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Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Save Money on Overnight Camp Supplies

I just finished packing up my kids for overnight camp. Camp isn't cheap, and neither is the gear. Here are my tips for saving money on overnight camp clothing, bedding, etc.

Sheets: While we have plenty of sheet sets in our linen closet, the camp specified cot-size sheets. Can you go buy those at Target? Nope. You have a couple options. To save money, just buy a fitted cot sheet, and use your own top sheet and pillowcase. You can buy fitted cot sheets for $8-10 each.

If you want the softer jersey knit sheets with fun designs (which of course my kids did), you can either buy the fitted sheet and pillowcase, or for another $10 you also get the top sheet. While my kids took a ton of stuff from the house, we splurged on the sheets, buying them matching sheet sets. I did a lot of internet searching, and the cheapest I found (for the same products) was at Trunk Outlet, where I saved $5/set over the other cheapest sites. I did have to pay shipping, which was around $12 for 4 sets of sheets. The packaged arrived in two days, even choosing the slowest shipping.

If you don't want jersey knit, the sheets are cheaper. I found this cotton cot sheet set on Amazon for $25.

Comforter: I don't remember bringing a comforter to camp when I was young (only sheets/blanket), but now the kids do. Much to my daughter's chagrin, I made her bring her girly outgrown comforter (she'll reverse it so the girly pattern doesn't show). My son got a Target-brand $20 reversible comforter - it wasn't even on sale. And though I ended up not packing them, I found Target fleece plushy blankets in their clearance area for $6-10.

Towels: Just learned from experience that those really soft, plush towels take a up a LOT of room. I switched them out for the cheaper, thinner towels (that will also dry faster).

I have fond memories of lugging that heavy trunk from the bus to the bunk, and then using it as a card table all summer or sitting on it (and denting it). Well, now there are duffle bags, more specifically rolling duffel bags. Some are called soft trunks, which is what we got. Costco was selling ful hybrid rolling duffels for $50, and I got I think I even got $10 off one that I bought a few months earlier. Each kid got 2 of them, and it was enough to hold the basics (comforter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a month's worth of clothing). I actually only bought 3 Ful bags, and found a clearance one (different brand, slightly smaller) at Target on clearance for $20 - apparently it was missing the rest of the set.

Shower Totes: Check the dollar section of Target for plastic totes. I found one that's relatively small but will still hold shampoo and soap, for $1. I'm sure the handle will break off at some point, but it was easy to pack.

Toothpaste: I raided my supply of sample toothpaste tubes (the kind you get at the dentist) and saved myself a trip to the drugstore.

Dollar stores and places like Five Below (none in California, sadly) have discounted books, games and miscellaneous items like clip-on reading lights ($5 at Five Below), flip-flops, rain jackets, travel-size toiletries and more, at good prices.

Swimsuits and Swim Shirts: Stock up on these before you're desperate, so you'll have a good selection. I got my daughter some suits on sale at Gap Kids for $10 (Children's Place had great deals as well). Costco has Speedo girls suits at a good price, like $13, but be warned - the quality isn't great. She'll wear out the suit pretty quickly. Target also has good prices, but by mid-summer, the pickings are slim.

I bought iron on labels from Kiddo Tags (via a Plum District Deal). They seem to be working well and are easy to iron on, but they did take a fair amount of my time (2 kids = lots of stuff). I just saw that Label Daddy has clothing stickers, which would be a good option. A friend said she uses permanent ink stamps, that are easy and continue to work a year later. I don't know what company she uses, but here's a sample. These are $25, and this other company offers stamps for $12. I'm not recommending either company since I haven't used them.

For non-clothing labels I used Mabel's Labels which I got years ago. I need to replenish my supply, because I used them all up. The stickers are waterproof and stick on well. Just remember that when you order cute little pictures (the "designs") on the side of them, your kids may outgrow them if you don't use them up quickly! I had to cut the fire trucks off my son's labels, and the flowers off my daughter's. And she no longer likes pink - another problem.

Stay tuned for my next post, on what to send the kids in care packages, to overnight camp!

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