My fellow Crazies, after a long wait it is finally that time of year- it’s tenting season. I will be bringing you a step by step account of my tenting experience for the next six weeks to give you an inside look at the most sacred tradition at Duke University- tenting.
40 days down
2 to go
12 first year students
I woke up this morning and you could feel the buzz everywhere. It was finally March, which means the madness was about to kick off with Duke-UNC this weekend. After nearly six weeks of living in K-Ville, all of our hard work and dedication was finally about to pay off.
This first day of March was especially important because it was the last day of tenting. Now I know what you’re thinking- oh that’s really nice, they’ve been out there for such a long time (unless you’re a white tenter), they deserve to take a break for the two days before the game. That’s not really what happens. Tenting ended, but our K-Ville experience was only just beginning. It was time for Personal Checks.
Time to clarify what Personal Checks are. Each of us are still on a tent roster, which keeps our order, but none of us are part of a tent anymore. Line monitors are now only keeping track of us individually. Personal Checks could begin as early as 9:00 on Thursday and last from 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday nights. Line monitors can call a check in K-Ville at any time during these hours, at which time you will check yourself in individually. There will be five personal checks over the course of these two nights and in order to get into the game you must make three of them. This means that the only reason to look out for your tentmates are because they are your friends. If one of them doesn’t make three checks, you are not penalized for it. However, if you don’t make three checks, all of you time and effort you spent tenting was for naught.
Now I know this sounds a little bit overbearing, but PChecks are actually one of the most fun part of the tenting experience. I know it sounds like a long time out there, but you can leave at any time, and it’s up to the individual to budget out when they’d like to make their three checks. I know what you’re probably wondering- what do 1200+ Duke students do in K-Ville for all that time? We do what Duke students do best- we have a party. PChecks is widely considered the second biggest party of the year at Duke, so while people are waiting around for line monitors to call checks, there is plenty of fun to be had. The entire parking lot in front of K-Ville is cleared out, every single food truck on campus sets up shop in the parking lot, and on Thursday night they always have a big concert for students. But it looks like I’m getting a bit ahead of myself- let me walk you through my first PChecks experience from the beginning.
Let’s start around noon that day. I get out of class and head over to take my tent shift. It is by far the nicest day of tenting. The sun is shining and it’s about 78 degrees- not bad for it being February yesterday. I am itching with excitement for this weekend. I know that all of the hard work and nights sleeping outside we’ve put in are about to pay off in the biggest way. K-Ville is abuzz as we watch event staff set up the stage for that night’s concert. The stage is huge, it takes up about half of K-Ville’s parking lot. It was just a wonderful day to be outside. I could have sat there finishing up my work for spring break for hours, there was nowhere better to be. Students were taking in the sunshine with me as well, and many were playing basketball on a hoop set up by Cameron (commonly referred to by K-Villers as Cameron Outdoor Stadium).
This afternoon was also exciting because it was my first chance to take a look at the walkup line for Saturday’s game. It’s a common misconception that the only way a student can get into the UNC game is by tenting. In fact, not everyone that wants to can tent. Some students try to white tent and lose the race to the secret spot. But every year there are a decent amount of students that can get into the game off the walkup line, which enters the game after the last tents have gone in. Students participate in the walkup line for every other game during the year, but for Carolina it’s a little bit different. The walkup line for the Carolina game began registration on Wednesday at noon. As you know, the game is not until Saturday night at 7:00. This means that students in the walkup line will be living on K-Ville’s sidewalk for just over three days to get into this game. They register in groups of two, and one of them must be in line at all times. Line monitors call consistent checks throughout the day, and any group that misses a check will immediately be removed from the line. Students in the walkup line are also not allowed to bring any structures with them (no tents), and are forced to sleep outside. In the middle of the afternoon on Thursday I’d estimate that the walkup line was about 30-40 people deep already. The size of the line would more than triple by the beginning of PChecks that night.
I left my last tent shift in K-Ville for the season around 2:00 that afternoon. I headed back to class knowing that the next time I would be back there would be my first PChecks. ESPN invaded K-Ville later that afternoon. They must have begun setup shortly after I left, but by 5:00 the set for College GameDay had been erected just outside of Cameron. We would all be attending College GameDay on Saturday morning to take in the insanity, receive our wristbands for the game, and ultimately hear Seth Davis say something silly. The set was absolutely massive- it stood just on top of where students were playing basketball earlier. We’ll be going inside Cameron for GameDay’s morning broadcast, but this set would serve for College GameDay’s afternoon broadcasts before the game, where GameDay makes its final predictions while students are in line to enter the game. It was there that two years ago David promptly predicted that Carolina would beat Duke in Cameron. They went on to lose 82-50.
At 9:00 I returned to K-Ville with a group of friends. It was time for PChecks. The best part about Personal Checks is that everybody on campus goes to them. Regardless of whether you black tented, blue tented, white tented, or didn’t even tent at all, PChecks is one of the biggest social events of the year. When I arrived K-Ville was already jam packed with people. Point Break, a band of Duke students, had just finished their set opening for the evening’s headliners, reggae band Rebelution. A mass of people crowded around the stage as the concert picked up, but the action was all over the place. Everyone was scattered throughout K-Ville hanging out at their tents and having a good time. It was a great opportunity for me to spend time with my tentmates, my pledge class, and fraternity brothers while taking in one of the quintessential Duke experiences.
Rebelution finished their set around 11:00, but there was still no sign of the first check. On the bright side, none of us were in any rush. It was a beautiful night, we were all enjoying ourselves with our friends, and the majority of us had finished our last classes before spring break. Around midnight, the first personal check finally came. I watched as the line monitors grabbed huge signs with our tent numbers on them and scattered around the parking lot while the siren began to blare. Everyone in K-Ville sprinted to their tent’s area, where we lined up by tent and line monitors checked us off. 11 of my 12 tent members were there for the first check, and we were one step closer to attending the Carolina game.
Everybody has their own strategy with PChecks. Some like to try and get two checks out of the way the first night, others are satisfied with just one. I figured that with an 8:30 taping of College GameDay on Saturday morning, it would be best to get as much sleep as humanly possible on Friday night. I was going to try as hard as possible to get two checks in tonight, but the problem was you never know when that second check is going to come. Sometimes they’ll call them fairly close together, other times you might be waiting around until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning for that second check. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to wait very long. The second check rang around 1:15 a.m. The majority of Tent 14 stuck around for the second check, and when the line monitors signed my name off the list I was just one personal check away from earning my admission into the Duke-Carolina game.
And with that our first night of PChecks had come to a close. Before we left each tent was responsible for picking up some trash in K-Ville (the place was, in a word, trashed) and we were free to go. Sticking around for that second check was definitely worth it. It was a truly memorable night for the Cameron Crazies to congregate, celebrate their dedication for Duke basketball, and get prepared for one of the greatest weekends of our lives.
The best part about this was that it was only just beginning. We still had another night of PChecks to go and a jam packed Saturday leading up to the big game. More festivities to follow tonight, expect another huge story tomorrow. We’re almost there. GTHC.
Be sure to check out the rest of Dan’s tenting diary! Links galore below:
Pre-tenting: It Begins
Day 1: Welcome to K-Ville
Day 2: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
Day 4/5: Into The Storm
Day 7: Losing Momentum
Day 9: The Other Side of Duke Basketball
Day 12/13/14: You Win Some, You Lose Some
Day 15: The First Taste
Day 18: Insanity
Day 26: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough
Day 29/30: I’ve Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting
Day 35/36: Taking Out The Trash
Day 40: It Gets Personal
Day 41: One Force, One Fight
Day 42: Go To Hell Carolina