Tales From The Tent: Day 15- The First Taste

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.

15 days down
27 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

Our first two weeks of tenting had finally come to a close- we had made it halfway through the blue tenting period. In my first two weeks of tenting, I thought I had seen it all. I experienced my first K-Ville setup, my first tent checks, my first robbery, and my first recovery of a stolen computer. Although I had already accomplished most of what I set out to do this tenting season (and a few things I did not plan to do as well) it was time to get down to business for some good old fashioned ACC basketball. That’s right- the third week of tenting marked the first set of matchups Duke would have against North Carolina this season, serving as a sort of undercard for the main event on March 3.

Our first taste of the Tobacco Road rivalry came in the form of our fourth tenting game of the year when the Duke women took on the Tar Heels at Cameron. Not only was it my first live exposure to the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, but it was my first time taking in a Duke-North Carolina basketball game as a Duke student. I figured that if I was going to be taking this rivalry in for the first time I might as well do so in style. I’ve served as a beat writer for the women’s basketball team for The Chronicle for the better part of this season, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to cover my first Duke-Carolina basketball game. As a result, I got to take in the whole thing from press row. Press row at Cameron Indoor Stadium is not a bad place to take in a basketball game, if I do say so myself.

I had covered a handful of women’s games this year, but that night’s game was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I went through the usual motions and went through the press entrance and headed straight for the media room, which was more crowded than I had ever seen it for a women’s game. Not only was just about every news source in the Research Triangle out to take in this contest (including writers from that rag down the road they call the Daily Tar Heel), it was also a nationally televised game, so there were many members of the national media there as well. There was the usual hustling and bustling around the media room, but tonight’s game had a special air to it. The place was electric- you could tell this was no ordinary basketball game.

I took my seat on press row and was met with an unfamiliar sight just behind me- there were students, and lots of them. In case you missed one of my previous posts, attendance at Duke women’s games by students is nothing short of atrocious. For your average non-conference women’s game or even a game against one of the lower tier ACC opponents, there is often little or no student support to speak of. But this game was different, because it was Carolina (and I’m sure its being a tenting game didn’t hurt much either). This was one of the few times the women’s team has played at home all year with any student section to speak of.

You could tell that the players were appreciative of the student support, and they showed it. The fans were rowdy from the opening tip, because even though this is the South and we’re supposed to be all chivalrous and respectful to young ladies, this is Duke-Carolina after all. The game started out slowly and a bit sloppy, as both teams failed to execute on the offensive end early and turned the ball over many times. But about eight minutes into the game, Duke caught fire. They took control of the game with a 22-6 run and would never look back. Shots were falling from all over the place at the end of the first half as Duke simply wouldn’t miss. The Blue Devils went 8-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, as Tricia Liston led the way with a career-high 23 points, knocking down four 3-pointers of her own. Freshman Elizabeth Williams filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and four steals. Her six blocks would give her a total of 85 on the season, setting the ACC freshman record.

Duke held its foot on the gas throughout the entire second half and never looked back. It received contributions from nearly all of its players before the night was done. The Blue Devils coasted through the second half to a 96-56 victory. The 40-point win was the second largest win by Duke in the history of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry. I headed back to the media room after the game for the postgame press conferences. As expected, the UNC players and coaches took the loss as though they had just been flattened by a truck they did not see coming. Duke’s players and coaches entered the media room with smiles on their faces, knowing they had just played a flawless game of basketball.

In the press conference head coach Joanne P. McCallie commented on her team’s performance, but she was incredibly impressed with the crowd that came out to support her team. With 8,595 fans in attendance, this was easily the team’s most attended game of the season, and the students that came out were a large part of that. I asked Coach McCallie if she had a message for any students that had just attended their first women’s game all season, and she said was very grateful for the student support but wished they came back for every game. She even tried to give them a little extra incentive. “I’ll even cook for them,” she said, “and I can’t cook.”

When the press conference was over I headed back to The Chronicle offices to write my story and have it copy edited. Unfortunately, the above quote did not make it into my story, but the next morning I woke up to the pleasant surprise of my first front page as a Duke student. You can check out the game story I wrote here.

After an emphatic first victory over Carolina of the year, all eyes turned to the men’s matchup in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. After dropping a tough loss the Sunday before to Miami, the outlook was not positive on campus, but spirits were high after the women’s team laid a beatdown on the Tar Heels at home. 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

Tales From The Tent: Day 12/13/14- You Win Some, You Lose Some

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.

14 days down
28 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

The second week of tenting claimed two more members of our tent. One was forced to drop due to the pressures of pledging. He was the only member left that was pledging and was not pledging the same fraternity as I was. We began the process with six members of our tent pledging, one of whom dropped during the first week, and now we were down to four. A second member of our group also was forced to stop tenting at the end of this week because she had been accepted to a program that travels to Costa Rica over our spring break this year. The Carolina game is the first day of our spring break, so she would be unable to attend. It didn’t make much sense for her to continue tenting, to say the least. So we welcomed two new members to our tent in their place, two girls that live on my floor in Giles. With that there had already been 15 people that were members of Tent FF in the first two weeks.

