We will gather peacefully for silent meditation the morning of July 4th, 2018 from dawn until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the southern Appalachian Mountains. DIRECTIONS TO THE GATHERING ARE HERE (and contain road closure info, and other critical information. This post is updated frequently so check back for the latest.To learn how to get into the gathering without getting a mandatory court appearance ticket, click here.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Gathering with Kidz by Info Karen (Guest Post)

My good friend, Info Karen, put together today's guest blog post a few year's ago -- not to confuse anyone but there are two of us living in San Diego. Karen with an "E" and me - Karin with an "I". Since Info Karen has kids, she graciously agreed to put together today's guest post for those of you coming home with kids. If this helped you, please stop by Info when you're at the gathering and thank her.

Bringing babies and small children to the Rainbow Gathering can be quite a chore, but it is also very rewarding, and a wonderful growth experience for them. But deep woods camping with your kids can be quite a challenge. Being a Rainbow Mom myself, I was asked, a few years back to pass along some helpful advice for folks who are bringing their kids for the very first time. The following article sprang from those requests. I wrote it when my eldest was 6 and my twin boys were three and potty-training. I’ve been to the annual Gathering with my first when he was an infant and when he was 3, and then brought all three of them many times after that. This is especially directed at first time Gatherers since a few requests of this type have come my way, but there is lots of good advice for anyone with kids. Do you have more ideas? Please add them in the comment section.


ARRIVAL AND HIKING IN: When you first arrive at the Gathering, you will be directed to a meadow to park in, (or perhaps along a road). Hiking in with kids often takes a couple loads, so having a partner who can either hang with kids or go get the second load is a huge help. Get a baby carrier of some sort to carry your littlest ones in. On the first trip into the site, we tend to bring the kids, the tent and our plates, cups and utensils in the first load, plus whatever else we can manage. We each will wear a kid on our backs (we have twins). After figuring out where we want to camp, I will stay at the tent site with all three kids while the hubby goes out for another full load. While he is gone I will put the tent up, and perhaps go exploring with the kids to find a meal, fill our water bottles, and locate the nearest shitter.

KID VILLAGE: You can camp anywhere with kids, but it is especially nice to camp at Kid Village. It is a drug-free, peaceful area that serves three good kid-friendly meals every day. Kid Village is easy to find. Ask anyone. When you get to Kid Village ask the folks there where there are some good tent spots. They will direct you. At Kid Village, they usually have a little play area with seesaws and swings made from downed trees and rope. There is also usually a sit-down potty there (people just call toilet areas "shitters" so sorry if your child goes home spouting that word!! For adults, shitters are long trenches that you straddle. It’s nice to wear skirts if you want to have a little privacy cover!) Often for little children there are small deep cylindrical holes dug so that the kids don’t have to balance across a trench.

DIRTY KID VILLAGE (DKV):   We now have a second but different kid village focalized by those looking for a different vibe with the same focus on kids, meals, supporting other parents, etc.

DAILY LIFE: You will want to bring, for each of you, a water bottle, a dish, a spoon, a cup and a day pack to carry everything in while you are away from your tent. If you drink coffee, make your cup a thermal one with a lid. If you can, put a carabineer on your cup as it’s nice to always have it hanging from your belt. Each morning, you will want to pack your daypack for the day and go out wandering. You may head back to the tent for naptime, but you will want to take your dishes, your water bottle, and whatever diapers or things you need for the day with you when you leave your tent in the morning. For dishes, most people bring just a bowl. But after many years of gathering, I have discovered that the very best bowl is a tupperware or similar style container with a lid. This way, if you can't get to a dishwashing station right away after you eat, you can pop the lid on it and toss it in your bag without dirtying anything inside your bag. We found plate-shaped containers with three divided sections which is nice if you get soup and something else. It keeps them divided. Plates with lids are also good for bringing food back kids, or storing things they might not eat right away.

DIAPERS: If you use disposable diapers, I would bring a double thick bag (one inside the other, to lessen the smell and strengthen the bag) with some kind of clasp that can be put on and taken off numerous times, to keep your dirties in. You will need to hike this (very) heavy bag out at the end, as there are no trash stations inside the gathering. Everyone carries their own trash out. Depending on how long you stay, a full bag of dirty diapers can be one whole load! With twins, and ten days in, our bag was large and difficult to manage. If you use cloth diapers, I have seen people wash them out in five gallon buckets and hang them on clotheslines hung between trees. You can get a 5 Gallon bucket for about 3 bucks at large hardware stores. Bring your own clothesline as well. Kid Village has had a communal diaper wash area in the past but I don’t think it is a regular thing at all.

