Grumpy Grandpa’s Summer Camp


The mad scramble for summer camps started about a month ago. How do I know? Everywhere we’ve tried to sign up our two granddaughters staffers say, “We’re full. You should’ve started a month ago.”

Not usually one to give up, I’ve decided to give up — give up on signing up at other summer camps. I’m gonna plan my own.

But first, we need a name. Gotta have a name so we can design tee-shirts and hats. Dear reader, welcome to “Grumpy Grandpa’s Summer Camp,” no cell phones or electronics allowed. We’ll have activities unlike any other camp in this town, and campers are gonna have fun like we did on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

We’ll have fun entertaining the kids, and what better way than to introducing them to Mother Nature? Every morning we’ll go outside, and campers will count the number of chipmunks and squirrels they see scurrying around. (That’ll work on math skills.)

We’ll play, “Name That Bug.” Is it a bug or worm? Is it friendly? Should you pick it up, or should you leave it alone? Think of how exciting it’ll be turning over rocks just to see who is hiding underneath. Could it be Mr. Snake, a scorpion, centipede, or even a friendly family of roly-polies? Right after Name That Bug, we’ll play, “What Just Bit/Stung Me?”

Yours Truly played a game last week that campers will also play: “Who Lives in That Hole?” I watched in amazement at a giant bee while it dug a dirt home one bee-bite at a time. (I got pictures and video to prove it.)

But even as well-educated as I am in critters of the great outdoors, I’m still trying to figure out what kind of giant lizard lives in our backyard. He’s brown, over a foot long, has a red head and gets really mad if you poke at him while he’s sleeping in his hole. Perhaps other campers can help with the identification? (That will cover life sciences and research skills.)

Kids have lots of energy, especially during the summer. What better way to burn it off than to get them outside swinging and swimming? A long rope, used tire, and a tree with a strong limb provides hours of entertainment. Just sit back and watch as kids swing and spin on the tire.

Sure, you’ll have to fetch drinks, snacks, and an occasional Band-Aid, but that’s a small price to pay for an hour or so relaxing in a lawn chair.

If you’re fortunate to have a creek or lake nearby, tie that rope to a limb outstretched over the waters. Kids will swing, flip, and dive for hours. That’s what my four brothers and me did while living back on Flamingo. Sure, we got a few permanent scars due to mishaps over the years, but well worth all the memories.

Combination games are also fun. “Bike Tag” combines riding bikes with the game of tag. Just make sure kids wear shoes. They don’t want to end up like Twin Brother Mark. Still feel kinda bad about what happened to his little toe — I was the one that tagged him.

Combine dodge ball with old tires for two thrilling games: “Dodge the Giant Tractor Tire,” and “Giant Tractor Tire Ride.” After dodging tire at the bottom of the hill, campers can then roll tire back up and climb inside. Just make sure riders keep arms and legs inside while tire is in motion or severe injury may result. Us four boys never got injured, but The Sister? Well … she did get a pink cast.

Daily activities will include some of Flamingo Street’s summertime favorites. With a recent purchase chosen by Sweet Caroline, I am now able to fill and tie 100 water balloons in less than 60 seconds! Every afternoon there’ll be a water balloon battle. Then the real fun of “Pick Up Tiny Bits of Exploded Water Balloons” will follow.

Whether it’s riding trees, jumping in muddy puddles, skipping rocks across a lake, ramp jumping using bikes or skates, creeping towards or running away from bugs – summertime fun is waiting at Grumpy Grandpa’s Summer Camp. Unfortunately, this year’s registration is already full at two – our Little One and Sweet Caroline.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]