As our second week of tenting drew to a close, we could tell it was going to be a long tenting season. The amount of juggling and multitasking I was forced to endure was starting to take its toll on me. Sleep was not really much of an option at this point- on any given night if I wasn’t up late pledging, I was sleeping in the tent. Though the second week of tenting was unseasonably mild (temperatures in Durham were often in the mid-60’s and even touched 70 degrees at some points), the weather was starting to cool down and a February chill was returning to the air. When you’re forced to put up with the obscene time commitments associated with schoolwork, tenting, and for some of us pledging, a lack of sleep can come back to haunt you. One by one over the course of the week, members of my tent began to get sick. I suppose that when you’re overworked to begin with, sleeping outside in the cold doesn’t really help. I had been battling a lingering cold for the better part of tenting and it really started to catch up with me over the course of this weekend. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to sleep at all, let alone in the tent, and it was around then when symptoms of viral conjunctivitis (aka pink-eye) began to set in. This would knock me out of the tent for a few days as I recovered and waited to become less contagious.

Friday night was possibly when I was at the worst point in this sickness. My throat was sore, my voice was gone, I was exhausted, and to make matters worse, I had a tent shift from 7-9 that night. The sun had gone down and it was starting to feel really cold. I was feeling like crap and it was a Friday night so I wasn’t going to get any work done, so I went inside the tent and decide to sleep through the rest of my shift. I wake up around 8:30 and check my phone, only to find a strange email from a person I don’t know. I opened it:

Hi Daniel,

Someone turned in a MacBook computer that I believe belongs to you. I’m sure you have been looking for it. It was left in the Center for Living parking lot. I’m not sure how it got there, but we have it here at Duke Integrative Medicine. The battery was dead when we got it, so I took it home to charge it and find out who it belonged to. I saw your name and email when I turned it on. So you can come pick it up at the front desk at your convenience. We will be open tomorrow from 9:00am – 2:30pm. Feel free to call before you arrive. Take care.

What came next was one of the strangest mixtures of joy and confusion that I’ve ever encountered. My thoughts raced as I tried my best to fathom that I was actually going to see my computer again, but there were still so many things that didn’t make sense to me.

  1. I had never been to Duke Integrative Medicine before. In fact, I didn’t even know where it was located.
  2. The e-mail said nothing about the other items that were stolen from me. Does that mean that they were all together or was my computer just sitting in a parking lot by itself.
  3. If that was the case, if someone was going to take my stuff why would they leave what was far and away the most valuable item?
  4. If they were going to ditch my computer somewhere, why would someone leave my computer at a medical clinic on campus?
  5. I had never been to Duke Integrative Medicine before.

So the next morning, after a quick trip to student health to confirm that I had pink-eye (which of course was viral, so they could do nothing for it), I headed over with a friend to Duke Integrative Medicine. It was actually on campus, but a little bit more on the outskirts than I had ever traveled before. We pulled up to the building and I was able to confirm that I had never seen this place in my life. I ventured inside and approached the front desk, and of course the woman there knew who I was. I’m operating under the assumption that I was probably the only person walking in there asking for a computer that morning. The woman who had emailed me was not there, but would later tell me that the computer was found by itself in the parking lot, and there was no sign of my bookbag, camera, or keys. I would later discover that the computer was never used during the week it was out of my possession and there was not so much as a scratch on it. It was a Festivus miracle, of sorts, and the only reason why it was slightly inconvenient was because I had given up hope of ever seeing it again and bought another computer. But in the grand scheme of the things, returning that would be far less inconvenient than what I might have been faced with otherwise.

Some surprises are the good kind and some aren’t as good, and unfortunately for us that was the best surprise we would encounter all weekend. It was much less pleasant when Duke surprised us by dropping a second home game at Cameron the next day, falling to Miami 78-74 in overtime.

Duke had no answer for Reggie Johnson inside, especially in the first half (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

It was a tale of two halves for Duke, allowing Miami to jump all over them inside during the first half to build up a 14-point halftime advantage. The lead would be as many as 16 in the second half before the Blue Devils came alive. They played inspired basketball down the stretch, knocking down shots from all over the floor and getting crucial defensive stops, something they had been unable to do virtually all season. As they continued to shave the lead down the stadium was rocking and the Crazies brought the noise. They were able to briefly take the lead with just a few minutes remaining in the game, but Miami fought back to keep within striking distance. When it was all said and done, Austin Rivers had two shots at the line. Duke was trailing by one with just over 20 seconds to go in regulation when Rivers missed the front end and knocked down the second. The Hurricanes had the chance to win the game on their next possession, but Miles Plumlee stepped up on the defensive end and shut down Miami’s Reggie Johnson- they didn’t even get a shot off.

Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook stepped up as leaders on the floor against Miami (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Overtime was another story for the Duke, as they fell behind early and trailed by as many as six points halfway through the period. For a team that spent so much time clawing its way back into the game, you’d have thought that they didn’t have the energy to finish this one off. But it appeared that we were refusing to lose. A three by Ryan Kelly and a jam by Mason Plumlee later, it was back to a one-point game, and Quinn Cook (who had been playing the game of his life, by the way) found himself with a chance to give Duke the lead back with 27 seconds left. He missed both free throws, but Duke would get the ball back when Johnson missed two free throws of his own. We would have one more chance to steal this game away, but Quinn threw up some kinda of inexplicable runner in the lane on our last possession and Miami pulled down the board. They would take the game 78-74 after Duke missed its last sixfree throw attempts in regulation and overtime.

With the first Carolina game looming just days away, many took mixed feelings away from this loss. Yes, the team had dropped another game at home to a serviceable, but inferior opponent, but it had also just played its best half of basketball we’d seen all year (discounting overtime). We were all a bit worried for what we might see this team bring to Chapel Hill later that week, but at this point all we could do was just wait and see. It was just one of those weekends. You win some, you lose some.

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 9- The Other Side of Duke Basketball

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.

9 days down
32 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

A week into tenting and pledging, I was tired, stressed, and computerless, but Duke basketball (and tenting) never stops, so neither do I. Fresh off our first successful tenting game, it was time to turn around and do it all over again. For our second tenting game, we set out to watch the Duke women’s team take on UConn in a marquee matchup of top-5 teams. This was the first of two women’s game we would have to attend for tenting purposes.

I had been to a few women’s game already this year, but for most of my friends it was their first experience with the Duke women’s team. In my spare time I serve as one of the women’s basketball beat writers for The Chronicle, so I had already covered the team quite a bit over the course of the year and was familiar with their players and style. For those of my friends who were seeing the team play for the first time, it was not the best representation of how good this team is. Duke shot 24.6% on the game and only made 17 field goals en route to a 61-45 loss, despite committing just 14 turnovers on the game. The team would rebound to win its next three games.

The student section was a moderate size for the game, but overall it was quite disappointing. For a university with such a rich and deep tradition for basketball, the support that Duke’s women’s team gets is quite atrocious, in my opinion. Earlier this season, Duke’s fanbase caught the national headlines for decreased attendance at men’s basketball games (numbers which were slightly misreported, by the way), but the general apathy among the student body for the women’s team is quite unsettling. Duke is a basketball school, not a men’s basketball school, so why don’t we start acting like it? The team has only averaged 5,320 fans per game this year, while other comprable programs consistently draw bigger crowds. When the Blue Devils traveled on the road to face Kentucky, they played in front of a crowd of 14,508 at Rupp Arena.

The worst part about it is, people here generally understand how good this team is, they just choose to ignore it. This is arguably the best team on campus we’re talking about! This is an issue that the team has not chosen to deal with as well. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said that one of the things she want to do when she took the job at Duke was to increase attendance, and that has simply not happened. In fact, all of the attention the team got from the student body when Gail Goestenkors was at the helm has essentially been erased. Everyone here says “it’s just women’s basketball”, but this is one of the best teams in the country, and they play against top competition every season. Five teams in the ACC are currently ranked, not to mention Duke squares off with UConn on an annual basis. But for some reason students just don’t get it, and I can’t help but feel like you can chalk it up to anything more than pure sexist bullshit.

But anyway, that’s my diatribe about attendance at women’s basketball games. Once again all 12 of us attended the game, and it was disappointing that Duke did not put forth its best effort against one of the most talented teams in the nation. I’ve had the pleasure of covering this team up close and personal for most of the season, and am confident that they have the tools to make a very deep tournament run this season. They are also some of the nicest athletes I’ve corresponded with during my time as a journalist at Duke. They truly appreciate any support the student body can give them, and I am convinced that they deserve much more than they are getting right now.

I applaud the line monitors for making two women’s games a part of the tenting schedule for the year, but simply putting the games on a schedule is not going to assure students will start to care or even attend the game. The way line monitors check to see if you attended a game is by tracking a student’s ID to make sure they swiped in. Students can just as easily walk through the student entrance and swipe in and then walk straight out the other side as they can stay for the game, and for the women’s games in particular that is what a lot of people do, and it’s simply wrong. If anything, this calls for some sort of a change in the system, but above all I think it’s about time that other students here started to realize that they are lucky enough to have not one, but two incredibly talented basketball teams to watch this season.

As I walked back to my tent and by the time I was inside I was fuming, mostly because of the general lack of respect but also because I just watched a team shoot under 25% from the floor. I thought about everything I had set out to accomplish through tenting, everything that my neighbors in K-Ville were willing to sacrifice to get into one men’s basketball game, and clearly the reward is worth making these sacrifices. But most Duke students aren’t willing to walk up just before game time and take a couple hours out of their lives to watch one of the best women’s teams in the country play? That’s just sad.

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 7- Losing Momentum

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.

