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So You’ve Turned to the Plaid Side

So you’ve joined Clann Tartan. And you’ve got something approaching a reasonable outfit, and you’ve maybe even been to dance or drill. So now what?

Well, there’s an event. An outdoor event. With tents and stuff.


So. For this event, you need a tent. So you get a tent. Then what? What can you do in camp besides stand around and look good in your new clothes? And what gives with eats?

1. So you want to sleep somewhere--probably in a tent

Getting a tent is easy. It involves a phone call or a quick email, and not even to a catalouge. Clann Tartan owns several trooper tents that we own for the express purpose of giving new members a place to sleep--we try to make sure that members don’t freeze to death. It’s bad for our image.

Trooper tents can sleep three people max (if you’re all friendly) or more if you stack right. They can be reserved by calling any member of your friendly staff, whose names, numbers and emails can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. (I won’t list them here because staff is elected yearly and may change periodically). Reserving a tent is as simple as calling any of your staff, although the camp staff (Head Camp Follower, Asst Head Camp Follower, and the three Goodwives) are more on that side of the business, telling them how many people you’re bringing, and saying thank you. It’s polite to help set up before the event opens, and that way you can also learn fascinating and useful things like how to set up a tent, and what goes where on the trailer. However, if you can’t help set up camp before the event, don’t worry. We have lots of nice people who will make sure you have a tent to sleep in if you have to arrive at an event at midnight after a long drive and working all day, as many of our members do.

2. I have a tent. What do I do with this tent?

For your first event, you don’t need much--clothing for you and who ever is with you, eating utensils for all of you (Clann feeds all its members at every event), and something to sleep on. How you sleep will probably most impact your comfort at an event. If you’ve camped before, skip this section. If not, read on.

Generally, blankets or a sleeping bag in various degrees work well if the event is guaranteed to be dry enough for you to sleep on the ground. If it looks like there’s a possibility that it might be wet, a plastic sheet for under your bedding or even a cot might be in order (standing water in tents is not unheard of in the case of torrential rain).

That said, a cot or air mattress will not keep you very warm. They allow too much air to circulate underneath the body while you sleep, and so are not the best choice for some of our October events, which often dip below 32 degrees at night. A straw tick, foam egg crate or mattress pad or even just blankets on the bare ground work better for these cooler events than an air mattress or cot will. A cot or air mattress will keep you relatively cool for summer events, but know that it gets mighty hot under canvas once the sun comes up. We don’t do wake up calls, but you might want to get out of bed before your eyeballs bake out of your skull.

3. So you’ve showed up for your first event

Congratulations, you followed your directions and found the event despite them. A few tips on politeness if you show up for an event after it has started:

If it’s past ten o clock or so when you arrive, try to be quiet. Some people have children or even go to bed themselves. Try parking a ways away from camp, or if you have to drive into camp, have someone guide you and make sure you don’t drive over anyone’s tent ropes. When unpacking, try to be quiet, and if you do have your own tent, try very, very hard to put it up as much before midnight as possible.

If you show up while it’s still light out, check to see if the event is still open to school kids or public or not before you start driving on or unpacking. Most events have rules about when is and is not okay to drive on site, and you should know when that is before you drive on. Checking just involves walking up to someone in funny clothes and asking them if the event is still open to public or not. If someone stops you and asks you where you think you’re going dressed like that without paying, just tell them you’re with Clann Tartan. Saying that will get you into everywhere you need to be, as long as where you need to be isn’t a concert, a sporting event, operating room, or anything else that for some reason doesn’t involve much canvas and lots of silly adults playing dress up.

If the event isn’t open, you’re great. Drive on, unpack, and enjoy being able to see what you’re doing.

If the event isn’t open, either wait a while until the event does close, or have someone help you carry on what you absolutely need until you can drive on, and unpack the rest then.

4. My stuff is here. What do I do with it?

Get dressed! Don’t stand around in your civvies, it’s bad form. See all those people walking around in funny clothes? No, not the ones in kilts and breeches and gray coats. The ones in jeans and t shirts and sneakers. You’re not one of those people anymore, you’re one of us, and should dress accordingly.

5. So you’re dressed. What’s to do besides stand around and look good?

If you haven’t got a demo or anything else to do, there is much to be done around camp. While our military isn’t real, we do have a working camp. People need water, that fire is real, and meals need to be cooked. If you haven’t got anything else to do, help haul water or fire wood, or volunteer to help with a meal or do dishes. Even if you do have something better to do, haul some wood, help with a meal, and do the dishes at least once per event, because the more people who help out, the less everyone else has to do.

People who help prepare meals or who do dishes get to eat first. This includes chopping vegetables, stirring oatmeal, or rinsing dishes.

As far as doing dishes goes--yes, it sucks. But at a cold event, that warm water can really warm you up, and after a couple days at a show, the long soak in soapy water can get your hands a lot cleaner. Spend a few days with dirty, cold hands and you’ll be begging to do the dishes.

6. Uh-oh. What’s that drum?

If you’re a man or a woman playing a man, an incessant drum beat during open hours will mean a military drill is happening. Hustle! That is, if you’ve been put through drill one on one before. If not, or if you don’t feel like you’re safe to handle a weapon, don’t participate. If you don’t want to participate because you’re afraid that you’ll do something wrong, go do drill anyway. Everyone does something wrong once in a while. So get to, and man your arms.

And if you get yelled at during drill, don’t take it personally. If you do get yelled at, it’s because the officer who did it is insensitive and you blended in so well that they thought you were one of the older members. Officers really are nice people underneath it all, and will apologize to you later.

7. Uh-oh. This person is talking to me.

Is this person wearing funny clothes, or are they dressed like you?

If this person is a member of the public at large and is wearing funny clothes, be polite and answer their questions to the best of your knowledge, but know the limits of your own knowledge. If you don’t know something, say so, and direct this person to another member who knows what the answer is or who can bluff their way into looking like they know.

If this person is dressed like you, remember that it’s okay not to know everything about everything. Some members have been reenacting for ten or more years, and have been researching things for that long if not longer. Just be interested, ask questions about what you’re interested, and remember that everyone has some areas that they are absolutely clueless in. History of the Thirty Years’ War is not something most people are exposed to daily, and there’s nothing wrong with learning something new.

And remember, you joined because it looked fun. It is. Remember that.

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