Information Point, located just in front of the camp store, has the folks who have the answers, or will find them for you!
Pennsic University has a class track designed specifically for Newcomers. These classes have basic information in subjects like heraldry, finding a persona, costuming and much more. Each class will include plenty of time for questions.
Some years there are special tours of the campground, a Newcomers' Social, or other activities tailored for those new to the SCA or Pennsic. Check the site book and the daily newspaper for listings.
If your question is not addressed here, please check the Site Rules (in the Pennsic Book), or the Pennsic War Guide & Checklist (aka Bart's Pennsic Guide).
A full schedule of fees is on-line at the pre-registration site. The pre-registration discount is $10. Paid members of the SCA receive a $25 discount (with proof of membership shown at time of check in).
The gate fees are only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the actual cost of Pennsic will vary depending on factors unique to you. Some people can make it through a week at Pennsic spending only a couple hundred dollars, while others spend thousands. When estimating how much Pennsic will cost for you, don't forget to consider travel, accomodations, food, preparatory purchases of garb and camping gear, and shopping money.
Pre-registration opens on (or before) January 1st. You can pre-register in two ways:
Also, please note: no minor may be left unattended at the site. Children under the age of 12 must be within voice range or in sight of a responsible adult or teenager at all times. Minors under 18 must be in their encampment or in the company of a parent or court-appointed guardian after 11 pm.
There are two exceptions to these rules: emancipated minors and married minors, who must present court documents at the time they check in. In these cases, adult gate fees will be applied.
By camping as groups, people are able to pool their resources. Instead of each person bringing their own camp kitchen, the group might instead arrange to bring one large one that will feed the whole group on a meal plan. Groups of families might make arrangements where the adults take turns watching all the children, allowing others to have free time. Some groups arrange their tents so that there are common areas for socializing and parties. Others focus on creating period and/or themed encampments. Aside from these considerations though, there is another very good reason for camping with a group if you're new to Pennsic - you'll be surrounded by people who are more experienced. Then, if you discover you've forgotten something or need help in some way, chances are good that one of your campmates will be able to assist you.
There are many different types of groups. Some are composed of residents of a Barony, or members of a household. You'll also find guilds or people with similar interests of study, along with all sorts of other collections of people. While some groups are very restrictive as to whom they'll allow to camp with them, many are very open. Try asking around in your local area or among people you know to see if they know of a group that you can join.
Why do we have Land Grab?
Land Grab in its various forms dates back to Pennsic 17. Prior to that, Pennsic was a one week event, with all the battles taking place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With only 3-4,000 attendees, people came and set up camp whereever they wished, although certain groups had their traditional spaces, such as 'Horde Hill'. As attendance grew, so did competition for campsites, and group representatives began showing up earlier and earlier to claim their group's campsite. People with enough free time could show up in July (or June!), pay the Cooper's Lake Campground fees and set up their tent where they wanted their group's campsite to be. This was deemed unfair, both for groups who weren't able to send someone out so early to claim a campsite, and for the Coopers, who needed to have the campground clear in order to get ready for Pennsic.
Pennsic 17 (1988) was the first year where attendees received a numbered site medallion based on the order they checked in at Troll. The people with the lowest numbers were allowed to choose their campsites first. For Pennsic 21, people submitted their group's name and an estimate of their camp size prior to Pennsic, and were assigned a campsite by the Land staff. Pennsic 25 was the first year that the actual number of campers preregistered with a group was used to determine the size of the group's campsite.
If you'll be using a modern tent, don't trust the capacity rating on the label or box. To come up with these ratings the manufacturers figure how many bodies can lie side-by-side on the floor of the tent. To allow space for you, your possessions, and room to move around, it's a good idea to divide the rating by three to four. So while a nominal four-person tent will be fine for one person, it's going to be cramped for two. When choosing a modern tent, try to get one that has a full fly, as it will help to keep the tent dry and to maintain proper airflow. If your tent doesn't have a fly, you can always throw a tarp over the whole thing to keep it dry. But doing so can make it very hot and stuffy inside the tent. If your tent (whether it is modern or a period pavilion) has a floor, be sure you have a waterproof groundcloth underneath it to protect the floor from rocks, twigs, and decay.
