Previous tenting tent to be repaired, donated to homeless


I hated the idea of ​​throwing it away.

The old Eureka dome tent had far exceeded its life expectancy and had already been relegated to spare camping status.

Tired of fixing another splintered fiberglass pole, I upgraded to a newer tent with aluminum poles 10 years ago. Aluminum poles might be torture with bare hands on cold mornings, but they’re a lot easier to carry and I haven’t found a way to break one yet.

So towards the end of its service life, the Eureka was mostly gathering dust on the camping gear shelves in my garage. When the kids were younger it became the backyard camping tent and got my son and I through our Cub Scout adventures.

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After that, it came out once each of the last two summers for the annual fishing trip I take with my son. He would claim the “good” tent. I would take the Eureka with a mixture of nostalgia and growing appreciation for the aluminum pole.

Aside from the occasional broken fiberglass pole, the Eureka had a good run.

My father bought it for me for Christmas, just before graduation or just after. That makes him around 30 years old.

Always looking for a bargain, he had found the tent at the Eureka Camping Center in Binghamton, NY, which was once an outlet for the brand. It was a factory second and therefore heavily discounted.

He got his money’s worth.

The bond that forms between a camper and a good tent can be difficult for non-campers to grasp. But some ripstop nylon and some poles (did I recommend aluminum?) are all you need to make a home away from home.

I spent dozens of nights in the Eureka woods, both alone and with campmates. It worked in other places too.

The tent kept my wife and I dry during Edenfest, a three-day rock festival in Ontario with a grueling lineup and a slew of logistical hassles that one internet lore has described as “a big hit, but an even bigger disaster.”

It sheltered us one August weekend when, on a whim, we decided to drive to Bethel, NY and see what was going on at the original Woodstock site, back when the property was a vacant, grassy hill and Hippies showed up on every anniversary just to come hang out and form drum circles. We saw Richie Havens there. No pre-registration, no stage, no support, no tickets. He just showed up with a guitar and started playing.

But a tent really proves worthy when the weather takes a turn. In this respect, my father’s factory waste performed excellently.

For example, in 1999 my father and I planned a camping trip in Pennsylvania. As the journey drew closer, so did Hurricane Floyd.

Damn it, we didn’t cancel.

In hindsight, a stupid idea. It rained and rained and didn’t stop raining. Ultimately, Floyd would dump a foot of rain on parts of Pennsylvania. We were pounded by winds south of us strong enough to knock boxcars over on a bridge over the Susquehanna River.

The wind didn’t knock the Eureka over.

The wind didn’t blow it away during the 2012 derecho either.

That storm, as anyone who lived in central Ohio at the time knows, was not something you would weather in a tent. My son and I were at a Webelos summer camp at Camp Lazarus in Delaware County when it struck, but the camp had received enough warning to urge everyone into strong buildings before the front broke through.

Trees were falling all over the camp but our small dome tent was still standing when we later made it back to our spot.

But that summer, just as I was deciding it would be my last foray into the woods, another fiberglass pole splintered. Later, when my son wanted his own tent for his birthday, there seemed to be no official reason to hold on to the classic car.

I still couldn’t bear the thought of a landfill. It deserved a better fate. I had the idea of ​​setting it ablaze in a campfire, but spewing toxins into the environment seemed like an opposite ending as well.

I don’t know why the solution took so long to come. Simple and so obvious.

I had written a few times over the past few weeks about the unfolding situation at Camp Shameless, a homeless camp on the Near East Side whose residents had been evicted from the city before a housing deal was finalized.

Why not fix the eureka and give it to someone who might need emergency shelter more than I do? Tents are not an acceptable answer to homelessness, but they are a necessary stopgap solution.

This is how I do it with my old tent.

I’ll fix the bars again.

I’ll seal the seams and give him a dose of waterproofing before sending him on the journey that I hope will mark the beginning of his second, much more important life.

Theodore Decker is Dispatch’s Metro columnist.

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