Packing for War
Submitted by Milica on Tue, 2006-07-18 14:05.
People coming to War arrive in everything from motorcycles with saddlebags and nothing else to eighteen-wheel rigs (literally--but these are for large groups). How much gear you bring will depend on how long you are staying, how "period" you want to be (in general, period camp gear is bulkier), your financial resources, and your travel distance and mode (if you're flying to the event, forget about that huge pavilion!). There are a number of published checklists for things you may want to bring, but some general guidelines will serve for this section.
First, Pennsic is not an RV park. Unless you have a medical disability and advance approval, do not bring your pop-up camper, fifth-wheel camper, or full RV to the event. Even though you may camouflage the vehicle, it isn't period and it isn't permitted. Plan on using a tent like everyone else. Period shelter (pavilions, tents, yurts, etc.) is of course preferred, but it is not realistic to expect everyone to have the resources, time, or even the desire to build or buy such items. Modern tents are perfectly okay, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Most people camp their first couple of years in a modern tent and then build or buy a period shelter when they have been in the SCA for a while. If you bring a modern tent but want to look period, try adorning your tent with banners, your heraldic device (if registered), or other period-looking articles.
Second, Pennsic is not primitive camping. You will not be cutting down live trees, or even toppling deadfall, for firewood. You will not be fishing for your supper, or hunting moose, or trapping raccoons for fur trade--so leave the equipment for these things at home. Remember that you are just a few kilometers from a modern town and just ten minutes brisk walk from the Cooper's Lake camp store. Plan to buy some perishables such as ice and milk onsite. The local grocery, hardware, and discount stores all know about Pennsic, and they don't even give you a second glance if you walk into their store in garb. Some even offer "Pennsic specials" on items you are likely to need. There are firewood suppliers locally who will deliver a pickup load of firewood for a price that is reasonable (at least if shared by a group of people). The point here is that you are just camping, not backpacking, so many of the items needed by "serious" campers, such as freeze-dried food, are expensive overkill.
Third, Pennsic is not home. Notwithstanding the previous paragraph about being close to essential services, it is annoying to have to make a trip to the camp store every meal, and driving to town involves up to a mile walk (each way) to the parking lot to get your car. The moral of this story is "be self sufficient, within reason." The more self-sufficient your camp can be, the more time you can spend having fun instead of making supply sorties.
By the way, please remember that Pennsic is CAMPING, not a hotel. The Autocrat's First Rule of Pennsic is: "If you want all the comforts of home, STAY THERE!" Before you even leave home, get used to the idea that you will occasionally be wet, cold, hot, or dirty, and then make up your mind to have a good time anyway.
Fourth, think like a group if you are camping with a group. It is very handy to have an ax for splitting firewood, but not every family needs one as long as someone has it and is willing to lend it out. A communal campfire with one large cooking grate saves campsite space and saves a lot of work over individual fires--and it is generally much safer. Each person is allotted a certain square footage of land, generally enough for your tent and a small area around it. In a group, though, you can cooperate by bunching the tents up a little and leaving a large common area for the campfire and socializing. If someone can bring a large dining fly, and possibly a portable table, you have a terrific place to gather, eat, and converse--especially when the sun is hot or the rain is pouring down.
Consider both safety and convenience in how you pack as well as what you pack. Make sure your vehicle (and trailer, if applicable) are in good working order before you leave home. Keep your spare tire, jack, and tools accessible, not under tons of camp gear! Secure any loads carefully, so that you don't lose gear in transit and possibly cause an accident. If you are bringing long pavilion poles or other oversize items, consider warning flags if they protrude more than a few inches beyond the ends of your vehicle, and check the local laws if you are not sure what warning devices are needed.
Pack your gear in waterproof containers except for things where wetness won't matter (like pavilion poles). This applies even to things inside your car, because it may be a downpour as you are unpacking at War! The waterproof containers that kept your gear dry on the way to war will keep your car dry and clean as you haul that icky, wet, smelly stuff home. Those same containers will also help keep your gear dry and organized at war. Consider bringing extra garbage bags or ziplocks to transport tiki torches home after war.
Milica of Varna