Yes, I spend most of my summer living in a tent and yes, I love it! I have been living like this for nearly 30 years and I refer to it a wellness village. A wellness village at the Jersey Shore might sound crazy but when you begin to look deeper beneath the canvas of the tents and the canopy of trees enveloping them, there is a lot to learn about community in Ocean Grove, NJ.
I live in one of the loudest, most dense cities in the world, NYC, so being able to escape that franticness for some time away is good for the soul. What's even better, the tent community is 3 blocks from the ocean and only 2 hours from my doorstep. It's that continuous fresh air that helps me sleep so soundly, breathe more deeply, slow down, and be a bit more quiet. We actually say it's important to have a tent voice while one is here.
While glamping is now new, cool, and hip, this tent community is celebrating its 150 birthday this summer . While the first tent was built in 1869 and a thousand were constructed at the time, there are now 114 that still stand in Ocean Grove, NJ. They are half oversized canvas and the other half is a cabin with a kitchen, bathroom and a sitting room ( or some use that space as their sleeping area ). Every tent is unique and set up differently and reflects each person / family that lives there. They are erected every May and then closed up in mid September and we all count the days until we return the following spring.
We live in a world where people are attached to their devices and separated from one another. There is a literal disconnection from neighbors and so many people are so “busy” that they often don’t have time to cook a meal with family and friends, it’s just easier to pick up to go food on the way home from work.
Life in a tent for 3 months is the antithesis of all that consumes our usual daily lives. We sit on our porches and talk to each other. The speed of life is slow, very slow. When you step off your front porch, it might take 30 minutes to walk 100 feet because you stop or are stopped along the way to speak to your neighbors. We borrow each others papers in the morning. We even ask if you need a cup of coffee, a tea, something to drink when someone stops by to see if you’re home. We check on each other.
We often cook together or at least share meals for special occassions. We even share our groceries if needed. Most people spend their time on the beach, on the boardwalk, visiting friends and neighbors or going to galleries or events in town or the adjoining town. We also walk everywhere with very little need to use a car.
There is something about this continuous connection to the outdoors and one another that has bonded this very special community. It’s like going back in time in a beautiful way of just caring for one another. There is a kindness here, a welcoming that is warm and genuine and yes very rustic.