Something for Pennsic

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This page is a subsection of SCA Without Breaking the Bank. It provides information for getting through Pennsic without going overbudget.

General tips on going to Pennsic

  • Preregister! If you're reading this page and on a budget, the most obvious thing you can do to save a few dollars is to preregister. The pre-registered gate fees are $10 less than non-preregistered. If you haven't done this yet and are planning on going to Pennsic, do it now!
  • If you don't have enough garb, make some cheaply: It takes me exactly 2.5 meters of 45" fabric to make a floor-length tunic for myself with a fair amount of movement in the skirt. I plan on buying a whole bunch of cheap cotton or cotton/linen and making 7 to 10 cheap t-tunics, and perhaps 2 or 3 sideless surcotes (made nearly the same way as the t-tunics) out of the same material. Yes, these costs add up, but it is the season (spring) to get discounts on summer-weight materials. I intend on making this garb well and wearing it in the future. I consider it an investment.
  • Instead of garb for all weathers, layer it: Don't start making heavy garb for all eventualities. Instead, make lots of lighter-weight garb and layer them if it gets cold. Three layers of lighter tunics works just as well as one heavier one, and is easier to take off if it gets warmer.
  • Consider non-cooler camping: It's more period and saves you the money on ice (and the time going back and forth to the store). Check out my tips for camping without a cooler.
  • Consider camping with a group that has a meal plan: It will probably be cheaper than attempting to buy all your food yourself.
  • Keep a list of what you want to buy: Prepare it beforehand and always keep it with you at Merchant's Row. If it's not on the list, don't buy it! If you want to be really good to yourself, mark down how much you expect to spend for each item on your list, and don't go above that limit. You might also leave a little money as "extra", because you know you're going to be tempted by something that's not on your list.

Submitted tips

Submitted by Eulalia de Ravenfeld

One solution to the problem of chafing or just wanting pants under your garb that works well in divers climates is linen (or linen/cotton, or even just cotton) pants. I've found the elastic-waisted variety at local thrift stores for cheap (certainly under $10US, probably more like 5). These are perfect when you don't want to spring for something more fancy (like brais and hose). They absorb sweat during hot summer days and keep you cool, then when it gets colder at night (or at events not during the summer) the extra layer around your legs will trap some extra heat. I've even made a pair of drawstring waisted pants from dollar-a-yard fabric for a little bit cheaper than the purchased variety, but they wore out faster.

Submitted by Hrefna

My husband and I don't like the taste of the our home's tap water so we installed a filter system. We have amassed a collection of plastic bottles that we wash and refill with the filtered water. A week or so before we begin packing for Pennsic, I fill several of these 1 liter and 2 liters bottles about 3/4 of the way full and put them in my freezer. I use these frozen bottles to put in our cooler and pack our food in around them. We take some food with us and then do a town run later if necessary. The blocks of ice last much longer than buying cubed ice. We don't have to buy ice from the camp store for our first 6-8 days in camp, depending on how hot it is. A bonus of this is that as the ice in the bottles melt, we have ice cold water for several days of camping.

Submitted by Teffania Tuckerton

I was travelling internationally to Pennsic, so I was rather limited in luggage terms. I found I could get by with very few clothes - lots of mundane underwear, 4 cotton lawn (thin cheap stuff) underdresses and 3 overdresses. I didn't need that many overdresses - one I only wore for balls and courts because I was staying in a royal encampment and wanted to look specky. The underdresses got washed daily (yes that is a lot of washing, but you may be able to get someone else to put it in with their load if you wash their stuff first, or washing an underdress in a bucket is fairly easy). But the overdresses were worn for 2-3 days before washing (no they didn't get very yukky - the underdresses got all the sweat). With a handy coat hanger and tree I had a washing line and saved on drier money (and waiting for a drier), and in the heat about 4 hours dried a light dress.

