What to bring to CCC Camp next time

I took last week off work and attended CCC camp, which was wonderful on a variety of axes. I packed light, but through the week I noted some things it’d be worth packing less-lightly for.

So, here are my notes on what it’d be worth bringing if or when I attend it again:


The site is dusty, extremely hot through the day, and quite cold at night. Fashion ranges from “generic nerd” to hippie, rave, and un-labelably eccentric. There is probably no wrong thing to wear, though I didn’t see a single suit or tie. A full base layer and a silk sleeping bag liner improve comfort at night. A big hat, or even an umbrella, offers protection from the day star.

I was glad to have 3 pairs of shoes: Lightweight waterproof sandals for showering, sturdier sandals for walking around in all day, and boots for early mornings and late nights. I saw quite a few long coats and even cloaks at night, and their inhabitants all looked very comfortably warm.

Doing sink laundry was more inconvenient at camp than for ordinary travel, and I was glad to have packed to minimize it.

A small comfortable bag, or large pockets in every outfit, are essential for keeping track of one’s wallet, phone, map, and water bottle.

I occasionally found myself wishing that I’d brought a washable dust mask, usually around midafternoon when camp became one big dust cloud.

Campsite Amenities

Covering a tent in space blankets makes it look like a baked potato, but keeps it warm and dark at night and cool through early afternoon. Space blankets are super cheap online, but difficult to find locally.

For a particularly opulent tent experience, consider putting a doormat outside the entrance as a place to remove shoes or clean dusty feet before going inside. I improvised a doormat with a trash bag, which was alright but the real thing would have been nicer to sit on.

Biertisch tables and benches are prevalent around camp, so you can usually find somewhere to sit, but it doesn’t hurt to bring a camp chair of the folding or inflatable variety. Inflatable stuff, from furniture to swimming pools, tended to survive fine on the ground.

I was glad to have brought a full sized towel rather than a tiny travel one. A shower caddy or bag to carry soap, washcloth, hair stuff, and clean clothes would have been handy, though I improvised one from another bag that I had available.

String and duct tape came in predictably handy in customizing my campsite.


DECT phones are very fun at camp, but easy to pocket dial with. This is solved by finding the lock feature on the keypad, or picking a flip phone. I was shy about publishing my number and location in the phonebook, but after seeing how helpful the directory was for people to get ahold of new acquaintances for important reasons, I would be more public about my temporary number in the future.

Electricity is a limited resource but sunlight isn’t. Many tents sport portable solar panels. For those whose electronics have non-European plugs, a power strip from home is a good idea.

I packed a small headlamp and used it pretty much every day. Even with it, I found myself occasionally wishing that I’d brought a small LED lantern as well.

A battery to recharge cell phones is good to have as well, especially if you don’t run power to your tent. A battery can be left charging unattended in all kinds of public places where one would never leave one’s phone or laptop.


Potable water is free, both still and sparkling. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the quality of the tap water at my home, but I wished that I’d brought water flavorings to mask the local combination of minerals.

I brought a small medical kit, from which I ended up using or sharing some aspirin, ibuprofin, antihistamines, and lots of oral rehydration salt packets.

Meals were available for free (with donations gratefully accepted) at several camps for everyone, and at the Heaven kitchen for volunteers. There were also a variety of food carts with varyingly priced dishes. The food carts outside the gates in front of the venue were good for an icecream or fresh veggie snack, which were harder to find within camp.

Savory meals and all kinds of drinks were everywhere, but there didn’t seem to be any place nearby to just pick up straight chocolate. Small, nonperishable snacks like that are worth getting at a grocery before arrival, since they’re not readily available on the grounds.


If any of the special skills that your nerd friends ask you for help with require tools, bring them. I happen to always carry a needle and thread when traveling, and ended up using them to repair a giant inflatable computer-controlled sculpture.

A hammock, and something to shade it with, came in very handy and would be worth bringing again. There were lots of trees, and it might have been entertaining to set up a slackline for passers-by to fall off of, but I don’t think it’d be worth the weight of carrying one internationally.

Night time is basically a futuristic art show as well as a party. There’s no such thing as too much electroluminescent wire or too many LEDs, whether for decorating your camp or yourself. As a music party, it’s also extremely loud, so I was glad to have brought earplugs. Comfortable earplugs also improve sleep; music goes till 3 or 4 AM in many places and early risers start making noise around 8 or 9.

Camp has a lake, in which it’s popular to float large inflatable animals, especially unicorns. I saw more big inflatable unicorn floaties being used around camps as extra seating than being used in the lake, though.

There’s a railway that goes around camp, and sometimes runs a steam train. I won’t say you should rig a little electric cart to fit its rails and drive around on it, but somebody did and looked like they were having a really wonderful time.

Bikes, and lots of folding bikes, were everywhere. Scooters, skateboards, and all sorts of other wheeled contrivances, often electric, were also prevalent. The only rolling transportation that I didn’t see at all around camp were roller blades and skates, because the ground is probably too rough for them.

I ran out of stickers, and wished I’d brought more. I didn’t see as many pins as some conferences have.

A small notebook also came in handy. Each day, I checked both the stage schedule and the calendar to find the official and unofficial events which looked interesting, and noted their times on paper. It was consistently convenient to have a means of jotting down notes which didn’t risk running out of battery. Flipping through the book afterwards, about 1/4 of its contents is actually pictures I drew to explain various concepts to people I was chatting with, a few pages are daily schedule notes, and the rest is about half notes on things that presenters said and half ideas I jotted down to do something with later.

I was glad to have brought cash rather than just cards, not only for food but also because many workshops had a small fee to cover the cost of the materials that they provided.

Camp Advice

Nobody even tries to maintain a normal sleep schedule. People sleep when they’re tired, and do stuff when they aren’t. Talks and events tend to be scheduled from around noon to around midnight. I don’t think it would be possible to attend camp with a rigorous plan for what to every day and both stick to that plan and get the most out of the experience.

In shared spaces, people pick the lowest common denominator of language – at several workshops, even those initially scheduled to be held in German, presenters proactively asked if any attendees needed it to be in English then switched to English if asked. Behind-the-scenes, such as in the volunteers’ kitchen, I found that this was reversed: Everyone speaks German, and only switches to give you instructions if you specifically ask for English. Plenty of attendees have no German at all and get along fine.

Volunteer! If something isn’t happening how it should, fix it, or ask “how can I help?”. Volunteering an hour or two for filing badges or washing dishes is a great way to make new friends and see another side of how camp works.