My thanks to the following: Baron Aquel of Darkstead Wood, Baroness
Johanna Dudley, Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood, Lord Corwyn ap Gruffith
Cynnil for their good ideas and Lord Li Kung Lo whose Pennsic
preparedness class at Sheep Thrills helped me when I started
- Make a list of what you intend to bring at least two weeks
before you leave. You are sure to remember more things, and a list
will force you to think about things. (Corwyn)
- Arrange for your transportation well in advance of the event.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good repair.
- Never travel without rope and money! (Corwyn)
- Take the event announcement/directions with you
- Car emergency kit. Spare, flares, flashlight, jumper cables,
cellular phone, AAA card, dry clothes, blanket, rope, tow cable,
- If you have a banner, display it where others can see it. People
are more likely to stop to help if they can identify you as belonging
to a group they know. Therefore SCAers are more likely to stop to
help, and let's be honest there is no way you can hide your
strangeness from other people. A banner is fairly innocuous unlike
say a shield or sword. (Corwyn)
- Work out how much to contribute for the travel expenses.
- If you are getting a ride, be ready and completely packed on time.
- Seamseal the tent well before the event and give it sufficient
time to dry.
- A tarp under the tent with the edges folded under the tent will
help keep you dry.
- Think about where the sun will be rising when you pitch your tent.
Especially if you have an easy bake oven, I mean small nylon tent. Is
there any way to take advantage of some shade? (Corwyn)
- Mark tent ropes with white tape or fabric so they will be seen at
- Check the tent again, are you sure you have poles and stakes, and
- Have a fire extinguisher or bucket with water or sand in an
accessible and visible place in camp.
- Be careful of trailing sleeves and long skirts or cloaks.
- Don't do anything stupid with it. Nuff said? [No, probably not,
you might want to look at the Pennsic fire advisory] (Corwyn)
- Verify that someone is taking responsibility for that
candle/fire or put it out.
- Soaking wooden utensils overnight can promote rot.
- Dirty dishes, garbage and empty bottles can attract animals/bugs
and should be quickly disposed of.
- Have sufficient garbage bags for the camp and bring one to the
tourney field/archery range.
- Be sure the area is clean when you leave.
- Gear left on the ground will trip people so remember to put it
Food and Drink
- Empty a little water from a 1 gallon jug and freeze the rest.
Keep it in your cooler will help keep it cold and you can keep adding
water into it for ice water.
- This works well with waterskins as well. Then you can take them
around with you. (Corwyn)
- Have a separate waterproof bag of ice for drinks so that you are
sure the ice isn't contaminated.
- Keep things like cereal boxes in water/dew proof containers or in
- Keep a food stash for yourself in case you get the munchies.
- Don't forget good nutrition, camping will stress the body; your
diet shouldn't compound this.
- Eating jerky/chips/pretzels can help you get enough salt.
- Have one for food and one for drink (or other well sealed things
(i.e. jars, NOT saran wrap)). (Corwyn)
- Keep the drink one full of water and only remove some water when
you need to make room for more ice (or beer). This will increase the
life of the ice. (Corwyn)
- Buy block ice instead of cubes if you have room. It will give you
more cold per dollar. (Corwyn)
- Get a water cooler and keep it full of iced water. It will
encourage you to drink. (Corwyn)
- In the food cooler, keep the ice on the bottom, and keep the food
separated if you can (a plastic coated refrigerator shelf might work).
- Keep the coolers full. As you run out of food put water bottles
in (especially if they are cold when you put them in). (Corwyn)
- Never let the cooler get warm. If you have a cooler full of water
and it gets warm, you have to empty it and start all over again.
Basically it means you have to replace all that water with ice, when
only a little ice would have kept it cold. (Corwyn)
- Pack the cooler in clumps. Separate Tupperware containers can
segregate things and keep one mishap from spoiling (contaminating)
everything in the cooler. Soggy meat juice ruins everything it
- Freeze as much food as possible especially meats they will usually
thaw before you need to cook them.
- Shade the cooler whenever possible. Put a towel over it or put it under a table or other shade.
- Drink some more water. (Corwyn)
- Find out what poison ivy looks like. (Corwyn)
- Shake out your boots before you put them on. (Corwyn)
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food
(baby wipes are good for this).
- Put sunblock on early in the day and reapply after lunch, even if
it is overcast. Get the waterproof kind, so you don't sweat it off.
- Heat-rash and chafing can be a problem. Many people wear shorts or
leggings to prevent thigh chafing--applying unscented stick deodorant
before you get chafed may also help. Some folks swear by Gold Bond
- A mini-flashlight comes in handy for those late night trips to the
porta-castle--it is a very good idea to look before you enter! Some
folks also duct-tape glow sticks in the privies at dusk to use as
- Keep a first aid kit with everything clearly labeled and in order.
