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In Williamsburg, weekends spent ‘camping’ on rooftops (with a fake campfire) • Brooklyn Paper

In Williamsburg, weekends spent ‘camping’ on rooftops (with a fake campfire)

Williamsburg artist Thomas Stevenson’s project “Bivouac” invites people to camp on the roof of a North Brooklyn building.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Who needs the Catskills when you can camp out under the stars on a Brooklyn rowhouse?

A Williamsburg artist has been hosting secret rooftop camp-outs for the past two months, giving Brooklyn’s urban denizens the chance to sleep with nothing but the sky as their ceiling, claiming its a great way to get people together to safely experience the great … well, the outdoors.

“It’s about people communing together in a space for comfort and security,” said Thomas Stevenson, who calls his project “Bivouac,” a name that references temporary campsites used by soldiers or mountaineers.

Stevenson schedules guests to come to one of his secret campsites around Williamsburg and Bushwick for one night. They can bring a friend or come alone, but either way, they will be thrown in with about 10 to 16 other campers. They are expected to turn off their cell phones and disconnect from the rest of the world as much as possible.

The tents are all custom-made by Stevenson in the style of old fashioned lean-tos. The fabric around them is golden, which he said he modeled after World War II-era camps.

“They look like a product, but not a product of this century,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson allows campers to write graffiti on the tents just the way some might have done in summer camp, so the tents are covered with proclamations including “Helena was here,” “Julia was here” and “Ariel was here” (apparently, the men at Camp Bivouac are not as into graffiti as the women).

There is even a campfire — well, not really, but there is a glowing light that approximates a campfire.

Stevenson has been holding the camp-outs several weekends this summer, and did some last summer as well.

Some campers say the flashlight-lit adventures are a great way to meet people.

“Talking to people in a dark tent is a very different kind of experience than we’re used to in New York,” said Catacutan.

Stevenson will host at least three more weekends this summer on Brooklyn rooftops. In addition, he will also host Bivouac in London and Boston this year.

Visit www.bivouacnyc.com for more information on how to sign up for a camping night.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

Sculptor Thomas Stevenson has been hosting rooftop camp-outs using tents constructed in early 20th-century style.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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