In the weeks leading up to the Duke vs. Carolina game, hundreds of Duke students forgo sleeping in their cozy dorm beds in favor of taking up residence in the tent village affectionately known as K-Ville. To an outsider, and even to some Duke students, such a sacrifice seems absurd. Yet to others, tenting is a small price to pay for the glory of experiencing the Carolina game in person. Who are the so-called “Crazies” that are willing to give up their valuable time to sit in K-Ville during the day and voluntarily wake up at all hours of the night for tent checks?
To try to answer this question, we surveyed this years’ crop of K-Ville residents to learn about their stories and what motivated them to tent.
The increase in numbers of people wanting to tent this year could be due to the fact that the tenting season is shorter and milder this year than in years past; however, an overeager freshman class coupled with seniors attempting a "last hurrah" before graduation could also have something to do with it. In an attempt to narrow down the reasons for the unprecedented number of tenters this year, I asked 14 randomly selected tent groups (out of a total of 70 black tents) about the ages of their members. Contrary to expectations, my sample revealed that the classes are relatively equally represented, and surprisingly, juniors are the most abundant, while seniors are the least common. Of the 168 tenters included in the survey, 24% are freshmen, 26% sophomores, 32% juniors and 18% seniors.
Equally diverse are tenters’ motives for tenting. Certain K-Ville residents simply love basketball and would do practically anything to get into the Carolina game.
Freshman Jeremy Liang, commented, “I’m a huge basketball fan, so when I was applying to Duke, [tenting] was something that really attracted me.”
Beyond a love of basketball, however, the majority of K-Ville residents said they chose to tent largely for the community and friendships that come from spending long days and chilly nights in a tent together.
When asked about her decision to tent, junior and second-time tenter Julia Myhre commented, “It’s a combination of the fun of being able to tent with friends while also getting plugged back into community after being abroad.”
Freshman Hannah Palczuk similarly recognized tenting as a great time to build new relationships.
“Tenting definitely strengthens friendship,” she said. “Some of the people in my tent were just acquaintances, and there were 2 guys I didn’t know at all. Already a week into tenting, we’re becoming closer friends.”
This closeness is illustrated in the frequency of tenters’ visits to K-Ville, even when they aren’t required to be there. Though each tenter has specified “tent shifts” when they must be in K-Ville, many students choose to hang out in their tents even when there are already enough members gathered to pass a tent check.
For example, freshman Hannah Humayun commented that for her and her tent-mates, “we’re all here all the time, even when we’re not on shift.”
While some students are motivated by their pure love of basketball or a desire to build relationships, others view tenting as an informal graduation requirement. Sophomore Madi Norton, who is living in K-Ville for the second time, told me part of her decision to tent stemmed from a need to participate in the quintessential Duke experience.
“[Tenting is] almost a responsibility for Duke students,” Norton said.
Like Norton, freshman Ivy Cannon felt a responsibility to tent, especially considering her family background. Her parents, who are both Duke alumni, tented for 4 years each during their time as students.
“My parents tented in the ‘80’s when [tenting] first was a thing,” Cannon said. “I’ve been hearing about tenting my whole life, so I definitely wanted to tent when I was here.”
For many students, this is a particularly attractive year to check this special experience off their Duke bucket list. Sophomore Howard Huang, Humayun and Palczuk selected this year in part because the Carolina game comes less than a month after the start of the semester compared to the 7-week duration of tenting season last year and next year. In addition to the abbreviated tenting season, Cannon observed that the unusually warm weather has made hanging out around the tent more enjoyable and night tent shifts less brutal.
Despite the favorable tenting conditions, the team has had some setbacks this season. However, all tenters were positive and unswayed by the possibility of a loss against Chapel Hill.
“I think tenting is about supporting the team, whether they’re good or bad,” said senior Kelsey Evezich, who is tenting for the third time.
Sophomore Thomas Vincent, a second time tenter, had a similar perspective.
“Of course we want to win, but it’s about the journey,” he said. “I don’t think very many people will regret tenting, no matter what the outcome is.”
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