Camping Fail

July 13, 2009

So this weekend I thought I’d drag my tent out and set it up. I wanted to make sure it was in good shape so I can plan a camping trip, perhaps for this fall. Well, I found out I have TWO tents. One is a very very old canvas contraption. I knew it was in the shed, but I really thought it was an old large tarp. When I unfolded it, it was in fact a large old tent. I found the tent poles and all the tent stakes that go with it, but, I didn’t really want to struggle with it too much.

Next I found the tent I was pretty sure I knew I had, a lighter weight, nylon (four person?) tent. This one was made by Coleman, and I again had all the tent poles and stakes and such for it. So I laid it out and went to assembling.Flat Tent

You can see the old canvas tent behind the newer nylon one. What you don’t see there are any instructions. At that point, I couldn’t find any. I causally looked in the bag the tent and the poles were in, no luck. I checked the bag with the stakes, nothing. I went inside and looked in my file where I have owners manuals to everything I own and some stuff I have thrown away, but for some reason, still have the manual. Nada.

So, I went back out and tried some more to figure out how exactly all those poles connect to each other. Did I mention the last time this tent was put up was well over a decade ago, and I was the helpful cheerleader, not the putter-upper? True it took two of us back then, but I’m handy, I should be able to figure this out.

I was about to give up with I noticed a pocket, this pocket in fact:

The pocket

The pocket

It was on the canvas duffel bag that had contained the tent, the poles, and the stakes. And inside…



Yes, the instructions. Unfortunately what the instructions do not say in their helpful three steps is how many people you need to complete the three steps. Well, lemme tell you. MORE.THAN.ONE.

This is as far as you can get with one person.

Two sheets to the wind

Two sheets to the wind

That is the center of the roof, and if it looks unstable, that would be because it is. What you need is two people holding this part while someone else proceeds to put up the next poles. What you have with one person is a comedy of errors. After trying and failing way past the point of sanity, I gave up. The next day, I put everything back in the proper bag and put it all back in the shed.

So, will there be a camping trip this fall? Only if I can find enough people to help me put up a tent.


  1. Hi. I have a blog at http://www.picturecamping.com where I feature people’s posts about camping, and I would like to send my readers your way. Of course I would give you credit for quotes and would link back to your site.

    Thanks for considering this,

    Jean B. in SC

  2. […] felt so bad for this poor camper when I read this! Thank God that tents keep getting easier and easier to pitch! This picture of the pocket in which […]

  3. when they say 4 person tent they’re not talking about sleeping capacity , they’re talking about putting it up.

    • Yes indeedy, at least four would be a good start.

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