I'd recommend 1 loose wool tunic for wet weather - cotton dries really slowly, and is cold when it gets wet (and is hard to dry without a drier in the wet weather). A wool tunic takes less fabric than a full cloak, will stay warm when wet, and can be quickly pulled on when the rain begins. Old blankets can sometimes be bought cheaply and may have enough fabric for a cloak or tunic. Also, rectangular blankets can be worn as cloaks (pin over the right shoulder), and unless they get torn or too stained can be turned back into blankets when you get home.

If you have or can borrow thermals, these can really warm up your garb worn underneath where no-one can see them.

Borrow garb and gear from friends who aren't attending Pennsic. Consider entertaining or offering to do dishes for your meals (often food funds have spare food left over at the end of the meal if you have some talent at entertaining), just don't call on the same group more than once unless seriously invited to do so. At lunchtime often volunteers on official duty may get food offered to them.

Ages beforehand, let everyone know that you want to work your way to Pennsic, and people will have plenty of time to consider offering you food, equipement to borrow, tent space, or help with entry fee, in return for labour. (Consider advertising in your local newsletter if you don't find that embarassing.)

Pennsic Glossary

  • Bardic Circle A gathering, usually around a campfire, at which each person sitting in the circle takes his or her turn entertaining the gathered folk with a story, song, poem, or other brief performance. Participation is optional; generally, those wishing to participate sit "in the circle" while those who wish to simply listen gather around outside the circle.
  • The Barn The large communal building at the campground headquarters, where public events such as Court and dancing are often held.
  • The Bog The camping area south of Troll. There are trees, which makes it cooler than the Serengeti. On the up-side: most parties take place in the Bog. On the down-side: most bugs also live in the Bog.
  • Drumming Circle Similar to a bardic circle except that everyone plays at once. It is surprising how a large number of novice drummers who sound lousy as individuals can sound really good when they play together.
  • Dagen's Dell A clearing near the extreme northeastern part of the campground that has been the traditional home of a group of households.
  • Encampment The particular parcel of land allocated within a block to a group of people who registered to camp together.
  • Enchanted Ground A completely in-persona encampment run by Duke Cariadoc. Located at the edge of the Bog. Also the site of wonderful bardic circle every night during War Week.
  • Hay Wagon The hay wagon used to literally be a tractor with a trailer attached that people could ride around Pennsic. In late years, they have been being replaced with buses instead, yet people still refer to catching the wagon, even if it is a bus.
  • "Hail [the] camp!" A greeting that is called out as one approaches a campsite's entrance, to request permission to enter. Sometimes "Hello the camp!" is used instead.
  • High Meadows A camping area in the farthest southeast corner of the campground. If you go to visit there, you will understand the naming. Also pretty much the farthest away you can camp at Pennsic from the 'main area.'
  • Land Grab The first Saturday of Pennsic, when all the land agents stake out their claims to their camp's land. This term is used both as an event ("I'm doing land-grab this year") and a time ("the Tuesday after land-grab").
  • The Loop Often referred to as "I'm going to walk the loop" or "They are camped somewhere around the loop." This refers to the Lake, and the road that runs all around it. Also sometimes refers to the path that runs directly around the rim of the lake - although in recent years it has been cut off by encampments and is no longer able to be walked for the entire distance.
  • Merchant's Row Where all the merchants are! There are three areas: one north of Troll opposite the list-fields (where the Food Court also is), one south of Troll but north of the Barn, and one just south of the Barn.
  • Mt. Eislinn The large hill that rises up behind the Pennsic Fort and overlooks the battlefield. Currently the location of the archery field. [submitted by Siegfried]
  • Mystic Mail An internet service at Pennsic. In 2003, it was located in the merchant's area near the food court. Useful for those people who need to check their email. I personally didn't use it, so I can't say any more about it.
  • NSTIW Story "No sh*t, there I was..." This is the quintessential lead-in to the finally of a Pennsic War story from days gone by. In Latin, "Nihil stercum, ibi fuimus..." There are several G-rated versions that substitute something milder for the vulgar fecal word.
