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Grand slam

Charlestown’s family-friendly campus features lots of fun ways to spend the day with grandkids

Created date

August 25th, 2017
Forest and Dayle Dawes’ six-year-old granddaughter Maddie fishing in the community’s Lake Charles.

Forest and Dayle Dawes’ six-year-old granddaughter Maddie loves fishing in the community’s Lake Charles. 


Forest and Dayle Dawes’s six-year-old granddaughter Maddie had a bedroom of her own at their house in Arnold, Md. So when they decided to move to Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in nearby Catonsville, having a kid-friendly space for their granddaughter was paramount. The answer: a one bedroom apartment with a large den that doubles as a play area and bedroom.

“We love having her visit, and she enjoys coming here,” says Dayle. “We have the den decorated for her with all of her books, games, and toys, and there is a pull-out sofa for when she spends the night.”  

And because their apartment home is maintenance free, there’s plenty of time to take advantage of all the kid-friendly activities at Charlestown.

“We swim in the pool, go to the train garden, walk on the nature trail, and there is an excellent film library here with kids’ movies,” says Dayle. “One of her favorite things to do is to go fishing at the lake. It’s stocked with fish, which makes it fun. Forest takes her to the field to hit golf balls. We get milkshakes at the Fountain Hill Café. She loves Sunday brunch because she gets to pick her own doughnut and all the bacon she can eat.” 

Age-old health benefits

Research shows that the benefits of the grandparent-grandchild relationship go far beyond just having fun. Spending time with your grandkids can also have physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

Researchers at Boston College found that both grandparents and their adult grandchildren with whom they had close emotional ties both experienced antidepressive benefits. The study, published online last year in the journal The Gerontologist, looked at data collected over a 19-year period.

“Grandparents have a wealth of experience—they’ll often tell stories about their lives and how things worked when they were young, and once kids become adults, they’re able to maximize those lessons,” lead author Sara Moorman, an associate professor of sociology at Boston College, says in an article appearing in The Boston Globe. “Grandparents also can offer their grandchildren a firsthand historical perspective that enriches their lives and understanding of the past.”

Day trips and downtime

Sharon Stewart’s grandkids live in nearby Ellicott City, making it easy to spend the afternoon together. Even so, they still love going to Grandma’s at Charlestown for a sleepover.

“My grandkids love the pool,” says Sharon. “We walk through the community and across the enclosed bridge to get to the pool, and they look out the big windows and can see Baltimore City in the distance.” 

Because of Charlestown’s central location, day trips are also a fun way to spend the day. 

“We have taken the train into Washington, D.C., to the Washington Monument and National Air and Space Museum. We’ve gone to the Science Center in Baltimore. And this year we went to Fort McHenry for the Fourth of July,” says Sharon.

Like most seven-year-olds, Bill and Narka Ryan’s grandson Brooks enjoys swimming and fishing. But more than anything, he enjoys meeting the people who live at Charlestown.  

“He has made lots of friends here. He says hello to everyone. We have one neighbor who loves to give him gifts,” says Narka. “Another gentleman high-fives Brooks whenever he sees him. And one man who is a retired teacher will sit and talk to him for 20 minutes at a time. It’s been a wonderful experience for him to meet people.”

Fun for the whole family

On September 10, grandparents across America will be honored on National Grandparents Day. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Grandparents Day, here are a few grand events happening in Maryland:

Maryland State Fair

Monday, September 4, is the final day of the Maryland State Fair. Everything you could want in a state fair is here: livestock and horse exhibits, rides, games, live entertainment, U-Learn Farm, museum, and more. Visit for details.  

Animal Craft Safari

Children ages 4 and up are invited on a wild learning adventure with a zoo educator at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Thursday, September 14, at 11 a.m. For $5, explorers will meet a real creature from the zoo’s animal embassy, hear an animal-themed story, make a wildlife-related craft, and learn about ecology and conservation of wild animals. Call 410-396-7102 to reserve your spot.

Family Farm Day 

The Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville is kicking off fall with a family-oriented fun day. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on September 25, enjoy tractor and pony rides, farm olympics, mule jumping, polo, fox hounds, sheep dogs, sheep shearing, slingshot apples, puppet shows, and horse demonstrations. Call 410-887-8973 for more information.