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A Handbook for Pennsic Land Agents

I. So, you are the Land Agent

If you are reading this, it is because you volunteered to be the Land Agent (Harbinger) for your group, or someone talked you into the job and you have not gone through the process of Land Allocation at the Pennsic War before. Hopefully, this handbook will be able to answer many of your questions and help you to successfully navigate through the Land Grab process.

Even if you have been a Land Agent before, please review this handbook because some things may have changed or have been clarified.

    1. Glossary of Terms

    Land Agent: Harbinger is a period term for this job. This is the person from each and every registered camping group who has agreed to be the person responsible for obtaining and holding land for their friends and fellow campers. There should only be one person responsible for each encampment. This person is responsible for being at Pennsic from Land Grab Day until the end of Pennsic. The Land Agents are the people whom Land Staff will contact if there are any questions, issues or concerns. Because you are the Land Agent you cannot leave the site after you have negotiated the land, signed off on the map and set up your stuff. You may make town runs when you are set up, but remember, you must be in residence for the entire two week Pennsic event.

    Block: Each section of land that can be camped on at Pennsic has been divided into blocks. The block system reflects geographical locations in terms of Coopers Lake Campground.
    The blocks are:

    1. E for East of the Main Gate and South of Dragon Trace,
    2. W for West of the Main Gate and South of Dragon Trace,
    3. N for North of Dragon Trace and East of Currie Rd,
    4. B for next to the Battlefield and North of Dragon Trace.
    5. B for the blocks above the roman numerals on Mt. Eislinn.
    Each block has a number assigned to it, for example, if you get assigned to E-12 you will be able to look on the master map and find your block. There is a map tent at Pennsic so your campers can find the block as well. Each block number is then used for the pre-registration process.

    Land Allotment: This process is done after the Pennsic pre-registration cut off date. The final numbers are tabulated by the Land Staff and the exact square footage for each encampment is determined (# of Pre-Reg Campers x 250 sq ft each). Your group will be allotted 250 sq. ft. per pre-registered adult, child, and infant. You cannot pre-register any "ghost" children and infants. Any abuse of this rule will be dealt with harshly. Once the final determination of square footage is made, the Land Staff sits down and goes through the process of finding a place for each group trying to match up the space available and the requests made for particular blocks. In most cases you will find that the group's first or second choice will be assigned to them.

    Pre-Pennsic Negotiations: The Land Agents will be sent the block assignments and the contact information for the other Land Agents on their assigned block. This notification will also contain, where applicable, single camper space that will be included in your block. Prior to arrival at Land Grab, it is up to the Land Agents to negotiate the exact placement of their encampments and any single camper space within the borders of the assigned blocks. If this is done before all of the Land Agents arrive at Pennsic, Land Grab Day will go much faster.

    Seniority: Each year that a group camps on the same block, it will earn a year of seniority on that block. Groups are assigned to a block based on their years of seniority. Seniority applies only to the block assignment. No seniority is given to specific locations within a block.

    Vehicle Passes: No one (including Land Agents) may drive onto the block until all of the groups on that block have signed off on an accurate map of their block and the map has been approved by the Land Staff. Land Agents will then receive passes which will allow vehicles on site so they may begin setting up.

    Camp Authorization "Card": In your Land Agent Block Assignment email there will be a Camp Authorization card which must be posted at the main entrance of your encampment once it has received its approval sticker during the Land Grab process. This is required. You will be provided with a plastic baggie to keep the card dry. The card must be placed in an area that is easy for the Land Staff to see and gain access to if needed.

    2. What is your job as Land Agent?

    1. You must register your group on the Pennsic Land Office webpage. All Land Agents are required to have web access and a working e-mail account.

    2. You should be in contact with all of the people who are camping with your group, and have contact information for all of them. Inform them of the exact group name you have registered, so they can put it down when they pre-register.

