Welcome to Camp Cheapo! Why pay for summer camp when you can have your own crappy one?

Camp Cheapo- Day 1

In an attempt to curtail our household spending, I opted not to send my kids to a real camp this week. The way I see it, the money can be better spent on hair foils, manicures, and a much needed bikini wax or two. And to ease my guilt I decided to hold my own camp- I mean jeez, we own a Slip N Slide and an assortment of bandaids, how hard can it be?

On Day 1, we started with an 11am camp meeting (Camp Cheapo starts late), made a run to Kmart for supplies (Camp Cheapo is unprepared- hey, we’re not the Boy Scouts), knocked on doors to recruit more campers (Camp Cheapo encourages last minute participation), then immediately broke our hose so we had to borrow the neighbor’s (Camp Cheapo is resourceful).

The first activity (slip n slide) began at 2pm. I quickly concluded that using dish detergent to slick the surface was a bad idea.

Next we moved onto the Shaving Cream fight. Brian had warned me that it might burn their eyes. Nothing I could do about that, but I did buy the Aloe version so at least it would soothe their impending sunburn.

Read Day 2, then feel sorry for me.

Notes from Camp Cheapo, Day 3, Season 2

A letter to the Camp Cheapo parents:



Dear Camp Cheapo Campers,

It’s with a heavy heart that I say, the garage doors of Camp Cheapo are officially closed for the remainder of the week.

It seems that one of our campers brought more than her enthusiasm with her on Tuesday afternoon.

Yes, by now you probably realize that Camper X was teeming with, not only excitement, but with a vicious influenza related virus waiting to attack your little camper bodies.

Out of respect and privacy for the family (who single handedly shut down Camp Cheapo merely by showing up), I will not reveal the identity of this camper. After all, crushing the summertime dreams of neighborhood friends must be a hard thing for a little, blonde haired girl from Rosewood Street to live with.

Last night, as I was feverishly measuring out 2 tablespoons of Tylenol, I couldn’t help but to think how Camp Cheapo could improve in the areas of hygiene and illness prevention. So after speaking with our Camp Director, Events Coordinator, and Lead Counselor (me,me, and me), we decided that next year’s activities will be expanded to include Delousing Powder Relays, Surgical Mask Art, and water balloons filled with hand sanitizer.

I’ve enclosed a group picture from the first day of Camp for each of you, as a memento of our brief, but good times together.

I urge you to please let go of any resentment that you might hold towards your fellow camper (who shall remain nameless, because that’s the right thing to do). Besides, it could have been any one of us.

“My favorite part of Camp Cheapo was the the Dunk Bucket! My least favorite part was the sore throat and raging fever.” – Collin, age 9



Camp Director

Notes from Camp Cheapo- Day 2, Season 2

It’s Camp Cheapo Week! You can read Day 1 here


Oh man, I really winged it today. No morning trip to the store, no laying out of equipment, and no idea what we’d be doing. But when the clock struck noon and the garage doors went up, it was GO time! I suspect this is how badass rock bands put on a show.

First up, water balloon basketball. The idea was to gently put a balloon filled with water (not to be confused with a water balloon) in the basketball net, which I had previously tied at the bottom to keep the balloon from falling out. Then one person would stand under the net while everyone else took free shots. Problem was, the damn balloon wouldn’t pop!

Someone suggested throwing darts at the balloon. Not surprisingly, the thought had crossed my mind too, until I remembered that throwing darts above another person’s head probably wasn’t a good idea. The fact that I even entertained this idea makes me think I might need a supervisor to supervise my supervision.

We disappointingly moved on to “Indestructible Bubbles”, made with water, dish soap, corn syrup, and love.

I would say that the adjective “Indestructible” is a huge exaggeration. These were more like “Hold Me Gently” bubbles. I’m guessing it was the love that weakened them.


Next up was a cleverly disguised bath that I like to call “Bubble Pool Relays”.

Instruction: You’ll want to fill a baby pool with dish soap, then throw about 100 small plastic toys in there. Have the children divide into two relay teams. At the whistle, the first pair have 15 seconds to fish out as many toys as they can with their feet, the next pair can use their hands, the next use their elbows, etc. Keep cycling through this until they’re all clean from head to toe.


*note: while they’re drying off, take the opportunity to shave your legs.


Before heading to the pool, we concluded our backyard fun with the awesome Dunk Bucket. They said something about not wanting to do it, but damn it, do you know how long it took me to make that?!!! I’m filling it with snow this winter.

And at the end of the day, this awesomeness happened…

That’s right, sleeping across the couch at 5pm!

READ Camp Cheapo, Day 3

Notes from Camp Cheapo- Day 1, Season 2

Camp Cheapo is my attempt to inexpensively bond with my kids and their friends, while looking like an awesome and attentive parent for at least one week of every year. This is that week. Check out more Camp Cheapo activities under the “categories” button on my sidebar.


The day started with my kids verbally bitch slapping each other in the backseat of the car, as we rode to the dollar store for last minute supplies. You see, we at Camp Cheapo believe that preparation and planning stifles creativity and almost always leads to disappointment. In fact, our camp flag is a picture of a pigeon carrying away a pair of shorts, with our motto “Flying by the Seat of our Pants” written underneath. Oh, and the pigeon is crapping on someone’s car, because our other motto is “Shit Happens”.

After, leaving the Dollar store,

“Hey mom, how much is this?”
“A dollar.”
“What about this?”
” A dollar.”
“There’s no price tag on this one.”

we returned home with our goods.

The neighbor kids showed up as soon as Camp Cheapo’s garage doors opened…at noon*.

*Camps that start in the morning are stupid. Your kids aren’t even on your nerves yet. Honestly, they take a while to warm up, like cold-blooded lizards in the desert.


Our first activity was the dunk bucket!

That’s right, homemade and rigged by my own little noggin! You want the blue prints? Well, they’re right here, my friend (tapping my forehead), and it’s all boggled to hell. I think I’d be the worst scientist ever.

“Why yes, I did find a cure for Polio. But I made my cryptic lab notes on the back of an old grocery receipt, then, having no scrap paper left, used that receipt to throw away my chewing gum. Chewing gum flavor doesn’t last nearly as long as it should.” – Me, as a scientist.


Next up, the shaving cream fight!

Learning from last year, I made sure to reiterate the importance of not spraying the shaving cream in our eyes. I heard crying about an all-over skin burning sensation, but not a whimper about the eyes. I consider that a success.

After hosing off, we moved on to the “First Team to Get All Their Cheese Curls to Stick to Their Partner’s Head Wins” game. I know, it needs a shorter name.

My team won! Though it was partially by default. Ana’s team was disqualified for eating their Cheese Curls with a side of Sensitive Skin shaving cream dipping sauce. By the way, this activity was inspired by a pin on my Camp Cheapo Pinterest board. I say “inspired” because I never actually read the direction.


Next, we made an unexpected discovery! Did you know that if you put your hose setting on “jet” and lock it in, you can hold it like this…

and do the limbo!

Then you lose control and it whips around like a demon until it knocks a kid out. I told Collin that “seeing double” just means there’s more in the world to love!


Finally, we ended the day by packing in the car and heading over to the neighborhood pool. I sat in my chair and relied on good old-fashioned Parasite Parenting to do my work.

I was nice and relaxed until I looked on the ground and saw these shorts. They belonged to some teenage girl sitting next to me…

and then Ana came over and threw her pool toys down…


And now they reside in a garbage dump on the other side of town, as should the shorts.


READ Camp Cheapo, Day 2


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