My Tent

I tend to be a bit of a sentimental packrat when it comes to some of my possessions.  For some reason they tend to be the more mundane items.  The idea of writing from the point of view of these items is interesting as it provides a new perspective that probably wouldn’t otherwise have been considered.  I wrote earlier about my old desk, and today, I’m writing about my tent, which is getting worn out and possibly nearing the end of its days.

It was the summer of 2008, we were at a cottage on Loon Lake, and it was my birthday.  If I recall correctly, some of my siblings had chipped in to get me a tent.  It was the standard Coleman 3 person tent…nothing special about it.  I recall it not being that exciting at the time.  I had only just gone on my first real camping trip to Algonquin the summer before.  Little did I know that this tent was to become an important piece of my adventures.

Lets step back a bit and look at my history with tents.  I remember when I was 5 or 6, sleeping in a small tent in the backyard.  I’m not sure what became of that tent, but I do recall that it wasn’t very big and earwigs and ants always seemed to find their way in.  Sleeping in a tent in the backyard was such an adventure back then.  At some point my parents bought a larger 5 person tent, which we used a few times for backyard campouts.  It was a hard tent to put up as it was quite tall and had 3 poles that were complicated to connect properly at the top.  It also leaked…badly.  I remember it would easily become filled with water if it rained even slightly.  Looking back, it was probably because it was a cheap, off-brand tent.  There was also the fact that it was quite hard to fold everything back up in a way that allowed it to fit in its bag.

The old, leaky, Escort 5 man tent. At the best site in the Killarney Camground. Spring 2010.
The old, leaky, Escort 5 man tent. At the best site in the Killarney Camground. Spring 2010.

At some point, we got a smaller 3 man tent of the same, cheap brand as the other one.  This tent was used at the cottage we used to rent on Limestone Lake.  The cottage was too small to sleep all of us, so my brother and I slept in the tent.  I think I was 15-16 at the time.  I don’t remember this tent being as leaky as the old one, except for one crazy storm.  The storm started during the night.  It was very windy and the skies were filled with thunder and lightening….and pouring rain.  I woke up and discovered a puddle in the corner of the tent.  So I shifted to move away from it.  The puddle continued to grow as the storm raged outside.  Eventually water started dripping from the roof, directly on me.  So I moved again.  Soon I was curled up in a ball, and still in puddles of water.  Somehow, my brother was still asleep…I think he must have been in the dry part of the tent.  Eventually there was just too much water, so I braved the storm and ran into the cottage, where I tried to sleep on the floor.(the couch was occupied)  Of course the storm was bad enough that the cottage was leaking too, and it just so happened that I had stumbled on a spot directly below a leak.  It was a very wet night, and it added to my impression that tents generally flooded in the rain.

So imagine my surprise when my new coleman tent was basically waterproof.  It had many chances to stand in the rain, and still be quite dry inside.  One story that always sticks in my head was of a camping trip in Cape Breton.  It started raining in the evening, as we went to sleep.  It was still raining in the morning.  We were scheduled to move to a different campground, so we took the tent down in the rain and threw it into the car, all crumpled up, without properly packing it up.  That afternoon, we arrived at the next campground, and proceeded to set the tent up again….while it was still raining.  We then went and did some sight seeing, returning to the tent after dinner…and it was still raining.  It didn’t stop raining until sometime that night, and all the while, it was dry in the tent.  Since then, I haven’t worried about rain when tenting.

Cape Breton 2009. Pretty much everything but the inside of the tent got wet.
Cape Breton 2009. Pretty much everything but the inside of the tent got wet.

Last year my coleman tent went with me on my month long trip across Canada.  It is starting to show its age.  The elastic lines for the tent poles are starting to fray, some of the stitching is coming loose at the top of the door, one of the pole ends is loose and falls off easily, and there is a small tear starting in one of the corners.  That got me thinking about all this tent has been through.  It has been on 48 nights of camping.  It has rained on at least 13 of those, although the most of the time it didn’t rain hard or very long.

My tent, in the Yukon
My tent, in the Yukon

In some ways my tent is a very unimportant part of my camping trips.  It’s really just shelter for sleeping in.  I had to look up some of the pictures of my old camping trips to figure out what tents I used….that’s how little I think about my tent while on adventures.  Yet, it is an important part of my camping traditions.  When I’m road tripping, I almost always find a campsite first thing, before I do any exploring.  Then the very first thing I do is set up the tent.

The main thing that defines my thoughts on tents is rain.  If I’m setting up my campsite and there is no rain on the forecast, I don’t even think about it.  But if it’s raining, and I’m out sight seeing, my thoughts keep returning to my tent…although I easily remind myself that my tent is quite waterproof.  I have much reason to trust that my tent will stay dry.  It has been dry in so many rainy situations.  But, the time has come for my tent to start leaking.  I’ve noticed the last few times that it has rained that it got a bit wet in the one corner.  Then, on my last trip to Killlarney, it leaked bad enough that I woke up in a puddle.  It did rain for about 20 hours, but that was something that this tent used to be able to withstand.  I guess at some point I will have to consider a new tent.

Over the years, I’ve had many terrific experiences with my tent.  When rain gets mentioned, and people ask if I got wet, I usually laugh and remind them that my tent is a super tent and it never leaks.  That line has grown less true over the years, but I have so many camping trips that were kept dry by my tent.  I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had with this tent.

Enjoying the mountain views with my tent in Waterton, AB.
Enjoying the mountain views with my tent in Waterton, AB.

Things fade.  Friends get distant and fade away, our bodies grow old, cars get old and break down, computers get old and slow, tents get old and leak.  In some ways, I’m ok with this.  An old tent gives me an excuse to buy a new one…a better one.  In other ways, I was quite ok with my old tent, and would love to continue my road trip traditions with the same tent.

It makes me wonder what eternity with God will be like.  Will we continue to sleep in the same tents while camping, drive the same cars, and have the same friends forever and ever?  At what point is the process of aging and breaking down a good thing…or is it specifically part of this broken world?

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