  • O'Dark-Thirty About a half-hour after sundown. This is the time many parties start. You'll see it on many posters and fliers.
  • OMG (Oh My God) Form A voluntary, and confidential, medical information form that can be filed at Chirurgeon's Point to advise EMS or hospital personnel of your medications and chronic medical conditions in the event of an emergency. The forms are kept under lock and key and only retrieved if you are sent to the hospital in an emergency; they are destroyed after the end of each Pennsic.
  • Pennsic Crack Otherwise known as the Cooper's chocolate milk or Cooper's Crack. It's good. Very good. (Assuming you like sweet) You can pick it up at the Cooper's store.
  • Pennsic Independent The daily newspaper at Pennsic. It cost 75 cents per day in 2003. Generally it is only published during War Week. Highly entertaining and a good souvenier. Also available online for all those people who couldn't make it to Pennsic.
  • Pennsic Plague Due to the less-than-completely-sanitary conditions at Pennsic, diseases spread easily. The Pennsic Plague is a catch-all term for whatever bug is going around.
  • ... Point The headquarters of a given Pennsic staff function, service, or department. Examples include Chirurgeon's Point (first aid), Information Point (general information), Herald's Point (camp-wide announcements), Newcomer's Point (info for first-time Pennsic attendees), and so forth. [Submitted by Justin]
  • Runestone Hill The really big hill just south of the Barn. Yes, there really is a runestone planted there in the days of Pennsics gone by. It's about halfway down the hill, near the western edge of the camp area.
  • The Serengeti The camping area north of Troll. So called because there are no trees, making it very hot and dusty in the Pennsic heat. On the up-side, it's closer to the list fields and much of the shopping.
  • Snoot As a result of dust and campfire smoke, one's snot tends to turn a dark grey color after a couple days at Pennsic. This tends to make Pennsic newbies a little frightened, but never fear, that is just your nose doing its job. And, the result is called "snoot". It is a gross one, but I had to explain to a number of newbies in the camp last year that it was normal.
  • Snowball Party When a group of people start walking around Pennsic, going from party to party, and collecting extra people as they go. Hence the term, as it is like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering more snow.
  • Snow Fence The official designation of the battlefield fortress structure at Pennsic. This designation allowed the builders to skirt local building codes that would have required features such as fire escapes that make good sense for a real building but are ridiculous for an open structure like the wooden stockade wall.
  • Strawberry Surprise A beverage made with awful-tasting things that looks like it would be some sort of strawberry cordial, but actually has enough hot peppers and other strong stuff to make most people who drink it quite ill. "The surprise is that there are no strawberries." Avoid at all costs.
  • Town Listed because of dual meanings. Sometimes someone referring to 'heading into town' means going to Pennsic Central, the Merchant/Food area. Other times it refers to leaving the site and heading to any of the 4 closest modern towns, New Castle, Butler, Grove City, or Cranberry.
  • Troll Where you check in at Pennsic. Properly, the Troll is the person in charge of collecting fees and issuing site tokens, and the check-in place is the Troll Booth (a play on Toll Booth -- get it?). But in common usage, people refer to the officer and the location synonymously, calling both of them "Troll".
  • Tuchux Hill A common name for the E18 camp block. Was given this name since the Tuchux (a barbarian household & parallel group) used to camp there for many years.
  • Urchins Children who sell the Pennsic Independent. You'll hear them selling throughout Pennsic. Some even go to individual camps. It's considered good form to tip them, because they get to keep their tips.
  • Vlad's Pleasure Pavillion A camp in The Bog. The place of such parties as the Slave Auction. Lots of fun if you're into partying.
  • War Points Pennsic is won by the side with the most war points. Big battles are generally worth two points each. War point totals are announced every day in the Pennsic Independent.
  • War Week The last week of Pennsic. Actually, it starts the second weekend of Pennsic and runs to the third. So called because War Week is when all the actual War Points battles happen.
  • The Woods While many areas of woods exist at Cooper's Lake, if someone refers to The Woods, they mean the location of the Woods Battle, which is at the far north end of the encampment, just above the overflow parking area.

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