Originally composed 1996

A (hopefully) USEFUL and (possibly) HUMOROUS

Several months before a previous  Phila Folk Festival  I got an e-mail from a young lady who was going to be a
Volunteer for the first time,  as well as a Novice Camper,  requesting that I impart to her some of the vast storehouse of
knowledge and bullsh....  Experience from over thirty years of attending the Festival.
(Whoooo... was that pompous enough?)

I immediately thought back to the Volunteer Orientations I used to give for the Camping Committee and sent her an
email which contained some (but not all) of the following.
Apparently it was helpful,  'cos when I finally met her at Festival,  she only threw small objects at me
and I only needed a few stitches...

I hope that the following will help the first time camper/volunteer (and even a few more experienced types) survive the
Festival in something resembling one piece.

For me,  Festival IS the Campground and the Campground IS Festival.         (Be the ball.....)

(One year as Camping Field Supervisor and having been awake for about 80 hours, someone asked me if I had seen the
concert the previous evening.  I stopped dead and with an unbelieving look exclaimed,  "MUSIC?  They have MUSIC

Happy Camping  depends on a number of factors,  the most important of which is planning.

For those who notice such things,  you will see I do not address pop-top or trailer/bus camping in this part:  I figure that
if you have one of those,  you is been there and done that!    Novice "Wheelies" should also check out the

A is for General Camping and is on two pages
B is for first-time Van, RV, Bus,Trailer or Truck campers and is on Page 3
C is for Volunteers specifically and is on Page 4   
(Geared toward FIRST TIME VOLUNTEERS:  the rest of you (I sincerely hope-to-Jesus) know what you're doing
D does not exist, but I thought I'd mention it, anyway.

Before we start:   It goes without saying that if you have any questions, concerns, problems or simply want to talk to
someone at four a.m.,  the staff of Volunteers at Camping Headquarters is always ready to aid and assist you.  They can
explain the regulations governing the Campground and help iron out any hassles you may have,  BUT:  they do NOT
have the time to help you set up your tent, find your buddy Fred who came up two days ago, help you find your lost
keys or like that there stuff.

If YOU find something OBVIOUSLY adrift from it's owner,  this is the place to turn it in and it is also the first place to
ask for something you've lost.  

PLEASE bring an extra set of keys and leave them in the BOTTOM of your backpack as a backup.   Keys,  once
lost,  are usually gone forever due to the foot traffic on the paths and the grass everywhere else.  (one year,  some guy
from the township came up two weeks after festival and found twelve sets with a metal detector.  He also found two sets
of dentures,  but that'sh another shtory.)




'Nuff said 'bout THAT!

Here we go... and there WILL be a spot quiz after class!

Section A:  General Camping  (page one of two)

Several constants obtain at every Festival:

(1)  it WILL get hot.
(2)  it WILL get COLD!
(3)  it WILL rain.
(4)  it WILL get dark.
(5)  you WILL have to eat
.............................................on page 2................................................
(6)  what goes in, MUST come out.
(7)  you WILL want to sleep.
(8)  there WILL be single members of the opposite sex.
(9)  there WILL be music that you can 'jam' with or listen to or sing with.

Lets deal with these one (hopefully) at a time,  though a lot can be cross-applied.

(1) it WILL get HOT.

Bring sunshade,  sunscreen, hat and light long-sleeved shirt to prevent sunburn.  Bring light, loose clothes that you can
layer when (2) occurs.  Sunscreen is an absolute essential but you have to use it for it to work,  so two small bottles are
better (you can put one in a fanny-pack) than one larger bottle that you'll leave in the tent.

Nothing messes up a camping experience like a good sunburn. One year there was an especially well-endowed young
woman who found that out much to her discomfort.  Suffice it to say that the underside of her jaw was easily found at
4:00AM from the reflected glow of her bosom.  BOY! Was she burnt!

(2) it WILL get COLD.

