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mrkstvns

The Lost Art of the Tarp....

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Browing around on the Scouting Magazine website (scoutingmagazine.org), I came across a post about how to set up a dining fly. Very simple: if you've got a tarp and some rope, you've got the makings of a group shelter. Nothing to it.  

For some of us old timers, it's simply the way we setup our camps on each and every campout.  But as I was reading the article, it occurred to me, never once in the past 10 years have I seen my son or his friends set up a patrol dining fly that way.  The troop has several of these EZ-Up canopy shelters, and the boys just pop those up when we're at a campsite taht doesn't already have a permanent pavilion on site (as too many over-developed "camping sites" seem to do).

The tarp is an amazingly simple thing, so it can be used in myriad ways to adapt to whatever conditions you find yourself camping in...

1.  Bring some poles (or find appropriate length sticks) and you can set it up free standing.
     - 2 poles is good, 6 poles is even better (2 8' high poles and 4 6' high poles), but 1 is possible too...

2. If you're in dense woods, just find a few stout and heart trees, and tie a ridgeline between the trees, then tie some lines to stakes to keep it taut.  (remember that the ridgeline should also be tied with taut line hitches inside so you can tighten it up if it starts to go slack.

Here's a few pictures of how the tarps can be set up to make a patrol dining shelter:

6 POLES, FREE STANDING:

image.png.e59a6085ad375870d0925ea7a6df545b.png

1 POLE IN FRONT, TREE IN BACK:

image.png.352f1f6e56d0c88fa65b7bb079be1af4.png

NO POLES - JUST TREES:

image.png.fc6d9597ad27e4fc6d76c87bbfd4acc9.png

 

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I rarely pack a tent. I'm content with a tarp for myself. Some of my scouts and their buddies have followed suit.

I've tried setting up one for my dog, but he'd still rather bed down under a corner of mine.

We set up dining flys on occasion, but often times we find it to be unnecessary. The tarp is more useful as a groundcloth while stargazing.

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Having camp more than a mile from the car would facilitate bringing a tarp instead of a "popup canopy". Even using a "car campground", the drivers do not need to drive all the way in. Most (all?) will have a parking lot closer to the entrance. 

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The older BSA literature used the term "trail tent" which was just a tarp. I have one from the 50s (and a wooden packframe w/canvas pack). One of these days I will show up to an event with only my old equipment.

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I got some Amazon tarps for our patrols to start using along with some poles but we haven't used them yet.  I'm going to have them start next month at our Iron Chef campout.

At Gettysburg, we camped next to a troop that had this circus tent metal pole tarp.

I bought a backpacking tarp that was on clearance and a bug bivy to try out but haven't had a chance yet.

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I have a few acres of woods which the scouts on occassion will use. One patrol has set up a new campsite location for themselves. They lashed a pole between two trees on which they attach their tarp to make a lean-to. Their firepit is just in front with a couple of log seats. Mostly they use the tarp lean-to as a place to hang out or eat. But a few have opted to sleep there. Overheard comment, "We don't need to carry in a tent now."

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Our standard is patrol's setup tarps, they have a table, and a patrol box for each group.  They setup patrol gear before they setup tents and tarps.

Troop uses a roughly 12 x 16 tarp (available at Home Depot).  Typically set up between trees, but the Scouts like to use poles.  We looked at actual expandable tarp poles ($15 to $20 each) and bought a bunch of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber (also from Home Depot) for about $2 each.  Put a nail in the end and we had tarp poles.

The nice thing with the tarps is the Scouts set them up, gives them an area to congregate, if there is rainy / damp weather good to have cover.

For backpacking we have a couple of lighter trail tarps  

Here we are recreating Norman Rockwell's painting.."We Thank Thee O Lord"  (Our's is on top, original for reference)

No photo description available.

image.jpeg.d57416d576013ba8c7dff344ca6bf123.jpeg

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2 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

...  Typically set up between trees, but the Scouts like to use poles.  We looked at actual expandable tarp poles ($15 to $20 each) and bought a bunch of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber (also from Home Depot) for about $2 each.  Put a nail in the end and we had tarp poles.

Love this idea!  Sure does beat the cost of an EZ-Up (and it's really not that hard to add a couple guy lines with some taut line hitches and have the dining fly up quick as a lick!

(Love the re-created Rockwell moment!  Awesome!!)

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

Sure does beat the cost of an EZ-Up

Spare tarp from someone's garage that they had used a few times for raking leaves.   Spare tent stakes from someone's basement.  Someone else donated some ropes.   All the troop needed to buy was four scout staves -- two lashed together for the front pole and two lashed together for the rear pole.

And when you don't need the dining fly, the scout staves can be used for other purposes.

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

and have the dining fly up quick as a lick!

Well,  my scouts are not quite at that point yet,  but they are definitely getting practise with knot tying and shear lashings.

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1 hour ago, Treflienne said:

Well,  my scouts are not quite at that point yet,  but they are definitely getting practise with knot tying and shear lashings.

The first time the troop rolled out the revamped camping methods; tarps up etc; about 10 years back it literally took about 2 hours, in the rain, in the dark to set up tarps.  Now it takes about 10 minutes

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My son's former troop used the 2x2x( 6 or 8 ) lumber for their tarp poles. Mostly they used ridge lines where possible between trees and the poles were used on the edges. 

They also used a self made quonset hut for longer stays (rebar/plastic conduit/rope/bungee balls/tarp), especially for summer camps. They had enough to make super long ones or a couple of them to break them into their own units. 

Either way, the longer poles or plastic conduit usually required a pickup to carry because of their length. 

Edited by Buggie
Because 8) makes a emoticon

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I got frustrated with popups, one because of their price and two because of their life.  So I started thinking about "back in the day" 

lol you can still see the small popup but the huge tarp was a life saver this particular weekend because it rained all weekend.  NOW I have tested other alternatives which are much lighter than the (pioneering pole) you see in this pic.  

Basspro has two type of telescoping poles and actually the cheaper one is better. 

These SUCK https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/texsport-adjustable-tent-pole-model-14092

These are GREAT https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/cabelas-adjustable-height-tent-poles

59418940_10156293328666680_4035332648896299008_n.jpg

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Thanks @JasonG172. Any chance you know the replacement cost of the plastic height-locks?

'cause I'm pretty sure I can jury rig something in a pinch out someone's tick-picker. ;)

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