Issue 38: Cowabunga Camping


Sleeping outside can be fun, frightening, or even both. As the sun sinks down, the unknown of the night takes control. Will you survive until morning? As a kid, you were never quite sure...

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where I grew up, made camping outdoors exceptionally spooky. My house was surrounded by woods. But, this wasn't a Disney-like forest filled with adorable woodland creatures. No, this place housed an army of daunting, intimidating trees. During the day they were peaceful, but at night, their haunting limbs stretched down, plucking at you. Legends claim the Jersey Devil calls this land his own. Monsters, mutants, and myths - this nightmare was all in my backyard.

There were also ticks. Lots and lots of ticks. The woods were riddled with bloodsucking menaces.

We never took any chances. Like good Boys Scouts, we were always prepared. In the spirit of Halloween, The Sewer Den is going camping. Grab your Turtle gear and consider this your Sewer Den Survival Guide - defeating the night with Ninja nonsense!


Locating your bit of land to prop up a tent is key. Level ground, no dampness, avoiding rocks - these crucial details can be overlooked. I was always a sucker for a dry spot of soil between a few trees.

The Sewer Den is keeping this campsite indoors. Why, you ask? What ghoul is responsible for this? The scariest of them all - Mother Nature. She has been relentless as of late. The powerful winds would beat any tent, especially my Turtle tent, to a pulp. Alas, I was forced to stay inside. But, indoor camping can be just as spooky, and just as fun.

After scoping out several sites throughout the house, I decided on this section of carpet. Although these were not the eerie pine trees from my childhood, the surrounding household plants served as a forest for my imagination. Level, dry, and enveloped in greenery - this was certainly a superb place for my tent.



With my spot selected, it was time to build shelter for the night. A survivalist would guide you with tips on battling extreme circumstances. Methods and techniques on creating a sturdy dwelling with limited supplies. But, me? Well, I'm no survivalist and I'm camping indoors. However, I am an expert when it comes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

My Turtle Tent brings Turtle Power to the camping experience. In an attempt to be cool, I struggled to assemble the tent without the instructions. My memory was a poor replacement for the paper directions. It took longer than it should have, but eventually I was successful. My refuge was complete.

Built with plastic tubing and a vinyl liner, this is no outdoor tent. The most gentle morning dew would bring this thing to its knees. Critters of the night could easily enter as the open window and door offer no protection. Even as a kid, this tent only saw the outdoors on calm, sunny days. During the night, it retreated back indoors.

What the tent lacks in durability, it makes up for in charm. From top to bottom, this hunk of plastic screams cowabunga.


The artwork is awesome. My favorite aspect is that Bebop is the sole villain here - Rocksteady is nowhere to be found. The usual dim-witted duo has been split up for this mission. Maybe Rocksteady isn't big on camping?

Leonardo acts as a guardian while the back of the tent boasts a porthole window for peeping out into the night.

Unfortunately, there's no way to close the window up. Not even a screen. If you were outdoors, hoards of insects could swarm in. Or even worse, the Foot Clan.

I have not outgrown my love for the Turtles, but I have physically outgrown a few aspects. No longer can I comfily kick back inside the tent. Now, my 6 foot frame is barely covered. Unless I curl into a ball, ghosts, goblins, and other creatures of the night have easy access to nibble my toes. Talk about roughing it.



For both bravery and entertainment, camping requires light. When you're a kid, fires are off limits. Maybe you can sneak a lighter with you, but chances are, you won't be making an Indiana Jones-like torch to keep your campsite illuminated. What do Heroes in a Half Shell use for light?

My Raphael flashlight fits comfy in the palm of your hand (whether you are a child or an adult). Simply slide the button up and say goodbye to the gloom.

Time was not friendly to this flashlight. After losing a battle to corrosion, it looked as if it was doomed. But, a little elbow grease can go a long way. With some clean up, a slew of new batteries, and a fresh bulb this guy was brought back from the dead.

Like the Ghostbusters, Raphael ain't afraid of no ghost.



Fighting the fear of the night is no easy task. But, fighting your hunger is even more difficult. Camping out in the wild, your primal instincts take over. Your unyielding hunger pushes you into a carnivorous world of hunting and fishing. It's man versus beast just to curb your appetite. If you want to survive the night, you must eat.

Fearing starvation, I wanted to be prepared. I wasn't taking any chances despite camping indoors. Armed with my TMNT tackle box, I was ready to fight the good fight.

I suffer from bad luck and an inability to reel anything in when I'm off fishing. Instead of the usual bait and lures, my Turtle tackle box was stuffed with snacks instead.

Hey, mutants get the munchies too - so scarfing down a few packages of TMNT fruit snacks kept my hunger at bay.



