Necessity became the Mother-of-Invention when my grandchildren moved further away from the farm than an easy drop-in distance. That’s when we inaugurated Granny Camp. It was tremendously successful and gave me many ideas to share with friends and families with kids home on the farm during the Coronavirus.
How to Start “Kids Camp on the Farm”
Make a schedule. Adults and children should plan together and modify a schedule and then post it. This is important because after a few days the boss position will be challenged. However, if it there is an agreed upon schedule that becomes the responsibility target, those issues can be avoided with “Let’s check the schedule.” Just a note. Variations of Kids Camp on the Farm can become Kids Camp in the City.
Set Up a “How Far We Have Come” Corner
At first it will seem that progress and fun are not too significant. I still urge you to collect results into a box, a basket or posting area (fridge door, bulletin board, walls).
Every day needs a physical representation of the Kids-Camp program:
- A picture
- A piece of art
- Something to eat
- Something to watch. Find programs that lift family spirits.
- Keep school skills growing. Create a dairy math problem. Dairy because that makes it unique. Perhaps a “Milkhouse Math Problem”.
- Keep school skills growing. Create a “Dairy Diary Journal”
- “Would you rather” feed calves or feed barn cats? Would you rather helps kids humorously identify their farm favorite chores, games, animals and things.
- Delve into creation of Dairy Farm Sound FX. This could be a creative way to take 26 days to alphabetize sounds on the farm. For instance, day number three might include calves, cows and coyotes.
- Set up your own Good News Station. Do real or imagined interviews of farm owners, farm family or staff on the farm. Bring out things that make them unique, hardworking and friendly. Lift everyone up with positive feedback.
- Create a TV ad for drinking milk, supporting farmers or keeping your farm work place clean. Empower kids to have input and to contribute actively.
We Can Lift Each Other by “SEEING A BRIGHTER LIGHT”
Put Christmas Lights up on your barn or along a fence. Of course, we don’t want to put additional strain on the system, so decide at a Camp Meeting how to schedule a recurring “Bright Lite” for an half hour to an hour once a day. This brings a learning opportunity for everyone as we discuss issues of community responsibility, community cheer and responsible managing of difficult situations.
Farmers Have Always Found a Way. Let’s Look at “THEN AND NOW”
Scavenger hunts have always been fun on the farm. Of course, make sure clean hands, gloves and discussion sets everyone up for safety. This could be a written list, if that keeps hands cleaner. Perhaps you could do two scavenger hunts. (1) Find 20 things that would have been on a farm 100 years ago and are basically unchanged on your farm today. (2) Find 20 things that a farmer in 1920 would never have seen on his or her farm. This kind of looking back and hoping ahead could expand over the days at home into Farm Equipment – Then and Now. Farm Crops – Then and Now.
“This is Not the Time to Turn Screen Time into Screen Time!”
These unusual times give us an opportunity to rewind home disciplinary and conflict situations that may have moved beyond our control. Admittedly, I am not a grandparent who has a less-is-better attitude toward TV and screen time. I have learned a lot from patient grandchildren who “help” me adapt to this change. I do request that manners are respected at meal time or during specially scheduled activities. Having said that, I feel it is hypocritical to withdraw screen privileges from the children, when I myself use and enjoy electronic media for learning, research and entertainment.
“Speak Up on the Farm”
A wonderful part of confinement to a farm situation is the opportunity to interact with animals. When our contact with friends is dramatically reduced, we can use the barn animals – cows, dogs, cats and others — as an audience for improving our public speaking skills. For instance, we could set up a judging panel: perhaps three transition cows. If the kid numbers support it, there could be reporters to take pictures and post headlines. One idea might be to determine the entertainment value by the attention span of the chosen audience.
“The Farm Act” Expands Entertainment on the Farm
We have been moved by scenes of singers and musicians singing from their balconies in cities that have asked for social distancing during Covid-19. In the past my grandchildren have entertained all of us with some very creative show biz opportunities that can be found in the barn:
- Big Bale BoogiE
- Hay Mow Acrobatics
- Wagon Wheel Parade (riding mowers)
- Milk Pail Rhythm BanD
- Heavy Metal Rhythm Band (farm tools)
“Honk if You LOVE Dairy”
As essential services continue, the farm may still have visitors coming in and out of the lane. Respecting the health of everyone, this will mean keeping a healthy distance. Having said that, creative signs might invite new ways to show support:
“Honk if your happy.”
“Wave to us. We are on the Porch”
“We are Glad to See You” …. And then ring the farm bell.
“Start Your Own MILK MUSEUM”
Keep your kids engaged by using their strengths and talents to focus on the positive side of life on the farm.
- Have tickets.
- Create advertising
- Make shoe box models.
The last example could be up scaled into a soap box derby. Create farm-cars.
“Go Beyond Pin the Tail on the Donkey!”
Stand in a section of the barn and only using your sense of hearing, identify what is going on behind your back. Farm (and city) mothers are disqualified from this game because we all know they have eyes in the back of their heads.
“Kids in the Kitchen”
If you have never turned your meal planning, creativity and presentation to your kids, this is a delightful way to upgrade the family eating experience. Perhaps you will encourage farm-only menus. Or the Morning Milk Smoothie Challenge. The opportunities and family benefits are exponential to the amount of shared selecting, creating and judging. Dairy desserts could see the development of family favorite recipes.
“Kids and the COYOTE CAMPFIRE!”
One of the first successes we shared at Granny Camp happened on those evenings when everyone gathered after sunset around a camp fire. We were working with small children who were not all comfortable with the darkness and sounds of a rural farm. That soon changed as we began to look forward to the three-part experience:
- Howling at the moon. Everyone joins in.
- Listening for the echoes.
- Share stories past and present and dreamed of.
The BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE
We are well into the changed conditions resulting from Covid-19. As grandparents, our challenge is the very restricted travel between the US and Canada. Our personal adjustment has been to move away from face to face contact and to find creative and safe ways to keep our connection to our isolated kids-and-calves loved ones. Every day will not be perfect. Changed routines bring new issues and anxieties. Let’s find ways to use farm ingenuity to help the whole family to stay UP ON THE FARM.