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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Grandma's camp

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Visitors to Grandma's Camp enjoy scenic views like this one of the lake at Camp Marymount.
(Submitted photo)
Mary Lokey's favorite vacations don't include sun and sand, but long weekends in the country with her grandchildren.

She discovered Grandma's Camp several years ago, and it's become a place for forming lasting memories over simple pleasures.

Family matters

Grandma's Camp is a favorite of local Mary Lokey. Seen here during a visit to the camp last fall are Mary Beth Canterbury, Lokey, Hunter Canterbury and Jordan Marsh, a student at Thomas Magnet School.
(Submitted photo)
Grandma's Camp is in its eighth year as a public charity, and brings grandparents and grandchildren, extended family -- and even parents and children -- together to share in a camping experience. While at camp, the registrants hike, enjoy swimming, canoeing and horseback riding. The evenings are filled with storytelling and the making of s'mores around a campfire.

At the beginning of camp, each camping family becomes part of a group, giving them an opportunity to meet, work, and play with other campers. Each group is named after a Native American tribe. The tribe members make headbands of their tribal colors and work together to complete a scavenger hunt.

Back in time

"Our goal at Grandma's Camp is to bring children and grandparents and mentors together," said founder Marti Carelli-Gilbert. "We encourage the adults to talk to the young campers about what it was like when they were children.

"When I was a child only the wealthy owned televisions," Marti said. "If you wanted to talk to your best friend, you walked the mile or two to her house. Children were not allowed to use the telephone because everyone had a 'party' line. An adventure was walking three miles to the nearest soda shop to buy a nickel scoop of ice cream.

Simple pleasures came from catching lightning bugs in a jar, building a fort in the woods, riding your bike around the block until the next bus came, or pretending to be the 'Box Car Children' using the local grocery store's discarded wooden crates."

Modern pleasures

Of her own grandchildren, Marti says their idea of adventure is playing the newest and most-challenging video games.

"Simple pleasures come from clicking the channel button on their remote or just browsing the Internet," she said.

The first time Marti took her 3-year-old granddaughter on a hike in the woods, the granddaughter looked up with a puzzled expression and asked, "Grandma, what does a hike look like?"

According to Marti, that day, 15 years ago, the seed was planted for what was to become Grandma's Camp."

Activities include swimming and canoeing.
(Submitted photo)
The three-day, two-night camp is held twice a year in April and in the fall, with an additional four-day session being offered this year over the Labor Day weekend. Of the facilities at Camp Marymount near Fairview, Marti says they are, "...absolutely senior-friendly."

Most paths are paved, and the cabins offer showers and bathrooms.

Accommodations may also be made for children with disabilities or those confined to a wheelchair.

Memorial camp

Grandma's Camp is dedicated to the memory of Albert Carl Carelli, Jr., Marti's husband, a coach for Marshall University who perished with the football team on Nov. 14, 1970 in a plane crash two miles short of the airport on their return home from a game.

The crash took the lives of 12 coaches and university staff, five crew members, 37 players and 21 boosters.

The crash and the team's rebuilding was recounted in the 2006 movie, "We Are Marshall."

Marti is grandmother to 13, four of which are the grandchildren of Carelli -- who never got the chance to meet them. She wants other grandparents to get to know their grandchildren and build memories together.

If you go

The camp is scheduled for April 20-22 and Aug. 31-Sept. 3. For more information, go to http://grandmascampusa.com or call (615) 631-6268.

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