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Beginner's Corner
Section 2.....Keepin' Goin'


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No, it's not skinning bucks............ Developed and maintained by JP Finn

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Time—An Overrated Notion


Phil Jose

There's a part of our "simpler, more natural" way of life that leaves present day scientists absolutely baffled. These late Twentieth/ early Twentieth First Century whiz kids claim that with our Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century technology, we shouldn't be able to do the thing we do without fail every time we get together: We make time slow down.

Call it rendezvous time, Indian time, or camp time, the passage of time in camp is a markedly different experience than that Monday through Friday time you mark on your digital wristwatch. It's not any kind of rule, but more of a natural phenomenon, that you leave your "o'clock" mentality in the parking lot. For most folks, the keeping track of time slides off their backs as easily as their street clothes.

For those of you who find this a difficult concept, there's a rule of thumb that's pretty easy to remember: Relax! Once you've set up Friday evening or Saturday morning, the only schedule or deadline you have to meet is to tear down Sunday afternoon. (Unless, of course, you're part of the club that's putting on the event.) But have a listen to the conversations going on among the participants. You'll hear things like, "You gonna shoot today?" "I might. I dunno, I might put it off 'til tomorrow." Those are the people with the right idea of period-proper timekeeping. You're not obligated to do anything, and you have the entire weekend to get it done.

I know well of what I write. My day job is such where at every turn I'm meeting deadlines, resetting priorities, calling folks back after a given time, and just generally doing all those things that make me run away to camp every chance I get. Those first couple of events were a little awkward for me. I still was thinking in terms of "Hey guys, shouldn't we be doing something?!" But when it started dawning on me just how wonderful it was to sit in one spot for a good long while, watching the people and the clouds pass me by, thinking of nothing more complicated than whether or not I should go on walkabout.

I've been working on a little something to help you through this rather difficult transition. Here and now, I'm debuting Phil's Patent Pending, Works Every Time Camp Clock. I've found it a handy little gadget over the years. Frankly, I think it's the only method of telling time that should be allowed in camp:

(Did you notice how that word "probably" keeps cropping up? It ain't no hangin' matter if you happen to be wrong.)

By the way, the suggested actions come at absolutely no additional charge. (They're actually holdovers from my Enthusiastic Flatlander/Early Pilgrim Phase. As I cluelessly wandered around in those early camps, I didn't realize all that reenacting entailed. The time, labor, and money being spent in order to preserve part of the past went straight over my head. Casual observation of the folks in camp indicated that they were there to eat.) Anyhow, these actions have always worked for me and have made for some pretty pleasant weekends.

Now that I have you coasting for days at a time whiling away the hours with a "Let's do it later" attitude, I'm going to lightly apply the brakes. I want to make sure you know when camp time does not apply at an event:

Did you promise someone that you'd have that knife made or that pouch beaded by a certain event? You've given Your Word, pilgrim, so have it ready. Even if you haven't promised it by a specific date, it's good manners to get it done as soon as you can.

Bear in mind that at some of the pickier events, you are required to unpack your gear and get your vehicle out of the camp within a certain time, say half an hour. These events are still too upscale for you, but be aware that they're out there.

The interesting thing about camp time is that it's one reenacting skill everyone seems to get the hang of rather quickly. Leaving those fancy timepieces at home is a fine way to understand a little more about the world in which your persona lives. It's a very necessary part of the mindset you need to reenact well.

It's also a major source of the fun.

Copyright 2000, Philip Jose.


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