I took 16 Pathfinders (including myself and two other adults) to camp in Bar Harbor, Maine this weekend. We set up the camp kitchen I wrote about last week, and it performed admirably.

I did use a bigger tarp, and I made sure I had two-foot eaves on either side. We also added side walls.

Camping Kitchen

Camping Kitchen

Another modification was that I took the 3′ cutoff’s from the shorter PVC pipes and slipped the ropes through them to make them more visible. It must have worked, because no one tripped over them all weekend.

We did not actually use it as a kitchen though, but as a combination dining room/living room. I had forgotten about an older pavilion we had that we used to use as a kitchen before we started using the garage-style canopy a few years ago. It is not in perfect condition and required a couple spots of duct tape, but it is still very serviceable. It took half an hour to set up though. The tarps took ten minutes (even with kids helping).

The first night of our campout, the wind was really whipping too. According to wunderground.com (which has historic data), the winds were “only” gusting to 20MPH on Saturday. They were 26MPH at my house when the structure collapsed. However, the ground at the campsite was much more solid than it is at my house (which has 2″ of topsoil over sand). So I think it would have held up even if the winds had hit 35 or so.

I looked at it again late Sunday morning after it had been standing for a while, and it was in great shape. I am very pleased with this design.

Dennis, one of our Area Coordinators just happened to ask me if I had invented anything for camping lately, so I gave him the nickel tour. I have no idea why he would have asked me that though. He also liked it very much, and pointed out one advantage I had failed to consider. If a part breaks on this structure, I can buy a replacement at any hardware store. I absolutely cannot do that with the pavilion thing we were using for our kitchen. Instead, we have to effect any required repairs with duct tape.

When the campout was over, I had the kids take down the tarp structure. It took them about five minutes. It took at least 15 to take down the kitchen. Stake removal turned out to be a job for the adults though. Dennis suggested that I develop a stake puller, and I think I like that idea. Not sure I have the skills to pull it off though.

We didn’t have any heavy rain, but we did have rain. I’m convinced this thing would have shed a downpour with no problems. I did tighten up the tautline hitches a couple of times during the trip, but that is a knot that is meant to be adjusted, and its main use is in anchoring tents anyhow. hose knots are supposed to give in high winds, and somehow that’s supposed to be better for tents. I suppose it is better for the lines to give than for the canvas to rip.

Maybe next time I’ll try the trucker’s hitch instead, but I know that with that particular knot, it would be easy to over-tighten the tarp and rip out a seam and/or a grommet. Because I’ve done that before. :-/

I might experiment with other tarp configurations to see if I can make a larger tent with the same number (or fewer) tarps. I have some ideas, but I need to work the kinks out.