Getting Ready for Fires of Venus
Camp Ramblewood is in northeastern Maryland, about 90 minutes south of Philadelphia and 45 minutes north of Baltimore. You can use our standard driving directions or use your GPS or your favorite mapping site to find 2564 Silver Rd, Darlington, MD.
The Camp's phone number is 410-457-4228. Please use & distribute this phone number for emergencies only.
Weather for Darlington
- You can find a current local forecast for Darlington at the Weather Underground or NOAA. As usual, we've put in for warm and sunny, but you never know.
- If you're driving, make sure your car's in good shape, especially if you're driving a long distance. Check your hoses, belts, tires, and your spare tire and jack. If your car is getting elderly, you might want to spring for AAA.
- If you're using public transit:
- MegaBus (fairly comfortable, low cost, WiFi) has a stop in White Marsh (just north of Baltimore) which (per their website) is served by buses from from NYC, Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, DC, Richmond, and Hampton, VA. We might be able to arrange a ride from White Marsh, but that varies a lot by when you're arriving.
- You may also be able to put together a useful route on the Bolt Bus (also comfortable, low-cost, and has WiFi). Buses from some locations go to Penn Station in Baltimore, from which you can catch MARC Penn Line train on weekdays.
- Some Amtrak Northeast Regional line trains stop at the Aberdeen (ABE) station, as does the MARC Penn Line (but only on weekdays). We may be able to arrange a ride from Aberdeen; if not, try Victory: 410-272-3000 or Eagle: 410-322-3296 (˜$25 for 1–2 people).
- The nearest airports are PHL and BWI. BWI has a link to ground transportation options on their homepage; PHL's start here. It's unlikely that we can fetch you from either airport; Victory Cab recently quoted $95 for pickups from BWI. On weekdays, it is possible to get from BWI to Aberdeen on the MARC (see above).
- If you're traveling by air:
- Check the TSA Website for up-to-date information on what can and can't be carried on and/or checked and other useful trip-planning information.
- Pay attention to the TSA's/your airline's suggestions about how far ahead of time you should arrive for your flight.
- Carry at least one change of clothes plus your prescriptions and your jewelry in your carry-on. Airlines seem to delight in sending people to one destination and their bags to the other side of the planet.
- Wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes that you can get on and off easily.
- Be aware that large, conspicuous jewelry can sometimes set off the metal detector and may single you out for closer inspection.
- Don't try to carry on anything like an edged weapon. We strongly suggest that you think twice about whether you want to transport one at all.
- Remember that airport security people conspicuously lack a sense of humor about things they consider to be safety threats.
What to Bring
- If you're in a cabin: Bring a sleeping bag or sheets; the cabins have a mix of standard and extra-deep single mattressess. There's usually at least one rainy, chilly night at Gathering, so, a light blanket is also a good idea. You'll also probably want at least 2 towels—one for showering and one for the pool—plus a grubby towel if you're participating in a sweat.
- If you're in a tent, do not use anything that produces a flame—torches, lanterns, candles, stoves—inside your tent; you risk setting yourself, your tent, and/or your bedding on fire and/or poisoning yourself with carbon monoxide. If this is the first time you're using your tent this season or it's new, we strongly suggest that you get it out and test setting it up at least once before you come. You might also want to test its waterproofing and re-seal it if it leaks. There are few things more miserable than sleeping in a leaky tent in the rain. You'll also probably want an air mattress or pad between you and the ground; sleeping on the ground, even with a sleeping bag, will make you feel old and creaky before your time. Make sure that you have all the pieces (tent, poles, stakes, ropes, fly, tarp/ground cloth...), a mallet (for pounding stakes), and a claw hammer (for pulling them). We also request that you flag your ropes with reflective or brightly-colored tape so that people can avoid them in the dark.
- Clothes: While our camping events are clothing-optional, clothes are often a good option. Layers are your friend. We strongly suggest at least one warm outfit, a rainproof of some sort and one pair of rain-friendly shoes. Bring ritual garb, sandals, hiking shoes, pool shoes (especially for kids—the pool bottom is rough), outrageous costumes, comfy clothes, a swimsuit if you don't want to skinny-dip...
- A water bottle and a travel mug (both of which are also on offer at the Camp Store). We'd like it a lot if we didn't have to buy any more disposable cups. We also discourage bringing flats of bottled water; Ramblewood well water is safe (and tasty).
