Pennsic War camping offers all of the challenges and joys of outdoor "roughing it" including cooking by campfire, mosquitoes, ticks, sunburn, hot days (peaks as high as 105° F), cold nights (it can get down below 50° F ), thunderstorms, tornado-like winds, and of course neighbors who drink and drum until sunrise.
Make a Pack List well in advance:
Packing for Pennsic War is a task that should never be taken lightly. As you will be making Pennsic your home for one or two weeks of your life, it is important that you consider every possible contingency that may arise. Very Important! Do not trust your packing to memory. Write up your own pack list well in advance. Start today - you won't regret it.
Use a "staging area":
When I get ready for Pennsic I have a list developed over the years of the things I know I will need. One week before I depart, I set aside a part of my home as a "staging area". Where I begin collecting the things that will go with me. I fill this area first with all the obvious things (clothes, tent, feast gear) and then add to it as the week goes by. If I come across something during the week that I recognise as an item that would be useful at Pennsic, I move it immediately to the staging area. Or write it down on the pack list. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a pack list and staging area. The latter will also give you a good idea of how you will pack your stuff in your vehicle - if it starts looking like it won't all fit, this gives you a chance to revise and replan your inventory.
How To Decide What To Bring:
No one but you can really determine what you will need. There are many books written on the topic of outdoor camping and many other websites that talk about planning for Pennsic War. Some of these resources will recommend that you pare down your packing to minimalist needs. That's good advice for when you will be backpacking all over the hills of Europe and Asia, however that's not appropriate advice for Pennsic War. Where you'll be in one place for two weeks. Most importantly realise that Pennsic camping creates many challenges because of its variable temperature. Allow flexibility both in your wardrobe and bedding materials.
What To Pack:
As a minimum pack list for camping out at Pennsic, I recommend the following:
- a picture ID with birthdate (required for admission)
- proof of membership (member card, kingdom newsletter w/label) Note: SCA membership is not required to attend
- tent, windproof and waterproof
- a groundcloth, such as an 8x10' polypropylene tarp
- sleeping gear (air mattress, blankets, sheets, etc.)
- sunscreen lotion
- flashlight and/or other artificial lighting
- cookware and eating utensils
- sizeable cooler for ice and cold drinks/food
- camping chair, particularly one with a back
- insect repellent
- drinking mugs, horn, or container (most camps offers beverages, but don't provide cups)
- rain gear (even if it's mundane)
- bath towel, shampoo, soap, soap case
- tooth care: toothbrush, paste
- COMFORTABLE SHOES! At least 2 pairs. Pennsic is not the place to break in a new pair of shoes.
- ATM card and/or credit card
- sufficient cash and/or (recommended) traveller's checks
- all the medieval garb that you own, both for cold and hot weather
- mundane clothing
- sufficient quantities of all necessary medications, including those you might not usually consider (antihistamines, cold remedies, anti-diharrea, Pepto Bismol, Alka-seltzer, etc.)
- plastic tubs w/lids to store foods and essentials
When you arrive at Pennsic War:
- Check in at Troll. Make sure you know your license plate number.
- You must pay your site fee in cash, travellers cheques or credit card (usually $35-85 depending on how early in the War you arrive) as soon as you arrive. There are no refunds for leaving the War early.
- Absolutely no pets allowed. You will be thrown off site if you bring a dog or cat with you.
- Anyone 18 and older must present a picture ID of some sort. Several people were actually sent home because they did not bring an ID with them.
- Your SCA membership must be current and you must bring proof of it with you in order to get the member discount.
If you forget something:
Cooper's Lake Campground has an on-site store that is always adequately stocked and open most of the day (closes around 10pm I think). Costs are higher than the grocery store you have to drive 30 minutes to reach, but they're not unreasonable.
Additionally, the local towns each have numerous grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, and pharmacies to meet all your consumables needs.
Note: The on-site ATM machine is located in front of Cooper's store.
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