    3. On a regular basis, you should monitor your Land Agent account to see who has pre-registered for your camp so you can: a) remind those who should be registered to do so; and b) identify people who may have chosen the wrong camp. Once the Pennsic pre-registration deadline has been reached, the results are tabulated and each Land Agent receives the final list of exactly who has pre-registered to camp with your group. If there are discrepancies contact the Land Office. These problems should be taken care of immediately. It may be possible that some of the campers registered the group name incorrectly, which is rather easy to fix early. This is hard to accomplish at the time of Land Grab, so if there is a problem of this nature, the sooner you contact the Land Office, the better. Doing so eases the stress level greatly and avoids decapitation.

    4. After the Pre-registration is closed and the final group lists are generated, your group will be assigned to a block according to your group's requests, availability of land, group seniority, etc. Each Land Agent will be given a list of the other Land Agents for the block and their email addresses. Pre-Pennsic negotiations can start for final placement of each camp on the block. If Land Staff has determined that your block also contains single camper space, it will be noted, and you will be responsible for marking this area on your block map. If you are camping on the same block and with the same neighbors as last year, this can be a very easy process.

    5. The next step is to arrive at the site on time, the Friday of Land Grab at a time mutually convenient to all the Land Agents on your assigned block. Land Grab starts Friday morning at 9:00 am. Remember to check in at Troll before coming to the Great Hall on N01 to check in with Land Staff. There will be tables in the Great Hall for Land Agents to check in upon arrival starting at 9:00 am on Friday.

    6. If it is necessary for all the Land Agents of a block to go to the actual block and work out the final map of the block they can walk there to negotiate the camp locations. When everyone has agreed, accurate divisions are marked on official map provided. This official map will then be signed by all the Land Agents, and the map will then be presented to a Land Staff member who will also sign off on it.

    7. The actual set-up of each camp can start. It is your responsibility as Land Agent to mark all of the borders of your encampment. Some people do this with stakes and flags, others by using ropes, some use surveyors tape, or use spray paint to mark the borders. As long as demarcation is clear, the Land Staff will be happy. There will be spot checks made by the Land Staff once Land Grab itself is over. Members of the Land Staff will be coming out to measure and to check that you have appropriately displayed your Camp Authorization Card.

    8. Once your camp is set up, you can sit back and relax. You must be on premises for the duration of Pennsic. If there are problems or disputes, it is the Land Agent that the Land Staff will be talking with; so you cannot set up, then go home, and then come back for the last week.

II. How to choose a block

  1. Before you send in your request for a camping area:

    1. It is a good idea to talk to the others in your group who have camped before at Cooper's Lake.
    2. Does your group already have a somewhat "traditional" spot? Many groups like to be in the same area year after year. Your group may already have built up seniority in a particular block.
    3. Where has your group camped in the past? There may be some areas that your group has camped in and they never want to camp there again.
    4. Find out your group's history in terms of camping at Pennsic. There may be reasons why your group only wants to camp in certain areas of the campground.

  2. You also need to take several other things into account:

    1. Is your group a Royal Encampment?
    2. Does your group prefer sun or shade?
    3. Do you need absolutely flat land or can your group camp on a slight slope?
    4. Do you have a lot of fighters and therefore want to be closer to the battlefield?
    5. Do you have a lot of shop-a-holics and need to be closer to the merchant areas?
    6. Do you want to camp far away from everyone and be in a less developed area?
    7. Do you need to be near flush toilets?
    8. Do you have shower facilities or will you need to use the existing solar showers?

    The list goes on and on. Make sure that you talk to the Pennsic veterans in your camp. They can help you. This is also why you need to know who is camping with you.

  3. You need to have four (4) choices of blocks your group can go on because not everyone will get their first choice and if you do not voice those preferences you will get placed at the discretion of the Land Staff which only sees the numbers not the faces of each group. It is better to think carefully and make four choices that the people in your group can live with.

III. Understanding Block Maps

A professional surveyor and cartography staff have assured that groups have an accurate map to represent the block they are camping on. Please be aware that these maps represent a 'snap shot in time' of the block. Mowing, line painting, erosion, etc. may alter the final size and camping area of a block. The Land Office does not assign every square foot of space on a block to allow for these differences in mapped block size and actual map size.