Once the sun starts to set,  especially if it's a clear night,  the heat radiation at Campgrounds is incredible. Temperatures
can (and have) dropped 40 degrees in a night:  having a light sweater and a denim shirt-jacket has saved more than one
weeked from misery!  A pair of jeans and socks and a good pair of shoes are a great thing as well,  and although you
may be able to live without the jeans, I can't live without the footgear.  When my feet get cold you can flip me over and
say I'm done.

For sleeping  see (7) on the next page.

TIP:  DON'T bring a parka or heavy coat!  They're bulky and expensive and overkill.  Layer whenever possible and
you'll be as warm or warmer than you would be with the coat!

Suggested for Fest wear:  five t-shirts,  two light long-sleeve shirts, a light sweater,  a lined shirt-jacket,  broad-brimmed
hat, (ladies: some sun-dresses and halter-tops (if you wear 'em {and God bless ya if you can and do!}), sunglasses, lotsa
socks, good waterproofed hiking boots, three pair jeans, bathing suit, two towels, washcloth, soap and toiletries,
deoderant, some shorts, some bandannas, dressup (if you wanna) and like that there.  You can increase any of these but
remember,  you gotta carry it in and carry the corpses back out.

(3) it WILL RAIN.

(I'm sorry to haveta tell ya, but we used up the next ten year's quota of beautiful weather at the 2001 Fest.  In all the
years I've been to Festival, either as paying guest, volunteer or performer, I have never experienced such a perfect
weekend's weather as we had.)
If it doesn't rain at least ONCE,  you will be one of the fortunate few to have had a dry Festival,  but then it will probably
be a Dust Fest,  and they're not a lot of fun either.  In the last few weeks of August,  Southeastern Pennsylvania enters
the beginning of the fall rainy season,  so you can reasonably expect at least one day of showers,  if not a good
'drownpour',  but normally its only for one day (or night) and it's survivable with some foresight:

Bring raingear!         Bring a folding (or regular) umbrella!

DON'T get one of those hokey green and yellow rubberized poncho thingies!  They get you wetter from perspiration
than if you had dispensed with them altogether,  they're heavy to carry and bulky to pack and they just ain't no fun!  
DON'T bring a couple of extra-large trashbags and poke your head thru them:  same deal,  and they're clingy and sticky
AND they rip at the most inopportune times.  Bop on off to LL Bean or REI (my favourite) and check out some of their
backpackers' raingear...you don't need anything elaborate (you're not exploring the Yucatan or South East Asia) but a
good nylon rain jacket or even a light raincoat will do wonders for your dryness and cheerfulness.

If you can afford it I ABSOLUTELY recommend anything made of GoreTex... it's water repellent as all get out, but
allows the perspiration and condensation to pass thru it out into the air,  rather than holding it in next you as with nylon.  
You'll  pay a few more bucks for a GoreTex rain jacket,  but  IT'S WORTH IT!

NOTHING is gonna keep you completely dry,  especially in 90 degree heat and 100% humidity,  but anything else is
SO much better than those dumb ponchos!

Tip: Bring extra socks.

Better Tip: Bring extra, extra socks.

You cannot bring too many.  Dry feet are the premiere comfort in the universe,  beating out even a two-pound lobster
tail with drawn butter and champagne.  Your feet are what you are gonna see the Festival upon and if they're wet and
uncomfortable or (Kinneherrah) have a blister from chafing in wet socks, you may as well go home for all the fun you're
gonna have.

Ahhh,  but how do I keep my stuff dry?

Z I P - L O C K   B A G G I E S !

Sandwich sized for socks;  Gallon sized for t- and other- shirts and freezer-storage sized for jeans and sweaters.   

Another tip: put ONE pair of whatever in ONE of whichever, folded as flat as posslibe,  zip it ALMOST all the way
up and then....sit on it.  On a hard, flat surface. Get all, or at least most,  of the air out,  then close it off.  (That's why the
zip-lock rather than tie-off bags)  You'll reduce the amount of room your clothes take up in your backpack (although
mass),  you'll pretty much ensure that even if we get hit by the "Mother Of All Thunderstorms" and you left your tent
fly open because it was so hot and there's now two inches of water in your tent (it's happened to me more than once!),  
you'll still have dry clothes to change into when the waters recede, and you'll always have a hard and sharp-edged
frisbee-like device to scale at someone who's annoying you. Also,  you'll have something to put those sweaty used
articles of clothing into instead of piling them in the corner of your tent. (yeccchh!)