7 days down
34 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

So I know what you’re thinking…the opening of my tenting diary ran about three weeks ago, so how are we only at day seven now? The obvious answer is I got behind on my tenting diaries, but it wasn’t due to pledging or school. In fact, there’s a pretty good reason for it. It’s a long story, in fact it will take multiple posts to complete, but here goes nothing:

Our first week of tenting was finally drawing to a close. After surviving the elements, our first roster substitution, and the perils of scheduling for our first seven days, it was time for us to enter the next phase of tenting- games. As I outlined in my overview of the tenting rules, tenting is about much more than being in the tent day and night. For tents like us that began on the first night of the black or blue tenting period, our tent number (which is our spot in line) is determined purely by game attendance. For blue tents, there are six home games (four men’s and two women’s) that count toward our tent number. There are twelve members in each tent, and for every member that attends a game, your tent receives a point. You do the math- that’s a total of 72 possible points over the course of three weeks. For the eight other blue tents that started the first night with us, the next three weeks would determine the order of tents 12 through 19. Our goal was to have every tent member at every game so we could be first in line behind the black tents.

Our first tenting game was January 28 when Duke was set to take on St. John’s. The morning started like many other had over the course of our first week- with a tent check. The siren rang around 6:45 a.m., painfully early for a Saturday morning, but this wasn’t just any Saturday morning- it was game day. I had been sleeping in the tent the previous night, so I emerged from my tent after about three hours of sleep with five of my tentmates and passed the check. After we passed the check, we were given grace until after the game, but for most of us that didn’t mean we could simply leave. Game days during tenting season are interesting because they are where the practices of lining and tenting collide.

Lining for normal games is a common practice for Duke students, and the rules are simple: you register at any point on a game day with a group of two to six people and receive a group number, and from that point onward half of your group has to be in K-Ville. The twist though, during tenting season, line monitors are adamant that there is a difference between being in line and being in your tent. Many groups will register the night before an ACC game, but in order to do that they will be forced to leave the “comfort” of their tents and sleep on the sidewalk in front of Cameron. Many die-hards that aren’t currently tenting will choose to participate in this as well, but in a way tenting actually puts you at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to lining.

So after the check we immediately moved ourselves over to the sidewalk and registered in line. Many took this opportunity to get some extra sleep, bringing their sleeping bags along with them. By registering all six of us into two separate groups, all twelve members of our tent were guaranteed to make it into the first tenting game. I know it seemed like we had quite a bit of time to kill before gametime, but keep in mind that this was a 12:00 p.m. tip, so we’re used to being in line for longer periods of time. For this game the doors would open at 10:30 a.m., so it was just a few hours to kill. Luckily, there was some excitement in K-Ville to keep us awake and entertained. Around 7:30 K-Ville came alive when a group of pledges from another fraternity came to perform their pledge task for the day- create an awesome pregame atmosphere in K-Ville. They succeeded, breaking out two large speakers and blasting some music to get the blood flowing. Not to mention they brought cornhole, and who doesn’t love a good game of cornhole. As the morning wore on people began to mill around and get ready for the game as the line grew. Before I knew it, I was in the midst of the best pregame atmosphere I’d encountered all year. There was a certain electricity in the air, but no pressure. We were all just there to have a good time.

Andre Dawkins added 14 points in Duke's win over St. John's (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

After an exciting morning capped off by a free Bojangles breakfast courtesy of the line monitors, it was time to go get Crazie. The doors to Cameron opened as students flooded in. After our usual 90 minute wait in the stands, the game finally got underway and Duke jumped out to a huge lead in the first half. They were firing on all cylinders, and it looked as though they were mounting an emphatic response after their home loss to Florida State. Not only did the team look great in the first half, but St. John’s was certainly one of the most entertaining teams we had faced this season. Their roster was like a list of examples of what not to name your firstborn son, headlined by guys named Gods’gift Achiuwa and Sir’Dominic Pointer (who immediately became a crowd favorite and actually flipped the Crazies the double bird after he fouled out). The team struggled mightily in the second half, however, mostly on the defensive end. St. John’s Moe Harkless went off in the second half en route to 30 points and 13 rebounds. The Red Storm were able to close the gap to single digits, but it was too little too late as the Blue Devils escaped with an 83-76 win. After the game Coach K was clearly upset with the team’s performance in the second half, as he should have been. The team was equally disappointed with its defensive effort in the past, and treated the game almost like it was another loss.

Speaking of losses…here comes the part of the story where you start to figure out what set me back so far in my tenting diaries. I was in the midst one of my busier days of the year on the day of the St. John’s game, but it was all about to come to a grinding halt. I had spent most of the morning working on a feature for The Chronicle, where I serve as one of the beat writers for the women’s basketball team. I had spent most of the week compiling interviews for it, and it was set to run first thing Monday morning. I had scheduled to have it copy edited at the office directly following the game, so as soon as the game let out I went over to my tent to grab my stuff and head over. Only problem was, my bag wasn’t there. After spending a solid 15 minutes searching the tent to see if it had ended up getting moved around by one of my tentmates before the game, there was still no sign of it. I went outside to start calling other members of my tent to see if someone had picked it up by mistake, but it was to no avail. My bookbag had been stolen out of my tent from K-Ville during a Duke game. Not only was my bag gone, but my laptop, camera, and keys to my room were inside it as well.

