I am happy to report that we have pulled off a very successful five day family retreat in the Pines. It all started with a well planned schedule and individual assignments that every family member had received well in advance. Some of the assignments included meal preparations and clean up, Thanksgiving Day food assignments, activities for the kids, evening activities for the entire group, evening treats, fire building assignments, quiet bedtime activities for the kids, and even household chores. Each adult was responsible for their household chores for the entire stay. It worked like a charm!
Some of the chores included: the trash, laundry, bathrooms, floors, keeping the water cooler filled with cold water, living room and kitchen pick up and cleaning, and the windows. With 18 little hands the windows needed frequent cleaning! We also had a couple of dads that arranged for our nighttime bedding needs and the morning bedding clean up for the kids. Our formal dining area served as a sleeping area for the older children by night and adult dining by day.
As the families began to roll in on Wednesday night our mountain home became filled with nine excited children and ten adults ready to share in some great family time. Bedrooms were assigned per family and space had been provided in the pantry and kitchen for their food and cooking supplies. I had a meal prepared for everyone and after dinner the kitchen became the hub for Thanksgiving baking.
To keep the children busy we had morning and afternoon activities scheduled each day. Each set of parents were assigned specific activity times. This gave the other parents 1 1/2 hours of kid free time both morning and afternoon. The adults did a wonderful job and they all arrived very prepared and very organized with projects and activities that the kids loved. (I will be posting pictures and sharing the projects and activities soon.)
On Thanksgiving day it was fun to all work together in the kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving Feast. One of my daughters had the assignment to do the table decor. The adult table was beautiful and the kids table was fun and filled with fun activities for them to do before and after dinner. (I will post pics later.)
The next day we had a block of time scheduled for our individual families. Everyone left the cabin and went out to lunch and to do their own family activities. When one of the children was asked what they wanted to do during their family time he said; "Go out for a quick bite to eat and then back to the cabin!" It was very clear that we were doing something right!
A family activity was planned for each evening that both young and old could participate in. The kids loved playing games with the adults. On Friday evening after dinner a couple of the dads left with all of the kids on a car ride to go look for Elk. While they were gone the remaining adults worked to decorate the house for Christmas. When they returned we greeted them with a Ho...Ho....Ho....Merry Christmas. The inside of the house had been transformed to kick off our Lamont Family Ho....Ho....Ho...lidays. The house was lit up, and we had Christmas music playing. Papa and I had a small gift under the tree for each of the children. Each gift had a personal invitation to the "GrandKid's Christmas Day Camp" the next day.
Since they had arrived I had a sign on my bedroom door that read "Grandma's Christmas Workshop, No kids allowed" There imaginations were going crazy with what I might have going on in my workshop. Within my workshop were all of the activities and the supplies needed for the day camp and the Christmas decor that we used to decorate the house.
On Saturday, after breakfast the parents got ready to go have some adult time in town. The kids watched the clock. They were anxious for both the parents to leave and for our Christmas Day Camp to start. (I will post this years camp schedule and activities later.) The day camp went well and we even had a very welcome surprise for all of us that added to the fun.
The Saturday evening bedtime activities included a reading of the Polar Express book in a dark room using only a flashlight to shine on the book. The following morning there were more activities for the kids and after lunch we had a viewing of the Polar Express movie. We served the children Popcorn and m&m's during the movie in fun Christmas bags.
Whiles the kids watched the movie one of my daughters had the assignment to prepare sack lunches for dinner. Preparations and packing were done by those families who were leaving that night. Following the movie all of the kids put on their pajamas and got ready to go on the Polar Express Train Ride. Our sack lunches were eaten before boarding the train. (My daughter had done some fun things in the lunches which I will share later.) All nineteen of us boarded the Polar Express that evening. The children were delighted to see the North Pole and to see Santa when he boarded the train. For the adults....seeing the children's joy filled us with joy too!
Although we see one another all of the time this retreat served as a family reunion of sorts. We all worked together well and everyone did their part so that everyone enjoyed their time together. Most importantly, quality time was spent together as a family, family bonds were strengthened, and lasting memories were created for all four generations that shared this special time together!