Two things military families don’t usually have in large quantities: money and storage space. If you’re like me, your garage is probably filled with military gear, which doesn’t leave a lot of space for lawn equipment and camping supplies. That’s ok, because we learned years ago that we don’t need to take these large, heavy items with us to every new duty station. Instead, on the rare occasions we need them, we can rent them from Recreation Checkout.
Military Recreation Checkout Benefits
Most military bases have an area called Recreation Checkout (Marines), Outdoor Recreation (Navy), or Equipment Checkout (Army). Their mission is to provide large specialty items to military families at discounted rates. It’s a wonderful resource that not enough people seem to know about. I love having this office located on base for many reasons:
- Recreation Checkout saves you money. If you are hosting a party or planning a trip, you don’t need to purchase all of the supplies that you may only use once. You can rent them at a discount, much cheaper than you will find at party centers off base.
- Outdoor Recreation saves you space. Outdoor hobbies can require a lot of bulky equipment that you only use a few times each year. The office takes care of maintenance and storage, so you just pick it up and return it. This is especially convenient if you are cramped in a tiny house on base.
- Equipment Checkout saves you time. You don’t need to shop around for a specialty item or drive an hour to pick something up from a rental store or storage unit. Plus, items are given to you clean and ready to use, so you won’t have to do any complicated equipment assembly.
Not sure what the Recreation Checkout center can do for you? Find the website for your base’s office so you can browse their inventory and price list. To give you some ideas, here are some of the ways to take advantage of this base resource:
One of the most popular rentals is a Bounce House or Jump House. Inflatables range from $50- $150 for a one-day rental. You can also rent a large smoker with propane for $50, folding tables for $4 and chairs for .50 each. Need some shade? A folding canopy is $5. They also have backyard games, like corn hole, softball gear, volleyball net, tug of war rope, and a dunk tank. You could transform your backyard into a fun carnival party for less than the cost of reserving a pavilion at a public park. It’s relaxing and makes it much easier to prepare and store food. You are responsible for bringing a vehicle or trailer large enough to pick up the supplies.
Want to get away and enjoy the natural beauty of your state? New camping supplies can be costly, and it’s hard to know exactly what you need the first time. At Recreation Checkout, you can rent a large RV or a tent that suits your camping style. Tents come in different sizes, $5-$9 per day. You can also get essentials like sleeping bags ($4), a lantern ($2), camp stove ($2), cooking pot ($2), a large ice chest ($3), and folding camp chairs ($2). We spent hundreds of dollars on camping gear because we went camping cross-country during a PCS move. We couldn’t use Recreation Checkout because it was a 1-way trip. But their supplies are perfect for local trips from your duty station, especially for anyone who isn’t sure about camping and wants to give it a try before investing in all the supplies.
If you live on base, you are typically only responsible for maintaining your back yard. The Housing office will mow front yards and common areas. There is no need to have a lawn mower, trimmer, leaf blower, rake, etc taking up space in your garage. We used to own lawn equipment when we owned our first house off base. But since living on base the last few stations, we have learned that it is much more cost-effective not to PCS with that heavy equipment. Just rent it when needed.
Day at the Beach
Water sports are fun, but it’s great to try them out before buying all the expensive equipment yourself. No need to buy yourself a kayak you will only use a few times when you can rent it for $35. An inflatable stand-up paddleboard is also $35. A snorkel mask is $2, and fins are also $2. Life jackets for kids or adults are $2 each. If you need folding chairs and coolers, or even a keg buddy, they have that too!
Stop by the Recreation Checkout center on your base to see their inventory and start planning your next adventure.