Pennsic-Prep-art - 8/22/02
"A Newcomer's Guide for Pre-Pennsic Prep" by Lady Meliora Leuedai de Ardescote.
NOTE: See also the files: Eatng-Pennsic-art, Fire-Book-art, BPThingie-art, Pennsic-ideas-msg, P-Food-Safety-art, P-stories-msg, P-history-msg, camp-showers-msg, firepits-msg, insect-prtctn-msg, camp-kitchens-msg.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called StefanŐs Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at:
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
A Newcomer's Guide for Pre-Pennsic Prep
By Lady Meliora Leuedai de Ardescote
My first Pennsic was XXIII. I was pretty well prepared, after reading the article in the Known World Handbook. But there was a lot that wasn't covered there, or has just changed over time, that I'd like to cover here, so that everything goes relatively smoothly for a first time Pennsic-goer.
1. Planning - as soon as you know you're going to Pennsic, start planning. Really. I usually start my list of Pennsic things for next Pennsic right after I get home from the current one. It usually takes me that long to get everything together or make garb.
2. Pre-reg. If you intend to camp with a group, I recommend contacting the group to get details about pre-registering. The name on the pre-reg for the group has to be "exactly" what the group tells you to use, otherwise you may not get added to the correct group. If there's a "the" in the group name, be sure it is on your pre-reg. You can either pre-reg on line or by mail, but it has to arrive by the due date (not be postmarked by that date).
If you have done your pre-reg, let the camp quartermaster (person in charge of the area you're camping in) know what kind and size of tent and other items (such as shade flies, kitchen set up, outdoor shower, etc.) you will be bringing that will take up square footage on the ground. You should stay within your allotted space per person.
If you're so new that you don't have a group, there are single camping areas available. You can tell them at the gate when you sign in, and they'll direct you to the map which shows where to go. I did this for years. It's a good way to meet other new people.
3. Pennsic camping - please remember that Pennsic camping is very different than camping at a National Campground. There are 10,000+ people on site, the parking lot is a distance from most camps, and the weather is completely unpredictable (anywhere from the 40's to over 100, full sun to cloudbursts, and sometimes all in the same day). If you've ever been camping before, you're about half prepared.
The ideal Pennsic campsite setups (and there are very few of these) have a beautiful pavilion filled with period furniture, rugs, wall hangings, and waterproof, but period-looking storage chests. What most of us have is an attempt at this.
Don't worry if you have a regular tent. It takes awhile to afford the pavilion and all that stuff. The only thing to worry about is if your tent will stand through torrential rain (yes, there is a storm almost every year at Pennsic, and I have seen tents fly and roll), as well as not leak. Canvas tents are preferable to nylon because the canvas will breathe, and not leak around the seams, and regular tents with aluminum poles seem to do better than the ones with thin fiberglass poles. You might want to consider a tarp to put over or under your tent if you know it leaks. Make sure you have enough room inside for everything you want to bring. A tent that sleeps 8 will be about enough for 2. Maybe.
4. What to bring - DO NOT BRING EVERY SCA THING YOU OWN - you won't
need it. You won't use it. You might ruin it. Trust me.
Bring your sleeping bags, a flashlight, some type of clock, cooking gear, matches, a number of regular changes of regular (not SCA) clothing, and other things you feel comfortable with for camping. Bring most of your regular camp gear.
SCA clothes should be something like the following: 5-7 cotton/linen outfits that will breathe if it's hot, or that can be layered for warmth, that you won't mind getting dirty on the bottom (there is mud when it rains), and a cloak if you have one. Machine washable fabric is best. If you think there's a possibility of going to court, you can either take one really nice court outfit and leave it in your car, or dress up a regular outfit with jewelry.
Pack your SCA clothes in something like Sealable Rubbermaid containers, duct tape them shut, and then they'll be packed in a waterproof container for transport and set up. You can cover the containers with fabric throws or tablecloths in your tent, and you'll be all set. What if you're staying for more than a week? There are laundromats in town.
