains with my cousins.
I’ve seen a few different “Cousin Camp’s” on different blogs, and fell in love with the idea…after all, we were having “Cousin Camp” for years and didn’t even know it! :)
For our “Cousin Camp,” we invited a few of my cousins’ daughters from Georgia to come down for the week. My niece, Caroline, was also coming, but it didn’t work out. We had a house FULL of girls, though! Poor DW!!
I made up a logo, and a “camp packet” to mail to the girls a few weeks before “camp” to get them excited!
My Aunt Kay made it to our house with her three granddaughters on Sunday afternoon.
I’d made signs to welcome them…
Mom & Dad were here, to welcome them, too, and we grilled hamburgers for supper.
I’d planned our week to be broken down into three parts:
- Catching Up, Crafts, & Cake Days
- Beach Bum Days
- Back to our Roots Days
Arrival day was our first “Catching Up, Crafts & Cake” day. The girls were welcomed with personalized beach buckets that had their camp t-shirt (My mom & I found a Yudu machine on Craigslist, so we screen printed them at home! We’ll be making T-Shirts for everything now!) :) The buckets also had their memory books, bandanas, and their supplies for some of our crafts in them.
I’d planned a few activities for the girls to do that first afternoon. The first, was their handprint canvases. They each put both of their own handprints on their canvases and then everyone else put one of theirs on each other’s. I thought it would be something cute they could take home and hang in their rooms, plus it was something that seemed like it fit all of their ages. (That was kind of tricky since we had quite the age span going on…).
We also had Cousin bracelet kits – (Friendship bracelets, that I’d gotten everyone’s favorite color string for). These didn’t go as smoothly as I thought they would, and I don’t think any of the girls finished theirs. It was a great idea though. :)
After dinner, took the girls for a little ride around the farm. Katie got a little driving lesson in the field and Lindsey did, too!
The little girls rode with Pop and were the cutest things hanging on the back of the 4-wheeler. They squealed and laughed and were adorable!
Monday morning I planned to make our Granny’s hoe cake and chocolate for breakfast. I also made cheese biscuits in case they didn’t like the hoe cake and chocolate. I’m glad I had backup, because Katie was the only one who liked it! Here’s what they all had to say about it:
Lindsey: “It smells burnt”
Anna: “I could eat it if I HAD to”
Annabelle: “I think I’ll have another one of them cheesy biscuits, please, Momma”
Ha. Kids today… and to think it was like a delicacy when I was growing up!
After breakfast, Nen came over to help with our cake decorating.
I’d baked everyone a tiny cake of their own and tried to teach them how to pipe a shell border, make drop flowers and polka dots…then gave them a ton of sprinkles and let them go at it.
The girls did great and their cakes were so cute.
AB may have gone through three packs of sprinkles on her own. :)
After lunch, the girls played outside, watched TV and even got in some Barbie playing, which made my heart so-happy since that was our favorite when we were little girls.
Late that afternoon, we headed over to my parents to pick up Aunt Kay. I’d borrowed Pappy’s Suburban for the week to haul the crew around in. :) (Mamie fell hard for the DVD player – and if there was ever a question, my next car will have to have one! :) She also fell in love with the Barbie movies AB brought to watch, except Mames calls Barbie, “Bar-bo” and it’s the cutest thing ever! Barbie will never be Barbie at our house again. She’s officially “Bar-bo”…
On our way to Trenton, we made an Icee-stop and I introduced the Georgia girls to the goodness that is having your Icee in a styrofoam cup. It’s the best and keeps your icee from melting…I never finished an Icee until I started getting them in styrofoam cups – I just can’t drink it when its all melted. (And for the record, I never claimed to not be picky or particular). :)
Monday afternoon, we wanted to take the girls to Hart Springs, which is where we always went when we were kids to swim and picnic. Another fun fact, is that my Papa built the pavilions there in the 1970s and my Granny, mom and aunts painted them. If I am remembering right, it was the summer that something happened and my Papa lost his whole tobacco crop, so he did that carpentry side job that summer.
