Aug 4th, 2008
A few years ago, my sister and co-aunt Judy started flying Violet and Dash down to California to spend a week with her in an event that has come to be known in our family as “Camp Judy.” She takes the kids to swimming, golf and tennis lessons, feeds them very healthy food and teaches them lots of songs.
As this summer approached, I wanted to do something similar. There was talk that the Incredible Family might be moving back east, and I thought it would be a nice idea to have some bonding time with the kids. So I booked accommodations on the Oregon Coast and made plans. Besides Violet (age 9 1/2) and Dash (age 8), I also planned to bring Jack-Jack, who is 3 1/2.
(My sister and brother-in-law asked me at least ten times, “Are you sure you want to bring Jack-Jack?”)
In the meantime, Grandpa Bob (or, as I call him, “Daddy”) was planning to come out from Miami, so he was added to the Camp Jean contingent. As was my brother, aka Uncle Bob.
We spent three nights in Twin Rocks at the Ocean Rogue Inn. It’s a great place to bring kids. The ocean is right there. They have a play structure, horseshoes, buckets and shovels. There are picnic tables and grills, too. We had the one unit with 3 bedrooms, kitchen and dining room (#7).
I took lots of video, and will edit that into something later this week. I took all of these photos with my iPhone.
Per Uncle Bob’s request, we visited the Tillamook Air Museum and saw lots of cool planes housed in a World War II blimp hangar, the largest wooden structure in the world. (photo from their website)
For the next two nights, we drove down to Newport so that we could make a visit to the amazing Oregon Coast Aquarium. This is where Keiko, the “Free Willy” whale, was housed before being returned to Iceland. The tank where Keiko lived has been turned into a walk-through aquarium featuring LOTS OF SHARKS and other fish. (photo from their website) You can also see otters, seals and sea lions (Jack-Jack’s favorite) in their outdoor ponds. The kids were fascinated with everything for at least an hour and a half, which I considered good!
We came back by way of Corvallis, which gave us an opportunity to visit with niece-equivalent Anne (that’s her photo at the top of this blog) who leaves today for a whole year (gasp!) in Thailand on a Rotary International exchange program.
We got back to Portland late Saturday afternoon. Grandpa Bob and I went in search of some at least moderately healthy food, and ended up at Old Wives Tales. I went to bed and slept soundly until 10 a.m., which is highly unusual for me.
I think Camp Jean was a success, although not as educational (and certainly not as healthy) as Camp Judy. Of course, it’s not a competition.
I’ve got a lot of ideas for next year, what works and what doesn’t work. I will post more specific tips and advice in a series of posts on traveling with the niece/nephews.
Aunt hack ratings:
Age group: 3 and up. I wouldn’t have wanted to take Jack-Jack any younger.
Duration of activity:Six days/five nights (and 6 hours and 53 minutes…)
Cost: Lodging: $803; Gas: about $70; Food: about $350; Air Museum: $7 for kids (children under 6: free!); Oregon Coast Aquarium: $8.75 for kids (children under 3: free — I think the lady at the cash register was trying to give me the chance to say that Jack-Jack wasn’t 3 yet, but I can’t lie in front of the kids! I’d say he got $8.75 worth of entertainment, though.)
Child/aunt fun ratio: 60/40. It’s not always fun to ride herd on three kids of varying ages/interests/food dislikes/moods, but it was still a great trip. I was tempted to go for a 65/35 child/aunt fun ratio here, but on reflection, I’m sure there were definitely moments when the kids were not having fun either.