Whatever style of tent you wind up using, it's a good idea to do a test run by setting it up at home a couple of weeks before leaving for Pennsic. This way you can make sure you have all the necessary parts and that you know how to set it up. For used tents, this is the time to check for any areas in need of cleaning or repair. For new tents, this is the time to seal all the seams so they'll be waterproof. It's also not a bad idea to do a general check of the waterproofing of any tent, new or used, by running a hose over it. But be sure to let the tent dry completely before repacking it.
Some people like to bring two tents - one to sleep in and one in which to store their armor or other bulky or awkward gear. If you're borrowing a tent and you can't locate one large enough for you and your belongings, borrowing two for this purpose might be an option. Many people also bring shade awnings. While some camping areas at Pennsic have lots of trees, others have none, so don't count on having them available for shade.
When you set up your tent at Pennsic, be sure you stake it down thoroughly. If you have a self-standing modern tent, don't fool yourself into thinking that your belongings inside the tent will weight it down and hold it in place. The wind can get very strong at Pennsic, and if your tent isn't staked down, it will fly away. In fact, many people don't bother with the plastic or thin metal stakes that come with most tents, opting instead to use heavy-duty metal stakes that will hold better. When placing guy-ropes, you should flag them with strips of white or pale cloth or other material so they'll be more visible in the dark, and people will be less likely to injure themselves tripping over them. When placing your ground cloth, be sure that it covers the entire bottom of your tent, but doesn't stick out. Any spots sticking out will funnel rainwater under your tent, leading to mildew and rot, not to mention soggy belongings. Some people like to dig small trenches around their tents to direct rainwater away from the tent, particularly on any uphill sides. If you go this route, take care when removing the sod so you'll be able to replace it later with a minimum of disturbance to the area.
Of course, if camping really isn't your style, you can always choose to stay at a nearby hotel or motel. If you go this route you'll be driving to and from the site every day, and no discount is given for staying off-site. But you will have the advantage of air conditioning and a guaranteed hot shower.
Most merchants will accept personal checks with proper identification, and an increasing number will take major credit cards. Few, if any, will accept foreign currency. If you'll be buying armor, be sure it meets your Kingdom's standards. If you'll be buying weapons, be sure you won't have any problems transporting them home, across any state or national borders or customs checkpoints you may need to pass.
When browsing the merchants, you can stretch your shopping dollar by shopping with a pen and paper first. Make a note of anything you think you might want, noting the price and the booth number of the merchant so you can easily find them again. Then when you get back to camp review your list and decide what you can actually afford. If there is something that you really want but can't afford, remember that many merchants will do mail order. Get their business card or make a note of them in your merchant directory so you can contact them after Pennsic.
Visit the Pennsic Merchant Office for information on applying for merchant space, purchasing ads in the Merchant booklet, selling dates and hours, tax license information, and shipping merchandise to Pennsic.
Ads for the on-site merchant booklet are due by May 1st.
Other good advice on camping safety, health, and hygiene is in Bart the Bewildered's Pennsic War Guide.
Be sure you read and understand all of the Pennsic Site Rules (which appear in the Pennsic On-site Booklet). If you have any questions about any of the rules, be sure you obtain answers before leaving for Pennsic, so you don't have any unhappy surprises once you arrive.
First, considering that this is the Pennsic War, there are an assortment of battles and archery shoots. If you're authorized you can participate in these, and if not you can still watch. In addition to the War Point battles, a variety of other tournaments take place over the two weeks.
If you don't fight or shoot, but are looking for another way to contribute to the war, volunteers are always needed in many areas. You could work a shift at Troll, help out at Heralds' Point or A&S Point, serve as a waterbearer, or perhaps even guard the gate of your Kingdom's Royal Encampment. Stop by Info Point to see what volunteers are needed!
