Tent sizing is one of the great mysteries of humankind. Until last year, our family used what was designated a “6-person” tent. I recall sleeping in there with Liz and the two kids and wondering where the other two people would have gone, short of velcroing their sleeping bags to the tent ceiling.

This is on my mind because we just concluded our annual Father’s Day camping trip with our church friends. (Church friends, for the uninitiated, are the same as normal camping friends, in that we eat too much bratwurst and we can’t get melted marshmallow out of our kids’ hair.) And prior to the trip, I upgraded our family to a nine-person tent.

A nine-person tent! Have you ever even been in a house overnight with nine people? It feels like a Karachi bus station. This is a tent. This is stretched nylon. Nine people?

I investigated the diagram of this nine person tent I bought, because the unit of “person” as a measurement is, if you think about it, sort of odd. It turns out the tent makers actually show you what they mean when they say it can fit nine people. It looks like this, per the screenshot I took:

Which begs the obvious question: Who is camping like this? It looks like a cold storage container in Westworld. Who’s that dude sleeping at the top? You wanna be that dude? You roll on your side and you’re suffocating, like, six tent-mates.

Who (I might ask the manufacturer of this nine-person tent) is going out into the wilderness with eight other compatriots and bringing a single tent? I remind you that you can buy this tent at Costco. Costco shoppers aren’t exactly buying these things to traverse the Klondike. Maybe it’s just a Costco thing? Maybe they’re also selling nine-person granola bars that everyone eats together, sitting in an awkward rectangle?

I can only guess that “person” is a rough and ridiculous unit of measurement, like the way the British still use “stone” to weigh themselves (I weigh about eleven and a half stone. I’m serious.). All I know is that this nine-person tent was comfortable for four of us. We slept, and there were no skunks this year (longer story, that one).

Father’s Day Camping is generally the only camping we do all year. For the limited experience we have, Liz and I like camping. But Finn and Lucy– they LOVE camping.

They ride their bikes and they run around and shoot water guns and eat s’mores and sleep in a tent. What’s not to love about that?

But I think they especially love a couple of other things.

Our kids have their parents’ full attention for a weekend. That’s no small thing, as I know I can be distracted around my kids. (I’m working on that.)

Camping is also just so different from our normal life that it becomes an incredibly memorable day that they can look back on and write stories about and draw pictures inspired by the weekend. I’ve seen my kids bring home little stapled-together books from school called “My Camping Trip” and on each page is a different picture they drew of something they did with two sentences on why it was so fun.

It’s beautiful. It makes me want to pour far more of my attention into making weekends special for them.

But there is something else that our kids deeply love about camping: They love the tent. They love their sleeping bags. They love carving their own space out of nature.

Kids in general seem to love making or building or finding their own space. You could decorate their room like something out of Architectural Digest and they’ll still make a fort out of old blankets and pillows. They’ll still, in the middle of that grandeur, sneak into big cardboard box and cut little windows to peek out of. They’ll crawl under tables at dinner and bring stuffed animals into their closets with them to cozy up in there.

Our kids want something truly theirs. Everything in their life is sort of gray area. Their parents have bought them everything they have, in one way or another.

The funny thing about it is that they don’t want the whole house to themselves. They actually want a small space, like that Betta fish Finn has. They gravitate to those small areas, maybe because can control everything around them.

They love camping because they loved playing out in the big new world. They loved it so much last weekend that they didn’t want to go to sleep at night. There was a loop they could bike around, and they wore those glowing necklaces and bracelets, so Liz and I could see them whizzing around in the dark, like little UFO’s buzzing a control tower.

When they finally ran out of energy, they got back in the tent, into their sleeping bag, inside of which they had any number of stuffed animals and other things that made the space completely theirs, their happiness measured by the number of songs they sang before they drifted off.

That’s what I want to give them. I want to give my kids the wide world. And I want to give them their own space.

The harder part for me was that for both those things, the world and their space, I had to let them go. I had to stand there and pray they wouldn’t crash on their bikes in the dark. I had to lie there, wishing they wanted to curl up with me instead of in their own corner.

Camping feels like practice for the real world for them, like lion cubs practicing taking down prey as they wrestle each other.

Camping with the kids was sweet and beautiful. It was also a heart-wrenching reminder that, soon, they won’t need those small spaces anymore, because they will be out in the world, alone, making it their own.

Which reminds me! I forgot to tell you about all the stuff I tripped over.

