It’s 8:50 a.m. on a Tuesday. I don’t have class until 11:00 this morning, but I’m groggily stumbling down the steps of Gate E at the Carrier Dome. I glance up at the Boeheimburg sign, take the last few steps, and enter my group’s tent.
To have the best seats possible for Syracuse vs. Duke, students camp at the Carrier Dome. Tents, blankets, and sleeping bags are all essentials. Students form groups of four and at least one person must be in the group’s tent at all times.
I lie in my sleeping bag and stare at the ceiling of my tent. Why in the world am I camping outside the Carrier Dome, days before the game? Then I remember. Wednesday night. Syracuse. Duke. 30,000 fans. As the President of Otto’s Army, I’d feel like a let down if I wasn’t camping.
This is my third time camping for a front-row seat against Duke. This year’s campout is only three days, a walk in the park compared to the 13 and nine-day campouts of previous years. An added bonus is the reasonably warm weather. Past years have seen single digit temperatures. With temperatures at their coldest reaching the 20s Monday night, this year has been downright balmy.
A freshman gets out of his tent and stares inside through the Carrier Dome’s glass doors. His friend asks him what he’s doing.
“Tonight’s going to suck,” he says. “I’m looking into the Dome for inspiration.”
The experience is not nearly as rough as one would assume, as long as your group is well prepared. In past years I’ve slept in temperatures in the teens. One night I got some of my best sleep of that semester. The key to being comfortable is staying warm. You can easily get a good night’s sleep by wearing multiple layers of clothes and using multiple sleeping bags.
My friends and I are camping together. There are enough of us for two groups; meaning two people are always in the tent. The bonding experience is a major bonus of camping. It’s what makes sitting in the Syracuse cold bearable. There are really only two options when it comes to spending your time in the tent: sleep or socialize with whoever’s around you. Unless you’re sleeping, you’re probably kicking it with your tent partner. I write this article while my friend and I laugh about Jim Boeheim’s latest jab at a media member.
Camping does have its drawbacks. Balancing your group’s camping schedule, classes, and work or extracurricular activities is always a hassle. You can kiss any social life goodbye for the duration of the campout. Maximizing your productivity outside of the tent is a must. And of course, even if it is relatively warm compared to other years, it’s still cold overall. Nobody chooses to sleep outside when it’s 25 degrees unless there’s some sort of incentive.
Any negatives are easily outweighed by the positive, especially come game time. The end game is always at the back of your mind. There’s no feeling like being in the front row as more than 30,000 people pack into the Carrier Dome for Orange basketball.
I hear my replacement’s voice outside my tent calling my name. I glance at the clock and it’s time for class. I pull myself together. I carefully exit my tent, put my shoes back on, and walk to class. It’s 10:50 a.m. and two hours closer to the game. I glance back at the iconic Boeheimburg sign and think about how absurd camping out is. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.