I was fifteen years old and got my first job. I worked the summer and after school at a local grocery store. Living at home with no bills to pay meant that all of my $6.25 per hour earnings were disposable income. I decided that one of my first purchases should be a tent of my own and headed down to the local Canadian Tire to have a look. I selected an Escourt 3-person dome tent on sale for $49. After a few test runs in the backyard, I used it while sleeping over at my grandmothers house.
I eventually got my driver’s license and hit the road with the tent in my trunk. I went on many mountain biking and camping trips with that tent over the years including stays in near Barrie, Muskoka, Albion Hills, Grey-Bruce, and a few overnight camping trips to Turkey Point Provincial Park.
The tent went into retirement after buying something much larger for some camping trips up to Haliburton Forest. The new tent also saw my children’s first camping trips. I pulled the old Escourt out of retirement when I headed up to Bass Lake Provincial Park by myself in 2015. It had spent a fair number of years in the rafters of my garage and was a little musky smelling but seemed okay. The trip was dry and in fair weather, I assumed my tent was still good.
While packing for my first backcountry trip earlier this year (My First Backcountry Camping Trip: Poker Lakes Loop) I decided to take along the old Ecsourt dome tent, now 17 years old and used heavily, due to only having a shoestring budget to get into the backcountry. What a mistake. The heavy rain and wind that pelted me on that trip proved to be too much for the poor old dome tent. The walls leaked and soaked my sleeping bag and clothes, water was standing on the cheap tarp floor. This was the end, my poor old tent was ready to be put out to pasture like an old racing horse who’s best days ahead lay at the glue factory.
It was a sad day, having to retire the first piece of camping gear that I bought with my very own money. For its last moment of glory, I set it up in the backyard and let the kids use it as a playhouse for a week before taking it down and saying my last goodbyes. I cleaned her off and carefully rolled the tent, folded the fly, and packed the fiberglass poles in tightly. I gave it a dumpster funeral fit for a true-grit outdoorsman while I imagined a bagpipe playing “Amazing Grace” in the background while a Loon called out on a calm and lonely norther lake. I stood beside the dumpster for a moment of silence with my hands folded behind me, recalling all the good times we had shared. It nearly brought a tear to my eye.
In the end, I saved and borrowed enough money to buy a brand new MEC Camper 2 tent with a ground sheet. The new tent looks great but has a lot to live up to.