Lev Kushner: Indoor Camping

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 (Lev Kushner)

People have come up with different strategies for coping with the strangeness of the prolonged stay-at-home reality. For Lev Kushner and his sons, the remedy was a strong dose of indoor camping.

We didn’t intend for it to last this long. We were looking to distract our two boys, so I rummaged around our storage loft and found my old camping tent.

The first night, we set it up in the living room. In the street lit darkness I introduced them to the stars using an augmented reality stargazing app, looking right up through my landlady’s floor to the sky above.

The next day, the tent migrated to their bedroom. My older son, his anxiety flaring, spent two and half hours reading and re-reading books in the tent. His brother read right along with him. He can’t actually read.

That was when we knew we were onto something. The protective shelter, the nest of blankets, the hint of adventure, it was exactly what they needed. Our kids are so different the older one laser-focused and cerebral, the younger slapstick and impulsive. The tent created a shared world that forced them into a camaraderie of escape.


By the end of the first week, my wife couldn’t take the mess. We gave the boys two days’ notice. But life had other plans; our older son fell down our stoop and broke his hand, making it impossible for him to climb into his bunk bed. The tent remained.

They play together in that tent in ways they never had before the quarantine, the older one expounding about things he pretends to know, the younger one giving his brother the gift of imaginative play. Some mornings they wake up in each others’ arms. It smells of boy, of adventure, of imagination. That tent knows nothing of sickness.

When will this end? What will the world look like when we reopen? Everything is up in the air. But our boys have their home on their back. They have built a defense that works for them, arms-length from the tumult but anchored enough to reality to be of use for now and for whatever comes next.

With a Perspective, I’m Lev Kushner.

Lev Kushner is a real estate and place-making consultant who lives in San Francisco.