For most of my career as a Heartland Pagan Festival attendee, I had camped either alone or as an attaché to a larger encampment. I partied with the Big Damn Heroes (a now-defunct band from Oklahoma and the various friends and lovers they brought with them) and with Camp Taco (several women from St.Louis, who I would party with when I moved there in 2k6), but otherwise kept to myself. When Aradia and I started attending together in 2k9, we continued the pattern except as a couple.
This year, as the most experienced festival attendees with the most supplies to share, we found ourselves as the heads of an encampment. Though Pasiphae ended up working closely with Aradia on the shopping and packing lists, she and Aidan had formally appointed us “Camp Mom” as early as Beltane. We were also joined by Camp Taco’s Aurora, a couple of her close friends, and Alopex, and old friend of mine from the early KU Cauldron days, as well as a couple refugees from the Big Damn Heroes. There were eight of us, officially, and three or four more “satellite” characters camped with us. Between this (unofficial) leadership role and my work exchange arrangement—20 hours of time to helping run the festival in order to get in for free—contributed to the very different tenor this festival had for me.
The transformation from a pile of Satyr’s and Aradia’s friends into a coherent encampment of festival family was an impressive one. Unfortunately, on account of the work exchange, I wasn’t there for several key portions of it. The credit, if such a thing is due, must go to Aradia and her meticulous diplomacy, and to the fact that we just have really, really awesome friends.
We dubbed ourselves Camp WTF, in part an acknowledgement of our diverse backgrounds and arrangements on the one hand, and the utter disaster state the camp was in at the time we were having the discussion. They took the Rogue Potato as our mascot, and a Blanket Fire as part of our heraldry.
The symbols and rituals we developed were all Great Moments In You Had To Be There, and they were all beautiful. I’m working on drawing up our heraldic crest and designing our flag. I can’t wait to see the madness that will grow out of this. Everyone in camp was family by the end of the festival.