Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spotlight on . . . Land

Thanks to Baron G. Emerson True and his staff for putting together this terrific description of all that they accomplish over the course of a year to prepare for everyone's arrival!

The Department of Zoning and Planning – better known as Land Staff - is a tight group of people who work throughout the year to ensure that everyone pre-registered for Pennsic has a place to live. With almost 12,000 attending that takes a massive amount of preparation and coordination.

By the time you are in line for troll the majority of Land Staff’s work has been done.   Land staff is instead working to solve a few remaining problems and planning how to improve next year’s Pennsic land grab.

In truth, most campers rarely even see the Land Department.  The department is made up of about 20 members including a cartographer, surveyor, map artist, historian, web minister, hospitality and many more.

The stream-lined check-in system takes much less time than it once did. The majority of block maps were signed off by 9:30 am last year, unlike noon or later in early years.  Almost 12,000 campers from approximately 600 groups are organized  into 85 camping blocks which also provide space for single campers. By noon on the first Saturday of Pennsic, nearly 5,000 campers are setting up, the culmination of a year of hard work by the Department of Zoning and Planning (Land) has been accomplished and another Pennsic has begun.

The Land process itself begins New Year’s Day  as some people are just beginning to dream of their summer at Pennsic. Land registration opens online on January 1 and the Lands Agents start to register their respective camp groups and camp block location preferences. With group names ranging from A Keep Away & Abbaye D’Arnou to Wycked Wyvern and Zeebera, there are everything from small households to large kingdoms represented by Land Agents.

The process continues as Land Agents register their groups and block preferences on the Land Staff database, which ties in with the Cooper’s camper registration to link each camper with their chosen camp group. This connection gives Land Staff the number of campers in each camp and their location preference in order to fit all the camps and campers in the blocks.

In May, over the Aethlemarc War Practice, at the Pennsic staff meeting, Land Staff meets with the other departments and the Coopers to review any plans and changes for the land for the upcoming Pennsic.

On June 15, Cooper’s camper registration closes and now it is up to Land Staff to fit in all the groups on the camp blocks, trying to accommodate everyone’s choices. Due to registration numbers and possible physical changes, some groups may have to move and some may have to compress. Emails go back and forth from Land Staff to Land Agents to coordinate any changes. In the end, everyone works together and everyone has a place to camp.

Once the event starts is the most exciting time as finally the planning is seen in action.  After trolling in, Land Staff are some of the first people Land Agents see.  First port of call at War for the Land Agents is to come to the Barn to share smiles with the volunteers and pick up land package for their camp.

Approximately 600 Land Agents will pick up their land package from noon on Friday until 8 am on Saturday morning. From here on in the idea is to meet up with the other Land Agents in their block and mark out on a map their own camp location. Actually, in the last few years to take advantage of the fact that many blocks contain camps that have been there for years and the Land Agents have gotten to know each other Land Staff has offered “Express Check-in” with the ability for them to gather and get their block map signed off on Friday night. (Though no one is allowed access to their block until picking up their approved camping authorization and vehicle passes on Saturday morning.)  If the meet up for Land Agents on the block does not happen Friday night then Saturday morning of the first weekend people join the throng outside the barn carrying signs with block letters and numbers written on them.  Old friends and new faces meet up and head off to the block to map out their allocated space, physically and draw it on the map as well.  Once these maps are completed, Land Staff review and approve them and provide the Land Agents with their camping authorization form and vehicle passes to enter the campground on Saturday morning prior to noon.

 During the Land Distribution process Land Staff are there to distribute information, guide, answer questions, and sort out any issues.

The maps each Land Agent signed get copied and distributed to various other Pennsic departments so that campers can be located for delivery of messages or in case of an emergency.  (This is why you will see us still in the Barn on Saturday and Sunday assembling binders and getting the details of what camp is where to those who need to know.)

Once the dust has settled with the Land Distribution process, throughout the rest of the war, Land Staff are available to check in with the Land Agents on the blocks and ensure everything is working well, rules are followed, and single campers are accommodated.

So come and see us Friday night of opening weekend, come share our hospitality and remember that it is the work of a small group of people working to organize things so everyone can find their place to call their home away from home.

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