Jeans and sweaters should be folded flat so as to fit into the baggie with a minimum of shoving and stretching.  I used to
wear long-sleeved white shirts or cowboy-yoked shirts exclusively at festival, and with a little care in the folding and
insertion,  they'd come out fairly unwrinkled and still starched. (Nothing gets a raised eyebrow like a starched white shirt
on Saturday night... there's folks STILL trying to figure out how I pulled that one off!)

Don't forget (what in my ancient and long-gone era were called) unmentionables.  Dry socks?  
Dry thingies are just as -if not more- important!  Pack two more (of whatever) than you think you'll need.

Incidentally, I know that Zip-Loc is a trademark,  but I use it here generically.  The GLAD brand seem to be best
for socks,  while the bags with an external "Zipper-Tab" seem to work best for larger items....your mileage may
vary on this one...I suggest some experimentation.

(4)  it WILL get DARK!

Doh!  The sun goes down and suddenly you find that your flashlight is still back in the tent,
not only that....you can't find your tent!

Easily remedied in advance.  Get a small (I mean a two-AA-battery type) flashlight and put it in your fanny pack (you
don't HAVE a FANNY PACK??? Read on...) along with your ID,  money, keys and (if you still indulge) cigarettes.  
DO NOT leave your money and ID in your tent.  While most of the people at Festival would no more go into someone
else's tent than set fire to their own,  there's always the chance of the occasional theft.  Rare,  but a possibility,  so be
safe rather than sorry. If you have a valuable instrument with you and you are looking for somewhere to park it safely,  
go to Camping Headquarters and ask for the location of the Instrument Check-in.  For a nominal fee your instrument is
safe, dry and loved while you're out gallivanting about the Festival.

(But....I digress...)  You can,  if you wish,  bring a larger flashlight or camp lantern (I usually pack one of those twin-tube
fluorescent lanterns with me for sitting and playing music) but for just walking around,  who wants to lug five pounds with
you?  Most of the pathways from Concert to Camping are illuminated and once in the campground,  the light from
people's camp lanterns and campsites illuminate the roads to a sufficient extent that you can recognize people and walk
with ease.  Only once you leave the main roads and start to head for your tent might you encounter some difficulty in
navigation and then the small flashlight will prove more than adequate.
(Bring extra batteries.)  (In baggies.) (Just in case they leak!) (Extraneous parentheses)

As far as finding your tent in the dark,  the trick is to get your bearings in the light.  (a termite could've figured THAT one
out!)  Thank God that the crew in the Campgrounds is so individualistic (= weird) and decorate their tent-sites with flags,
banners, Potted Palms, lights, the occasional baloon, etc.  It should be a fairly simple thing to check out the area during
the day and be able to navigate back to within two or three tents of your campsite at night, even without that flashlight
you have in your fanny pack.   Also,  several of the long-term Campground Groups have quite elaborate enclaves set up
which provide lighted beacons by which one can navigate.

A slow word about campground navigation at night. MOVE SLOWLY when you're among the tents.  There is a
phenomenon well-known to the experienced camper called "Tent-Rope Ankle". It ain't fun.  Remember that all of these
tents have at least four if not eight or more guy-lines set out to stakes to hold the tents up and taut,  and they can trip you
up in a second if you're not paying attention.  Best bet?  Eyes down and looking,  take four or five steps, stop,  eyes up,
orient yourself,  then repeat. It's slower,  but you get thru  unharmed and unfrazzled.

