100 nights un­der the stars

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

Jonty Sk­er­man loves camp­ing. For this 7-year-old Ran­gi­tikei boy, the tent doesn’t just come out for fam­ily hol­i­days. It’s up ev­ery day.

Jonty has al­ready clocked up 100 nights since spring, camped out in the back­yard of his fam­ily home near Bulls.

Un­de­terred by the in­clement sum­mer, he’s aim­ing to set a new record of 130 nights be­fore the third frost set­tles.

Jonty’s pas­sion for camp­ing be­gan when he was five.

Most 5-year-olds would balk at spend­ing a night or two in a tent on their own, but Jonty asked his par­ents Joe and Kym Sk­er­man if he could camp in a tent on a lawn next to the house.

They con­sented, erect­ing a pup tent and ex­pect­ing the ad­ven­ture to be over by next morn­ing.

‘‘It’s some­thing you want to foster. You don’t want to say ‘no, you can’t do it’,’’ Kym said.

‘‘A lot of kids his age would strug­gle to stay one night in a tent on their own, let alone two or three.’’

Not Jonty though. He stayed out and his par­ents had to move the tent so as not to kill the lawn.

That sum­mer, Jonty reck­oned he lasted more than 100 nights.

The fol­low­ing sea­son, he was ready and wait­ing with his tent, this time clock­ing up 120 nights.

‘‘I like the out­doors. I like to be in the tent - it’s fun to be out­side. I like lis­ten­ing to the birds and the wind blow­ing in the trees,’’ Jonty said.

For the farm­ing Sk­er­man fam­ily, out­door liv­ing is a way of life.

‘‘I get them to spend as much time as pos­si­ble out­side,’’ Kym said.

But, Jonty’s camp­ing habit had come at a cost. Pitched tents don’t last forever and last year Jonty out­lasted two.

‘‘He got this far through sum­mer, but his tent is ripped at the top let­ting the rain in on one side.

‘‘A friend sug­gested we con­tact Mac­pac to see if they’d be in­ter­ested in him prod­uct-test­ing any tents.

‘‘It turns out they were, and they of­fered him a brand new tent. He will be their youngest prod­uct tester.’’

Kym picked up the new tent from Mac­pac in Palmer­ston North in the nick of time. Last Thurs­day night, 31 millil­itres of rain fell, par­tially flood­ing the old tent.

Jonty re­mained dry in the new tent, sleep­ing so soundly he wasn’t aware it had been rain­ing un­til he woke up.

DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Jonty Sk­er­man, 7, loves camp­ing so much, he’s be­come a Mac­pac tent tester.

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