The ins and outs of Pagan festival camping

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TWH – The Pagan festival season is in full swing and many festival festival ‘virgins’ are both excited and worried about what to expect. They may be familiar with camping, but haven’t been to a Pagan festival before or they may be new to both camping and Pagan festival culture.

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First Time Campers

There are many resources for basic camping tips and lists of gear to bring, and check them out before going to any festival. Two important tips for those new to camping: reuse items already owned and focus on organization.

One of the main frustrations while camping is losing items or wasting time searching for something you need.

Coolers aren’t all that big, but it’s amazing how much stuff can get lost in them. Pack your food items in plastic, waterproof containers. Put all your cheeses in one container and sliced meats in another, and label the top. Prepare and pack all the ingredients for a meal in baggies and put those baggies into a plastic food container along with the recipe. Put snacks for the kids in single serving containers with brightly colored lids. That way, kids can help themselves when they are hungry between meals.

You’ll want a place for your garbage. While there will be communal garbage cans or daily garbage pick up, you’ll  still want your own can. It keeps your area clean and saves your sanity. You can find pop up garbage containers or laundry baskets at most any store in the lawn care or dorm room storage section. Maybe you already have one. Just throw a bag in it and you have a place to put your garbage.

Another organizing tip is to pack your items in stackable plastic bins. Plastic bins protect your items from rain, humidity, animals and bugs. Look for bins that can be snapped or clamped closed. I’ve had my tent completely flooded out but my clothes and gear were kept safe and perfectly dry in these bins. Group your gear in the containers so that everything is easy to find. Your tools go in one bin, your kitchen items in another, and clothes go in a third.

You already own many items that are superior to most camping gear. Just look around your home.

Need a camping kitchen or a dining table? Use an ironing board. Ironing boards are great because they can adjust to countertop or table height. Most camping kitchens you buy are very low which forces you to hunch over while cooking. Another advantage is that an ironing board top, once the fabric cover is removed, is heat resistant and easy to clean. Many of them also have holes or a grid which is perfect for hanging pots and utensils using S hooks or carabiners.

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Want a place to store condiments or other small items? Chances are you have a hanging shower organizer in your bathroom.Take it camping. You can hang the organizer on a tent pole or a tree and fill it with fire starters, tools, ketchup, and napkins. Need something to store all your bedside items like car keys, books, flashlight, and glasses? Bring your craft or knitting organizer. Now you won’t be feeling around in the dark for a flashlight when you need to pee at 3am.

If you have an area rug, bring that and put it on the floor of your tent. Just like in your home, it will keep you from tracking dirt further into the tent, which really means your bed. If you can, take your shoes off outside your tent and wipe your feet on your rug. Otherwise you’ll be sweeping your tent and shaking dirt out of your bedding every day.

Pagan Festival Culture

Camping at a Pagan festival is different from camping at your local park. There are unwritten rules to follow so everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.

The first is that showing skin is not giving consent. Many festivals are clothing optional, or attendees may dress in ways that show more skin than you’d normally see. This doesn’t mean they want sexual attention or an invitation for physical contact. Staring or making comments about their appearance are also not appropriate.

Ask before you touch. Some people set up altars in their camp, and they also may have other interesting items on display. There may be moments that you want to hug a person or pick up a child. Or, you may see lovely items for sale in a vendor booth. The general guideline is, if it isn’t yours or your body, ask before you touch it/them.

Similarly, ask before you enter someone else’s campsite. You wouldn’t just walk into a home without asking first, right? Same with a campsite. Most people are thrilled to have you visit them, even people you don’t know. They want new people to visit them! So say hello, and ask if you can come on in. Chances are, you’ll quickly make a new friend.

Noise. Even though you can see and hear most everything happening in the surrounding tents and campsites, pretend you don’t. Likewise, try to keep noise down, especially early morning and nighttime hours.

Bring fun items. Decorate your camp with Pagan items. Make a small shrine. Wear fun clothes and jewelry. Braid your beard. There will probably be drumming each evening (which may last all night) so bring a percussion instrument.

While at a Pagan festival, it’s easy to get so into meeting new people, attending workshops and rituals, and dancing all night that you forget to care for yourself. You become high on community love and being able to be so far out of the broom closet it isn’t even funny. So while you are doing all of that, don’t forget to care for yourself. Wear sunscreen. Drink water. And obey the 5:2:1 rule.

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Get at least 5 hours of sleep each night. Caffeine is not an appropriate substitute for sleep. Eat 2 solid meals per day. Snacks don’t count. If you find yourself so busy during the day you’re forgetting to eat, put a sandwich in your bag and eat it between workshops. Take 1 shower per day. It will most likely be hot, and you’ll be sweating. Dirt will get caked in crevices. You will smell and wonder why people are avoiding your awesome hugs. If you don’t want to shower, wash your pits and groin in a basin. Shower time is also a good time to check yourself over for any infected bug bites, ticks, or other injuries that should be cleaned and taken care of.

The Wild Hunt also talked with Lori Dake, author of A Guide to Pagan Camping: Festival Tips, Tricks and Trappings and asked her for her top three tips for camping at a Pagan festival. Here is what she said:

– Bring everything in the bathroom. By this I mean if there is an item you regularly use in the bathroom, be it a toiletry, medication, or something else, bring it, or a trial size of it, with you.

– Prepare for (nearly) all weather. If it’s a high summer festival, you probably don’t need your down parka, but nights can dip down to the 40’s and 50’s. Extra socks, packed in individual zippered plastic baggies, should be on everyone’s list.

– Bring what you can afford to lose. Anything and everything can happen, so don’t bring anything that cannot be replaced or will result in a serious cramp in your mundane life. For example, if you bring a phone, tablet or laptop, everything on it needs to be backed up!

Her book has many more suggestions on how to have a successful Pagan festival experience and is available in paperback or ebook.