Another slow word about etiquette in the tent area.  
You didn't hear it.  It never happened. To truly enjoy the tenting
experience,  you must be almost as over-polite as the Japanese are in their large cities. The only way you could possibly
survive daily life in Edo or Kyoto is by the principle I have set out above but whose name I can never remember,  much
less pronounce!.  The walls of the tents are nylon and have no sound muffling qualities whatsoever,  so - you didn't hear
it and it never happened.  Also keep this in mind when "conversing" (for want of a better euphemisim) at night (especially
late at night) in your own tent.

If you're fortunate,  you may find that you have become part of an "enclave", that is, a group of tents around an open
space in the center (frowned upon by the Powers-That-Be, 'cos they hate to loose any tentspace but nonetheless a
tradition at Festival).  Or,  you may know some people that will be camping at Festival and arrange to all show up at the
same time to create an enclave.  They're usually fun and they give you somewhere to sit out and talk, smoke, drink the
occasional soda-pop (I mean,  drugs and alcohol are verboten at Festival,  so of course you only brought
soft-drinks....didn't you?), etc.  Speaking of which....

(Anyone who knows me and reads THIS part is probably gonna have to change their pants,  but....)
There WILL be beer and other liquids at Festival.... moderation is the key to enjoying things.  (I know,  I know,  
leamme alone,  awreaddy!  I'm Irish,  it's a disease and an addiction and I'm still  occasionally able to walk upright
around the grounds!)  The sun is HOT and this stuff WILL go right to your head,  especially if you haven't been
re-hydrating yourself at every opportunity!   We have enough college and pre-college age loonies who come up,  slug
back a six-pack and then wonder what the hell happened when they wake up in a Spot-A-Pot after barfing on three
people. .  Don't be one of them.   They loose the Festival and make life difficult for the rest of us.  Some of 'em come up
JUST to get whipped 'cos they're too young to do it at home,  Mommy and Daddy would wail on 'em,  whatever.  
Those we cannot ever eliminate,  but if you're serious about enjoying the music or (and more specifically) PLAYING the
music,  chill out and keep a focus.

'Nuff said.

(5) you WILL have to EAT.

(Volunteer food is addressed in their section, but this applies to them equally)

I am not a big fan of my own cooking at the campground (or anywhere else, for that matter),  so I usually spend money
at one of the two food concessions:  The Lower Salford VFD has a trailer by the gate into the concert area and have
hoagies,  pizza, hamburgers and the like and the Lions Club has a concession across from Camping Headquarters (fairly
central to the whole campground) with hoagies, hot-dogs, chili and cold sandwiches.  It may not be a balanced diet, but
you gotta be un-balanced to be at Festival in the first place,  so....

If you want to bring your own food,  bring a good-sized cooler (ice is available (8# for $3.00 this year) across from
Camping Headquarters)  and -  assuming you're arriving on Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday night - food for seven
meals (eight if you're leaving Monday,  but make that a cold meal).  Milk is available at both concessions for cereal.

Clean COLD potable water is available at several locations on the campground,  notably across from Camping
Headquarters and also a little further down the road past the Spot-a-Pots.  It's artesian well water and colder than a
step-mother's kiss.

One of the better things I've found to bring is one of those 20oz plastic coffee mugs from your  local corner convenience
store.  You can carry them easily by sticking the belt to your fanny pack thru the handle. With the snap-on lid,  you can
use them for any liquid as well as soup or stew or cereal.  If you want,  you can even find them (although usually without
the lids) for a quarter at flea-markets.

Bring a water bottle or a canteen!  REI  has a neat fanny pack and water bottle (insulated) combination. I heartily
recommend buying a GOOD fanny pack that has some capacity to it,  a real good strap, several compartments and that
is waterproof.  You'll keep your wallet,  keys,  ID  and money in there and will thank me profusely before the end of

Ladies:  DON'T bring an enormous purse or shoulderbag... you'll have to lug it all weekend or lock it in the trunk,  so
why bother bringing it at all?

DO get a GOOD backpack... you don't need something so intimidating that you can go and stalk the Yeti in Bhutan,  
but be sure that it has a good stong bellyband and has enough capacity that you can use it as your wardrobe as well as
for transport.    DO pack it well before Festival and try to get in and out of it without assistance!