- A water filter that can easily handle a lot of water is useful at
- Aquabands - these are sold in outdoors stores like EMS. You soak
one in water, it absorbs the water and you can wear it like a headband
or around you neck and cover with a veil.
- Or if you want to be more period looking, a simple white cloth
used as a veil or head covering works wonders. (Corwyn)
- Freeze some wet washcloths to bring out to the fields. (Ygraine)
- Headcoverings such as straw hats, hoods and opaque veils.
- Comfortable footwear, waterproof footwear and extra socks.
Sometimes just changing your footwear can be a relief.
- A good cloak is a source of warmth, a good place to sit and can
substitute for an umbrella.
- For both men and women -- make sure to pack undies that don't show
through lightweight or light-color garb. (Johanna)
- Pack a survival kit -- Band-Aids, aspirin, antacid, air mattress
repair kit, needle and thread, y-diverter for water spigot, matches,
duct tape, long sneaker laces (useful for all kinds of things from
securing tarps to serving as a mini clothes line to replacing broken
laces in garb), a couple of clothes pins (in case you want to rinse
out a couple of items of clothing) (Johanna)
- Pack some sort of pastime (small board game or deck of cards,
etc.) in a zip-loc, in case it is pouring rain and you are confined to
your tent or camp. (Johanna)
- Have a basket or scrip (shoulder bag) to carry supplies during the
day so you don't have to run back to camp. Some useful things:
sunblock, a pre-packaged snack, a drinking vessel, a piece of cloth
you can use for a veil, pencil and paper, inexpensive rain poncho or a
large trash bag (cut slits for arms and head) in case of a sudden
downpour, change for vending machines, pre-moistened towellettes or
sanitizing handwash gel, small pack of tissues...
- Shower bucket - take a covered plastic bucket from Dunkin Donuts,
McDonalds etc. to use as a seat in the shower and storage for shower
items and dry clothes. This is very handy for solar shower bags since
it's difficult to hang them high enough to wash your
- Solar shower bags are sold at outdoors stores and can be set up in
- Travel size containers of toiletries cut down on bulk.
- Bring the stuff you use every day - toothbrush , toothpaste,
floss, contact cleaning gear, soap, moisturizers, prescriptions
- Baby wipes are a hassle free way to keep your hands clean.
- Rather than use large bars of soap, save soap ends during the
year. Dry them well before storing. This way, if you drop your soap in
the solar shower drainage pit, you don't have to bother trying to
retrieve it from the mud and you haven't wasted a whole big bar.
- Bring a nail brush. (Johanna)
- Zip-locs are your friend! Pack large zip-loc bags with complete
sets of under-layers--socks, undies, chemise, undertunic. You can just
toss a fresh bag in your shower bucket every morning--saves hunting
around and makes housekeeping easier. (Johanna)
- Pack a zip-loc with basic shower necessities, comb, toothbrush,
toothpaste and sunblock. Pack less-frequently needed items in a
separate bag or two.
- Bring bug repellent
- Remember decadence is your friend . . . (Corwyn)
- Foot lotion
- Candy which does not melt in summer heat.
- baked goods
- Using the wrong tool for the job and the ensuing hospital trip.
- Heat exhaustion
- Food poisoning
- Woods injuries
- Partying to excess
- Wenching unwisely
Countess Mara's Instructions for Making Jerky
Homemade beef jerky is great stuff. It's a tasty non-sweet
snack that doesn't need to be kept cool (though you'd better
keep it dry!). It's just the thing to feed overheated fighters, or
anyone else who's been running around in the heat (except
vegetarians, of course!). Homemade jerky is less expensive than the
commercial variety, and it tastes better and doesn't contain the
This is not a period recipe. Mistress Marian of Edwinstowe told me
that medieval people sliced and dried meat and fish, but they cured it
with smoke rather than spices, and they certainly didn't eat it as
I learned to make jerky many years ago, when Herr Johan von
Traubenberg did a workshop on it for the Carolingian Cooks Guild.
These instructions derive pretty directly from that workshop. Jerky
is not hard to make, just a little tedious.
First, figure out what you're going to use to dry it.