So there’s your explanation as to why it’s taken me so long to get back to writing, and unfortunately why there are very limited pictures left over from these days. If you think this is the last you will hear of this story, think again, there is certainly more. Luckily I was able to carry on for the rest of that day without a computer and did not have any schoolwork that was due on it, though my feature was lost and would never see its day in print. There was nothing left to do, so all I could do was sit in the chair outside of my tent in utter disbelief. What I had previous thought was impossible had happened- someone had violated the sanctity of K-Ville. It was a bitter ending to an otherwise eventful day.

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 4/5-Into The Storm

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.

5 days down
36 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

As we neared the end of our first week in K-Ville, things were going smoothly. In fact, we soon found out that things were going a bit too well. Our first week, for the mostpart went exactly as planned. Our schedule was well organized, people were on time for their shifts, it was the model of the perfect tent we had set out to create. That however, would soon all change, and things would get much more complicated very quickly.

Where to begin…it was Thursday night and a group of us went about our typical nighttime routine. We set up in the tent around 2:30 a.m. (which is when night starts on Thursday) and prepared to get some sleep. As soon as we were finishing our setup, we heard the familiar drone of a tent check siren. We went out to the sidewalk and passed the check, and received grace until 4:00. As the rest of my group went back to the tent, I had one of those moments where you suddenly realize how awake you are and needed to kill some time. So I went with some friends to one of the 24-hour eateries on campus to grab a snack as the rest of my tent called it a night. After arriving back just before the end of grace and realizing I had class in about six hours, I figured it was time for me to get some sleep as well.

Turns out I didn’t get to sleep for very long. It was a balmy night- the temperature did not dip below 60 degrees- but as I slept a large storm moved into the area. My sleep was interrupted around 6:45 by the howling wind and the driving rain. The wind, which I later discovered had gusted up to 40 mph overnight, had knocked the obscenely large tarp off of our tent. It hadn’t just blown away- the wind ripped the tarp out of the ground. The wind was coming from my corner of the tent and had dislodged one of our stakes, causing that corner to cave in a bit. And by cave in a bit, I mean when the storm woke me up the ceiling of the tent was touching my face. After a few chaotic minutes trying to stabilize the tent and fathom how fast the wind was blowing, we had to go outside to straighten the issue out. After examining the aftermath of the storm in the morning, we were able to fix the tarp and reinforce it.

Little did we know, that was not the worst storm we would encounter that day. When we woke up on Friday morning, we knew there were changes that needed to be made across the board. At the beginning of the semester, most of the members of the tent entered the fraternity and sorority rush process. Tenting started on the night we received our bids, and six of our group members accepted fraternity bids, while two girls accepted sorority bids. A note on greek life at Duke- it is more or less considered common knowledge that tenting and pledging are not meant to be done at the same time. For the sake of argument, let’s not call what sororities do after they extend bids “pledging”, but for the six of us it meant that on top of this huge time commitment of tenting, we were going to be incurring another large time commitment with pledging. To make matters more complicated, four of us are pledging the same fraternity.

The pledging process contributed to our tent’s first casualty of the season. Don’t worry, nobody died, but one of our members decided that he would not be able to tent and pledge at the same time, so we were forced to replace him. We added another girl from Giles as our 12th member, but were still presented many challenges by the pledging process. For those of you that have never pledged a fraternity before, most of what you during pledging is essentially unannounced- we have no idea when we’ll be called upon to do something, day or night. This does not lend itself well to making similarly unscheduled tent checks throughout the day and night.

So we called our weekly meeting to sort this whole mess out. First thing was first, we had to reassign my roommate’s old slots and work our newest member into the schedule. Then came the hard part- we had to rework the schedule so that the pledges could avoid as many nights in the tent as possible. There’s no worse scenario than having as many as four of us sleeping in the tent one night and getting called out to perform a task. This would put our tent in serious jeopardy of missing checks, and that would not be fair to the rest of our tent members.

Luckily for us, many of the brothers in the fraternity we were pledging are enduring the tenting process as well. They have been throw both tenting and pledging before, and understood the types of time commitments we were about to make. So we were able to get some leniency from them, and were able to negotiate two nights of each week where we knew we could not be called.On those nights all four of us would sleep in the tent, which would leave each of the other members four nights apiece for the week. In exchange for this arrangement, the four of us were forced to pick up additional daytime hours to make up for the nights we would not be able to sleep.

