Camp Out Planning Guide

As with any Regional event, there are a number of items an individual must be aware of as they begin to plan a Regional Camp Out.

Budget and Site Reservations

In order to seek funding from the Board of Directors for a camp out you must first contact your Regional Coordinator and compile a formal budget for submission to the BoD. This process tends to take between four and eight weeks—with the majority of difficulties stemming from the terms most camp sites require before allowing reservations (significantly advanced notice, initial deposits, etc.)

As a suggestion for ease of negotiation, if you are seeking funding from the Board of Directors it is advisable to speak with your Regional Coordinator as soon as possible—that you might employ their assistance in seeking out a location. If alternative funding for initial reservation fees is a possibility, it might also be a worthwhile consideration. In any circumstance it is important to be mindful of any cancellation policies (or fees) a campsite might employ just in case the need arises.

Locating a Site

There are many factors to consider when selecting a site for your camp out.  Though there is never a ‘perfect solution’ a number of factors might be considered (in addition to your Regional Player-base’s desires) when scouting a site location:

  • Central location to domains
  • Terrain; sloped, locations for tents, big hills, dangerous holes, running rivers
  • Number of restrooms
  • Availability of showers
  • Ability for everyone to camp in one location vs. spread out in individual sites
  • Availability for non-tent camping; RV’s possible, cabins/yurts/adirondacks on site
  • Proximity to hotels
  • Group cooking facilities
  • Covered gathering areas
  • Alcohol policies of the campground
  • Proximity of other campers
  • Activities for children or non-MES members

Meals

As with any convention, the ease and availability of meal options bears some considerable weight. During the planning stages of a Regional Camp Out it is important to decide if meals will be provided by the event or if players must rely on their own means of acquiring food. Group meals can prove to be a significant attraction to individuals for whom camping might not be a ‘normal’ activity and the social element of sharing food, together, cannot be stated enough.

With all boons, however, there are banes and it must be noted that group meals can become a quick stressor if they are not handled correctly and efficiently. If you plan on providing a group meal, it is suggested that you spend some time researching menu plans for large groups well in advance and consider elements that can work for multiple meals at various times of day.

Ask attendees to alert you to any dietary restrictions and do your best to document any ingredients used in cooking or listed in pre-made packages.  It may not be possible to comply with all dietary restrictions, but if you know in advance you can warn those individual members so they can make other food arrangements.

Below you will find a sample ‘camp out menu’.  It’s flexible so people can build items that match their own dietary restrictions. The below meal plan factors in somewhere in the range of $15 to feed an individual for three meals in a single day. Prices may vary based on location.

  • “Build your own taco bar”.  Taco meat can be cooked ahead of time and reheated (watch dry taco seasoning packets for mysterious allergens such as gluten, to avoid this I just make my own).  Shredded lettuce, flour and corn tortillas (for a gluten free option), cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives, guacamole, sour cream, beans, tortilla chips, nacho cheese, etc.
  • Deli meat and rolls for lunch.  Shredded lettuce and produce from taco night can dual purpose for salads.
  • Pulled pork sandwiches.  Pork shoulder can be cooked ahead of time and reheated.  Same rolls as from lunch.  More salads.  Corn on the cob is usually an inexpensive vegetable side in the late summer.  Left over beans and remaining taco fixings for salads or nachos.
  • Try avoiding anything with mayo or dairy based if your site does not have refrigeration.

As an additional suggestion—renting a large coffee pot from an event rental service (often available as inexpensively as $25 for a full weekend) will help ensure that all morning faces are bright and smiling!

Build Excitement

One of the most important elements of a successful event, of any size, is building excitement within the player base prior to the event.  The more players are excited the more they will encourage their friends to come.

A few methods for building player excitement:

  • Work with the Storytelling Lead to get plot hooks distributed out to VST’s willing to inject the plot into their local games.
  • Keep information about the event flowing to the Region so that they remain aware of what’s going on and can make plans well in advance.
  • Go to other domain’s games and talk about your event to the players.  Get them involved in the word-of-mouth!

Children

Consider if you will be allowing children at your camp out.  If you are, looking for someone to volunteer to do some kid friendly activities during peak game times might be helpful.  Also consider arranging a “quiet” camping area where drinking and late night events are not allowed.

Safety

Try identifying any attendees who have been first aid training in case of emergency.  At a minimum it is good to have a well stocked first aid kit at a central location that staff is aware of.  Band aids, antiseptic, ace bandage, ibuprofen, Tylenol, antihistamine, latex gloves are a good start.  More ideas can be found here:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-kits/basics/art-20056673

Additionally, checking with the ranger on emergency protocols should they be needed is strongly suggested.

Glow sticks or flagged stakes can be used to mark off potentially dangerous places within the area (ex. gopher holes /steep drops).  Take a walk through the campsite and try to identify these places, then either alert the attendees in announcements and/or mark them as hazardous.

Open fires should always be monitored when camping.  If there are large common fire pits, a sober Fire Marshal should be responsible for making sure the fire is put out before everyone goes to sleep.  If there are separate camps then a sober security/Fire Marshal should wander through the camp sites and ensure that each camp is being responsible with their open fires.  At a minimum, a 5 gallon bucket of water should be near each individual fire.  Ideally, in addition to the water a fire extinguisher should be on hand.

Timeline

12 to 9 Months

  • Contact RC if requesting any BOD funds, if necessary, submit budget to BOD before making reservation
  • Submit budget for BoD Approval in provided Template (this may take 4-8 weeks for final approvals and they may ask questions. Be thorough or it will take much longer to get the approval. You may not spend any funds towards this event until your budget is approved)
  • Find location and make reservation

6 Months

  • Hire Leads
  • Determine theme for event with ST Lead
  • Set up any wiki

4 Months

  • Publish Event Rules
  • Begin concierge information (surrounding areas: food, alcohol, drink, play, extras outside of convention)
  • Establish Pre-Registration items (pricing, VIP benefits, open and close date)
  • Determine Badges look/size/etc (make ready for print at budget approval)
  • Publish Ticket Prices

3 Months

  • Open Pre-Registration
  • Publish Concierge page (continually update this as more is found or discounts organized for this page)
  • Publish VSSs and Venue Premises
  • Finalize Volunteer and Prestige procedures

2 Months

  • Compile check list for necessary items during event, props, paper, pencils, flashlights, etc

1 Month

  • Remind players of upcoming deadlines

Special thanks to Kari and Chris Rathjen!