Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Camping/Pitch and strike a tent

The details vary for every type of tent there is, so we provide only general tips here. First, carefully read the instructions that came with your tent. If it's a new tent, keep the instructions. You might be surprised how easy it is to forget which pole goes where.

First, unpack the tent and spread it on the ground. Some people like to put the ground cloth under the tent, and others like to put it inside. If you're going to put it beneath the tent, spread it out first. Before doing anything else, lie down on the ground cloth and test each sleeping area. If you feel a lump get rid of it now.

Then lay out the tent's canopy (that is, the cloth part that is not the fly). Find the door and orient it where you want it. Then stake it down. This will prevent the wind from blowing it away while you are trying to raise it. Slide the poles into the tubes, but do not raise the tent until the main poles (usually two of them) are all in place. Then raise them together. There are usually aluminum "hooks" located at the stake-down straps and shaped somewhat like a question mark. They are usually a couple of inches long, and are there to slip the pole ends over. Once all the pole are in place, throw the fly over the tent, being careful that the up side is up and the front side is to the front.

Flies often have elastic ropes that attach to plastic clips near the pole anchors, and they also generally have a rope at the four major corners. These should be anchored such that the fly is held off the tent's canopy, usually by staking them down or tying them to a tree. In the "olden days" a taut line hitch would be used to tighten these ropes, but these days the ropes are fitted with a three-hole plastic strap. The end of the rope passes through the bottom-most hole and is tied off with a stopper knot. From there, the rope goes to the anchor (tree, stake, etc.), and passes through the middle hole, and then again through the top hole. The plastic strap can then be slid up and down the rope to adjust the tension. Do not over-tension these ropes - they should have some give so that the tent can move a little with the wind. If they are too tight, the wind will rip the stakes from the ground or topple the tent.

If possible, do not strike the tent until it has dried. If you can, wait until the morning dew has evaporated. This is, of course, not always possible - it could be pouring rain when it's time to go, so you'll have to strike a wet tent. If your tent is wet when you strike it, you will need to set it up to let it dry as soon as you get back. Do not store a wet tent. It will be quickly ruined with mold and mildew.

To strike the tent first inspect the inside, being sure that everything has been removed. Check the loops in the ceiling (coat hangers tend to hide there) and the "stuff" bags on the walls (glasses and keys tend to hide there). Then sweep the tent. Once everything has been removed, pull off the fly, and stow it inside the tent (spread it out as flat as you can). If you stand next to the tent's door, you can pull the fly off the canopy and stuff it directly inside without it ever hitting the outside ground (and thus picking up dirt, leaves, and moisture). Stowing the fly inside also avoids the sad problem of cramming the canopy and poles into the tent's duffel, and then noticing the that the fly still needs to get crammed in there too. It's one less thing to roll up.

Then let down the poles. Carefully remove the poles from the canopy and fold them up. If the tent poles are sectional tubes with a long piece of elastic running through them all, it is better to push the poles out of the canopy rather than trying to pull them through. Pulling on them merely separates the sections and may break the elastic. Broken elastic will have to be repaired before the tent can be pitched again, because the elastic actually holds the poles together.

Once the poles have been stowed, remove the stakes and carefully fold the tent. Put everything back into the bag it came in.