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I've mentioned this before, but I doubt anyone paid attention to me. Before you go out in the woods to play with the bears, it would be a good idea to at least have some idea on how to set up your tent. Today's modern materials and tent shapes and sizes are difficult to assemble if you haven't yet done so.

I want to follow the instructions, but...

RogueTurtle recently purchased a ten-foot by twelve-foot, six feet tall tent to add to his own personal bugout kit. I'll show you a photo of it in a minute. I was EXTREMELY glad I did my own "tent drill." When I opened the carton it was shipped in, I found exactly what I hoped not to find. Instructions written originally in Chinese, translated in Sri Lanka, and re-translated in Burma (or so it seemed). It's a really nice tent and it fulfills all my requirements . . . except readability.

It gave instructions to put parts together that weren't on the tent, but were close to location shown in the diagrams drawn by a Chinese kindergarten dropout. I love the tent, but the instructions were, well, less than what I would have expected. Let's be kind.

Anytime is the right time

I purchased this tent about 7:00 p.m., and finally got it home around 8:00. (That's 1900 hours and 2000 hours for the military readers). We had a late dinner and at 11:00 p.m. (2300 hours), I announced that the family should assemble in the yard for "tent drill." I was pointedly told that it was: A. Too late at night to start such a silly project; and B. It was raining (it was). Nevertheless, I fearlessly decided to assemble it on my front porch. Facing ridicule head on is the norm for me. As I dragged my new tent to the porch, I looked around and found my "helpers" had all of a sudden disappeared. My step daughter went so far as to go to bed.

Undaunted, I moved the porch furniture away from the center of the porch to give me room to spread it out. Of course, when it was laid out flat, I had to move more furniture out of the way because it was a lot bigger than I had thought it was. The RogueTurtle clan has a lot of "tent stuff", and a large dog.

Tab A and Slot B?

I was progressing slowly until I got to the part where I had to feed a VERY long collapsible aluminum pole through a part of the tent I couldn't find. The instructions just said "feed it through the sleeve" and the drawing showed a sleeve that wasn't there . . . or so I thought. My frustration level jumped up another notch.

"I'm RogueTurtle, and I can put together any tent," kept running through my mind. No, I can't. I put my hands in my pockets and went in to Mrs. RT and complained about a tent that didn't come with all the parts. She marched out to the tent, studied it for about thirty seconds, and pointed out the cleverly hidden "sleeve" that I couldn't find. Yes, it was there. Then, using her skills of observation, I asked her to help me thread the sixty-foot long rod into the sheath. OK, it's not sixty feet long, but on a small porch it just seemed like it was. I did NOT want to poke a hole in my screens just to assemble my tent. I'd never have heard the end of that.

It seems that you don't have to have the pole completely put together to thread it into the sheath. You can keep it unfolded and assemble it as you feed it into the sleeve. Clever, these Chinese. This is not included in the instructions. I guess they just "assume" you will be putting up their tent outdoors. I would have had it not been raining.

Next came the tricky part. With both extraordinarily long poles in place, Mrs. RT once again came to my rescue to hold one end in place while I bent it into the shape of the tent and attached it to the corners. It took a lot of juggling but I finally got it to look like a tent. The springy poles kept the tent in its final shape so I didn't have to stake it into my porch floor.

Next came the shorter flexible and collapsible poles for the door and window openings. The Chinese word for "grommet" doesn't translate into English very well so it took me a while to find out where the actual fitting was located. It was not shown on the kid's crayon drawing either. Finally, we found it and guess what? It works.


This is the lesson for today. If you have to be humiliated and laughed at, it's better to do it at home where the people laugh WITH you, rather than AT you. There will be another tent drill in the near future, in the yard, during daylight, and attended by my step daughter who slept through the whole thing.

P.S. At this point, my wife went to bed. As she left the porch she said, "I have my parents coming over for dinner tomorrow night. Please make sure the tent is down and put away so we can actually get out of the door in the morning." Then she left. Have you ever tried to fold up a large ten-foot by twelve-foot tent by yourself? I did. I didn't enjoy it. A little help would have been nice.

If I have to bugout by myself, I have decided to sleep in my poncho.

This photo shows the finished product assembled on my front porch. Normally, there is a LOT of room to walk, but not with the tent set up. Next time, I'll put it up in the yard . . . and everyone gets to help.

Sorry, I couldn't back up enough to show you the whole thing. You get the idea, though. Setting up a tent inside your house is NOT the ideal place to have "tent drill."