One of the projects we did here at Fort Frederica National Monument was put up a big tent. We sometimes say it is like a three-ring circus around here, so a tent seemed appropriate. The tent is intended to protect the archaeological dig that begins in May and will last through the summer. Our boss, Ranger Michael, wanted it put up in March – probably because that is when all the volunteers are here.
This tent, from Weatherport, weighs 1,300 pounds, so it is not trivial to set it up. In fact, it isn’t trivial to move it to the place where Ranger Michael wanted it set up. So volunteer Bob drove the forklift with the tent over to the site where it was to be set up. Then a whole crew set about unpacking it and making sure all the parts were there.
Fortunately the tent came with instructions because there were so many pieces and parts. It was like putting a building together. Put pole A in base B and add truss C, etc. Then they had to make sure it was square which involved lots of measuring and physically adjusting the poles. When everything was square, they added the bottom stays and hammered in spikes to hold the poles.
Finally, with everyone working together, they pulled the tarp over the poles and attached it to the base. Tom added tensioned ropes to hold the tarp down through the most severe weather. When they finished, it looked like a wedding venue and a lot of people asked us what special event we were having.
The tent got put up much earlier than needed, especially since we don’t even know if we will be able to have the dig this year. But now we have been able to see how it responds to high winds and heavy rain. Fortunately it hasn’t gone anywhere! Tom checks the ties holding it down periodically and the whole thing looks good.
Putting up the big tent is just one of the projects we have been able to do during our time at Fort Frederica. You never know what you will be asked to do as a volunteer, but it is good to be able to say yes!