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General Camp Information

Assembled in the program area after supper, Field School attenders get the low-down about the day's findings at the early evening program. An equipment trailer and the cook trailer are in the background.

Assembled in the program area after supper, Field School attendees get the low-down about the day's findings at the early evening program.  An equipment trailer and the cook trailer are in the background.

For the hundreds of you that attend the Field School (FS) regularly, much of what is said here will be known, but to those who are new to TAS or who haven't attended FS, the following information will supplement the generic camp rules and equipment lists also on the website.

Our goal is first and foremost accomplishing the objective of our Principal Investigator (PI), and second, having fun while doing it.  And that in part is what this is about.  When things go wrong, that is not fun.  We are trying to prevent trouble by helping you to know what to expect and what to bring.

Arrival at Camp

Even though the FS runs from Saturday through Saturday, it is best if you can arrive at the camp on Friday so you can get set up that day.  That can also give you a chance to find your crew assignment on the bulletin board and possibly locate your crew chief or some of your crew.  Newcomers' orientation is held the first three days of the Field School; there is only one day of orientation, but it is held three times for those arriving at different times.  Field School really starts at 7:00 AM Saturday.  Unless a newcomer, early that morning you will meet with your crew chief and find out your assignment.  Because people are gathering to leave for the site at 7:00, if you arrive later that day, you will miss most of the first day of Field School and much of the instruction that is given Saturday morning.  While we do pride ourselves on our efficiency, that first Saturday morning is not very efficient.  Directed chaos is a better description.  Any lead time you can manage to get acquainted with camp life and oriented for your work assignment will be a bonus to the over-all organization, especially for those with crew chief or other work responsibilities.

Information Provided

The Field School Registrar should e-mail or mail to you (along with your receipt if by mail) available information which could include emergency numbers, a tentative schedule, a list of the programs, a list of meals, specific camp rules, equipment lists, and a map with instructions on how to get to the camp site, as the camp site and the dig site are often not at the same location.  As you get close to the camp site, there will be signs directing you to camp.


Each year there is an attempt to put the registration table close to the center of activities in the camp, the location where meals and programs will be held.  More specific information about where this is may be in your initial contact information.  You should stop here and check in.  You will be given your name tag, t-shirt if you ordered one, and your packet with information about where to camp and where things are placed around the camp area.  You now will go on to the camping area where you may pick out a site and set up your tent or camper, etc.

Camp and Supplies for Camp

Campers and RV's with generators don't usually park among the tents; if you plan to run a generator any time during FS, you normally park in a designated area away from the main camp.  When days are so full of activities, the ability to sleep at night with minimal interruption is prized.  There may or may not be electrical hookups or dump stations.  Specific details are part of each year's information.

While we are talking about camp, let's go over some of the equipment you will need.  First you will need something to sleep in or under.  Because of our long-standing record of bringing drought-breaking rains or floods to the area of the FS, we most heartily suggest at least a non-leaking tent, along with something to sleep on.  Don't forget bedding. And while there is usually drinking water at the camp, you will need to have something to bring it back to your campsite.

TAS folks are always willing to put a musical group together. Adults accompanying this evening's songfest are (L to R) Ralph Vinson, vocal; Steve Hays and Robin Matthews, guitars; Alice Rogers, banjo; and Nick Morgan, guitar. Herminio Aguilar-Garza, guitar, has slipped behind one of the youth. Katherine Turner-Pearson assists the younger members in the rhythm section.

TAS folks are always willing to put a musical group together.  Adults accompanying this evening's songfest are (L to R) Ralph Vinson, vocal; Steve Hays and Robin Matthews, guitars; Alice Stultz, banjo; and Nick Morgan, guitar.  Herminio Aguilar-Garza, guitar, has slipped behind one of the youth.  Katherine Turner-Pearson assists the younger members in the rhythm section.

