Ran into a friend the other day who told me she was stocking up for Granny camp. I was intrigued. “Granny Camp? You’re taking the whole family camping?”
“Not exactly,” she said, her eyes twinkling. “We handle the Montana summer company a bit differently at our place. Instead of hosting one family at a time, like you, we make room for everybody. Think about it. Our Flathead Valley company used to go on for three months. Now, we’re talking three weeks–and, it’s a whole lot more fun. The cousins grow up knowing each other. The parents get a real chance to relax and catch up.”
I wasn’t convinced. Barely able to imagine our own six married kids, their spouses, and all the grandkids under one roof, I asked how she managed it all. “Easy,” she smiled. “Keep it simple. Sleeping bags, picnic tables, and paper plates. No video games, television, or phone time allowed, except for Old Movies night. Play board games, cards, dominoes or charades. Tell stories. Have contests, or practice for a talent show the last night. Everybody pitches in. One night we do ‘make your own pizzas,’ the next, we make tacos, or hot dogs, or a baked potato bar. Simple food that we can make together. We just talk, and eat, and play…that’s about it. Some days we tube down the Swan River, or pull the kids behind the boat, or build a big picnic lunch and ride the horses up to Secret Meadow. Or, maybe Dad takes the guys fly-fishing, while us girls–and whoever else wants to stay–hang out at the house and teach the young ones to bake pies, or some other sweet surprise, for dinner.
“The kids always stay up late, eating popcorn and playing games, while the adults sit out on the deck and look up at the stars, and re-tell all the old stories about growing up in Montana, and how thankful they are that, now, their own kids get to enjoy this place they all still love. This is our legacy, you know? We’re carving out memories, and teaching the grandkids to treasure and enjoy the natural world. I can’t leave them a fortune to spend after I’m gone, but I can give them this, time in my Montana, and that’s the real treasure.”
Becky Palmquist is married to Keith, broker-owner of RiverBend Realty in Bigfork, Montana. She is a writer and a retired psychiatric and mental health nurse
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