At this point in time, the prospect of pledging and tenting at the same time was quite intimidating. All 12 of us were making sacrifices, but we also all had to balancing tenting with greek lives, social lives, and even school (we do tend to have classes every once in a while). But we all set out to tent with a goal in mind, and we were taking steps to assure we accomplished that. When the week’s schedule had been figured out, we all went our separate ways. It was a Friday night, after all.

Note: I apologize for falling behind on my tenting diaries, and assure you there is a very good reason for it. This will all be explained in my next post, and I will be catching you up over the next few days.

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 2- From Dusk 'Til Dawn

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.

2 days down
39 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

After a full 36 hours of successful tenting, it was finally my turn to take my first shift sleeping in tent FF. For almost two full days we had the appropriate tent members on guard around the clock, and so far all was going smoothly for us. But nighttime tenting is a different story. Line monitors can call a tent check any time of day or night. Obviously during the day time that is not an issue as long as the one required tent member is present and attentive, but any time is fair game for a check, so group members always need to be on top of their game. For students it is the ultimate balancing act, they are forced into an extremely social setting (a large group of people living in extremely close quarters) during the time when many of them do their schoolwork, and have to try and get some sleep despite the possibility they’ll be woken up for a check.

Early setup is a good habit to get into (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The five of us set out for K-Ville just before 11:00 when daytime hours (only one person required) officially turn over into nighttime hours (six members required) on weeknights, which are technically Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Keep in mind that yes, we are college students, Thursday counts as the weekend so different hours apply. It was a relatively warm evening- the night before had been in the 30’s, but the temperature last night was in the low 50’s, which was fantastic for a January night. We arrived at K-Ville just in time and met up with our sixth member for the evening who was just finishing his two hour shift leading up to nighttime. Typically there is always a check done while everyone is still awake, but anything after that remains to be seen. We decided to set up our sleeping arrangements inside the tent as quickly as possible so we would not have to do it late at night. The setup went quite smoothly, as we arranged our air mattresses and sleeping bags in a way that would make it conducive to people entering and exiting the tent without causing much disturbance.

The first tent check came at exactly midnight. If you’ve never been to a tent check before, it’s basically impossible to miss a check unless you don’t have enough people there. A bullhorn pierces the night signaling the check and as you step out of your tent, you see a horde of line monitors with tent rosters ready to check names and IDs. The check lasts about 15 minutes as each line monitor is responsible for checking a handfull of tents, and tent FF passes once again with flying colors. After the check, the line monitors call grace for approximately one hour. On this night grace ended for us at 1:00 a.m. This means that we were free to leave K-Ville for that time if we wished. Grace is also called for the entire night if the temperature drops below 20 degrees or if there are more than two accumulated inches of snow, or for at least an hour before and after every Duke basketball game. Most people take them up on that offer, but as freshmen that live on East campus, there aren’t many places to go for an hour. Luckily for us, we found a pretty sweet spot to hang out in our free time.

I wouldn't call this the worst place in the world to spend an hour (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Where better to hang out for an hour with your friends than get some work done than next to all four of Duke’s national championship trophies? Luckily there are actually varsity athletes that are out tenting this season, and have full access 24/7 to the Krzyzewski Center for Athletic Excellence, which houses the Duke basketball museum. It’s a great place to hang out during grace time for freshmen who don’t have dorms they can run back to in fewer than five minutes. Unfortunately we do not have card access to the building at all times, but luckily for a few of my friends and me, as we walked up the ramp toward the museum a member fo the Duke fencing team had a similar idea and was able to get in. It was a nice relaxing hour sitting in the museum as all of Duke’s retired jerseys adorned the walls and the last few minutes of the 2010 national championship game droned in the background on repeat. Let’s just say it was probably the next most relaxing experience to spending the hour in Bell Tower’s Oasis.

Just because we're tenting, doesn't mean we're not human (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Of course what hour of grace would be complete without a late night snack? Most tenters use their free hour to go get some food. There are plenty of late-night options on campus, but tonight our choice was Jimmy Johns. For those of you that have never been to Duke, late night Jimmy Johns is the staple of a Duke student’s diet. After walking to the edge of the curb on Towerview Drive to pick up our sandwiches, it was time to head back to the tent. Grace was finally over.

Things slow down a lot in K-Ville after the first tent check of the night. Most students will retire to their tents where they will attempt to get as much work done or as much sleep as they possibly can. Clearly being in a tent is not exactly the most ideal sleeping scenario, but having a sturdy floor from our reinforced plywood helps to stabilize the structure and an array of air mattresses and inflatable pads seem to do the trick for the night. After hanging out with my six friends for about another hour in our tent, we decide it’s time to get some sleep.

