Earthsong Camps began as the vision of Angie Pinson and John Bowker who were inspired by similar events in the UK, most notably the Unicorn Village Camps. They recognized that organizing a space for people to come together, camp on the earth and interact through music, dance and creativity could be an incredibly nourishing and valuable experience. They ran the first Earthsong Camp in July 2007 with a team of people who emerged from the Tribal Spirit Drumming Retreats that John facilitates in Co Clare. The Camp was a well-earned success and Earthsong has been running at capacity ever since, with a second camp happening annually since 2010.
Earthsong Camps have been organised by a Core Group since 2007. The current members of this group are Ben Coombs, Doris Affeldt, John Bowker, Morganna Pearse, Padraig O’Nuallain, and Robert Green. Members of the Core Group oversee the day to day practicalities during the Camps and ongoing work updating policies and practices throughout the year.
The Core Group is supported by Zillah Francis who holds our gate.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
Earthsong Camps aim to create an environment that allows people to connect with themselves and others in a positive way through the sharing of music, movement, new and ancient wisdom and healthy lifestyle options. Our hope is that when given the time and space to slow down and focus on what nourishes us we are more able to notice what is lovable about ourselves and others. Earthsong Camps recognise the value of allowing space for people to learn, play, laugh and cry, as well to remember how to give careful respect to each other, our environment and ourselves.
Earthsong Camps are not affiliated with any specific belief system. We aim to celebrate our personal connections to community and spirit through the many magical experiences available at Earthsong Camps. Workshop facilitators are encouraged to refer to anything of a spiritual nature as possibility rather than fact and to maintain an awareness of the diversity of workshop participants.
At Earthsong we honour and respect all spiritual paths and beliefs; we are not affiliated to any particular belief system. Workshop leaders are encouraged to talk about possibilities rather than fact when dealing with spiritual ideas, and we try to avoid Dogma. Through the many magical experiences of Earthsong, such as making powerful music together, we can celebrate our connection to community and spirit.
A vital aspect of what makes Earthsong unique is the strict policy of no alcohol, no drugs, no electric music and no late night noise. Mobile phones are switched off and calls made off site. These boundaries allow people to be present in the moment and facilitate the digital retreat space that is Earthsong. These policies also contain and create the “magic” we feel at camp that deepens our experience of nature and human connection.
While we welcome the use of cameras, we request that everyone is sensitive and respectful in both the use of them during camp and the circulation of photographs after the camps. It can be a good idea to ask for permission.
Earthsong Camps are run as a social enterprise, which means our core purpose as an organisation is to create social change through the work that we do and not to maximize our profits as a business. Since we began, all profits made from ticket sales have been reinvested into the running of the camps. We have always strived to keep our ticket prices low so that the camps are accessible to as many people as possible. While the Core Group oversee the organization, the camps would not be possible, given current ticket prices, without the hundreds of people who work and volunteer at the Camps every year. From musicians to area leaders to workshop facilitators, as well as the hundreds of people who contribute to the meitheal scheme.
LIVING ON THE LAND
In living simply on the land we gradually attune to the rhythms of the natural world and become more aware of the impact we are having on the environment. We learn to appreciate and respect the land, to feel part of it and then we naturally wish to seek out ways to minimize our footprint and tread lightly on the earth. Our aim at Earthsong has always been to have a camp that is as gentle and harmonious as possible. This involves leaving the land as we found it, respecting animal and plant life, recycling as much as we can, and also looking at ways we can offset our fuel consumption by tree planting, lift sharing and communal cooking.
WELCOMING TEARS AS WELL AS LAUGHTER
Many of the magical ingredients that made Earthsong what it was last year have come out of the Tribal Spirit gatherings that John Bowker has been leading for the past number of years. As well as the heart opening and healing gifts from the spirit in singing, drumming and dancing there are other ways that enable us to feel safe, included and more in touch with ourselves. One of these seems to be that we have come to trust how completely normal and natural it is to cry as well as laugh when we need to.
Once we know tears are welcome we may find we shed healing tears as we listen to beautiful singing or receive a friendly hug.
