100 nights under the stars
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.
Jonty Skerman, 7, loves camping so much, he’s become a Macpac tent tester.