Option 1: I use an electric food dehydrator, which will cost you
somewhere between $70.00 and $200.00 or so, depending on the size and
the features. Look for them in stores with a large selection of
kitchen appliances, or stores or catalogs catering to home vegetable
gardeners. Or call "American Harvest" at (612) 448-4400 and
ask them the current price and shipping charge for a "Harvest
Maid Model FD-50 food dehydrator", which is what I use. It comes
with 4 drying trays, and you can buy extra trays if you want
Option 2: Build your own dryer. Get 6 cake-drying racks, a socket
for a 200-watt lightbulb and some plywood or masonite. Build a box
that will hold the cake racks in a stack about the light bulb, with
about a foot between the lowest rack and the light bulb, and 2 inches
of clearance between the racks. There should be openings of about an
inch wide near the top and bottom of the box so air can circulate. Of
course, it needs a door so you can get at the racks, and the racks
should slice so you can clean them. You can find more detailed
instructions in a book by Gretchen McHugh, "The Hungry Hiker's
Book of Good Cooking", published in 1982 by A. Knopf, Inc., ISBN
Option 3: Use an oven. I've gotten this to work, but it's a
real pain. It ties up the oven for at least 18 hours, and ties you to
the home for the same time period. Get yourself a package of bamboo
skewers (like for shish-kebobs). Thread your meat slices onto the
skewers and lay the skewers on the over racks so that the meat dangles
down below the over racks. Set the oven to about 150 degrees and prop
the door open with a wooden spoon. If the oven is too hot, the meat
will cook rather than dry. I think that a gas oven with just the
pilot light on will not supply enough heat to dry the jerky - if
there's not enough heat the meat will spoil. Turn the oven OFF
while you sleep.
You need a sharp knife for cutting the meat, even if
you're going to do most of the work on a meat slicer.
Look for a piece of meat with a little marbling (fat strung through
the meat in threads). The more fat that is left in the jerky, the
more likely it will go rancid. I usually buy top round roast. I
recommend that for your first batch you work with a piece weighing
about 2 pounds.
Now decide how you want to flavor it. The only essential
ingredient of the cure is salt. I think is important that the salt be
kosher salt, but I am not sure why (maybe the smaller crystals of the
table salt react differently?). Usually I mix freshly ground pepper,
powdered ginger and dried minced garlic with the salt until it looks
like dirty sand. I never measure, but you might start with a half a
cup salt, 3 tablespoons of pepper and 2 tablespoons each of ginger and
garlic. Put in any spices or herbs you like. A wet cure (like
teriyaki sauce) can also be used, but the meat will take longer to dry
and sometimes the flavors in a wet cure change oddly during the drying
If you partially freeze the meat, it will be easier to slice.
Since I usually end up freezing the meat solid when I try this, I just
use a very sharp knife. Start by cutting off every scrap of fat you
can. After trimming off all the fat off, you could then slice it in a
meat slicer, but I'm not so sure I would use one if I had one,
because as I slice, I cut off the fat surrounding blood vessels in the
meat (Fat left in the meat may go rancid, or may melt during the
drying process so that the finished jerky has little pools of oil on
the surface. Even after the oil is blotted off with paper towels, the
jerky doesn't taste quite right). Slice it across the grain,
keeping the thickness of the thick-sliced commercial bacon. Thinner
slices will dry faster. I prefer the texture of thick pieces.
In a glass or plastic container (NOT metal), alternate single
layers of meat with a generous sprinkling of the cure. I put on
enough so it looks like snow just starting to stick. Cover the meat
with plastic wrap and put a weight on top. Let it sit in the
refrigerator overnight so the cure flavors can soak in.
Note for the first batch: Divide the first batch you make
into several smaller portions and put different amounts of cure, and
maybe some different flavors of cure, so you can find out what you
Put single layers of meat on the racks of your dryer, and set it
going. Mine takes 8 to 16 hours, depending on the current humidity
and thickness of the slices. I think homemade dryers might take
longer because they have no fans. Jerky should crack when bent. Heat
keeps it pliable, so take a piece out the dryer (choose a thick one if
they vary) and cool it a moment before testing it. If in doubt,
remember it is better to over- then under-dry.
I've never been able to keep my jerky long enough to find out
when it will go bad. Keep it in the refrigerator for long term
storage. It will certainly survive a week or two of being left out
(even in hot and muggy weather) if kept dry.
This recipe may be freely copied and distributed. Please append
your commentary to the end rather than editing my text.
Another Beef Jerky Recipe
1 flank steak, 1 1/2 lb.
1 tsp. seasoned salt, liquid smoke or BBQ salt
1/3 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Accent
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
Trim off all possible fat, semi freeze the meat, slice it with the
grain, 1/8" thick. Marinate overnight in a shallow glass pan,
thoroughly covered. Lay strips of marinated meat in a single layer on
oven rack (place a cookie sheet or tin foil underneath to catch the
drippings). With oven door open a crack, roast at lowest possible
temperature (125 - 140) for 8 - 12 hours. Taste occasionally, until
it is chewy as desired. Makes about 1 1/2 lb. of jerky.
Notes on the recipe
The key points are to select lean meat, slice it thin (partially
freezing the meat helps), marinate overnight, dry slowly on low heat
and test the jerky from time to time to see if it has the proper
It is best to slice the meat into strips rather than slices.
Don't be afraid to vary the ingredients, but the marinade must be
salty to cure the meat. I usually use eye round roast, garlic salt
and onion salt rather than powders and I sometimes leave out the
Accent since it has MSG.
My food dehydrator takes about 12 - 18 hours to dry the jerky.
Since jerky is dehydrated meat the weight of jerky will be much
less than the weight of meat you used.