The Pennsic University offers hundreds of classes on almost any conceivable topic. The class listing is on-line, and will be in the Pennsic On-site Booklet. To see what last minute changes or additions may have been made to the schedule, stop by A&S point, which will be located amongst the tents in the A&S block. There is a class track designed specifically for Newcomers. These classes offer basic information in subjects like Heraldry, Finding a Persona, Costuming, and more. Each class will include plenty of time for questions. Veteran SCA folks are welcome to attend too!
For grand pageantry, Opening Ceremonies is quite a site to see, with the Royalty of the Known World, numerous landed Barons and Baronesses, and their entire entourages processing out to the battlefield, where war is formally declared. On a slightly smaller scale, on various evenings the Crowns of the East, the Middle, and Æthelmearc, as well as several other kingdoms, will hold their Courts.
Many music and dance classes are offered through the Pennsic University, and in the evenings there are Balls and Dances in the Dance Pavilion and the barn. The Performing Arts Pavilion & Amphitheater feature theatrical productions, musicians, performers, and the Pennsic Choir. If Middle Eastern drumming and dancing are more your style, there are also a number of classes and performances.
Various people, households, and other groups host numerous parties all over Pennsic almost every night. Some of these parties are restricted or by invitation only, but many are open to all. The types of parties also vary widely. Some focus on performances at a bardic circle. Some are themed to a particular time period or type of clothing, others to a particular preferred beverage. Some are mellow socials, some can get quite raucous. Whatever your interests, chances are good you'll be able to find a party to your liking.
Take some time to enjoy the great shopping. Basic items like fabric, pottery, jewelry, and armor can be found, as well as specialized supplies. For a special night, go to Midnight Madness on Wednesday evening. The merchants offer special sale items, and there will be music and entertainers. Finish off the evening with dessert at the food court.
Don't forget to do a bit of Pennsic sightseeing while you are there. Climb the hill behind the battlefield (Mt. Eislinn) to see a view of the entire encampment which is equally impressive during the day and at night. You might also want to take some time one evening to watch for the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 12th. Take a walking tour of the site with your camera, or if you prefer not to walk, just ride around on the shuttle buses.
Also, remember this is your vacation – take some time just to relax in camp. And let people that you're new and/or that this is your first Pennsic. Who knows what other suggestions they may have for things to do?
You can save yourself some walking by catching one of the shuttle buses that runs through the campsite and parking lot. It picks up and drops off passengers at designated stops.
Aside from bringing in your camping equipment or items you purchase on town runs, you may not use your car to travel around the campsite or for party-hopping,
The carts will be following the bus routes, and will stop at all bus stops, at the Town Hall tent (near the camp store), and at the Watch tent (near Troll). The carts will take you to the bus stop nearest your destination. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis
The golf carts are intended to assist those with mobility needs. We encourage those who are able-bodied to either walk or use the buses, so the carts are available for those who need assistance.
Do not use hay or straw as rushes or ground cover without the express permission of the Cooper's Lake Campground management. If permission is granted, hay/straw is available for sale at the camp store. Hay bales from the battlefield are not for common use, and may not be removed.
Construction projects - no structure may be taller than 16 feet. The Campground management and Pennsic staff reserve the right to order dismantled any project which, in their judgement, are deemed unsafe, unsightly, or pose an unacceptable risk of injury or property damage.
Garbage disposal - You must bag your trash and take it to the nearest dumpster; raw wood should be left next to the dumpster. Do not abandon any large items (furniture, mattresses, old tents, etc.) in your campsite. You are responsible for removing oversized items from the campground; the rubbish service employed by the Campground will not take them.
Deliveries of other items (rental tents, tables & chairs; catering food, propane, appliance rentals, lumber, etc.) must be prearranged with the vendor – see the Delivery Procedures.
For information on Mail and Package deliveries, please see the Site Rules.
