Tent Erection Instructions

It was like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Camping Edition as Greg and I gathered our family members to march our new tent from the wrong campsite, where we initially (and privately) erected it, to the correct site, where it should’ve been from the start.

You know what? We shouldn’t judge. Tent erection is a tricky business, and this is a relatively new tent, and stuff doesn’t always happen in the best, most appropriate places when we’re still learning. I think we should agree to give the tent a break and not embarrass him any further. OK? OK.

This whole situation reminded me of the great example my parents always set for my brother and me. Always, always. They were, perhaps unusually for their conservative Christian community, very open and willing to answer any questions we had, often in excruciating detail until we cried, “Enough! I don’t need to know any more!” And then they giggled and high-fived and we rolled our eyes and vowed never to ask them anything, ever again.

The first time Greg and I, as young newlyweds, borrowed my parents’ old Hilary tent, my dad explained that everything we needed know was included in his meticulously handwritten instructions inside the tent bag. We just didn’t know that “everything we needed to know” meant “everything we needed to know,” ya know?

Now. Because I care about you. And because not everyone has the privilege of growing up with educationally-minded parents. And because you may find yourself someday in desperate need of this information, I present to you my father’s original tent erection instructions.



  1. Roll out tent, find door, get it oriented the way you want it. (So far, so good – this is the easy part)
  2. Drive in all the stakes; the metal stakes are for the corners. (This is the kinky part)
  3. Assemble the top frame; every loop must have a pole going through it; tighten the wing nuts on the front and rear center bars. If you blow this step, an incomplete, or partial erection, will result. If this happens, you may not be able to penetrate the door.
  4. Assemble and install the four 2-section corner poles; pointy ends should face each other and overlap.
  5. ERECT.


  1. Announce in a loud voice that, “This tent can’t drive, can’t hold its liquor, and can’t make love.” Watch it wilt.
  2. Remove all poles.
  3. Remove the stakes.
  4. Fold.

And, for those of you who are visual learners, here’s my dad’s diagram of…


*sometimes call “The Flaccid Tent


There you have it, folks.

Now you know. And I’m no longer so alone.


Don’t miss a post. Subscribe here

9 responses to “Tent Erection Instructions”

  1. Haha, this is hilarious. Marine Dad, in EVERY sense of the word, I salute you! Wish there were more Dads like you in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.