Let’s face it: you’re going to get hungry. As dehydration and starvation are INFINITELY more preventable than the dozens of other things that can affect you at game (both real and imagined), let’s get started on keeping yourself fed at LARP.
Pretty basic, right? Drinking water = winning at life. Yet every game someone suffers from dehydration; I’m no Medical Marshal, but it’s rare for them to go a game without treating it. This is more obvious in the summer, but it can also happen in cooler weather, when people drink the wrong drinks or sweat under their layers.
Dehydration really, really sucks. Symptoms specific to it include headaches and dizziness, a dry or sticky mouth, dry skin, and low or no urine output (peeing). Signs that you need a Medical Marshal immediately include:
- extreme thirst
- extremely dry mouth, skin and mucous
- sunken eyes
- rapid heartbeat and breathing
- no urine output recently; what comes is very little and very dark
So how do you head this off?
Well, drink water.
And not “chug it whenever you feel thirsty”. You need water constantly, and when you try to OD on it, most of it will pass through your body with little benefit. The best way to take it in is drinking it in throughout the day, with some salt or sugar to help your body absorb it. Chatting with some friends? Water. Hanging out at the tavern? Water. Hiding in the woods, hoping a ghoul doesn’t overhear your breathing? Uh, hope you had some water before that.
You need a minimum of 4 litres of water a day (8 litres over the entire weekend). While city folk are told that 2 litres a day are fine, this is LARP. You’re going to be exerting yourself without realizing it, and why ration yourself? Additionally, the site has no potable water (e.g. no hose or tap you can borrow), and this amount is meant to include the water you’d use for cooking, cleaning, and the other myriad of things you end up using water for without thinking.
Getting it up there can be split into two groups:
A large container for transport:
- Some people prefer to bring up a large plastic container (several gallons). They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are reusable. They are usually designed for camping and bringing up your own water supply, and usually have a spout/tap for you to use. If you have your own transport, this is ideal because you can fill it up at home and reuse the container indefinitely. The downside is how bulky the container is, and it’s difficult to move it around when it’s full.
- Others prefer to bring pallets of bottled water. Grocery stores typically sell them in 12 x 500mL (6L) pallets, so that and some extra bottles of juice should tide you over. They are easier for someone to carry around, but it is pretty expensive and the excess plastic needs to be disposed of after, off-site.
A small container to carry while LARPing:
- Plastic water bottle. You know, those ones you get in the pallets. Super convenient, lightweight and portable, but they do generate trash you have to dispose of later.
- Reusable container. There are lots of different brands and types out there, and it shouldn’t be hard to find something that works for you. Most canteens have a higher starting price and can be bulky to carry around though.
- Waterskins/water bladders. Usually lighter and more portable than rigid containers, but you’ll need to be careful about maintaining them.
Some people use concentrated sports drink additive in their water. Drinking juice, soda, tea, coffee, etc. is better than nothing; how effective they are as water replacements is debateable.
When in doubt, drink water.
You will burn up a lot of energy at LARP. I’m not kidding; I woke up one morning and had two packs of oatmeal, a bowl of noodles, a can of stew and eggs for breakfast. I weigh 140 lbs in armour.
Remember that the average person spends the day sitting in a temperature-controlled room. At LARP, you must not only fight off monsters, but the cold and walking will suck so much energy out of you; you’d be surprised at how tired you are after a day traipsing around in armour and heavy clothing. Remember that there’s no set time to stop and go either, and your plan for lunch could be delayed by hours if monsters suddenly storm town (again).
Food should not be kept in your own sleeping tent, as it will attract pests. A separate tent or hanging it from a tree is ideal. Most importantly, you should be able to lock and/or seal it so the smell doesn’t attract animals (you don’t smell it…they definitely will) and it keeps them from breaking in.
Food can be broken down into two major groups: meals and snacks.
Meals: prepare to bring at least four meals worth of food with you. Breakfast will be the quietest time of day, so try to fuel up then – you’ll need that energy. Chances are your lunch will be delayed until after noon, and good luck if you can eat dinner without something mauling you for it.
- Anything stored in a mason jar: heavy and made of dangerous glass (if broken), but looks so period that no one will point out pizza shouldn’t fit in a mason jar.
- Canned food: heavy, takes time to heat up and consume, but it is glorious when you eat it. Requires you to pay attention to it during cooking. Peel the label off and set it near or on a hot log near the fire (not actually in the fire, that’s too hot). Make sure you have a way to lift it back out, and wait for the can to cool. Take the can home with you.
- Hardboiled eggs: last quite a while, easy to eat, great source of protein and vegetarian-friendly.
- Hot dogs: stick that sucker on a stick and hang out at Town Centre’s fire for a while! Precooked meat is best, since you can still eat it if it’s not fully cooked. Which may happen if people chase you.
- Meal replacement shakes: extremely easy to eat if you’re not feeling great.
- Sandwiches: even the most broke of LARPers can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Also, extremely portable!
