We all know how important it is to connect with family and spend quality time with them. I wanted to share this story to give you ideas on how to make something simple like spending time with grandma an annual, highly-anticipated event.

Here’s what longtime EQ Staffer, Lu Vandemark, says:

“A couple of summers ago my husband and I were at the lake and ran into our friend, Ken. “Where’s Ann,” we asked. “Oh, she has all the grandkids in for Grandma Camp this week,” her replied.

That started me thinking… I should have a Grandma Camp. So 2008 was my first Grandma Camp. I invited my two grandchildren from Columbus and my sister’s two from Oklahoma City. There was JJ (age 4), Zoe (age 6), Elijah (age 8 ) and China (age 9). They all wanted to come back so we did it again this summer.

With the different ages, I tend to let them pick the activities as we go rather than do lots of planning. I find every activity takes twice as long as I think it will. I make sure I have lots of craft supplies and let them create.

There aren’t too many rules. We try to avoid fast food – unless we’re really hungry and in a hurry. And there’s no TV watching.

This year included: a night at a motel; dinner at a fancy (linen tablecloths and napkins) restaurant; a performance of “Cinderella” in the University of Findlay’s Summer Theater; Findlay’s Kid Fest; a day on our boat at Lake Erie; and a day at Cedar Point.

And there was lots of cooking. They do like to cook, especially the boys. As soon as I start working in the kitchen, I find that I quickly become a sous chef to the boys, as they mix and stir and pour and bake. The first evening – before our trip to the grocery store – the boys did an amazing job of creating a great dinner from whatever leftovers they could find in my kitchen. We had pasta with a Mexican seasoning and chicken, green beans and carrots and brownies for dessert. The most fun I had was watching Elijah “plate” the dinner. Very creative! I’d think he’d been watching the Food Channel, but his family doesn’t have a TV.

JJ wanted an elephant ear at Cedar Point, but the line was too long for us at 11 pm, so he and I made our own the next day, while Grandpa took the rest on a shopping trip to the dollar store. He mixed and rolled and fried and had a plate full of crispy elephant ears when the others came home.

After a week, I was happy to drive them to Columbus to put two on the airplane and deposit the other two with their parents. But I’ll do it again if the kids want to. The only suggestion I had was from the girls who think I should have one Grandma Camp for girls and one for boys.”