I know the idea behind having no assigned camping is to promote a laid-back feel, but when I was a newcomer I was told by my local group: "You're welcome to camp with us. If not, probably no one will mind if you set up in their traditional spot. They might ask you to move your tent over or something, though, if there's a reason a particular tent in that spot is best for their group." Someone else chimed in, "Well, they might mind. Some groups have done improvements on their areas and may resent it if you take up enough space that one of them has to move elsewhere because of trees or pathways. And you don't want to put your modern tent in the area claimed by the people with the period encampment."
"How do I know what group camps where?"
"You just have to ask when you get to site. You probably don't want to be one of the first ones on."
As someone socially awkward, this was incredibly intimidating. Money or no money, it could be less worrying and off-putting to new folks if we could at least have a map marked with traditional spots, and maybe more pathway signs to help folks not get lost.
I suspect better signage might encourage more second-time visitors, too. I know I almost didn't come back because of the frustration of being repeatedly lost. (If you ask for directions somebody can tell you, "follow the path around that way," but when the path branches, or opens out entirely, or you can't tell whether it's a real path or you're rudely cutting through some household's private encampment...)
#3 Open up the early on possibilities and charge for them, or make a fee for reserved camping space. We say we don't have reserved space but we really do by tradition. Why not charge a little for it and make it “official”There are all sorts of ways this could be worked including having groups like baronies pay for a tent to get there reserved space. Perhaps a gang to set up tents for the older, lighter of heart-but then there are transport, responsibility, and return issues along with getting a crew to do it for
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