When the line monitors—the students who oversee the Duke basketball tenting process—decided to prohibit formal tents for the 2013 black tenting season, they knew they were bringing back a popular rule, but they had no idea just how many Cameron Crazies would show up ready to take on the most difficult level of tenting.
The day after Duke’s 68-40 win against Clemson Jan. 6, at least 46 groups moved into Krzyzewskiville for the start of tenting season, prompting the line monitors to adopt a new policy that accommodates the large number of early-season tenters. Each tent has 12 members.
Although the line monitors anticipated greater interest due to a shorter tenting season than last year, they did not predict such a high level of involvement.
“Last year we had around 10 tents that started day one,” said Bradley Baird, one of two head line monitors. “We were expecting more than that but we certainly weren’t expecting the demand that we got this year.”
To increase the number of tenters, the line monitors reintroduced a past rule prohibiting formal tent structures during black tenting, responding to popular demand. The rule, last used in 2010, applies to the black tenting period only.
“People had asked for it,” Baird said. “It was something we did my freshman year that people really enjoyed.”
According to this rule, black tenters were required to build their own structures rather than just pitching a tent. Although the regulation added an additional challenge, tenters began building in Krzyzewskiville more than a day in advance of the start of tenting.
“Honestly, the no formal tents rule made us a little more excited about it because it’s just more of a challenge,” sophomore Joseph Sullivan said. “A lot of the people in our tent got to bond over the construction experience.”
Given the responsibility to design their own tents, students developed a wide variety of structures.
“People really went all out this year,” Baird said. “They certainly weren’t as elaborate last time around. We weren’t expecting to have people build these quite expensive structures. People really took some creative liberty, and I think that’s something that’s been really fun to watch.”
The high number of tents also suggests that the rule did not deter the less intense tenters from trying out black tenting.
That demand can partially be attributed to the team’s performance this year after the Blue Devils won their first 15 games of the season, Baird said.
So far this season the atmosphere in the student section has lived up to the team’s performance, highlighted by a showdown with then-No. 2 Ohio State, for which students camped out as well.
“[The Ohio State game] was certainly one of the most energizing atmospheres that I personally have seen since I’ve been at Duke,” Baird said. “That was something that was really exciting to see, and I think that’s pretty indicative of how this season has gone.”
While the team’s success has played a large part in bolstering fan support, the team’s personality has won over the Crazies too.
Facing a crowd of more than 400 students on night one of tenting, Baird asked the residents outside Cameron Indoor Stadium what motivated them to start so early. Baird said one tenter yelled back, “because this team is so likable.”
The likability factor might have an even bigger impact than the team’s success. This year’s tenting numbers are higher than the last time Duke won 15 straight games to start the season, the 2010-2011 season.
The unanticipated level of enthusiasm for this black tenting season left the line monitors with several challenges, however.
Having originally planned to just run a scavenger hunt to determine the order of the tents, the line monitors needed to revise their method so that it could provide a fair method to arrange such a large number of groups.
“We held a town hall meeting where the tenters could come and talk and we got some really good feedback of fair ways and ways that people would be interested in for ordering themselves,” Baird said.
Fellow head line monitor Jackson Lindsey issued a statement Monday afternoon via email to the Cameron Crazies listserv announcing a new, three-category point system to determine black tent order, comprised of a race to a secret spot, a Duke basketball trivia contest and attendance at various Duke sporting events. Furthermore, to accommodate the large number of early-season tenters, the line monitors have chosen to raise the total number of tents permitted during blue season from 60 to 75.
Spots for blue tenting will be decided through another race to a secret spot, and despite Duke’s first loss of the season, it’s unlikely that the appeal of the team’s personality will wear off.
“This team has really been great for students to watch, great for students to be engaged in,” Baird said. “It’s a team that people will always enjoy watching play, and it’s a team that people want to come out and support and that is a huge, huge, huge factor that can be attributed to the high interest in black tenting.”