With the summer drawing to a close, our volunteers have amounted a vast supply of tips and tricks. Drawing from their collective knowledge on how to complete a successful camping mission, we’ve compiled a list of core advice to help you navigate next year’s festival season. Below are our top 5!
1. Think before you pack
Our volunteers take various techniques when it comes to what they bring to a festival. We ran into Richard steering a wheelbarrow through the Oxfam camping. Curious about its purpose, we asked if he had any tips to share. It soon became clear that Richard was a packing pro as he shared this advice with us:
‘Make sure you’re well prepared for all weathers and not being cold at night! I have an air bed with two duvets. And make you don’t pitch your tent on a slope, get there early to get the best spot.’ – Richard
So make sure your tents is not on a slope, think ahead for what you’ll need – but also how you’re going to get it into the campsite! A big tent is also a good idea, and from experience, we’ve found that if a tent is sold as a two-man it will probably be a better fit for one, or alternatively two child-sized men. So if you like your space and aren’t particularly little, one up your tent size for a better fit.
Richard outside his tent, which was fully stocked up with even a table inside!
Richard did also remind us that he drove to the festival. A good thing about camping with Oxfam is that the car park is usually close, allowing you to prepare for every eventuality with a car. However, if you’re reaching a festival by train or bus then two wheelbarrows may not be an option for you. Now it’s time to think about packing smart and how to re-use items. One volunteer said about using old clothes as a make-shift towel for the showers; another suggested a water bottle that flattens to save space. General advice though has been just to use your common sense. Think logically about what clothes and food you need, and how to stop it getting wet if it rains on the way in!
‘We saw people in the queue to Boardmasters when it was raining and their stuff got wet in their bag, so bring a waterproof or bin bag to put over your bag so your stuff doesn’t get wet!’ – Saph
Saph getting ready to explore at (the thankfully sunny) Bestival
A waterproof is always a good thing to pack, as rain is not uncommon, but the best advice is …
2. Be prepared for all weather!
Whilst pictures of British festivals are usually characterised by heavy rain and swamps of mud, last season we were blessed with nearly continuous sun. Reaching scorching highs, it is important for your safety to prevent overheating and keep cool. With the trend of very cold winters and very hot summers likely to increase, due to climate change, the message of staying safe in the sun is ever more poignant. Darren, one of the stewards, showed us his heat survival kit consisting of a hat, suncream and lip balm with spf, alongside sharing this simple but crucial advice:
‘If you can find some shade then stand in it. As soon as you realise you’re not feeling well then act on it, sit down and get some water.’ – Darren
As it gets hotter throughout the day we, in Britain, tend to forget the basics of hats, sunnies, suncream, shade and water. This often results in sunburn or even sunstroke.
Pack warmer clothes than you think you’ll need, because it gets cold at night. A cosy sleeping bag, a fluffy jumper and your favourite pyjama bottoms are all a bedtime must.
Wayne, who’s jumped in at the deep-end of festival volunteering, contributing to 5 last year and an outstanding 10 this year, gives great advice to sum up this section:
‘Just the same as life in general: be prepared. We live in the UK so there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing – we’ve got a double climate so it could be sunny in the morning and raining in the afternoon. Pack for rain and pray for sun.’ – Wayne
3. Protect your valuables
Oxfam staff camping is one of the most secure you’ll find at a festival, with stewards constantly on the gates monitoring who comes in and out. Nevertheless, it’s always good to know some tricks for preventing theft. Three girls with some advice to give you peace of mind are Lily, Niamh, and Holly. Here’s what they told us …
‘When you’re asleep, put valuables at the bottom of your sleeping bag!’- Lily.
‘Get a decoy purse with an old card, some coins, so that if anyone is looking in your tent, they’ll take that one.’ – Niamh.
‘You could hide your stuff in a wetwipe packet too, or use a bin bag – put some empty bottles and stuff on top. No one goes looking through a bag of rubbish!’ – Holly.
4. Don’t forget the basics!
David: “Bring your own proper pillow. The small plastic ones are rubbish. Also a lantern that you can bring to hang in your tent for night time.”
Steve: “Bring toilet roll and bio-degradable wet wipes – basic tip but very necessary.”
David: “And bring your tent, someone forgot theirs around us!”
It may seem obvious – but make sure you have the basics with you. Additional to a lantern or torch, toilet roll, and a tent, also remember the essentials of a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Make sure to check what the festival says about bringing aerosol deodorant too, as some ban it as a potential fire hazard. We’re sure that after a few days both yourself, and the others around you, will appreciate the necessity of a roll on.
To avoid having precious alcohol confiscated too, make sure to check the festival’s restrictions. These generally limit the number of cans you can bring and very often ban glass bottles, so don’t splash out on a bottle of spirits as you’re likely to be sorely disappointed.
Remember that Oxfam camping has a number of festival luxuries not provided for regular punters. There’s hot water, so pot noodles and cutlery is a good idea, and tea and coffee is provided so a mug is also a must.
The last basic is …
5. Be ready to make new friends!
Wayne says: ‘bring a positive attitude!’. Wayne has lived up to the challenge of ‘fill your summer with festivals’ with his ten this year.
‘Bring a pillow, a good sense of humour, don’t be shy, just talk to your neighbour and share things around.’ – Jones
You don’t need to go to ten festivals a year to appreciate the value of this advice. Almost everyone we spoke to told us how much they’ve enjoyed getting to know other volunteers, and how welcoming the ‘Oxfamily’ is.