From K-Ville to South America: Housekeeper reuses tarp from Das Boot tent for home village's summer camps
Last summer, a part of Krzyzewskiville found itself a continent away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
To some housekeepers, the remnants of tents left behind by K-Ville residents after the game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill look like an annoying mess. But Donna Hudson sees the discarded tarps as valuable resources.
Hudson, who hails from a village in South America, has been the housekeeper for the Sanford School’s Rubenstein Hall since the building’s opening 12 years ago. During last year’s tenting season, her daily walk to Rubenstein led her by K-Ville—where the large blue tarp on a tent called “Das Boot” was a daily envy.
“Where I come from, the tarps are so expensive,” she said. “We need them greatly during the summertime for our camps and our vacation bible school.”
Andrew Method, Pratt ’16 and one of the founders of Das Boot, explained that the tent has traditionally been covered in a tarp since it was started in Spring 2013. The tent—which has its own flag made out of an emergency blanket and pink duct tape—was expanded to house two groups a couple of years ago, for a total of 24 students. This expanded tent was covered by a 50 feet by 30 feet tarp.
Normally, the group would salvage any tarps that were in good condition to reuse them the next year, Method explained. But last year, Hudson reached out to the group and asked if she could use the tarp, and the group agreed.
Hudson said that several professors helped her put the tarp up so that she could have a truck move it to her house. Once she got the Das Boot tarp home, she stuffed it and some other tarps into a barrel and shipped them to her village.
Hudson’s village lies along the Pomeroon River in Guyana, a country with fewer than one million people on South America’s northern Atlantic Coast. Transportation around her village is extremely limited. To get to school, Hudson would travel an hour and a half each way by canoe.
“There’s no roads there. Completely none,” she said. “All of the days I lived there before I came to the United States, my means of transportation was by canoe only.”
Hudson usually returns to her village each July, when she has time off and the village holds its vacation bible school. She said that when she has time off from work here in Durham, she often goes places like the Durham Rescue Mission and Goodwill to buy toys, books and pens to send home for the children. She ships them out in May so they will have arrived when she gets back to Guyana.
This past summer, she went home to find that the people had constructed a wooden structure, using the Das Boot tarp as the roof, for their camps and bible schools.
“Before I could even go home, the people were finished building the tent. And to my surprise, when I look at Das Boot in America and Das Boot in Guyana, the shape of it was almost the same,” she said. “We had a great time under Das Boot.”
Hudson noted that she is thankful for the students who camp out and leave behind the supplies—being able to reuse them saves her a lot of money. She said that she collected some smaller tents from this year’s K-Ville, but nothing as large as Das Boot last year.
“I mean those tarps, they’re expensive,” Method said. “When we had 24 people under it and it was 50 feet by 30 feet, those ran $200 to $300. There’s a lot of money in K-Ville, even though it looks like a shanty town. Hopefully seeing that some good can come from it will spur an effort to save and reuse what comes from K-Ville.”
In Guyana, people in the village left the tarp on the wooden structure they built, but is no longer in the best shape.
“I heard from the people there that after a certain time, the tarp would be no good anymore because of deterioration. A big wind came and tore a part of it,” Hudson said. “I got some more, no really huge ones this time, but I got three of them that I am about to ship to them to re-cover the top of the thing.”