We were sorely disappointed when we got to the springs and saw how high (and dark) the water was! All the rain we’ve been getting had the river high and the dark murky water had flooded into the springs. Ick. The only two who wanted to get in were AB & Anna, so we let them get in for a minute, but told them they better not go under water! We walked down the cat-walk to see the Suwannee and then we packed up and headed home. My Dad picked up chicken for us all that night, so we still had a “picnic” just at Mom & Dad’s instead of the springs. :)
Tuesday morning, we packed everyone up and headed for the beach. My in-laws are so, so, so good to me. They were so sweet to let and even be glad for me, Mom & Aunt Kay to take the girls to their condo for a few days. :) And the girls (all of us!) were so excited to get to spend some time together at the beach.
Everyone headed straight down as soon as we got there! We had the perfect set up – Mom & Aunt Kay stayed on the beach all day, so they would watch the little girls while they were on the beach, and then I’d take them to the pool when they were ready to do that. The big girls stayed at the pool the majority of the time, so they were there to help keep an eye on them, too.
That night, we just got pizza for dinner, so that we could stay on the beach later. We even went back to the pool after we ate that night.
Wednesday we woke up to another beautiful day (the weather couldn’t have been more perfect the entire time we were at the beach). We walked to the pier that morning for breakfast.
We spent the day at the pool and the beach. The two little girls got so good at boogie boarding and body surfing!
I can’t wait for us to go again, because I know if AB has her Daddy there to help her, she’ll get even better. (this momma isn’t the best with water activities). :)
Wednesday evening we went to Aunt Catfish’s for dinner. We called ahead, went early, and still had to wait about 45 minutes. The cinnamon roll alone is worth it though. :)
We had a window seat upstairs with a great view. Yum.
After dinner, we decided to go to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Mom had climbed it before, but I had never been down there. None of the girls had been to a lighthouse before either, so it was a great “field trip.” Mom & Aunt Kay stayed behind with Mamie while the rest of us climbed it.
I was so proud of the girls, especially AB – she’s little and it was HARD! Katie made it to the last flight of stairs and had to stop – she wears glasses and I think all that looking down at the stairs made her dizzy and gave her a headache. She was so cute, though, when she bought this T-Shirt at the gift shop… love it!
After the lighthouse, it was back to Target for swimming masks for the big girls and then to High Five for some frozen yogurt.
That night, we had movie night…I’d brought the “original” cousin camp movie from back in our day – our girls love it, too, so I’ve decided we’ll keep them, even if they don’t like hoe cake & chocolate. :)
I decided our “camp mascot” would be a flamingo, so I bought anything I could find with a flamingo on it for the week… everything from drink stirrersto plates and napkins, jammies for my girls, and even a pair of shorts for me! We were flamingoed out!
Thursday we had another great day at the beach and the pool. It was 7/11 which meant free slurpee day at 7-11 stores, and there happens to be one right across from the condo! I took the girls over after lunch for an afternoon icee…
Thursday afternoon, we came in around 4:00 to get ready for dinner.
That night we ate at Olive Garden and then took the girls down to the boardwalk for some real tourist fun. :) We had the best time. We rode the ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl, (which I learned was my Granny’s favorite carnie ride) and Lindsey & Katie even rode the Hurricane. I don’t typically “do” rides- especially not these kind, but I was so glad the girls talked me into it. And I know the girls will remember their Grammy/Great-Aunt riding those rides with them forever.
Later that night, when it was good and dark, I took the girls on the beach for a “sparkler ceremony” for our last night.
I thought it up last minute when I found left over sparklers in my bag from the weekend before. It felt very “camp like” and I was glad we did it. The only thing missing was us singing “Kum-bi-yah.” :) Friday the girls (except for Mames) swam while Mom, Aunt Kay and I got everything packed up and cleaned up to come home.
We’d planned to leave in time for lunch, and stopped at the Chick-fil-A without knowing it was cow appreciation day! There must have been 50 kids dressed up like cows there. No free chicken for our crew, but we did get to take a picture with the cow.
We made it home in time to get our bandanas (which I’d gotten in everyone’s favorite colors) on and change our clothes for the garden!