IV. Assignment of groups to the blocks

  1. Now you are assigned to a block and you have a few questions. Why didn't we get our first choice? Your group might be too big for the block you requested, or perhaps your group was the smallest with the least amount of seniority. Perhaps some of the things that you said were necessary are no longer available on the block, like electricity or disabled services which may have been moved. It may be that you are requesting land that you have not camped on before and other groups have requested to return to that land.

  2. The biggest consideration for the Land Staff is group seniority. How long a group has been camping in the same block is the single largest factor to their retaining that block from year to year. If for some reason that group grows or shrinks enormously, it is possible that the Land Office might move them, depending on the seniority of the other block tenants.

  3. Once the final land allotment is made, the assignments, the names of all the groups in a given block and any single camper space are made available to the Land Agents on that block. Depending on history, group size, and other factors that we have already discussed, there may or may not be new groups on your block.

  4. Once the final land allotment information is posted the Land Agents can pre-negotiate the divisions of the land. This will help the day of Land Grab go more smoothly for your block. However, the official final map divisions cannot be made up until all of the Land Agents are on the Pennsic site. Remember, all the Land Agents from your block must sign a copy of the map and get that signed by a Land Staff representative on the day of Land Grab.

V. Arrival at the Pennsic site

  1. You should plan to arrive on the site sometime after 9:00 am on Friday.

    1. You will not be allowed onto the grounds before 9:00 am on Friday
    2. You will not be allowed to park on the Battlefield before 9:00 am on Friday
    3. No facilities are available until 9:00 am on Friday.
    4. There is a lot of work to be done by a lot of people, on the Pennsic and Cooper's Staff. The more time they have to prepare without other people underfoot, the better.
    5. The campground is not open before Land Grab.

  2. What can I do on Friday after 9:00 am of Land Grab?

    1. Check in at the gate (Troll)
    2. Land office is open 9:00 am to 11:00 pm. Come to the Land Office at the Great Hall to check-in. Bring your completed Camping Authorization Form and Block Map, and pick up any additional information pertinent to your block.
    3. You can leave messages at the Land Office for other Land Agents on your block and find out who has already checked in.

  3. What do I do on Saturday morning of Land Grab?

    1. Find all of the Land Agents from your block.
    2. Final negotiations within a block should not start until all Land Agents from that block are present.
    3. If you have negotiated ahead of time and have all agreed to a specific block map then your final negotiations will be easy!
    4. Once negotiations are complete, it is time to finalize your map, have it approved by the Land Office, receive your Camping Authorization Form sticker, and vehicle passes.

  4. Reasons to be on time:

    1. Do your best to check in on Friday. Late Land Agents make their Land Agent block mates nervous, since final negotiations cannot start until everyone is there.

  5. What do I do on Saturday morning of Land Grab?

    1. All Land Agents who didn't arrive on Friday before 11:00 pm must check in with the Land Office which will open promptly at 8:00. Bring your completed Camping Authorization Form and Block Map, and pick up any additional information pertinent to your block.
    2. Find all of the Land Agents from your block.
    3. You can leave messages at the Land Office for other Land Agents on your block and find out who has already checked in.
    4. Final negotiations within a block should not start until all Land Agents from that block are present.
    5. If you have negotiated ahead of time and have all agreed to a specific block map then your final negotiations will be easy!
    6. Once negotiations are complete, it is time to finalize your map, have it approved by the Land Office, receive your Camping Authorization sticker, and vehicle passes.
  6. In case of emergency:

    1. Land Staff cannot, except in the case of extreme situations, negotiate land on your behalf.
    2. If you cannot be on site by Saturday morning, and did not designate a replacement Land Agent or Proxy, the Land Office will negotiate on behalf of an absent Land Agent, once a set amount of time has elapsed. Please attempt to advise the Land Office so that they may better negotiate on your behalf. You may not get the block location you had planned for. Once finalized, the Land Office will not renegotiate for late Land Agents.