Top Five Things I’ve Tripped Over While Camping.

  1. Bottom of tent door.

I’m paranoid about letting bugs into the tent so I only open the tent, like, six inches and squeeze myself out like toothpaste. I must have some kind of mongoloid foot though because it always gets caught and I always fall and Liz always asks why I don’t unzip the tent more. (“Bugs!” I shout-whisper back.)

  1. A bike.

I don’t usually just walk into parked bikes. But it was the middle of the night and I had to get up to answer the call of nature and I just ran into it. In the silence of a campgrounds it sounded like somebody had tossed a bag of lit firecrackers into an empty dumpster.

  1. Finn.

Last year Liz was traveling over Father’s Day for work and it was just me and the kids. I was trying to get out of the tent and I tripped over a sleeping Finn. Which is notable because Finn didn’t start off sleeping anywhere near the tent door but rather on the opposite side of the tent. He must have inchwormed his way in the night. And as usual he didn’t wake up. You could strap a parachute to his back while he slept and throw him out a plane and he would swing softly to the ground, still snoring.

  1. A greased up skateboard.

I assume it was greased up. Our first year camping, two years ago, a kid named Carter brought a skateboard. I wasn’t stupid enough to try to ride it, all I was trying to do was scoot it back to him with my foot, and next thing you know I’m weightless and staring at the sky and then hitting the ground and the skateboard has shot forward as if fired from a cannon. I don’t know what happened there.

  1. A bear.

I’m not even joking. Not at this campsite, though – this was at Yosemite in California, in my mid-twenties. Walking to the bathroom, I thought it was a boulder. Then it moved and I almost threw up with panic.

There were no bears at Rocky Neck State Park in Connecticut. No doubt it would make the kids all the more eager to get there. For now we’ll sleep in our normal boring beds and normal boring rooms and see if we can create memories that involve indoor plumbing.

By | 2018-06-20T08:38:10-04:00 June 20th, 2018|4,772 Comments


  1. Elsa June 20, 2018 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Love this window into your Very Fun World. (and glad I don’t have to sleep I’m a tent to experience it)

    • Conor June 20, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

      It reminds me of our epic trip to Humla! A whole new level of camping!

  2. Dorian Beighley June 20, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply


    • Conor June 20, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply


  3. Jen R June 20, 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Lol, this is where my husband and in laws bring all the kids camping each summer as well. I remember it was a big deal to let the kids ride their bikes on their own around the campground and eventually down to the beach. And every year the one skunk story morphs into something bigger. Ah, memories. Hope you all enjoyed the beach!

    • Conor June 20, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Yes! Rocky Neck 4-ever!! But that skunk. It’s like that thing works there. Spraying people like that’s it’s job. No good, skunk.

  4. Karen Danvers June 20, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    As my youngest is graduating high school on Saturday, I long for a little tent where she and her brothers are just a sleeping bag away….
    I love your posts even if they make me a little weepy sometimes. The Top Fives usually cheer me up. 🙂

    • Conor June 21, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Liz and I think about that all the time, how we have to enjoy these days now. And we actually really do. Cute about a little tent though!!

  5. Rachel Nicholls June 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Enjoy your children when they are small and you can do these wonderful family things together. We still camp every year, we’re in Australia and our children are 5th generation campers to the same place! My youngest son is 14 and had a great time this year building huts in the bush with his friends, but my two grown up girls have moved on from camping, one moved out of home and the other about to head to uni next year. I’m experiencing an empty nest and I don’t like it much!

    • Conor June 26, 2018 at 7:22 am - Reply

      We clearly have to up our camping game if we are going to keep them coming back. I’m with you, Rachel!

  6. Jenifer July 12, 2021 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no backup.
    Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

  7. 393221 602229Your writing is fine and gives food for thought. I hope that Ill have far more time to read your articles . Regards. I wish you that you frequently publish new texts and invite you to greet me 651090

  8. Dong July 16, 2021 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking
    through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy
    I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  9. 860428 233380Hmm, I never thought about it that way. I do see your point but I feel several will disagree 673754

  10. July 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Someone necessarily help to make significantly posts I might state.
    This is the first time I frequented your website page and so far?
    I surprised with the analysis you made to make this actual put
    up amazing. Great job!

    my website –

  11. July 17, 2021 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Great post. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

    Also visit my web-site ::

  12. live22 download link July 17, 2021 at 2:08 am - Reply

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always interesting to read articles from other authors and practice a little something from their sites.