We’d finished up our “Beach Bum” days and were heading into the “Back to our roots” day. The garden was a HUGE part of my summers growing up. My grandparents grew a huge garden every summer and for what seemed like the whole month of June we helped them pick and put it all up. My Georgia cousins always got a taste of it, too, when they’d be down for their summer visit. We even made up a song about the garden, sung to the tune of “Going to the Chapel…” Except it wasn’t the “Garden of love” in our song. We hated it. Funny how things change – there’s not much I wouldn’t give to have one more summer with my grandparents working in the garden. Those days working alongside my Papa, Granny, parents, and other family members had a huge influence in my life. One I will forever be grateful for. It was important to me, for the girls to see what working in the garden was like. My Papa’s brother (who’s my great and my girls’ great-great uncle Frank) saved us some peas to pick when Momma called to ask if he had any left. It’s pretty late for peas and most of them were dried up, but he saved us a couple rows and we picked those, some okra and some corn from his garden on Friday afternoon. It was so sweet to just get to be around him for a little bit, too, with all the girls. He has always been special to me, and not just because he reminds me a whole bunch of my Papa. :)We all rode in the back of my Dad’s truck to the garden and Mom packed a “snack” just like Granny always did for me. She never had sippy cups or plastic cups with lids for us when we were kids, she would always put some ice and water in a mason jar and take it out to the garden for when I’d get thirsty. Along with a mason jar of water, she always grabbed a sleeve of “soda crackers” – that’s what we call them, although most people call them “Saltines.” Mom wanted the girls to get the full experience, even if we were only going to be at the garden for less than an hour! :) They passed the jar around like champs- it was the cutest thing.
It was HOT and the weeds were high, since its really the end of gardening season, but the girls were precious picking peas. I almost fell out when they even said it was “kinda fun.”
After our gardening, we went back to my parents and shelled a few peas on the porch. We had gotten enough to cook for dinner the following night.
Friday evening, the girls and I picked up dinner and brought home and then we went to my in-laws to swim. Those girls all love to swim!
Saturday morning, we had Krispy Kreme for breakfast.
It was KK’s 76th birthday, so a celebration was for sure in order. :)
DW and his Daddy had talked about wanting to let the girls ride a horse, so we met up at the horse lot to saddle a couple up.
I say “we” like I did anything. :) Truthfully I am scared of horses and I hate that I am. I wish so bad I could be comfortable on and around them. When we were dating DW took me riding and after that we’ve never been back…so that should tell how well that went. :) Maybe one day we’ll try again.
The Georgia girls were a little scared, too, but I was so proud of all of them!
AB loved riding, too – and of course, since big sister was on one, Mames had to get on, too!
After the horses, we took the girls to see some planted peanuts and to check out the corn.
We picked off peanuts when we got home, and I am sure that these girls’ peanut-farming great-grandfather would be so proud! :)
We spent the rest of the day getting the girls packed and finishing up stuff for their memory books…which turned out so cute! I found the chipboard books from the Michael’s Dollar Bin, and used printable iron on paper to do the logo on the front and the divider pages.
The three parts of the week were broken down with the dividers and each part had a spot for recording their memories… I figured they might need some prompting, so I made them fill in the blank… The books ended with a “Sweet Words” section where all the girls signed each other’s books.
I printed pictures that evening from the 1-hour photo, so they had pics already in them and ready to take home!
Saturday’s supper was at my parent’s…we had some old fashioned fresh-from-the garden sides along with some chicken and pork my Dad had smoked. Mom and Aunt Kay cooked the peas we’d picked and shelled the day before, made fried eggplant, okra, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, and cornbread. It was all so good, and we finished it off with homemade peach ice cream (and a small churn of chocolate, too)! A perfect summer night.
Aunt Kay and the girls left Sunday morning headed back to Georgia, with I hope memories of a great week in Florida. I know we sure enjoyed having them. I hope Cousin Camp can be a yearly thing and I hope when my other aunt’s granddaughters get a little older, they can join in, too. I can’t even imagine how much fun that would be for all of us to have all those girls together! I bet DW would head to the beach for the week by himself and leave us all here at the house! :)