VI. Official Negotiation

  1. Please remember that all Land Agents are equal. Whatever titles or honors someone has earned in the Society does not give them any special consideration. Every Land Agent has the right and the responsibility to a fair and equitable land distribution. Whether your group is a Baron, a Shire, a Principality, or a household makes no difference. Each person in a group gets 250 Sq. Ft. No one should be expected or required to pay in goods, services, or money for their spot on the block. If anyone tells you, "To get the spot you want, you must buy me something, pay me something, or do something for me," they are wrong. The word for that is EXTORTION and it will not be tolerated. If this happens to you we request that you contact the Land Staff immediately!
    1. Royal Encampments have first priority on the block. Royal Encampments only get the land allotted to them, no more.

  2. The official negotiation process can start once all the Land Agents for the block are present! You may walk to your block, take measurements and agree to any adjustments to allow all the groups to fit onto the block.

  3. Your group's rights include:
    1. All of the land allotted to your group. Your group should not be required to give up any of its square footage. You may volunteer to give up square footage in order to fit on your assigned block. You may speak to the Land Office to request a different block assignment in order to assure you receive your entire land allotment.
    2. Clear access from your encampment to a main road that borders your block. Additional roadways or pathways may be included on the map, however their square footage must be created from land donated by groups on the block. Single camper space on a block may not be used to create roadways for groups on the block.

  4. Dispute resolution:
    1. Regional land representatives will be available for disputes on the day of Land Grab.
    2. If, for any reason, the Land Agents do not seem to be able to come to agreement do not hesitate to call on one of the Land Staff representatives to help with the problem. Make sure the representative have already had their morning nourishment; especially if they are coffee drinkers.

VII. Finalizing the Block Map

  1. Preparing Your Final Block Map

    Once all the Land Agents have agreed to and location of their groups on the block, a single final block map must be created on the provided block map. The final block map must include:

    1. Clearly delineated boundaries for all groups
    2. The name and location of each group on the block
    3. Clearly labeled single camper space. Note that single camper space is not required to be the 'best' land on a block, however it cannot be land locked and must have access to a main road. Representatives from the Land Office will be checking single camper space on blocks to assure that final block maps are accurate. Groups with more than their allotted space may be required to re-adjust their borders to assure sufficient single camper space.
    4. The Modern and SCA signatures of all Land Agents on the block.

  2. Approval of the Final Block Map

    1. Double check to assure you have completed all the steps to prepare your Final Block Map. Make sure that the dimensions are correct and that any single camper space is clearly marked and labeled. You must also have your camping authorization form with you.
    2. All Land Agents from a block must be present when the Land Office reviews the map. Stay together.
    3. The Land Office representative will review the map for completeness and assure that all Land Agents are present. Please be prepared to answer any questions the Land Office representative may have about the map.
    4. A Land Staff representative will sign off and retain the Final Block Map for the Land Office.
    5. All Land Agents will have their Camping Authorization Form approved.
    6. Land Day vehicle passes will be distributed.

VIII. Follow the instructions of the Cooper's Lake Campground staff regarding vehicle access to the site.

IX. Responsibilities at your campsite:

  1. On the day of Land Grab you must:

    1. Conspicuously post your Camping Authorization Form near the main entrance of your camp in a waterproof container.
    2. Clearly mark the boundaries of your camp.

  2. After Land Grab day you must:

    1. Be available to discuss land issues if Land Staff visit your camp
    2. Ensure that your neighbors do not encroach on your property.
    3. Make sure that your campers in your group do not encroach on your neighbors.
    4. Contact the Land Office if a neighboring group is encroaching on your land.
    5. Notify the Land Office if an emergency requires you, as Land Agent, to leave the site for an extended period of time.

  3. If there are problems with your group:

    1. The Land Staff will talk to you as the representative of your group.
    2. Where applicable, the Land Staff will hold you to the borders on the Final Map Block that you signed off on.
    3. Land Agents or campers in your group who do not co-operate or break the rules may have action taken against them, up to and including removal from the property. This may jeopardize your groups' ability to camp on that block again.

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