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By Gabrielle. Photo of Maude by my brother Jared.

I’m on my way to New York today for Alt Summit NYC. It was fun to pack up sandals and decidedly summer clothing. I even gave myself my first pedicure of the season! Yes, my kids are still in school, but packing for this trip really made me switch gears and think about what our summer will be like.

Our kids are probably most excited for Cousins Week. Every July, all of the cousins age 8 and older gather at my sister Sara’s house in Southern Utah for 4 days of summer fun. It’s very laid-back with traditions like anything-you-want-for-breakfast, a freezer stocked with nothing but popsicles, and adventures with the aunts and uncles like cliff-diving and rock climbing. This will be Oscar’s first year at cousin’s week, and it is pretty much all he’s talked about for several months now. He literally could not be more excited.

So I thought it would be fun to dream up everything Oscar might need for the Best Cousin’s Week Ever.

Summer + Kids

1) Did I mention Aunt Sara has a pool? We know from last summer that in the U.S., Oscar’s speedo/euro swim trunks work better for toddlers than big kids, so the first thing he’ll need is a new swim suit. And nothing says “Hey, we’re back!” like a flag-themed suit. Am I right?

2) A low-tech View Master. When I know there will be lots of access to screens (Cousins Week does tend to involve lots of movie watching), I like to have old-school toys out and about as an alternate temptation. For View Masters, I favor the National Park slides because they remind me of home.

3) A water toy. I know my sister’s house is stocked with the standard pool toys and water noodles, so I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for something unusual. This koi toy lights up as it touches the water! I thought it would be fun to introduce a dozen or two to the pool for some night time water games.

4) Something to read. The Wimpy Kid series is a good fit because the older kids can pick it up too. They’re the kind of books that work for all ages, and can be enjoyed in fits and spurts, or in a cover-to-cover reading.

5) A sleeping bag. This one opens up flat to function as a blanket, too. And it’s lightweight for the hot summers of St. George. I’m imagining this as a cozy spot that he can find easily amongst the sure to be large pile of blankets and bedding hanging around.

6) Backpack. I like this one because it’s not too big — enough space for a water bottle, sunscreen and a hat. And it comes in a million colors. Plus, the quality of these Swedish backpacks is legendary. He’ll be able to use it on adventures for years and years.

7) Travel chess set. Oscar is way into chess, and I’m glad, because he’ll be the youngest one there, and playing chess is a good way for him to relate to and interact with the older kids.

I confess, I don’t think I’m brave enough to host such a group! But I’m so grateful to my sister for establishing this tradition. Tell me, will your kids get to see their cousins this summer? Would your family ever do something like a cousin’s week?

P.S. — The photo at top features Maude roasting giant marshmellows at Cousins Week 2010.