Subsisting Immaculate: Zen and the pertinence of proper tent maintenance

March 13, 2018

A tent, especially a used or surplus military tent is an investment. One which you may enjoy for decades if it is taken care of. It is an icon that you can pass on to your children; a reminiscence of not only the world’s mightiest fighting force, The United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps; but also a testament to the legacy of your name for the generations of your family to come.

When I was a child, there was no greater joy than to have grandfather take me to deer hunting camp. Deer hunting camp was a WWII era military surplus Army tent set up in the wilderness area of Loon Lake in Maine. There was a fire pit with a grate over it, a cast iron skillet and a coffee percolator, several folding chairs, a used Army cot for me, one for grandpa, and one for either dad, or one of grandpa’s war buddies. Grandpa was camp cook, feeding us a breakfast of fried potatoes and salt cured bacon before sending us each out with a warm bacon sandwich nestled in our pocket for lunch. Always when we returned, grandpa would be fixing supper over the campfire, a freshly killed deer, always a buck, hanging from a tree nearby. Grandpa always got his deer, a feat I never managed to achieve.

I still have grandpas Army tent, he lived in one just like it after he landed in the fifth wave at Omaha Beach, marched nearly freezing through Hurtgen Forest, and helped to capture Berlin in WWII. The reason I still have it is because grandfather taught me that in order to keep something forever, you must take care of it like it’s the last one on earth. Here are some of grandfather’s rules in regards to tent care:

1. Examine the tent before you camp. Get it down, unfold it, examine it for moth holes, rips, tears, seam separations, etc…

2. Clean your tent before you go camping. Remove any mildew with bleach and water and a scrub brush.

3. Keep your tent clean while camping. Boots are for outside, the tough, hard soles break down the tent fibers, creating areas where holes can start. Grandfather took camp slippers to every hunting camp to go in and out of the tent with.

4. Select a campsite that is free of rocks and debris And use a ground cloth, a tarp, or piece of foam to put under the tent to act as a barrier between the tent and the ground.

5. If your cot doesn’t have rubber leg ends, get some somewhere. Never allow an aluminum leg or hard plastic cover to grind into the tent floor fabric… don’t do it.

6. Pack your tent with care, love, and kindness. Though an inanimate object, this tent is much like a mother’s womb, surrounding you in warmth and protection. Love it in return, and dry it completely, refolding it according to the established fold lines and packing it up dry and dirt free.

7. Store your tent in a warm, dry place. Check for holes accumulated during the camping trip and repair and waterproof them immediately. Check zippers for wear and tear, and watch the seam threads that they are not decaying or frazzling.

I hope this guide helps you to make an investment in your and your children’s future, an investment that will bring warm memories and feelings of bonded closeness to you and your family for years to come.

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