Thanks for all the tips! I will definitely check out what kind of used old things might be a good deal to just buy and resell.
We have enough people to spread costs around, except many in our group are of limited means (underpaid non-profit workers, nonsalaried part-timers, those taking a "year off" from employment, etc.) so we're still trying to watch our budget. Last year we spent about $200pp on infrastructure, food, and water (on top of most of us spending a few hundred dollars crossing the country and of course the ticket cost), and we'd really like to get that down to more like $100 this time around given that we aren't a fancy theme camp. We've worked out a food/water list that amounts to about $25 per person for the whole week, which leaves us about $75pp for our monkey hut PVC and rebar and a truck (including gas). Times 15 people that's still several hundred dollars, but it's not exactly a $1500 truck rental =)
Some of my sifting through threads indicated it might easier to find burner-friendly rentals in Nevada or more specifically in Reno. My camp thinks this might be possible for us. We're actually mostly coming from the East Coast but 4 of our 15 campers are based in LA so we are using LA as a jumping-off base, with some of us riding in from there and the rest crossing country by planes and trains and hitching their way into the city by various means to meet us there. Now it seems like the smart choice might be for our LA party to drive regular ol' cars to Reno, and rent a truck from there to do the rest of the journey. Not to mention gas mileage from LA to Reno would be better in a car.
What are the odds this fellow Steve at the Budget on Gentry Way still has trucks left? Are there other burner-friendly places we might consider? How early would we need to get to Reno to ensure the stores aren't totally wiped out of all their supplies?