You will also want at least one light-weight chair per person to take to the nightly programs and to the cook trailer area if you are purchasing your breakfasts and/or dinners.  If you can manage two chairs per person, that will allow you to leave one chair in the program/meal area and still have seating at your campsite.  You may prepare your own meals or buy the ones offered by TAS.  The TAS menu is diverse and provides the advantage of not having to cook or leave camp for breakfast or dinner (you are on your own for lunch).  The TAS dining area frequently does not come with seating or eating surfaces, so do bring a camp/TV table to use.  It would be helpful for each person to have some sort of tray for supporting and transporting dinnerware and foodstuffs at meals from the food line to your eating/seating spot (plastic/paper plates, cups, and dinnerware are provided for purchased meals).  If you are not purchasing meals, you will need to bring whatever cooking equipment you need and a stove of some type, since ground fires are often not allowed.  Make sure you put your name on your property; many items look alike.  Even if you are buying your meals, you will want to have a cooler or two for drinks and food for your noon meal.  Don't forget water jugs, flatware, and dishes for camp needs and meals you prepare.  Ice will be sold at the camp site, normally close to the cook trailer and water source.

Not everyone chooses to camp out, and motels are usually available in the Field School area.  A decision on where you will stay will depend on your finances, the availability of accommodations other than those provided at camp, and whether the camaraderie that is shared by those staying in the camp area will outweigh the additional luxuries of hot water and air-conditioning provided by a motel.

As for clothing, it should be rugged; much of our work requires us to get down and dirty.  Most of the members bring a clothes change for each day in camp, but some people are able to get a couple of days wear out of one set (don’t count on it).  As afternoons are free (though teachers' training is normally scheduled around 3:00 PM during the first part of the week) you can often go into town to a laundromat.  Porta-cans and communal men's and women's cold water showers are available in the camping area (don't forget your towels and toiletries); porta-cans are also provided at the site(s).

If you are bringing one or more children, you will be expected to help at least one day with the Youth Program.  The FS is family-oriented; a full schedule of training in archeological techniques and fun activities is planned for the younger crowd (from ca. 7 years of age until a youngster is sufficiently trained and mature enough to join an adult crew).  And this brings up the subject of tools, since the children as well as adults will need their own set.  A kind of a starter set would be: a brick mason’s trowel – the handle should be welded, not braded to the blade; Marshalltown and Goldblatt are two of the best ones.  Everyone will also need small brushes (whisk broom and paint brush), some kind of dust pan to remove dirt and dust with, a pail, a metric tape, a line level, a pencil and a sharpener.  You should also bring a hat, insect repellent, sun screen, first aid kit, and any medicine taken on a regular basis.  And if you want to swim in the river/lake (when such is available), bring your bathing suit and water shoes.  River beds and lake bottoms (and their shores) are not always kind to feet and may be slippery.

On a typical day you will be awakened at 5:00 AM.  The method varies, but usually involves a camp boss sort driving through the camping area with horn honking.  Expect an early-morning run on the porta-cans that are stationed around the camp area.  Ideally, porta-cans are serviced every other day during FS.  Breakfast (for those who purchase it) will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 AM.  Everyone leaves for the site(s) by 7:00, normally car-pooling to save on gas and parking spaces.  Crew chiefs usually schedule a break around 10:00 in the morning.  However, please take a break whenever you feel the need; gauge your reaction to the work and heat.  Bring a snack of some kind and plenty of drinking water.  Children also need these provisions, though additional snacks and drinks are provided in their work area.  Those participating in the Youth Program can also expect at least one special field trip during the week.

We usually leave the site and head back to camp around 1:00 PM.  As stated above, afternoons are normally open or offer field trips to sites or other points of interest in the area.  Dinner for those who are eating the FS meals will be from 5:30-6:30 PM.  After dinner you can enjoy a little more social time until the early evening program (usually 7:00 until 9:00 PM).  The main program will begin at 9:00 PM.  The starting time is late because it must be reasonably dark to view the evening program.  Curfew is at 11:00 PM.  All camp rules and regulations will be posted on the bulletin board in the main gathering area, as will the crew assignment lists.

We hope this gives you a good overview of Field School logistics.  Information tailored to each year's Field School is made available in January.


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March 16, 2016