I paid almost $5,000 on supplies for summer camp for 2 kids. They needed so much stuff for a 2-week stay.

Sara Button in her car
The author.Courtesy of the author.
  • My two kids went to a two-week sleepaway camp in the summer of 2022.

  • On top of the cost of the camp, we had to spend almost $5,000 on supplies.

  • The camp cost $6,000, so we spent almost as much on clothes and shoes.

In summer 2022, I sent my kids to a two-week sleepaway camp. That sounds privileged (because it is) and cool, but what was not cool was the large expenditure I was about to face getting two preteens ready for camp.

My kids had been desiring a camp experience for the past two years during COVID-19 lockdowns. Some of their favorite shows are about summer camps, such as "Bunk'd" and "A Week Away."

We found a camp in Texas that seemed reasonable. The tuition was $2,900 a kid for a two-week experience. After comparing other camps that were upward of $5,000 for similar experiences, I thought, "I'm getting a deal!" We saved our money and made payments through an installment plan. Before I knew it, it was time to get the kids packed.

There was a packing list

The camp emailed me a packing list, and I quickly realized we did not have two weeks' worth of clothes for these kids. The packing list included tips like not sending nice clothes to camp. Instead, choose everyday shorts, T-shirts, and tennis shoes.

We had to send our kids with:

  • Fifteen pairs of shorts, 15 shirts, 16 pairs of socks, and 16 pairs of underwear.

  • Two pairs of athletic shoes, one pair of water shoes (Tevas, Chacos), and one pair of shower shoes.

  • Four bath towels and one beach towel.

  • Three pajama outfits, three swimsuits, one raincoat, and one jacket.

  • Two twin-sheet sets, including a pillow and pillowcases, and a blanket or sleeping bag.

And don't forget about all the shower stuff, bug spray, sunscreen, clip fans, extension chords, hats, sunglasses, sun shirts, goggles, etc.

There was not only a two-week packing list but also a special-events packing list. That's right — 12 special nights of themed parties. One theme night is "game day," where the kids are supposed to wear their favorite sports-team gear.

I realized I needed to buy a lot of stuff

So I started gathering clothes from the house and making notes of things we needed to buy for camp. We raided my closet for options for themed-night outfits they could borrow. In the end, I realized we had to buy so many clothes — and not only regular clothes but also themed outfits and accessories, extra swimsuits, trunks and luggage for their clothing, extra socks, extra undies, extra everything.

I spent over $2,000 at Old Navy in one day — something I never wanted to do.

This expense probably isn't extravagant for families who send their kids to summer camp regularly, but it was a lot of extras for us. Altogether, we spent nearly $5,000 on top of the nearly $6,000 we paid for tuition. This is something I did not take into account when I signed them up for summer camp.

But it was worth it.

At the end of the two weeks, the kids were happy and had a blast. Their joy is my credit card's pleasure. We decided to send them back again this year, but only for a week. I feel like with all the luggage, random-themed props, and clothes that mostly still fit; it's best to parlay it into another camp experience.

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