PolyCamp 2019 is a space for us to be ourselves

It took me a very long time to be able to embrace my polyamory. Now I’m channeling my passion for poly into producing events for the whole non-monogamous community. Here’s what to expect at our family-friendly camping retreat PolyCamp this year – and how you can get involved. 

For a very long time in my life, my relationships and life circumstances kept me away from being who I am. I was either with someone who didn’t believe in non-monogamy (but then cheated), or was overly controlling. I hadn’t even had room to consider my gender and sexual identity.

Then, two years ago, I met a man who helped me to start working on that. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it’s a whole lot more satisfying than any I’ve been in previously.

One of the first things we did together was attend BiCon 2017 in Leeds. I was so pumped up in that environment – it felt like I was finally with my community. The atmosphere of openness and non-judgment made me wonder if a similar thing existed for the ethically non-monogamous community.

Of course, there is a significant crossover between people who are bi or pansexual and those that are non-monogamous. I started investigating as soon as I got home and discovered the well-established PolyDay conference in London, which we attended last year for the first time. But it just didn’t make as much of an impression on me as BiCon.

Last year the Brum Bi group held their first ever BiCamp. I realised that this was what exactly what the poly community needed. It reinforced my feeling of belonging, of finding my place in life. I really want to thank the organisers of  BiCon and the Brum BiCamp for lighting the fire that is PolyCamp 2019.

I wanted to create a weekend celebration where I could be… me. For us to be us. So I put out a call for interest on some of the Facebook pages to do with polyamory and non-monogamy and gathered a team together. Within two days we had a website, Twitter, Facebook and Fetlife account all set up.

We had a hundred people like our Facebook page overnight… with only a bare bones page! Since then we have formally launched and set up a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign to make the deposit for the camp.

What to expect at Poly Camp 2019

Poly Camp is a long weekend (Thursday the 29th of August to Sunday the 1st of September) on a nice Scouts campsite near Stourbridge in the West Midlands.

Activities

During the weekend there will be a timetable of sessions, such as self-help or history of non-monogamy, as well as some fun activities such as crafts. We hope to have some counselling sessions set up as well.  We plan to put a blank timetable up in the attendees group on Facebook, so that people can volunteer their time.

PolyCamp is run by volunteers, so we’re always looking for people to give talks, be a first aider, or just to empty the bins – whatever help you can offer. We expect everyone to muck in during the weekend in some way.

There will also be organised child-friendly activities and – thanks to the Kickstarter stretch goals being met – children go free on everything! We have ziplining, tower climbing and abseiling, crate stacking, archery, bat watching, pond dipping and more! All of the more involved activities will have a fully qualified instructor to make sure everything is done safely.

We encourage people to bring board games and card games, as well as things like footballs. Depending on the weather, there might be some grass sledging too!

In the evenings we have planned activities like campfires with all the ingredients for roasting, and a Rocky Horror Picture Show themed party one night. Partici………………pation isn’t compulsory, and we plan to have a sessions addressing issues raised in the film and media in general.

Facilities

The campsite has spaces for camping both in the open, and in wooded/shady areas. There are some camping style power hookups for caravans and outdoor power needs, several fresh water points, and a lovely modern toilet and shower block with an accessible shower. There are also fire pits, and meeting areas. We hope, of course, the weather plays ball. But we can move things inside if needed.

Camp is fully catered food wise – we just ask that you bring your own drinks and snacks. There will be a tuck shop selling confectionery and soft drinks at certain times of the day. As there are at least three cooking areas – not including the barbecues – we plan on having separate cooking areas for different diets. Also, there is a small supermarket a short distance from the site.

Accessibility

There is accessible cabin space for those who need it and all the important parts of the campsite are accessible via pathways. Of course, nature often isn’t very accessible and there are wooded areas and hilly open spaces, but attendees with disabilities will be able to take part in most, if not all, activities.

On the website, we’ll be adding pictures and some video that was taken at a recent site visit. Hopefully, this will give some idea as to how easy it is to get around. I am on crutches and I found it fairly easy – I know that people who use wheelchairs who stayed at Bicamp this year and found it manageable.

Pricing

Tickets cost £75-150 depending on income and can be bought through our Eventbrite page. Anyone who books a ticket will be invited to our attendees Facebook group.

We also have an angel scheme for anyone who would like to help others purchase a ticket or needs help themselves.  We will be booking a coach to bring anyone who is traveling by public transport from Birmingham near New St, so keep an eye on the Facebook page for info.

Hope to see you there!

Claire

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