You gotta carry all that crap, and now is the time to find out if it's too heavy!

The last four years there have been no "ground fires" permitted (first year because of the drought,  then because we all
discovered that without 4000 fires smouldering we could all breathe the next day!)  While this is perceived as a problem
by a vocal and insistant group,  a small one-burner "coleman " style backpacker's bottled gas stove and a few utensils
will more than serve for cooking rough meals.

If you have specific dietary restrictions,  be sure you take them into account before you leave for Festival!  We speak
kashrut,  but we don't keep it! They don't know from Lactaid (carry the pills) and like that there.  Common sense will
get you thru the weekend!

A word on ground fires.  As a performer I gotta tell you what a joy it is to wake up and still be able to sing,  an
occurrence which did not obtain when we had unlimited (and usually smouldering) individual ground-type campfires.  I
sympathize with those who lament the absence of the  ambience of the individual fire,  but I don't miss 'em.  BUT:
depending on how much junk you wanna lug up to the grounds and back home,  a small beat-up "weber" dome-style
grill with a few extra holes punched in the bottom and a cut down grille to act as a grate  qualifies as a "non-ground type
self-contained cooking device" and a supply of half-cut wood billets will fit nicely into it to provide a semblance of the
old "campfire",  while providing enough draft to let it burn and not smoulder to death.  Cut the legs down to about 18"
and put the cover UNDER the bottom to act as a fire lid:   you can STILL cook on it,  though it's slow.  DON'T use the
BIG webers,  get a used smaller one.  Remember,  you'll have to pack in your wood,  unless you chop up a few fellow
campers. (Well,  we'll get more next year anyway,  sooo...)  Also,  on the Phila Folk Festival site there's a link for
alternatives to wood fires that's worth checking out.

                                                                     WHATEVER you do...
                         UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

                 Plastic Surgery is absolutely NO FUN to endure!

While most modern tents are flame retardant,  they are NOT fire-proof, and nylon clings to
your skin....not a pleasant thought.

Trashbags are available at Camping Headquarters and are black plastic for trashy-trash and clear for aluminum cans.  
Collapsible trash-bag frames are available from several camping supply stores and websites.  Check out the ones they
use at the AZZOLES.    Trashbags are always free for the asking.  Trash containers and can-recyclers are all over the
place.  PLEASE use 'em and be careful when leaving that you DON'T take the TRASH and LEAVE the
SLEEPING-BAG!  Once the trash pickup has occurred,  whatever it was that you so cleverly packed up in those trash
bags to go home will be GONE....  FOREVER.

It HAS happened and DOES happen each and every Festival.
Don't be one of the sheep!


A word about cameras and equipment:
Most of us nowadays own at least one digital camera and/or camcorder.

You will  NOT get good pictures of performers on-stage unless you have at least a 3 - 5 x OPTICAL zoom lens or
extra telephoto lens, and you WILL need to re-set your white balance and aperture settings for available light shots...
your flash just ain't gonna cut it at the distance you'll be shooting from.   No, not even an Olympus FL-40 is gonna do
the trick.

For available light (slow shutter work) DON'T FORGET A MONOPOD!

It is considered VERY BAD FORM to take flash pictures without asking.
1: It blinds the people you're talking the pictures of,
2: It annoys the neighbors and
3: The person you're taking the picture of may or may not be with someone of whom they would prefer not to have a
record of said association with, even, maybe, yet.

Think about it.


Also, even more disappearable than a musical instrument is a digital camera.  Think about whether you REALLY want
to take nite shots or if perhaps an older film camera or one of those silly cardboard cameras might not "fill the bill" for
you.  I know that the dedicated shutter-bug will bring it anyway, but be sure that you realize that it could go away

Continue to page two          Skip ahead to      Heavy Camping     Volunteers

(any part of this guide may be reprinted or republished at will... all we ask is that you credit Vince Brennan
as author and include a link or reference to http://www.oldmusicproject.com)