When I was new to the SCA, I had never been camping. As my mom has been known to say, “We are not from the camping people”. Hence even the basics were Greek to me at my first SCA camping event: how to put up a tent, how to inflate a blow-up bed, and how to tell an earwig from a scorpion (ah, but that’s another story…) I didn’t even know what questions to ask.
As the SCA camping season begins, please give a thought to those new folks in your group who may have varying camping backgrounds. Some may be entirely new to the experience, while some are lifetime campers; most are in-between. But none of them will know quite how to prepare for SCA camping. We know that it’s not the same as regular recreational camping. Not having seen an outdoor event, they will not even know what questions to ask. So it’s important that those with SCA experience take the initiative and offer information, and assistance when they can.
Maestra Giovanna has made a great contribution to SCA camping preparation with her article in last month’s Northwatch on camp cooking. Here are some other things I wish I’d known before I first went to an SCA camping event:
- Most people relaxing around a fire (or singing, or whatever) would be happy to have you join them, even if they don’t know you. I actually avoided the 50-person bardic circle on the hill at my first W&W, thinking it was a private party!
- You need more water if you’ve been sweating a lot. Yes, I know, common sense or whatever…I didn’t know it.
- Wool is warm at night, rarely itchy, and doesn’t collect moisture from the air. I found this out the hard way when I brought a cotton quilt to Pennsic. It was like sleeping inside a burrito.
- Dark is darker than you think. There are no streetlights if you aren’t actually in a city. You can twist an ankle REALLY easily, hurrying to the privies in the dark without a flashlight.
- A multi-day camping event can sap your energy like nothing else, especially if you’re a generally sedentary person. Allow a day for recovery (and laundry) if you can.
- You really do need a different outfit for every day, or at the very least, a different undergown/shirt. New people might not have this—or the cash to buy new garb from the merchants. It’s time to air out the loaner garb, and have some sewing nights besides, to make sure people have what they need.
- Yes, you need feast gear at a camping event, if only for the times when your new friends will offer to feed you!
I didn’t even suspect these things. I have learned so much…but I wish someone had told me some of this before I experienced it.
Combat ignorance: help give your new people a better SCA camping experience by sharing what you know. They’ll be more likely to come to future events and stay active in your group, and contribute their own talents and hard work.
Northshield Chatelaines: please note the upcoming reporting date of May 15. You can reach the online report form from the Chatelaine’s page on the Northshield website (linked from the Seneschal’s page, since I’m a deputy of the Seneschal). I’d love to see a reporting rate over 90% this season!
Yours in song and service,