FINDING FOOD / DINNER CIRCLE: At Rainbow the food that is cooked in the kitchens is free for all, and is purchased with donations to the Magic Hat that lives on the desk at the Information Booth, and is also carried around every evening at Dinner Circle in a musical parade. Dinner circle happens every evening in the Main Meadow. Most larger kitchens will bring their cooked food down to the dinner circle and serve there. Bring your dishes! People form a large circle, do a group “Om”, and sit down in circle to be served by the food servers. Pregnant or nursing Mamas and children (and non-parents helping children) are asked to come to the center of the circle before the food is served to get first dibs. Don’t be shy. Come forward when it is announced and get your kid a plateful of good food! Breakfast and lunch are often served out of individual kitchens. Kid Village is a good place to find steady outpouring of food, and if your kid misses a meal, they can direct you to fixings for a peanut butter sandwich or a carrot or something. That said, most people like to bring snacks from home to keep in their tent to keep the kids happy. Dried fruit, nut butters, jerkey and granola are things many people tend to bring.

NAPS: For small babies, it’s not common, but I have seen people bring a playpen and hike it in. That way you can set the baby down somewhere clean for a while. You might consider bringing one and leaving it in the car. Then you can decide if you want to hike it in or not. A lightweight baby floor chair might be a simpler idea, or perhaps a Moses basket? When I brought my first born to his first gathering at about seven months old, I put a blanket in a cardboard box I got from a kitchen! Having walls is nice for a new crawler. A good ground-blanket made out of something with a water resistant bottom layer is nice to have. After realizing the cardboard box was nice to have but not the best choice, the next time I brought a kid’s pop-up backyard play tent. They pack down tiny and can be used to lay the baby down to sleep if you are out wandering away from your camp and want to take a break, or give him/her some shade to rest in. We also napped our eldest in that for a couple years. It was handy, and kept us from having to go and sit quietly outside our own tent for 3 hours every single day. We used two to nap our twins separately during the afternoon, because if they napped together, they would just play in the tent and not sleep.

NECESSITIES: You should have water bottles you can carry around for your family. You can fill them up at any kitchen. Look for a giant cooler on the kitchen counter with a spigot facing out toward the public walk-up area. Bring sun block, wide brimmed children’s hats, bug spray and sun glasses. We are bringing those new 200 hour LED flashlights for our littlest boys who will of course want to have one of their own when they see ours. They can accidentally leave it on for hours and it won’t use up the batteries. Sandals that can get wet or water shoes are great for playing in the stream. When the twins were three years old, and liked to wander, we brought masking tape and stuck some on the backs of their shirts saying “IF FOUND PLEASE RETURN TO INFO” where we were camped! When the kids got older we made sure each kid had his own daypack to keep track of his things.

TENT SLEEPING: Also bring warm sleeping bags. It gets down to 40 at night. We always bring thermal underwear to sleep in, both for us and for them. When our son was a baby, and we worried about the safety of sleeping bags, we slept him in a down-filled, winter outdoor snow suit, wearing a hat, with a regular blanket over him. That way I wasn't worried about losing him down inside the sleeping bag or about him scooting out into the cold at night. Beware of using any kind of gas heater inside your tent as the fumes inside a closed tent can be deadly.

NURSING BABIES: Another idea I has which turned out to be SUCH A GOOD IDEA, was my homemade nursing shirts. While still at home, I got a couple long-sleeved thermal shirts at the thrift store. I cut vertical slits in the front for nursing, and when I was at the Gathering I would wear these shirts underneath my regular shirt. The benefit is that on cold days, and ESPECIALLY on cold nights, I could lift my outer shirt to nurse without having to expose the sides of my torso to chill air. It was SO much warmer, and easier to doze when nursing in the middle of the night half our of a sleeping bag! These shirts might not be so necessary for eastern Gatherings, but most western Gatherings can get pretty cold at night.

COMMUNICATION FOR OLDER KIDS: As our kids got older, and wanted to go off and explore on their own, we went out and got a good set of FRS radios, one for each of us, and some extra batteries. These are fairly long range radios. For the kids we put them on lanyards and hung them around their necks, and sometimes they put them in their daypacks (although they sometimes would miss our calls if they did this). A belt loop holster would be a good choice as well. This way, if they want to stay out longer, or ask a question, they can reach you and it gives them some more freedom, and the parents some freedom as well! (Also, they are good for letting the other party know that pizza is just coming out of the Ovens and that you should hurry on over!)

LASTLY: Have a blast! It’s a great way to immerse your kids in wild nature! -Info Karen- (Mom to three exuberant boys) Please comment below with any questions or great ideas or parent-hacks of your own! Please comment below with any questions or great ideas or parent-hacks of your own!

There is also a Kidz Rap available on-line.


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  2. Consider bringing crappy/toy flashlights for kids who can't help shining it in your face over and over!