I’m sitting in a parking lot watching a bunch of teenage girls flap their hands in despair at the task at hand – figure out how to set up their tents before Monday. Monday is D-day. Or in their world when they leave for Girls Camp and actually have to set the blasted things up. AND, sleep in them.
Tents are confusing. I’ll admit that. I remember my childhood when the tent material was much less techie involved actual aluminum polls and tents made out of canvas. It took three of us kids to haul the bag out of the back of the van under my fathers watchful eye. His order – “Set up the tent! I’m going to get the fire started.”
At this point I’m the oldest AND a rebellious teenager. Camping was not my thing. Heat, sweat, humidity, oh, and let’s not forget the bugs, REALLY not my thing. So, setting up the tent with younger siblings? So, not amused. But it had to be done.
So, we picked the spot in the camp site with the least amount of visible bumps and lumps. Laid out the tarp, let’s make it difficult for creepy-crawlies to make it up from the bottom. And set about laying out and staking the tent to the ground.
Threading them through the different loops to make the floppy structure stable. After much muttering, prodding and tormenting the sibs – voilà! the tent rose from the ground. Then my father would inspect the work. Giving it a final seal of approval. Something always had to be adjusted. If it was only a stake, we knew we’d done a good job.
I can’t tell you how many times I assembled a tent in my childhood, at least twice a summer. But apparently the lessons learned never went away. I found myself in the middle of the madness, spreading out tents, instructing girls in the fine art of tent set-up and take down.
I felt my father’s belly laugh as I helped pack up the last tent into its proportionally too small bag.
“Somethings are life lessons. Camping is one of them!” so said the Old Scout.