A Day at Camp MomMom and PopPop

MomMom and PopPop have a large plot of land. On it sits the one-story home that PopPop loves, a tennis court that is used every day, an adjacent gazebo, and an Endless indoor pool for swimming at a cozy 90 degrees. These property amenities provide for all the activities that make PopPop happy and fit.

In the beginning of the summer, PopPop taught two of his grandkids—5-year-old Scarlett, who he calls Big Trish, and 7-year-old Conrad, who he calls Gummy Bear—how to breathe properly and survive in water. He taught them to blow bubbles underwater to get rid of bad air and inhale good air with their heads out of the water. Their mother, Tara, recorded the kids’ progress throughout the summer and periodically sent the videos to PopPop to review.

Come the month of September, the kids insisted that Tara come for a demonstration of their skills in the pool. Demonstrating swimming skills wouldn’t take long, so PopPop had five or six other game plans prepared. MomMom had photo-taking duties.

Gummy Bear and Big Trish like to play baseball and need to sharpen their catching and throwing skills. Out came the tennis ball machine pointed to the sky. The machine can launch balls like firecrackers on the 4th of July. The kids were instructed to catch every ball before it stopped bouncing. PopPop wore them out so much they needed to gas up with lunch. Goal #1 achieved!

Back to the ball-launching machine. Now the kids had to catch the fly balls, then aim and throw them down the tennis court at Tara, who was sitting on PopPop’s stool and who PopPop called “The Fat Lady.” Tara wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, so a substitution was made: a humongous bag absconded from the Mountain View Golf Course. The bag was so large it could hold a ton (2,000 lbs.) of the green dirt that fills the divots on the golf course. A great target! Another snack and drink. Goal #2 achieved!

Instruction on tennis forehands and backhands was next on the agenda. Big Trish, the Fat Lady (Tara), and Gummy Bear were lined up on the baseline. Lowly worms (racket back and low) and Peekaboo (follow through) were advocated with forehands and backhands. Anyone doing goofers went to “jail” and stayed there until a series of perfect strokes were executed by those not in jail. Going to jail meant kneeling on the court. If everyone ended up in jail, it was time to pick up all the balls. The kids loved getting Mom in and out of jail. Goal #3 achieved.

The next game was “Trickems.” Call out Tara’s name, for example, but throw the ball to another person. If that person was not paying attention, the goofer would send them to jail. By now, Big Trish and Gummy Bear knew what perfect strokes were and the importance of paying attention. A drink and more snacks. Goal #4 achieved.

Now to the pool. The primary reason for the visit was for the grandkids to show their PopPop what they learned from June to September on their own. The progress was magnificent. PopPop put the icing on the cake by smoothing out their strokes so they looked like long-distance swimmers. Goal #5 achieved.

Playtime was spent exploring the jets and propulsion systems of the pool, which propelled them, both with and without foam noodles, all over the place. This exercise in wholesome neglect helped them learn how to navigate their pool toys. Goal #6 achieved.

PopPop had another trick up his sleeve. He wanted to blend the physical with a mental challenge. The physical challenge was diving for coins in the bottom of the 5+ foot-deep pool. The mental was showing the kids the values of and differences between pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, as well as helping them learn a little math. A banking system was incorporated, and each kid had their own account in the form of a food-container “bank.” The money was theirs for keeps. PopPop noticed that quarters kept coming up before nickels, dimes, and pennies. PopPop also realized his bucket of change somehow disappeared. And the kids were so wrinkled they looked like prunes. 

All goals achieved. The kids had fun while learning lifelong skills, and PopPop enjoyed passing on some of the knowledge he has obtained in his 89 years. What a memorable day was had at Camp MomMom and PopPop!

(photos by MomMom)

Who will get “The Fat Lady” (Mommy) out of jail?



Working on “bubbles & breath” and the long distance swimming stroke.





  1. Marybeth Blakeney

    What wonderful memories they will have!!

  2. Marianne S Carnevale

    That ball machine looks familiar! Hi Marty, loved working with you and Mary Ellen at Prince!❤️

Comments are closed.