Good morning! We were shopping this weekend and while I’m not excited about the end of summer, I am excited about the end of summer sales! I have been waiting all summer for pool noodles to be on clearance. I really wanted 2 new pool noodles, and while they are not expensive, I knew they would be on sale at the end of the summer. I was actually patient and frugal and did not buy any until now! I was happy the pool noodles were on sale, I actually have 4 frugal camping uses for them.
The store had a selection of sizes and colors to choose from, which was nice, so they were probably marked down recently. Sometimes, when I wait for an end of season sale things are very picked over and there are few choices. I know that is the chance I take by waiting, but I would rather be frugal and wait. We chose blue pool noodles this time, our pink ones are getting very faded.
Pool noodles are a very important camping safety item- sounds dramatic but they really are. They are a great, frugal bumper for the edge of our slide out. Our bedroom slide on the 5th wheel is the perfect height to walk into if you are not paying attention-or maybe paying toooo much attention to the cute road dogs (ground squirrels?) running around the campground.
The poor husband has even cut his head on the slide. Now, he stores the pool noodles in the outside cubby, right under the bedroom slide, and putting them on the slide is one of the first things he does when we go camping. Those slides are dangerous and can really hurt.
It takes 2 cut pool noodles to protect us from bumps, but they are easy to cut and lightweight to store.
We cut it to a length of 1/2 the slide plus 10 inches to go up the side. A utility knife works fine to cut the pool noodle, but don’t cut through the bottom portion when making the long slit. This slit allows the pool noodle to slide onto the camper slide. It stays on very well, even through rain storms and hail.
The husband makes a small cut to mark where the bend will be.
Next, he cuts around the pool noodle,leaving about 1 inch at the bottom. He doesn’t cut through the bottom of the pool noodle, because he still wants the side attached to the bottom length. That way it will cover the corner and hopefully protect our head from bumps.
Finally, he cuts a wedge on each side of the cut that went almost around the pool noodle for the bend. The husband really just guesses and trims it up as needed. He would like it to stay whole and in one piece, but also meet and make a corner when it is on the slide out.
Rough wedges are cut out to allow the pool noodle to bend around the corner of the slide out.
The new pool noodle looks so much better than the faded pink ones, and should keep our heads safe from bumps.
Tent campers, or children in their own tent,can also use pool noodles for safety. They are light weight enough to be cut and placed on tent guy wire ropes. This makes the ropes much more noticeable, so you don’t trip on them. Of course, when we tent camped, we used plastic grocery bags tied to the guy ropes instead of pool noodles. I don’t think pool noodles were widely available 28 years ago, and we always had extra bags since we used them for garbage bags too.
The youngest found it unbelievable that we had been camping longer than pool noodles had been around. He discovered that I was right for a change (usually it’s his dad): pool noodles were invented around 30 years ago in Canada, so we would not have had them here, when we first started camping. He thought that was just hilarious- what a great way to make me feel like an almost extinct camper!
At least this almost extinct camper can learn a few new tricks. We are going to try a pool noodle in the camper’s freezer, when we are not camping, to keep the door ajar. Years ago, in the 3rd camper, I had to bleach the camper’s refrigerator/freezer every time we went camping. In between trips, it would get moldy and I did not know to leave it ajar. I didn’t even know there were little gadgets to hold the doors open! I was very excited to find them already in the 4th camper we bought. It was great to not wash and bleach the refrigerator, before we packed it with food to go camping. The little blue gadgets went with us when we bought the latest camper, I just love them!
Unfortunately, over the years, one of the blue door holders broke. I have been leaving the door wide open, but it would still swing shut. I was also going to make a new one, maybe from a milk jug, but I saw a great picture on Pinterest. Now, we are going to try a cut section of the pool noodle to keep the freezer open. When the section is on the shelf or the can holder, the door stays ajar! So amazing!
The last frugal idea for pool noodles is technically not just for camping, but it is an educational, frugal, fun activity for the kids. Pool noodle word blocks!
An adult can cut the leftover pieces or new pool noodles into block size shapes with a serrated bread knife. Then write letters, numbers, words or sight words on each block with a permanent marker. Eventually the marker will fade, but I have been using some at school for 2 years that are still good. I don’t give them to really young children, in case they try to bite them.
My blocks are never cut squarely, but that is part of the fun. We try to say the words and build a tower as quickly as we can, before the tower falls over. It is also fun to say the words and toss them into a box or a basket, like basketball.
Even though I feel extinct, since I have been camping as long as they have been around- I still enjoy the many frugal uses for pool noodles. They are very useful for camper and tent safety, and can be an educational, fun activity for the kids. I especially hope the pool noodles help keep the camper’s refrigerator/freezer doors ajar. I don’t want to start washing and bleaching, again. I am glad I could be frugal and patient enough to wait for the end of the summer sale.
Happy Camping (or trimming pool noodles)!