This weekend we will be leaving for the Society for Creative Anachronism's Pennsic Wars in Pennsylvania. This is the 41st war and will be the 9th one we have attended. Its is kind of like a Renfaire on steroids. It is our chief family vacation each year. Although many of my friends think the idea of getting away to the Middle Ages for a bit is interesting, most of them don't think much of the camping in the woods for 2 weeks part. Camping is an activity we enjoy though, so that is not a bother for us, not even dealing with the (well maintained) porta-johns for 2 weeks.
|This picture gives a small idea of the scale of Pennsic, you can see maybe a tenth of the household tents plus the merchant areas and the battlefield.|
For me there are 2 main appeals, beyond down time with the family and general diffusion of knowledge. One is that the theatre person within me loves all the costuming and ritual. The other is that there are no (visible) cell phones around....let alone land line phones. Indeed it is considered the height of rudeness to have that most pervasive of anachronisms announce its presence. For a 911 operator, not hearing a phone ring for 2 weeks is full blown Nirvana.
There is also a slower pace to days. Although some events do take place
on a specific schedule, a lot of other happen when they happen. Not only do I not have to hear phones for 2 weeks I don't hear an alarm clock either. Also one walks to things. Most people have forgotten how to walk to something that is more than a block away. Walking imposes many things (what do I take with me when I go out that I must carry, how much time do I
allow to walk 1/2 to be where I need to be.)It allows time for winsome detours like following a labrynth. Its also nice not to worry about the price of gas, or all those other drivers, for a whole 2 weeks.
For the kids Pennsic has provided chances to be independent in a relatively safe space...to make a little money selling ice to camps, to walk about with friends without excessive parental hovering. The wide variety of activities both keeps them busy and allows each to pursue their own interests.
They also get to do chores like wood chopping and fire building that allows them to feel the camp really depends on them (at least for dinner) in a way it doesn't at home.
And never underestimate the appeal of being able to shoot or throw potentially dangerous items, or even to just aim water pistols at a fort.
Having fun storming the castle.
Do not get me wrong, I wouldn't want to live without television, computers, electricity or flush toilets. But its nice to take a break once a year and remember what it essential and what is convenient.
Plus its just so much fun.