No camping trip is complete without a chilling tale to tell around the campfire. But without a companion or even a fire, I was forced to find my own entertainment. From the glow of my trusted Turtle flashlight, I read the scariest stories I could find.

The Turtles are mutants, not monsters - making my choices a bit limited in the spooky department. But, I found a few gems in The Sewer Den book collection that paired perfect with my camping venture.

As I thumbed through the pages, every book proved to have something creepy inside. Kicking things off is a floating cow head that eats/vomits Turtles.

A shirtless Ace Duck? That is definitely disturbing. Anyone rocking this costume for Halloween?

I plowed through my Turtle reading material and was still hankering for a few more thrills and chills. By being alone, I was missing out on the scary sensation of hearing a ghost story read aloud.

Luckily, technology has advanced since my days of being a kid. On this camping trip, I snuck a laptop into my tent for emergency ghost story purposes. This way, I was able to watch a classic TMNT Halloween episode. A tube TV and miles of extension cords would be the only way to make this possible back in the 90's.

All Hallows Thieves is from Season 4 of the 2003 cartoon series. I have the DVD, but if you don't, it's available online. The episode is loaded with Halloween hijinks.

Trick or Treating.

Pumpkin carving.

Creepy creatures.

And best of all, candy apples. The Turtles apparently LOVE them, almost as much as pizza. Who knew?

A scary story packed with Turtle power - ideal for indoor camping.


The darkness has a personality of its own. It engulfs your senses and takes control. Small sounds pierce the night and shoot into your ears escalating your fears. As a kid, the insects don't just buzz about, but they scream into the blackness. Your eyes play tricks on you too. The sway of a tree limb in a gentle wind sends you into hysterics. Camping indoors isn't any different. The creak of a floorboard or a shifting shadow has you in tears. Everything is scary.

But, then you grow up and the chilling sensations reach a whole new level. Sleeping in the Turtle tent, I was a victim of this new batch of adult dismay. The sounds were not bellows from an aging house, but aches from an aging body. The groans and moans of my 6 foot tall figure cut through the night's silence. In an attempt to squeeze inside the tent, I coiled into a ball. This method worked, but stole my comfort. Grunts of anguish and the occasional crack of a stretched knee were the scariest sounds coming from this camping trip.

The scent of an outdoor adventure is refreshing - especially when camping in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The pine aroma glides around your tent and slides beneath your nose. It's pleasant and leaves you with a smile.

But, what about indoor camping in a Turtle tent? As an adult? Not so refreshing, dude. The vinyl tent sent a plastic musk into the air and plagued the room. This lingering scent brought no smiles, only a headache. I guess cheap plastic from the 80's will do that to ya.


The sun rose the next morning, shining a sea of light into my Turtle Tent. Although my body ached from being scrunched up in torturous ways, I had survived the night. With scary stories by flashlight, ninja snacks to kill my appetite, and a Turtle tent over my head, I can confidently claim that my indoor camping trip was a success.

The winds outside blew violently as I humbly cleaned up my campsite. Piece by plastic piece, I deconstructed my Turtle Tent and shoved it back in its cardboard case. As I worked, I noticed the child on the box. So young, so innocent. (the lucky duck had a sleeping bag too!). His little body poked out from the tent, just like my feet. Although decades apart, this kid and I aren't so different.

As a kid or an adult, camping is eerie and enjoyable. Surviving the wrath of Mother Nature throughout the night is a true feat. She is ruthless - firing her own brand of hocus pocus your way in an attempt to send you running. But, her ghouls and goblins are no longer a threat. Now, you can simply laugh in their faces - you've got a stockpile of silly TMNT camping supplies. Survival of the fittest? Phesh, survival of the greenest!


  1. Your write-up on this is great! I always wanted the Jem and the Holograms tent, still do! I'm 5 feet so I might fit? haha! Those photos of your legs hanging out of the tent totally make this article!

    1. Thanks! I would love to have a retro camp out where everyone brings their own old school tent. I also have a Nabisco Animal Crackers one in the same style as the TMMT tent. Those alongside a Jem & The Holograms would be an amazing visual.

    2. *heads over to ebay to find that tacklebox* nice post.

  2. This post is brilliant! Well done my good man. The photo of you in the tent is pure gold.

  3. This is great! I never had a TMNT tent, but I remember having a Mickey Mouse tent that attached to my bed. Good times!

  4. Love it! That is pretty much the only way I would camp, anyway!

  5. Great posts enjoying them

  6. Where can I purchase this tent

    1. It's from the 90s, so you're stuck looking on eBay or hoping someone is getting rid of one at a flea market. Not an easy find in good condition.


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