- If you're on the meal plan, you'll probably still want to bring some snacks and/or drinks.
- If you're not on the meal plan: when planning your camp kitchen, please remember that fire regulations prohibit using camp stoves or grills inside your cabin or on the porch. We suggest:
- a pop-up, dining fly, other other shade piece.
- at least one cooler (neither the events nor the camp can provide food storage, but you can get ice onsite).
- a camp stove or hibachi (remember fuel and/or charcoal) and a lighter or matches.
- plates and eating utensils.
- cooking utensils and a hot mitt.
- a can opener and a churchkey.
- a dishpan and dish soap. You can get hot water from cabins, but you can't wash dishes in the cabin sinks.
- napkins and/or paper towels.
- trash bags. Remember that there are raccoons and other critters that like people food at Camp. It's a good idea to hang your trash bag up high to discourage them, and to store your non-refrigerated food in sturdy containers.
- Personal Care: If you're taking prescription medications, please bring enough to last you the whole time you're onsite and appropriate storage. If you have a Medic Alert bracelet, please wear it all the time. You'll probably also want: soap, shampoo & conditioner, baby wipes, a basic first aid kit, razor, comb & brush, toothbrush & toothpaste, aspirin/ibuprofen/acetominophen, bug repellent, sunblock, poison ivy remedies... We, personally, use Dr Bronner's for both people and dish washing.
- Shade: We suggest at least one pop-up or similar shade piece for your camp. If you're running a camp kitchen, a second shade piece for your cooking & food storage is a really good idea.
- Light: We suggest a flashlight and spare batteries—and we have nice LED flashlights with the FSA logo at the Camp store. It gets dark at night, even with a full moon, and it can be difficult to navigate up and down the hill to the drum circle even with the torches in place. Tiki torches (if we're not having drought conditions) or solar lamps are a nice addition, as are bug buckets (big citronella candles), and a larger lamp.
- Chairs & Tables: You're going to want someplace to sit while you're in camp, and somewhere to set your plates and drinks. If you're cooking, you'll also need a sturdy table to set your stove on and to prep food on. You might also want a small portable chair for taking to classes or workshops.
- Tools & Miscellaneous: Stuff we've found useful and/or necessary: a fire extinguisher, a mini sewing kit that includes a couple of safety pins, a notebook and pen or pencil, a travel mug, a water bottle, both a sledge hammer (for pounding stakes) and a claw hammer (for pulling them), extra bungee cords, extra tent stakes, duct or gaff tape, a clock, extra ziploc bags and extra trash bags, a rain poncho, a pair of binoculars (for sky-watching or birding), and a folding shovel.
- Fun stuff: Musical instruments, drums, games, cards, camp decorations & banners, windchimes, your imagination, your dancing shoes...
- Ritual garb & tools: Staves, wands, athames (with the travel caveats mentioned above), swords (ditto), pentacles, cups, robes...
What to Leave Home
- Do not bring pets, animal companions, or familiars. We do welcome service animals; please let us know ahead of time if you'll have one with you.
- Do not bring firearms.
- Do not bring illegal items or substances.
- Please don't bring fireworks, including sparklers. There's no safe place to set them off.
- Please think twice about bringing flats of water in single-use bottles. Ramblewood's well water is safe and tasty, and the Camp Store carries spiffy red stainless steel bottles with the FSA logo (not to mention travel mugs and tumblers).
- In Havre de Grace, along US 40, there are various restaurants, a couple of grocery stores and a liquor store (right after your turn right from Rt 155).
- In Aberdeen, along Rt 22 just east of I-95, there are a Target, bed & breakfasts and motels, restaurants, a couple big grocery store (Shop Rite), a drug store (Walgreen's), another (better) liquor store, a Radio Shack, and a Home Depot. On US 40, you'll find the aforementioned Amtrak/MARC stop, a Wal-Mart, yet another liquor store, and more restaurants.
- In Bel Air, off Rt 24 (I-95 x77 for Bel Air), you'll find a Staples, lots and lots of restaurants, a good liquor store, a Wegman's, and a BJ's.
- The closest place for essentials is the Royal Farms on US1 a couple miles north of Shuresville Rd (rght onto Shuresville from Silver Rd; right onto US 1 North at the stop sign; cross the dam; it's on the left in about 2 mi).
Our guide was inspired by Silver Ravenwolf's Festival Advice page.