By Bob Poliquin, Managing Editor and Sun City Carolina Lakes Resident ~
“The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.” (Sam Levenson)
My wife Cheryl and I have four school-age granddaughters. Things 1 & 2 are fifteen and thirteen and live here in Charlotte. Things 3 & 4 are nine and seven. They live in northern Minnesota. During the summer, 3 & 4 spend a month and a half with us while their parents get some well-deserved time together. But for grandparents, what can you do with kids that gets them out of the house and away from the TV and the other ubiquitous electronics?
Here are a few ideas that have worked for us:
Camp: This summer, Thing 3 is spending a week at horse camp up the road on Possum Hollow. Last year, 3 did half-day camp, but this year she is old enough for full days. 3 is also spending a week away at Tega Cay’s Camp Canaan. Her sister, Thing 4, will attend a week at half-day horse camp and another week of half-day art camp in Waxhaw. 4 says she does not want to go to Camp Canaan because “They have dogs.” We keep saying “Camp Canaan,” but, apparently, she keeps hearing “Camp Canine.”
Thing 2, a multi-summer veteran of horse camp, will be with us as well, spending two weeks as a counselor in training at the same nearby horse camp where she has been riding every summer. After this summer, she can be a full-time summer counselor, which means she will spend future summers with us.
There are a variety of camps available in the area that give kids age-appropriate experiences. CharlotteParent.com has a link just for camps. By the way, we always ask the girls before we sign them up for anything because they each have specific talents and interests.
Cruising: Last summer, Cheryl took Things 1 & 2 on a cruise out of Charleston. The girls were old enough to roam the ship with the supervising youth staff. Don’t be surprised or offended if older grandchildren choose to run with a pack of kids rather than hang out with you. And even with the amazing variety food available on the cruise, the girls lived on soft serve ice cream and bacon for a week. According to Cheryl, a cruise isn’t the time for lectures on nutrition. Cheryl will take 3 & 4 next summer either on a Disney cruise out of Florida or on a kid-friendly cruise out of Charleston.
Carowinds: This is a can’t-miss day or evening outing. We buy the local girls season passes, which makes it much easier on everyone since we don’t have to spend all day there to feel like we got our money’s worth.
The US National Whitewater Center: The USNWC is another can’t-miss activity. From rock climbing to rock concerts, they have everything outdoors you can possibly imagine. And, yes, they have whitewater, both in-the-boat raft rides and rides guaranteed to throw you out of the boat. There is something for every age and every level of thrill seeker.
The Carolina Raptor Center: For those who would like to experience raptors up close and spend a quality day with grandchildren, the Carolina Raptor Center (CRC) in Huntersville is nearby and easily accessible. It is a world-renowned facility for rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing raptors back into the wild. The CRC admits nearly 1000 birds per year and successfully releases almost 70% of them. From bald eagles and osprey to owls and vultures, if it’s a bird of prey, CRC treats it.
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte: Pun intended, the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is just the ticket for younger grandkids. There are performances to attend as well as age-appropriate classes and camps for kids. Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is one of the top theatre and education organizations for young people in the United States, providing children and families with imaginative productions and educational programs. Their 600+ performances a season are more than any other theatre company in the state.
ImaginOn is the home of the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and is a collaborative venture between the theatre and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. With a children’s library, two incredible theatre spaces for productions, classrooms, computer labs, and a teen loft, it is an extraordinary place to take kids.
The SCCL Pool: After long days on dusty horses, the girls love nothing more than meeting their summer friends at the Lake House outdoor pool. The kids all remember each other from previous summers and pick up friendships right where they left off.
Not to be forgotten this summer, Thing 1, a rising junior at Providence High School, will travel with us for a week when we fly 3 & 4 back to Minnesota. She’s no longer interested in horse camp, but she loves Carowinds and the Whitewater Center – with her friends, that is. We’re okay with that.
By the way, in case you are wondering, Section 1.1 of our Rules and Regulations state: “No person under 19 years of age may reside in any residential home for more than 90 days in any consecutive 12-month period.” That’s three months. We find that five or six weeks is plenty. After all, these are our grandkids; I’m not sure we’ll have the energy for great-grandkids.
(Photo by Aaron Burden)