If you own a metal (camping) kettle and can boil your own hot water, you can additionally make:
- Instant noodles: add hot water and it’s so good. I can’t explain the joy of spicy noodles in the rain. If it comes in its own bowl, you can toss that in the fire after to dispose of it.
- Oatmeal: quick and easy to eat, although there’s not a lot of staying power.
- Soup: it’s easier to bring it up as a dried powder/broth packet.
If you own a barbecue/grill, your options are limitless. Your products should be kept in a cooler (locked and sealed) and used ASAP. You’ll need biodegradable/environmentally friendly soap to clean your grill. There is also no guarantee that you’ll have a quiet time to cook; should a monster interrupt you, you’ll need to run. (Bring the grill to the Shaper’s attention, so they can fire marshal it.)
Snacks: always have a snack on you. There is an unlikely chance that you’ll spend an unexpected three hours cringing in the woods… but that’s also the worst time to get hungry.
- Apples: they don’t require refrigeration, are great for energy and as close to natural food as you can get. The waste is biodegradable, too!
- Candy: great for that burst of energy! Don’t rely extensively on it, though. You’ll crash at the worst time.
- Cereal: light and crunchy!
- Chips: everyone loves them! They don’t compress well, though, and remember that they’ll suck out some of your water.
- Cucumbers: it’s an edible water bottle.
- Dried fruit: get your vitamins here!
- Granola (bars): also extremely easy to pack, I hear they also come in a range of fantastic flavours, too!
- Jerky: meat that stores well everywhere.
- Trail mix: cheaper to make your own, and you can add whatever you want to it!
My secret tip: baby food. Specifically, those squeeze/to-go pouches. I can’t remember who suggested this to me, but I can’t go camping without them. I bring up Heinz’s apple and pear ones because they’re easy to eat, extremely portable and relatively high in calories (90 in apple, 160 in pear) – swallow down a few of these and they’re practically a meal. Downside is the expense and waste they generate, but they are so worth it.
- Bananas. Unless you like mosquitoes.
- Milk chocolate: it will melt. Really. It’s not fun dealing with it.
- Nuts (peanuts): while there’s no game-wide ban, there are a few players that are deathly allergic to them; some camps will post a no nuts/peanuts warning for this reason.
Special note: vegetarian/vegan options and alternative diets
I’m not going to presume to tell you how to follow your specialized diet. This guide is written from a general point of view. There are more than enough options listed above for you to work around.
I forgot to bring something!
You still have options!
The Emporium is run by Jericho’s OOG neighbour. It sells…pretty much everything you’d need at LARP, from costuming and weapons to first aid items and camping food. They also run a tavern (that means hot food). There is a path leading from Town Centre to The Emporium.
Fenelon Falls itself is a beautiful small town 10 minutes driving from site, and we strongly encourage you pop in to support the locals. There is the popular Tim Hortons, a Sobeys for serious grocery shopping, and various smaller stores.
Be proactive about your health!
Feeling dizzy? Drink some water, lie down in the shade, sit out of the action for a few minutes and get your bearings. Really. Take your time. When the adrenaline wears off, the energy loss will catch you off guard; most people aren’t used to this level of activity outdoors, for more-or-less 48 hours straight.
We do have Medical Marshals on-site and you shouldn’t be afraid to go to them if you have an issue. But these are also paying customers who are volunteering their time and expertise, and they are to deal with unexpected accidents: twisted joints, broken bones, the things that happen all of a sudden. Exhaustion, starvation and dehydration take several hours to build up, which is more than enough time for you to realize something should be done about it.
It should be emphasized that nobody – NOBODY – considers it a badge of honour or toughness if you boast about suffering from extreme exhaustion, starvation or dehydration. It means you are proud you couldn’t figure out that you were tired, hungry or thirsty. For several hours. Nobody thinks your unnecessary suffering is a sign of strength, so buck up and take care of yourself, or buddy up with a friend and take care of each other.
Nobody can stress this enough. DON’T LITTER. It doesn’t matter if it’s a foil wrapper, a bit of plastic or a crushed juice box. EVERYTHING you bring to game, you MUST be prepared to take it back with you.
In the game world, if the wind sees or hears about garbage strewn about, garbage elementals will spawn and attack other camps. I hear it’s not fun to deal with them. In reality, nobody on site is cleaning up after you. If you drop a wrapper at game, you can bet it’ll still be there next month. It encourages scavenging animals to get close to your campsite, and while we haven’t had to deal with a bear or coyotes, I personally know a raccoon chewing through your tent to get at your food ruins a significant part of your game.
It is possible to burn most of your garbage – environmental concerns aside, we’d rather have your things burned than littered on the ground – but make sure it’s completely incinerated; no metal or glass. Those generally don’t burn well.
On the topic of burning, please refer to this post for details on fire pits. The short version for new players: DON’T START YOUR OWN FIRE. Hang out in Town Centre or get a more experienced player to help you out.
This was originally posted here, and has been updated to reflect the changing times of Jericho.