A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to put on a “Cousins Camp” for all of my nieces and nephews (and my own kids as well). It turned out to be a huge hit and is still a much talked about event with all of the kids. It thrills me to death that we were all able to create some amazing memories. Since going through the planning stages of these events (we’ve done two now), I’ve always thought it would be fun to share with our readers some of the fun things we did and how I was able to incorporate my digi skills.
Tips for Success
- pick your dates – we found that 2.5-3 days was perfect.
- pick a FUN theme for each day – the first year we did movies only; the second year, we did a combination of books and movies.
- divide and conquer – I planned all of the activities and my sisters took care of the food. I thought that was a great deal!
- Collect ideas for activities – planning the first Cousin Camp in the Spring of 2011 is what motivated me to finally give Pinterest a chance. Trying to track all of my ideas in Evernote was becoming a problem and taking too much time. The second year, I found setting up a pinboard for each theme worked out great and pinned as I found stuff. Now, I call Pinterest the new Google and wouldn’t really even have a need to leave it to find enough ideas.
- remember the ages of the kids – be sure the activities you plan can be varied by age (our ages the first year were 3-13).
- limit activities – plan 5 or so activities each day and then let them play and just enjoy being together.
- take photos – take lots of pictures and be sure to hand the camera off to others.
- expect bumps – expect there to be bumps and remind yourself that it’s okay. Depending on the ages of the kids, their might be tears (hopefully not yours). Just remember, it’s about the memories being made.
I recommend choosing themes that are popular, to make it easier to find activities, ideas, and printables. The first year, our themes were:
- Despicable Me
- Toy Story
- Gnomeo and Juliet
The second year, our themes were:
- Harry Potter
- Dr. Seuss
All of these themes turned out to be really fun! Probably the most difficult to find theme specific activities was the Muppets theme (more on that below).
Each day included:
- a themed photo booth first thing
- 3-5 activities and/or crafts
- a themed snack the kids could create
- we tried watching the movies after lunch, but the kids just wanted to play, so that’s what we let them do
Fun Printables To Create
I put my digi skills to work and made some fun printables for each day. The big crowd pleasers the first year were definitely the tickets to get in and the water bottles.
For the water bottles and tickets, I used the following supplies:
Despicable Me (first bottle on left) font:
Gnomeo & Juliet (center bottle) font:
Toy Story (right bottle) font:
I actually had the Toy Story invitation made at a website that is now defunct and then I made the Despicable Me and Gnomeo and Juliet invites myself. I would have ordered those too, if they would have had graphics available for it. Now, knowing what I know about Disney copyright, I’m wondering if the images weren’t licensed. Everything appeared to be on the up and up, but that’s what Disney doesn’t want: confusion or the appearance of being affiliated with them or using licensed characters with their permission.
I did create a ticket template that you can use for your own Cousin Camp (or any other personal event or purpose). Download it here. They are designed to put two of them on a 4×6 canvas and print as a 4×6.
There are easy ways to get licensed characters on your own personal creations. Check out this tutorial here and this one here.
Here are some ways to find licensed characters that you can legally use for your own personal projects:
- Google the movie or book name and find the official website. Many official websites have printables that you can download and use to create things using the tutorials above (this is how I found most of the things I used for Despicable Me (they are all gone now though) and Gnomeo & Juliet).
- Spoonful.com is an official Disney site that has a lot of printables for download available. Just use their search bar and type in the movie name along with printable and you might be surprised all you find.
- I used the same sites as listed above to find printables that I could use for photo booth photos.
- I also searched on Oriental Trading to find props. I found eye glasses for each cousin to have on Despicable Me Day and then the next year, bought the same glasses and popped the plastic out to use them for Harry Potter Day. I also found Gnome hats there.
- There are a lot of fun, themed activities out there and Pinterest makes them super easy to find. Thanks, to Katie, I was an early Pinterest adopter and back then, you wouldn’t find a ton of activities by searching. I was mostly Googling and then pinning. What a difference two years makes!
- I found that it was easy to take traditional childhood games and put a spin on them to fit our theme (potato sack races became ‘frog races’ on Muppets Day).
- By searching Oriental Trading, I was able to come up with ideas for fun activities. I found a 500 piece foam Gnome set for $8 that I used for a Gnome Hunt (we hid the gnomes all over my moms yard and the kids had fun finding them). We used the leftovers for a craft project.
- Take activities from the movies or books. We used little plastic lawnmowers for a relay race, based on the races in Gnomeo & Juliet.
One of the most loved and talked about activities was this past summer as each cousin was able to work on their own scrapbook of Cousin Camp as it was happening.
I bought some very inexpensive notebooks from Oriental Trading, let the kids cover them in Duct Tape, and each day I printed their photo booth pictures as well as a group photo for each of them and let them glue them in the book and add stickers. It was simple, but most of them really loved it. My youngest daughter spent a lot of time on her book and decided that she LOVES scrapbooking. Now, almost a year later, she still loves her Cousin Camp Scrapbook and can be seen looking at it often.
Here are my Pinterest Boards filled with activities and food that we have used for past Cousin Camps:
I’m not sure if we will be doing Cousin Camp this summer, but if we do, one of the days the theme will be “Wreck It Ralph”. You will know Cousin Camp is on if I start pinning on some new boards!