I also recommend big Ziploc bags for other items you need to stay dry (purses or wallets with ID, money, film, a change of socks and undies).
Comfortable shoes - I can't stress this enough. There are buses and wagons that go from the parking lot to the campsites and the merchanting area, but it's still A LOT of walking. Don't worry so much about looking period with footwear at Pennsic. I don't, and I've been going for years. I buy a new pair of high-top Reeboks every year for the event, because I usually have sore feet after about 4 days, and I use the bus most of the time. And if you really want to go barefoot, I suggest swinging by the chirurgeon's point first and asking their advice....
5. Food, drink, water, cooking gear, coolers, citronella, candles, matches, etc. I recommend bringing the biggest cooler you have, and packing it with non-perishables for transportation. Buy your perishables when you get there. Keep in mind how often you think you will eat, and plan your meals. If your group cooks group meals, find out what you may need to contribute. There are also restaurants in town [and cooking establishments at Pennsic - Stefan]. You can cook every meal or no meals at Pennsic - it's up to you.
Water. It is usually Hot for most of Pennsic. You can dehydrate quickly. The water on site is nasty for drinking, so you will want bottled water to drink. It's a good idea to get a small bottle of water to take around with you, either in a belt pouch, basket, or something like that. Colder fluids get to your system quicker, so keep this in mind.
Bring your medications, sunscreen, small first aid kit and anti-bacterial soap or cleanser. Bring your toiletries, towels and such for showers, and baby powder (in a word, chafing). At Pennsic, it is sometimes so hot that it's not a bad idea to experiment with new and creative ways to use antiperspirant on your body - any area that folds or bends is a good candidate. Then use the baby powder :)
5. Pennsic furniture, storage, etc. - When you set up your tent, you're going to want to make sure that you're fairly safe from water and insects. If you bring period baskets to store items in, line them with plastic bags. Don't put your sleeping bags or other items directly on the ground if there is a forecast of showers. You might want to have somewhere to pick up and put items that sit on the floor of the tent, in case of torrential rain. And if it looks like rain is imminent, go back to your tent if there is ANY question of whether it will stay put or get jostled around. I have seen average sized tents uproot stakes and fly, and others be held on the ground with only a heavy cooler (but it still rolled). If a storm is coming, go back and take precautions.
Many areas of the campground have ants. They find any bit of food, open pop cans, dirty forks, and open garbage bags that you've forgotten about. DO NOT KEEP ANY OF THIS IN YOUR TENT UNLESS YOU WANT TO SLEEP WITH ANTS. Keep closed garbage bags behind your tent, closed, and keep cans together, and pick up scraps and crumbs. Cart off garbage regularly.
You will probably want to bring chairs to sit on, a table to eat on, coolers, an air mattress, tiki torches, and banners for your campsite. For tables, chairs, etc., that are not period, you can use fabric throws to cover them. I also recommend a light-weight folding chair if you're going to court and a wagon for trips to the camp store, parking lot, or other runs you might need. Larger campsites usually have a kitchen and a shower set up. If you're planning these, I would suggest talking to someone first, to make sure you're not duplicating efforts. Most everyone brings their camp stove and camping pots and pans, if cooking. I recommend putting cookware in a big Rubbermaid container to transport, and then storing them in it when you arrive home.
6. Money. You will never bring enough for everything you'll want to buy. Trust me. Figure out what you will need for your return trip home, and what you will spend on meals, and what you still have to play with. Put the return trip money in the car and don't touch it. If there's a high priced item that you can't live without, get the merchant's contact info and order it for Christmas.
That covers everything I could think of that you won't find in the other Pre-Pennsic articles (and a few things you will).
Copyright 2002. Sandy Danielewicz, 27883 Sutherland, Warren MI 48093. <ladymeliora at tir.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.