Every year, sometime between fall break and the beginning of December, dozens of students pitch tents on the pathway leading to Ellis Hall, competing for the best tickets for the Madrigal winter dance. The date of tenting is a secret until the students organizing tenting gather on the Ellis steps and blow air horns to signal the start of tenting. An email is then sent out to the entire student body stating that tenting has started and explaining the rules for tenting. The first tent to be pitched becomes “Head Tent” and the students in that tent are responsible for organizing events throughout the week and doing roll calls. Tenting is a popular, long-standing Juniata College tradition that is meant to be fun. Sometimes, though, it’s stressful, frustrating, or just not enjoyable. For anyone considering tenting next year, here are some essentials you should have (in addition to a tent):
A sense of humor
Head Tent will probably call roll at 3:30 in the morning, interrupting your precious REM sleep. You might play musical chairs at midnight. You will get very cold or, if you’re not so lucky, wet in the tent. I’m not trying to scare you away from tenting; rather, I’m saying that a sense of humor will help you get through tenting. You can get through it and you can have a good time with tenting, but you need to let the small things just roll off your shoulders.
And when I say “warm,” I don’t just mean sweatshirts. I mean leggings, Under Armour, thick socks, hats, gloves, and other winter gear. Make sure you have multiples of all of these items, as well as sweatshirts and sweatpants because, chances are, you’ll be wearing several layers every night. While we’re talking about warm clothes, don’t forget about your sleeping arrangements. Heavy, warm blankets and a sleeping bag are extremely helpful.
Chances are there will be a talent show of some kind during the week. It’s helpful if someone on your team (or several people) has a talent or, at the very least, can make something up. There are also lots of other challenges conducive to talents. This year, we had a rap battle, dance competition, cooking competition, and talent show. It seems that, if you don’t have a talent, all hope is not lost. As long as you’re willing to make a complete fool of yourself of 100 of your closest peers, you too can win the competition.
Whether they’re in your tent or laughing at the fact that you’re actually tenting, friends are the single greatest asset to an awesome tenting team. This seems obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway: make sure the people you tent with are close friends. Through all the stress of tenting week, it’s easy to get grumpy or frustrated with your tentmates or with tenting in general. If they’re close friends, it’s easier to repair the friendship or let the small stuff go (see #1). It’s also important to have friends who aren’t in your tent. When they’re not laughing at all the ridiculous stuff you have to do, they might just bring you late-night hot chocolate.