We can only attempt to deliver a message in the event of an extreme emergency. Otherwise, we simply post the name of a message’s intended recipient on the board in front of Info Point. If you have reason to believe that people at home will need to reach you for non-emergency reasons, we suggest you regularly phone them to check in, rather than telling them to call the emergency number.
The camp store sells ice, water, drinks, milk, eggs, bread, fresh produce, and a selection of snacks, dry goods and canned goods. For other shopping you'll need to head to one of the grocery stores off-site, within 20 to 30 minutes travel time.
If you don't have the equipment to put together a camp kitchen, or if you just don't want to bother, there are other options:
Even if you decide to join a meal plan or to eat at the food court, it is a good idea to bring a small cooler for beverages or small snacks.
While the showers are all heated, the high attendance at Pennsic leads to a high demand on the hot water, often resulting in a tepid or even cold shower. Because of these considerations many people prefer to bring solar shower bags and erect stalls in their camps, and some even build heated showers.
• There are water spigots scattered all over the site, and one should be within easy reach of wherever you camp. If you don't want to make repeated trips to the spigot, you can run a hose to your camp. You must use a Y-splitter (so that you leave at least one open spot for other hoses), and a vacuum breaker (to prevent backflow of dirty water).
You should be aware that the water at Pennsic has a very high mineral content. While it is safe to drink, many people don't like it, and prefer instead to buy bottled water. Also note that there is no bathing or washing permitted at the water spigots, and you'll need to dispose of your wastewater in a sump pit.
• There is electricity available at a few campsites, including the one for Disability camping. Don't expect to have electricity in your camp. There are outlets at the bathhouses to use for hairdryers and such, and if you have medications that need to be kept cold there is a refrigerator at First Aid Point for that purpose.
• There are two food courts; one near the Troll Booth, and one near the Barn. The Coopers sell fresh produce from one of the tents in the food court near troll.
• The US Postal Service operates a Post Office during the latter part of Pennsic. In the past, they have struck special postmarks for Pennsic War.
• Next to the Post Office, the Coopers operate a (limited) bank on-site where you can cash travelers checks and get change for large bills. They don't provide foreign currency exchange or credit card cash advances.
• Postcards are for sale at the counter next to the bank. This is also where you can purchase/order aerial photos of Pennsic later in the week.
Passes for closer-in paid parking (located near the battlefield) can be purchased for $20 at the "War Room" trailer, located next to the large metal barn downhill from Troll. You will need to turn in the parking pass you were issued when you checked-in.
Because you'll be outdoors many more hours of the day than usual, be sure to wear sunscreen, even on overcast days. A hat or veil on your head will not only keep the sun off your skin and out of your eyes, but will also help to keep the sun from cooking your brain. While sunglasses are not period, many Pennsic-goers do choose to wear them. Be sure you drink enough water and keep your electrolytes balanced, and remember that alcohol and caffeinated beverages will dehydrate you. Heat can also diminish your appetite, so be sure you eat enough for your activity level. Don't count on having trees in your camp – if you want to have shade, bring a shade fly to create your own.
For those times that it gets cold or wet, a good cloak is a treasure. But if you don't have one, don't hesitate to wrap a blanket around yourself, wear a raincoat, or even use an umbrella. Staying warm and healthy is far more important than looking historically accurate. As a precaution against serious storms, many people keep a dry set of modern clothing in a waterproof container or in their car.
Bring enough bedding to keep you warm at night. A dry cloak makes a great extra top blanket when the temperature drops. Also, a snug cap will keep your head, and you, warm. Remember that air mattresses act as convection cells, and will suck the heat out of your body and pump it into the ground. Try to get it off the ground, or put something insulative between it and the ground or between it and you. Also remember to make your bed before the sun sets. Otherwise, when you return at night you might find that the evening dew has settled on your bed, leaving you with clammy sheets.
There are more details about Pennsic weather patterns in Bart the Bewildered's Pennsic guide.
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