Listening wholeheartedly to each other without judgment, advice or opinions is another thing that people have found very valuable at the Tribal Spirit gatherings. This can be helpful in our camp circles too. If you have any questions the core group are an identifiable resource and will happily answer them.
PHOTOGRAPHY & FILMING
We welcome the use of cameras, however we ask that everyone exercises sensitivity and respect around the taking of photographs. If unsure always ask . You can also offer a copy to whomever you have taken a photo of.
PREPARING FOR CAMP
THINGS TO BRING
Good quality waterproof tents are essential, twin doors allow ventilation on hot days, family tents are nice but do not offer privacy. Children are often happy sharing their own tent.
Difficult to have too much, extra blankets are always useful. Camping mats or comfy cushions recommended.
Large cooking pot and kettle for use on open fire, (avoid aluminum or non stick)
Chopping board and knife, plates and cutlery for every family member, a tin opener. Water containers, washing up bowl and eco friendly wash up liquid.
Eco friendly washing products
As we are camping on a wonderful organic farm we strongly encourage the use of eco friendly washing up liquid, eco shampoo, soap and washing powder. There are lots of wonderful options available in any health food shop and some supermarkets.
For the fire
Firelighters, lighters, small axe for kindling.
Prepare for all weather
Do bring a waterproof coat and trousers, wellies, umbrellas (great shade from the sun and handy in the rain too), sandals and those cool shades!
Click HERE for a more detailed packing list that can be printed
What we offer at earthsong is a nine day experience of living on the land. This includes camping together in a circle, cooking together on a communal fire, and taking up the simple chop wood carry water way of life. To facilitate this in the best possible way and with respect for the sacred land we are on, we have decided to admit camper vans for special needs only and on application at the time of booking. Once camper vans are on site they are not to be moved until camp is over.
Having a vehicle free campsite protects the land and enhances our experience of being close to nature. The only vehicles on site will be camper vans and work vehicles; e.g. vans for storing drums or bringing on firewood.
We share cooking with the members of our circle, negotiating who will cook an evening meal on which night, often two or more people sharing the task. This means we only cook dinner once or twice during the week.
Bring a recipe and ingredients for one large meal for up to 20 people. While this might sound a bit daunting but can be great fun with more experienced campers helping out those who are new to cooking for a large group. The shop will also stock plenty of wonderful ingredients.
Breakfast and lunch are up to individuals. Vegetarian food is encouraged, as it is easier to prepare hygienically.
ARRIVING AT CAMP
All arrivals please check in at the Gate lodge for a friendly welcome and up to date camp information. You will receive the low down on camping circles, your free program and a welcome cup of tea and a biscuit!
AVOID LEAVING EARLY
We would like to stress the importance of staying until Sunday, a vital day of transitions and fond farewells. Camp finishes on Sunday morning with grand goodbyes and safe journey homing at 10am.
ARRIVE IN GOOD TIME
The gate will be open from 10am to 6pm on Saturday. Early arrivals are welcome on the Friday from 12noon to 8pm.
Aim to arrive in time to be all set up and fed before the big ‘Welcome Event' at 8.15pm on Saturday, which is not to be missed!
There will be no admission after 6pm on Saturday.
No visitors are allowed on site once camp starts, and no day tickets are available. This maintains the safety and integrity of the camp.
CHOOSING A CIRCLE
We camp in small circles of around 12 tents, each circle sharing a central fire. Our Camping circle becomes our village for the event; a place where we can make lifelong friends and share information and tools, cooking equipment and anecdotes.
When we arrive on site one of the first things we do after checking in at gate lodge is to choose a place to camp. If we are one of the first campers on site we may decide to start our own camping circle, but often there are many circles being established and so we ask to join one. This can feel a little awkward but we soon find people will welcome us to their circle, or if it is full direct us to one looking for more campers.
Experience suggests that around twenty people including teens and children sharing the circle is just about right.
If you are establishing a circle we suggest that spaces are not all reserved for old friends who are on their way, so that new arrivals can be welcomed into your circle. This way people can randomly find themselves together for camp, and new friendships can be made.
