AMTGARD'S OPINION CODEX • ALL OPINIONS, ALL THE TIME • MAY 24, 2019
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Packing for Events
[01/11/2010] [Brother Fredrik]

So, you're getting ready for a big event. You are nearly quivering with excitement as you run around grabbing all the stuff you will need. You jump into your car and drive six or more hours and get to the site. As you unpack, you realized you forgot something so important that your event is ruined - if you go back for it, you’ll miss half the event! If you're lucky, you can go buy another at Wally world, but in many cases the item may be a unique item that can not be replaced. Perhaps it’s your personal favorite weapon, or an Arts and Sciences tournament entry. If this has every happened to you, don’t feel bad. We’ve all forgotten crucial items from time to time. The key to preventing this from happening is planning. For that you’ll need a packing list.

Some people are natural organizers. Their brains work in the form of checklists. Others are less organizationally minded. This generally makes them better at adapting, but more likely to need to adapt because they forgot something. The purpose of this paper is to help them prepare so that they don’t have to adapt.

The best way to pack is to think about your home. In each room in your home, there are items you’ll need. For example, in your bedroom, you have your sleeping area and most likely your clothing. In your bathroom, you’ll have soap, shampoo and other toiletries. Let’s face it; we get pretty hot and sweaty at most events. Being able to eliminate, reduce, or at least mask our stink will make those who share our table at feast MUCH happier. You want to go through your house and think about what items you’ll need room by room. I like to put these things into a checklist. Then, as each item gets loaded, you can check it off. When every thing is checked off, you are ready to go.

One note about packing: if you are using containers for your packing (like suitcases or duffel bags,) you’ll want to do a separate packing list for each container. You check off things as they go into the suitcase, then on your main packing list you’ll check off “suitcase#1” as you load it into the car. This way you don’t have to check off each item in the suitcase as you load the suitcase.

Ok, so what goes where on your list? Really, that is up to you and how you live. I break my list down into the following categories: Bedroom (sleeping and tentage), Bathroom (Hygiene and emergency), Garage (Misc items that don’t fit in elsewhere), Yard (Outdoor things like armor, swords, etc) Closet (Clothing including feast garb and nightwear as needed), Living room (Entertainment items like games and musical instruments), and Kitchen (Food, cookware and feast gear). Let’s look at each one of these rooms in more detail.

Bedroom: If you are like most Amtgarders, you’ll spend as little time here as you can. You only have a few days and you want to get the most out of them. Because of this, you are more likely to skimp on this room. In reality, this is the worst thing you can do. If you are going to get very little sleep, you want the best quality sleep you can get. Air mattresses, cots and sleeping bags appropriate for the weather will make the difference in how you feel after four hours of sleep. Your tent also plays a crucial role. If you are camping alone or with a single companion, a little pup tent might be good enough. On the other hand, if you bring half your house with you, then you’ll need more room for gear. One item that is often forgotten is your pillow. Your pillow smells like you and will help you sleep better than a borrowed pillow, an air pillow or a pile of wadded up dirty clothing.

Bathroom: This room holds a lot of surprises when you start digging into it. By definition, this is your hygiene and emergency supplies room. Hygiene is pretty simple for the most part. Soap, shampoo, toothbrush and paste - maybe some hair care products - are about all you’ll need. But emergency supplies can cover a tremendous amount of ground. First Aid kit, flashlight, OTC meds, sunscreen, bug repellant, cell phone, generator, ham radio, and an EVAC helicopter are all emergency supplies. OK, so no one is bringing a helicopter and a ham radio is quite unlikely as well. . . but I’ve known people to bring generators to events in the SCA, just in case. The trick is to figure out how big of an emergency YOU should be prepared to handle. If something bigger comes up, then you will have to go and get other help, such as the Autocrat of the event. As an example, I have a pretty good sized first aid kit. People often come looking for me at events when they need an aspirin, some benadryl, or a band-aid. But I don’t have a level 3 trauma kit. If someone has a broken leg, a heart attack, or other serious and life threatening condition, I’m calling 911 on my cell phone!

Yard: Because battle games and such are outdoor entertainment, I put them in the “yard” category. You may chose to place them in the “Garage” category, especially if that is where you store this gear. But for me, anything that is “outdoor play” goes in the yard list.

Closet: You should remember to bring one set of extra clothes stored in a water proof container in case everything else gets wet. Ensure you bring extra socks and underwear! They take up little space and will make a huge difference in your comfort level. A hat is often a good idea as well. It keeps the sun off your face in the summer and keeps your head warm in the winter.

Living Room: I think of this room for entertaining at events. Seating for around the fire, board games, musical instruments, candles or tiki-torches, pavilion, etc. Anything that you feel you need to host others at your encampment.

Kitchen: Some people go to events and either act like they are on a hunger strike, or run out to the nearest McDonalds, Burger King, What-a-burger, or Sonic several times a day. While this is certainly your choice, having a pot of stew simmering over the fire for several hours with the smell floating around the neighboring camp sites is a great way to ensure you use all those items listed in the living room section. But to do this you have to make sure you have all the various things needed to store, prepare, and serve your food, plus what ever you need to clean up afterwards. Depending on the area where your event is being held, food left out may be a minor health issue to a deadly one. (In bear country, leaving food out is a good way of getting someone killed.) Dishpans, dish soap, and washcloths/scrubber pads are essential to keeping your camp site safe and vermin free. Don’t forget to check the site rules for disposing of dirty dishwater and unwanted food.

Garage: I left this one for last because everyone knows what goes in your garage. Everything! Anything that does not have a specific place in your home hangs out in the garage. For example, if you are at a primitive site, a gas-powered weed eater might really help you to prepare the camp ground or even the list field. A small shovel might be useful in case of rain for making a run off trench around your camp site. The possibilities of what you might need in your garage are endless, so I won’t even think about trying to list them all. Like your garage itself, the garage category is a catch all for anything that does not fit elsewhere. Some items I list here are: duct tape, money, directions to the event and baskets to carry stuff.

Once you have your list made up, the next step is packing. As I mentioned before, you should make sub lists of what goes into each container. I like to set up a staging area to put filled containers ready to go. Once everything is in the staging area, I begin loading the vehicle. I try to avoid throwing anything into the car loose, but there are usually a few last minute items that end up that way. Once you are packed into your car (don’t forget to leave room for passengers!), remember to bring your packing list. You may need it to get everything back home. Good luck, and happy eventing!

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