A picture of the first tent check. People weren't nearly as awake at the next one (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

However, our slumber did not last very long. We awoke in the dead of the night to the wail of the familiar siren- it was time for another tent check. We scrambled to get everyone up and out of the tent as quickly as possible. Speed isn’t necessarily of the essence when it comes to a tent check, it’s not like we have 30 seconds to get out to the sidewalk, but knowing our sleeping habits as college students, it’s very easy to fall asleep if you don’t get up right away. K-Ville shakes itself awake as people begin to pop out of their tents, accompanied by a chorus of oh so familiar groans. None of us even know what time it is, so we ask one of the line monitors, who dont’ seem much more awake than we are, and they inform us that it is 5:30 a.m. Checks are known to happen in the middle of the night, at 2:00, or 3:00, or even 4:00 in the morning, but this timing seems a bit foreign even to the line monitors. 20 minutes later, we had completed our second tent check of the night, and once again we passed. Grace is normally given for an hour, but the line monitors were willing to give us grace until 7:00 on one condition, we had to sing happy birthday to one of the line monitors (apparently it was his idea to call the 5:30 check on his own birthday, none of the other line monitors seemed to know why). So we sang as well as anybody could sing at 5:30 in the morning and were on our way.

The extra half hour of grace might not seem like much, but it actually made a huge different. Daytime hours pick up once again on weekday mornings at 7:00 a.m., which means that by the time we had to be back in the tent, only one member of the tent had to be present. This gave the rest of us an opportunity to leave and catch up on some much needed sleep in our beds. Our daily tent schedule doesn’t start until 9:45, assuming that at least one group member that slept in the tent in the night before will still be asleep or hang around in the morning. Two members of our group volunteered to stay behind and go straight from the tent to their 10:05 class, which gave the four of us the opportunity to head back to East. We loaded up into my friend’s car and headed back. Apparently they tell me that as my friend started to back out I suggested we pull straight through the space, not noticing the giant lamppost sitting in our way in my half-asleep state. But I can’t be absolutely certain, I was really tired so I don’t remember much. After arriving back in my room to a surprised roommate (who got off of tent duty that night), I was able to snag a couple extra hours of sleep before I had to get up for my 10:05 class. Duke basketball never stops, but neither do classes, so it was back to the grind for me.

PS- A special shout-out to my good friend Jacob Zionce for volunteering to cover someone and sleep in the tent on his 19th birthday. Now that’s dedication.

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 1- Welcome to K-Ville

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.

Tent, rope, tarp, and other supplies…$400
Tickets to the Carolina game (if you play your cards right)…$0
One incredible freshman tenting experience…priceless

The day had finally arrived. After weeks of preparation, it was time to pitch our tent and move into K-ville. Now I know what you’re thinking- it’s just pitching a tent, how hard can it be? Well let me tell you, it’s not nearly as easy as you think. We weren’t preparing for some family overnight campout where you find a spot that has only a couple of rocks in it, plop your tent on the ground, and call it a day. No, we were getting ready to build a tent site that would be able to stand against the mighty wind on a cold and muddy tundra and protect us from an onslaught of North Carolina rain (and possibly snow) for the next six weeks. Keep in mind, I talked to black tenters that had been out there for just one week already and said their tents were trashed. So bright and early (and by bright and early I mean 1:00 in the afternoon, bear in mind that we are college students) we set out to construct the most serviceable structure possible.

We loaded up in two of my friends’ cars and headed over to West campus to set up for that evening, but believe it or not the first place we went was not K-ville. I kid you not, to begin our tenting process we scavenged for wood. Very few tents actually sit directly on the ground in K-ville, and those that do often suffer the consequences when the rains come. The grass in K-ville slopes just about every which way, resulting in frequent drainage issues during storms, which as you can imagine wreaks havoc on tenters. Most people will try to build platforms under their tent to counteract this, putting their tents on higher ground and out of the way when floods occur. So off we went to find our wood.

"Stealing" free wood from underneath McDonalds has never been so easy (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We struck gold at our first location- a loading dock underneath the McDonalds in the Bryan Center. There they had discarded of many pallets that would be perfect to support our tent. Students typically can find pallets like this strewn all over campus, including at the Duke Hospital and even on East campus, but luckily for us there were just about as many pallets as we needed. We began to carry the wooden supports up the hill toward K-ville, which proved to be a long and arduous process. Keep in mind, the tent we are using is very large, as it has to fit six people in it every night. It measures 14 feet by 10 feet (which is close to the average size of a room in Blackwell), so we needed to bring about 13 pallets. After pausing for a starstruck moment as Tyler Thornton walked by, we discovered a fantastic cart that was left unchained on the loading dock, so of course we borrowed it for our personal use. We were relieved to load up the rest of our pallets at once, and began to push the giant load up the hill toward our destination.

We were very content with our tent location as we began to set up shop (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We finally reached K-ville, and it was time to stake our claim. The search was on for the perfect spot to pitch our tent, one that would not flood easily and was accessible without having to weave through other tents. After about 15 minutes of searching we arrived at a consensus on a spot. It seemed to be the best spot available at the time of our arrival. As you can imagine, most of the prime real estate was taken up by the black tenters, but this spot was a very good one. It was right next to a sidewalk where we would not encounter too much traffic and the door of our tent would be easily accessible. It was also one of the dryer spots after some significant rainfall in the past couple of days. So a few of us began to set up shop and lay our pallets out while others went to Home Depot to pick up more supplies.

