That being said, showing up at a gathering and not knowing anyone can be very overwhelming.
My best advise is to plan your arrival for early in the morning (say before 10 AM). This may mean you stay at a campground or a motel a short drive away from the gathering. Get up at 7 a.m. and do the last 75 miles. These are always the slowest hardest miles into a gathering site, some times it is easy to get lost, roads can be rough, folks are exhausted and tempers can flare. You don't want your first gathering experience to be a bad one do you?
If you already have plans to meet up with friends at a specific camp, gather your gear and ask people to point you to that camp. Otherwise, ask for INFO. The journey from your car to INFO may take hours. Bring one gallon of water per person for the hike in, more if you can carry it. Sometimes it's a long hike in, sometimes there a lot of traffic on the trail, sometimes you need to explore the sights along the way. Sometimes you get sidetracked by a drum circle or hug pile. Filtered water will be available at the gathering but you don't want to have to fill up for at least 8-10 hours after you arrive and one gallon of water goes fast at the gathering.
Once you reach INFO, there will be a map showing the gathering layout and some of the many camps. Some camps are location based such as NERF (New England Rainbow Family), others are activity based such as Yoga Camp. If you're not sure what's right for you, ask the folks at INFO questions about the vibe of the different camps. Again this may take hours and you want to set up your tent before dark. AGAIN I REPEAT. You will be happier if you get your space set up before dark unless wandering around all night long without a flashlight and a jacket is what makes you happy, then go for it. I also recommend walking around the gathering and feeling out what feels like a good place for YOU. Once you feel that, introduce yourself to who ever is around and say you'd love to plug into this camp. Then take it from there. Always keep your day pack with you. Keep your flashlight, bowl and eating utensils, a water bottle with drinking water, as well as a sweater or such in your backpack on your back every time you leave your tent. You may think you'll be back in 5 minutes, but you may not make it back until after dark. Find me at the gathering and ask me the story of Utah 2003 if you don't believe me.
Keep in mind that your first day at your first gathering is going to be a long one. No matter what, do not get separated from your gear unless the person who has it is someone personally known to you. If someone offers to help carry it, stay with them. If you don't, you and your gear may take a few days to reconnect. If you shuttle in, DO NOT put your gear on a different shuttle than you are going on. Hiking in is confusing and that kind sibling who offered to carry your tent may have thought you were going to Yoga Camp when you said Yoga Space - and yes sometimes there are multiple camps with very similar names. Again it make take a few days for you and your gear to connect up again. If you brought it, keep it with you and take it home when you leave (trash included). The less you bring the less you have to haul out.
Remember, dinner circle is in main meadow - Listen for the conch shell being blown later afternoon. Bring your bowl and a spoon so you have something to eat with.
If you need help with anything, go to INFO and we'll help you out as best we can.
|Info Crew (Montana 2013) Providing Free Rainbow Shrugs|
(you'll get the joke after you been home for a few days)