    Also visit my web page live22 download link

  13. Pure Optimum Keto Reviews July 17, 2021 at 2:53 am - Reply

    If you wish for to increase your familiarity only keep visiting this website and be updated with the latest news update posted here.

    Also visit my web site – Pure Optimum Keto Reviews

  14. Cryogen Air Conditioner July 17, 2021 at 3:42 am - Reply

    Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a
    entirely different topic but it has pretty much
    the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

    My homepage Cryogen Air Conditioner

  15. Launa July 17, 2021 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this web page daily, this web page is truly fastidious
    and the viewers are truly sharing nice thoughts.

  16. Xe888 online July 17, 2021 at 10:58 am - Reply

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I
    would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for
    me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get
    the hang of it!

    My site … Xe888 online

  17. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we communicate?

    My web-site – New Flow XL Male Enhancement Reviews

  18. MaxBrute July 17, 2021 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Heya this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you
    have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a
    blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Here is my blog … MaxBrute

  19. Cool Portable AC Reviews July 17, 2021 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site.
    Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

    Look at my homepage; Cool Portable AC Reviews

  20. Jayme July 17, 2021 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    It’s remarkable in favor of me to have a web page, which is valuable for my
    knowledge. thanks admin

    My blog post :: Jayme

  21. Air Cooler Pro Air Conditioner July 17, 2021 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I am glad to be a visitor of this unadulterated weblog, regards for this rare information!

    my site: Air Cooler Pro Air Conditioner

  22. TechPro Wifi Booster Reviews July 17, 2021 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of this website; this blog contains remarkable and in fact excellent
    stuff designed for readers.

    Take a look at my homepage – TechPro Wifi Booster Reviews

  23. Solvolt Charger July 17, 2021 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue along with your web site in web explorer, would check this?
    IE still is the market leader and a big part of other folks will omit
    your great writing due to this problem.

    My page – Solvolt Charger

  24. Max Extend Male Enhancement Review July 17, 2021 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Hi everybody, here every one is sharing these kinds of experience, so it’s nice to read this webpage,
    and I used to visit this webpage every day.

    Here is my page – Max Extend Male Enhancement Review

  25. I like this site very much so much superb information.

    Also visit my web blog … Gentille Derma Revitalizing Moisturizer

  26. Slimingo July 18, 2021 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my site thus i got
    here to go back the choose?.I’m trying to to find things
    to improve my site!I assume its good enough to use a few of your concepts!!

    Also visit my site :: Slimingo

  27. July 18, 2021 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Ahaa, its pleasant dialogue concerning this piece
    of writing here at this weblog, I have read all that,
    so now me also commenting here.

    Feel free to surf to my page –

  28. July 18, 2021 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Hey there would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re working with?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a reasonable price?

    Thanks, I appreciate it!

    my website …

  29. Gaia's Choice CBD Isolate July 19, 2021 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    You got a very fantastic website, Gladiolus I found it
    through yahoo.

    my page – Gaia’s Choice CBD Isolate

  30. Solvolt Reviews July 21, 2021 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Your way of describing all in this post is really nice, all can simply know it, Thanks
    a lot.

    my site – Solvolt Reviews

  31. I was very happy to find this site. I want to to thank you for your time for
    this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely liked
    every little bit of it and i also have you saved as
    a favorite to check out new stuff on your blog.

    Here is my blog

  32. July 21, 2021 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    You have brought up a very great details, appreciate it for the post.

    my website;

  33. July 22, 2021 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Amazing! Its truly remarkable piece of writing, I have got
    much clear idea about from this article.

    My website;

  34. Keto Redux Ingredients July 22, 2021 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or
    weblog posts on this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this information So i’m glad to show that I have a very good uncanny feeling I discovered just what
    I needed. I most for sure will make sure to do
    not overlook this site and give it a look on a constant basis.

    Feel free to visit my web page – Keto Redux Ingredients

  35. July 24, 2021 at 4:24 am - Reply

    I am constantly browsing online for tips that can aid me.
    Thank you!

    Also visit my web site:

  36. Windshield live calls July 24, 2021 at 7:49 am - Reply

    425758 770154There some intriguing points more than time here but I dont know if I see them all center to heart. There exists some validity but Let me take hold opinion until I look into it further. Quite great post , thanks and now we want more! Included with Fee