Resident Boy Scout Nathan hard at work on the plywood (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

It didn’t take too long to get our pallets laid out. We were able to set up a nice spot for our tent and in the process meet some of our newest neighbors. Many black tenters that we knew came over to greet us and offer advice while we negotiated this new process. Two additional groups of freshmen were in the process of pitching their tents directly on either side of us, so there was a bit of negotiating to do in terms of space. By the time we had finished with this, the rest of our tent members had arrived back from Home Depot with about 150 square feet of plywood. We were ready to strengthen the pallets we had gotten (a few of which were in less than pristine shape to begin with) by nailing the fresh plywood down on top. We laid the wood out over top of the pallets, and with two hammers and a set of nails began banging away. About an hour and a half, 50 or so nails, and quite a few sore thumbs later, we had secured the layer of plywood on top of our pallets and were ready to construct our actual tent.

If actually pitching the tent was our last step, it would have been a quick and easy day (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The pitching of the actual tent did not take that long. Luckily we had a few diligent outdoorsmen and a former boy scout in our tent crew, so this is one of the parts of the process that came the easiest to us. After the tent was constructed, we moved the tent from the sidewalk onto the platform. But the process was nowhere near over. We worked to secure the tent down and cover it with our rainfly. After this was done, we conferenced as a group and discovered that we needed a couple more supplies. One of our friends went to run and pick those up while the rest of us took a much needed dinner break. By 6:00 p.m. we were most of the way done.

But there was much more still to be done. After a quick dinner most of us took the time to catch up on some rest or do some schoolwork (some of us had forgotten that we are still taking classes), the tent reassembled in the Giles common room at 9:00 p.m. to discuss the schedule for that week and divide up tent hours. A few of us had worked to divide up the daytime hours in advanced (considering our class schedules do not change from week to week), but we sought to divy up evening and weekend hours on a weekly basis. We met for about 40 minutes and discussed scheduling, final plans to complete our setup, weekly meetings, and general tent rules to follow. I unveiled to the group the master schedule a few of us had been working on for the very first time, which was just about the most intense Google Doc you had ever seen. It had contact info and class schedules for every member of the group, including everyone’s availabilities during the week at any given moment, along with the schedule we would follow during daytime hours and slots for the evening and weekend schedules. We then divided up the hours and sleeping schedules for the rest of the week and were ready to press onward. With the 11:00 p.m. deadline to start tenting looming, the six members that were sleeping in the tent that evening prepared to head back over to K-ville for the night. Two more of us including myself volunteered to head over and put the finishing touches on the tent. Around 10:40 p.m. we pushed off and made our final descent upon K-ville to begin our tenting season.

Our tent just needed a couple of finishing touches after sundown (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We arrived outside Cameron Indoor Stadium a few minutes before the 11:00 deadline. There were just a couple of things we needed to take care of before our tent was fully operational, but they would prove to be rather time consuming. Our mission was simple, we needed to adorn our tent with two tarps- one that would go underneath the tent above the plywood and one that would drape on top of the rainfly- to protect our tent from the elements. After speaking to countless experienced tenters, they all agreed that the worst possible thing that would happen to you in K-ville was for your tent to flood, so we took every step possible to make sure we would never encounter that situation. Getting the first tarp down underneath was no problem at all, but the second tarp was another story. One of our tent members had run out to the store around dinnertime to pick up this tarp and was struck with a dilemma- the store did not have sizes that accommodated us very well. One tarp was too small to fully drape over our tent, and one was a bit too big.

Yeah...this tarp was really big (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

He told me that it was bigger than what we needed, but clearly I didn’t understand how much bigger he was talking about. When we unfurled the glorious tarp on the field at K-ville, it nearly covered half of the makeshift tent city. Turns out that although our tent was 14 feet by 10 feet, we had bought a tarp that was 50 feet by 30 feet. That’s right- the tarp was 50 feet long. We considered a myriad of possible solutions, including folding the tarp over completely in both directions, draping the full tarp over both our tent and our next-door neighbors, and building some sort of complex irrigation system out of the massive tarp that was 10 times the area of our tent. We ultimately settled on folding the tarp in the way that best suited the size of our tent, using nature’s jack of all trades, duct tape, to secure the crease. After about an hour of figuring out the best way to drape this monstrous tarp over our tent, we staked it into the ground and our preparation was complete.

It was now time for my friend Nathan and I, who had been enjoying our “day off” messing with the tarp, to say our goodbyes and head back to Giles. We left the remaining six members of our tent in K-ville to endure their first night as blue tent FF. We were able to make it back to our dorm by 12:45 a.m., finishing the setup process in a swift 12 hours. Not too shabby for some first timers.

I’ll continue to keep you posted in the coming days on how my tent is doing. I hope you enjoyed reading about the beginning of our journey. Feel free to tweet at us to wish luck! As always, stay Crazie, my friends.

Finally all done! Tent, sweet tent. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

 

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