Come with us on a trip through Sweden and see how we live in a historical tent for one week! (And get my best tip for making your camping adventure a success!)
One of the things I really like with our hobby is the historical camping on different events and markets. During Double Wars we packed the car and a trailer with all our camping gear, a friend and his stuff, some extras, a picnic bag… and then began the drive down to southern Sweden.
Geographically we live in the middle of Sweden, but that doesn’t mean it is close to all events, this drive took us about 15 hours, and we chose to split it up on two days, with some sightseeing in the breaks. Because we traveled with lots of gear we chose to stay at a hotel along the road, where we could lock the car and trailer in a secure place.
- planning breaks or overnight stays along the way makes the trip much more smooth, and you wont get dangerously tired while driving. Remember that you may want to leave your packing in a secure space during the night.
Finally at site, we could drive in to our designated place and dump everything out from the car and trailer. It is common that you may drive in and out from sites before and after the main event, but during the week/weekend when most people have come, you may not be able or permitted to drive all the way in to camp. This is both because the cars may not have space enough to drive in, but also because it makes the historical encampment much more boring if cars will roll by every day…
- check with the schedule when you will arrive/leave and if you may drive in your car close to the camp then. It is no small task to carry everything in by hand…
Once everything was out in the grass we could set up our pavilion and get everything in place. The new pavilion was way more expensive than our previous, home-made tent, but we are really satisfied with it, both the quality and how much room we have inside. Our friend E got a section of his own, and we hade a sleeping area with draperies and a double bed.
- to make the building of camp run nicely; bring good shoes, gloves, a snack, something to drink and extra ropes, pegs and the like. A sledge/hammer, shovel and knife are good tools to have close by. Also bring a cover for your things; if it rains everything will get wet!
Our new home is done! Except the tent we also had a small outdoor kitchen area with a sunroof, table, benches, a fire pit and cooking gear. We didn’t bring everything by ourself, we shared the camp with friends.
- The question is always; what to bring and what will I need? Of course, packing space and the amount of things you own is an important matter, but always try to plan your trip for “worst case scenario”. What kind of clothing will you need if the nights are cold? For keeping dry? What kind of bedding to keep warm and comfortable during the night? Maybe some medicines if you get a cold or a stomach flu? To be wet, cold, sick or sleep bad during an event never makes it fun. Makes these things your priority when packing, and then fill up with pretty clothing, extra kitchen wares, nice flags and more.
This is what the tent looked like inside while we were moving in. We like carpets on the ground to have something dry to put down items and feet on. Under the bed we also had a plastic floor (a tarpaulin) to protect camping gear and the bed from wetness. It is very practical to have a part of your tent that will always be dry no matter the weather outside! In the wooden bed we use two modern mattresses that is easy to pack, and makes us sleep very good during long stays. Over them we have our sheep skins and then sheets, covers, blankets and feather pillows.
- Sleeping good is very important. I discovered that feather pillows and duvets covered in woolen blankets makes for the perfect warm and cozy bed. I make sure to cover the bed during the day with a woolen blanket to keep air moisture or rain out, and always bring a sleeping hat/cap, extra woolen socks, and ear plugs to have a good night sleep. Don’t survive outdoors, instead enjoy outdoors!
And done! I like to be able to hang things inside the tent, to have a table to put things on, and some sort of storage for food, dishes and other items. Without storage the tent will be impossible to live in after a few days…
- Outdoors I say? Yep; there will be bugs and small things coming inside. Avoid some of them by keeping the food stored away (we use plastic bins for that, hidden under the bed, under a cloth or inside baskets). I also hang my laundry or store it dry, keep the jugs and bottles upside down or closed and shake out my shoes before I put them on in the morning. A mosquito net over your bed can be a real saver, lets children sleep well, and take almost no space in your packing.
Shared joy is double joy! (in Swedish a proverb; “delad glädje är dubbel glädje”.) Share the camp with friends (new or old) and bring what you have in furniture, kitchen gear, wood and the like. Maybe you want to arrange the best wild-onion-swinging-partycamp ever, the largest childrens-picnic or an elegant cocktail party theme? Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors of your ideas of beforehand and get their approval, to have all the festivities at the same time might be a bad idea…
- Try to make some activities with the whole camp you live in. Maybe cooking together, share a meal, have a small party or just hang out. During festivals, markets and SCA events there are lots of things to see and do, but some of the best memories from my adventures come from hanging out with people I like, without doing anything special!
Getting to know new people. Maybe you don’t have lots of friends to share your historical adventures with yet? Well, go out and find some! Meeting new people and making new friends can be hard and tiring, but also rewarding. Here is my best actions to do so during SCA events. (The photo above is from a handcrafting picnic during Double Wars.)
- Check out the schedule, and attend the activities that sounds interesting. Maybe you don’t have the right gear or knowledge; show up anyway really early and ask the organizer if there is anything you could borrow or some try-outs before or after. I like sewing meetings and picnics, archery and parties.
- Join big gatherings like courts, open practices or handcrafting picnics. Ask questions, be interested, mention that you are new/would like to get to know people/love embroidery or whatever you like.
- Don’t take a no or a turn down personally. Maybe you misunderstood and the meeting was just for kitchen staff, or that interesting handcrafter you met yesterday now has a terrible cold/migraine and don’t want to hang out. Thats ok, it is not you.
- Help out. You don’t have to be a slave, but it is a good way to make new friends while doing things. Maybe the kitchen needs a helping hand (that is where the party is, right?), someone needs some help with carrying, or organizing a game/practice/cake eating contest or whatever. When people (especially swedes) work, they tend to be more talkative. And you have something in common!
- Be generous. With your time, attention, knowledge, friendship and what you have. If you attend an open picnic; bring some cookies. If you are going to an open party; take something to drink or share. Maybe you don’t know shit about medieval clothing, but you know a really fast way to mend socks? Share around!
Time to say goodbye? When the event comes to an end, it is time to pack everything together, say goodbye to all new friends you made and begin the journey home. Be gentle and kind to yourself when packing and traveling; nothing is worse than tearing down a camp with panic, being sick or tired after a party night that was a bit late. Allow yourself plenty of time, food and a good night sleep before a long traveling day.
- Plan your travel with extra time if something goes wrong. A wet camp is slower to pack than a dry one, bad weather or heavy traffic can slow things down.
- Consider when to pack and take down your tent. During the day the tent fabric dries out and the risk of mold is less, maybe it is possible to take down the tent during high noon? If early done, you can always attend one more picnic..?
- Allow the driver a restive night, to travel safely. Plan snacks, and breaks or change of drivers if you travel far.
- During some events, everyone wants to leave at the same time. This means it might get crowded, busy and hard to drive the car inside the camp. Check with the organizers what time could be good for packing and bringing out your camp.
- Always clean after yourself. Clean your campsite, fill out fire pits, take away trash… and then lend a hand to cleaning some common space that you have used during your stay (like a toilet, kitchen area, sweeping). When everybody does this, things get really nice and efficient.
And last but not least; when you have arrived home remind yourself about how awesome your adventure was while doing laundry, cleaning and unpacking. It might be a bit tiring with adventures…