FACILITIES AT CAMP
Camping facilities on site include wood stove heated hot showers, clean and welcoming earth toilets, running water, and firewood for cooking fires. We also have a shop, a café and a sauna. There are several fire points with extinguishers set out around the site. Information on fire safety and using showers etc will be given out at the morning meeting.
We own a wonderful selection of venues in which to run our workshops during camp. Amongst our venues are marquees which act as a creativity area, crèche space, shop, teenage area and cabaret. We also have three yurts made by Nick Clayson, a site crew manager, and one of these yurts serves as our wood stove sauna. We also have a gorgeous Tipi for smaller workshops and a Big top and a little Big Top to facilitate our drumming, singing, and dancing events.
Hygiene is tremendously important at camp because we live in such close proximity to each other! Our high standards of hygiene help ensure that bugs do not spread. We strongly encourage hand wash after visiting the toilets; eco friendly soap and foot operated hand wash stations are provided, and we always wash up dishes in very hot soapy water! Hot prewash, wash and rinse goes a long way to keeping our fellow campers healthy.
GENERAL WASTE & RECYCLING
At Camp we do our best to manage our waste as efficiently and with as much attention to recycling and composting as possible.
Keeping our camp litter free It is lovely to walk around a beautiful clean site so we aim to keep all circles and venues free from litter, spilt food etc.
Currently all out toilets are compost toilets. This year we commenced building some willow toilets to facillate quicker composting.
We compost all our uncooked food waste on site. Fruit peelings and cooked food leftovers are burned on the fire. Wash up water can be thrown into the hedge a bit away from the tents.
We encourage the use of eco friendly washing up liquids and shampoo etc. All the hand soap we provide at hand wash stations is eco friendly. No aerosols are allowed on site.
Reduce/reuse/recycle. When shopping for camp chose products with minimum packaging. The shop will supply plenty of fresh veg and fruit. We have sourced a recycling company nearby that process clean dry tin cans, aluminium cans, plastic, cardboard, paper and tetra paks. Bags will be provided which can be used to bring recyclables to skip and then reused.Glass is collected seperately
We also provide a skip for disposal of non recyclable waste including nappies and sanitary ware. However we ask that you do not use this for items you have brought to camp that have broken, eg camping chairs, gazebos, etc.
Please Don't burn any plastic. Burning plastic waste produces very strong poisons in the air.
SAFETY & FIRST AID
Do bring a first aid kit with you for your own personal use. It is recommended each circle has a powered up mobile phone available in case of emergencies, let your circle know where it is. Gate will also have a phone and all emergency services have our whereabouts and co ordinates.
Our No late Night Noise system ensures we all get a good nights sleep, camp program kicks off early in the morning at 7:30 with some folk rising even earlier for silent meditation.
We ask for all campers to respect the following guidelines: Children must return to their circles at 10.00 pm, soft chattering after 11pm and nothing but the gentlest of whispers after 12pm. Everyone is encouraged to actively discourage early morning wood chopping or yodeling! There will be a curfew extension on special occasions like campfire night and teen drum night. There is a no drumming outside of workshops agreement on camp for your enjoyment. Thanks for your co-operation.
EARTHSONG CAFE, SHOP & MARKET DAY
The Earthsong Cafe runs for both Dance and Harvest Camp. The staff consists of wonderful willing workers from the camp. They open after morning meeting from 11 ish till 4.30. Food options are usually things like egg specials, french toast, crispy fried polenta, vegetable sushi and lots of home made goodies and a few homemade naughties!!!
They will be open on the evenings that events are run in the cafe selling their rich sumptuous hot chocolate, soya chai and goodies
The shop is a wonderful resource situated right at the entrance of the site. While from the outside it appears as though just a small white tent you will be amazed at how much you will find inside. It has a whole array of fruits and vegetables, all local and organic when possible. It also stocks rice, pasta, lentils, and a mass of beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and the odd spice, plus local stone ground breads every morning from the baker down the road, fresh Organic milk, unpasteurised yoghurts and cheeses and eggs.
Early on in camp there will be a camp market where we can buy and sell craft items, second hand clothes and books, musical instruments, camp equipment, snacks and much more besides. Be sure to bring items to sell, this is a popular event for all.