You can spot it right across the walkway that leads into Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s literally as close as it legally can get. I like what they’ve done with the place. It looks more like a home than a tent.
- White picket fence: check.
- Mailbox: check.
- Neon pink poster advertising the handle @dasbootkville: also check.
To me, walking up to the Das Boot tent in Krzyzeskiville, made me think “#dukedifference.” It’s honestly impressive how much this tent has going on. When I tented myself freshman year, we had a small, borrowed tent, stuffed with ratchet, leftover sleeping bags and blankets, and that was all. Definitely was not the idyllic, white picket fence tenting success story. But for these pro-tenters that couldn’t be farther from the truth and what this experience means to them. Das Boot doesn’t just appear to be their make-shift, temporary living space – it quite literally is their home.
And who is crazie enough to live in this blue monstrosity?
- Position: Captain
- Tasks: maintains the schedule to make the black tent truly a black tent.
- Game day apparel: blue Santa costume
- Position: Secretary of the Interior
- Tasks: handles all interior matters for the tenting group including decorations and parties. He’s the reason it looks more like a suburban home than a tepee.
- Game day apparel: blue wig
- Position: Chief Engineering Officer
- Tasks: makes the design for the structure every year, from the original boot to this year’s long A-frame hut. He’s also kept busy with the construction and upkeep, especially during the months of harsh winter weather.
- Game day apparel: Duke jersey
The three of them founded the tent back in 2013 when they were lowly freshmen here at Duke. Now, four years later, all three are still keeping the tenting tradition alive for their last basketball season as undergraduate students here on Duke’s campus. In 2013, the rules of black tenting were also very different. Unlike the white or blue level, the black tents couldn’t be a real, store-bought tent. Instead, the twelve members had to build their own make-shift tenting structure out of the blue tarp they’re still using today. It turned out looking boot shaped that first tenting season, and that’s where they got the name “Das Boot”. And according to Andrew, “it kind of stuck.”
The tent itself is just one source of transformation and tradition over the four years. The flags date back to freshman year, when there were about 50 black tents out in K-Ville and they wanted to make their tent stand out in the crowd. The mailbox? Andrew came up with that last year, thinking that all homes have those and Das Boot, their home, was missing one. This year he brought in the white picket fence. While Chris thinks they’ve scaled up the tent all they can, Andrew was quick to respond, “we can always do more”.
And what does this K-ville krib have inside that you don’t?
- Matching Duke blue knit hats Chris’ mom made for every member this year
- Plenty of wine
- Goldfish (last year they got in a screaming match one night with another tent over these cheddar snacks)
- Sippie cups, which every member is required to have (someone spilled a drink last year, so those were a necessary addition)
Andrew sees the whole thing as “a childhood dream come true”. Even as seniors living off campus, they still get to call Das Boot their home. And as an added bonus, with two tent rosters together, it’s a sleepover with 23 of his best friends.
And what’s to come?
As the time gets closer to the UNC game day, and rules change as blue tenting begins, Das Boot plans to adjust accordingly. Once they have more room with less people required to sleep there, they plan to move in a couch and desk. The couch, which they found for free off of Craig’s list last year, even made a game-day appearance on screen when Sports Center did a live segment from within the tent. So this year? They want the anchors to have the desk too.
So, to all of you reading this, why don’t you get a little crazie for Cameron’s Craziest? Andrew and the others are worried this year more than ever that less people will tent with the team’s performance so far. For him, “the team needs our support now more than ever. We had the best case scenario last year.” So get your Santa costume, wig, jersey, or just the standard blue paint, and not just for the day we play UNC. According to them, if you think it’s just about UNC, you don’t understand what tenting is. It’s family. It’s tradition. It’s home. They already have new rosters of freshmen to take their place next year. Das Boot isn’t leaving once these three graduate, that’s for sure.
And this year, well, they hope to see all of you in Cameron with them, even though you can expect to be quite a few rows back from them in the student section. Remember, they’re crazie.
And in case you were as curious as me, they do get mail. Last year they even received a half eaten hamburger in the mailbox. This year they have an anonymous “mail fairy” bringing personal mail every week for all 24 members. They’re planning to host a contest for whoever can send the best letter and the winner will get a tent t-shirt (yes, they have t-shirts on the way for the entire crew, to match their sippie cups and knit hats).
And for me? I’ll definitely give them a full hamburger if I ever leave one in the mailbox. Maybe even fries too.