In the spring of 2016 I wrote a post sharing a few ways our family volunteers in town. I wanted to give tangible ways Albert Lean’s could get involved in our community. Perry Vining the founder and coordinator of the Big Island Rendezvous found and read the article. He commented on the post and shared with me, they always have the need for guides for the school groups who come out for their education days. I emailed him and proposed a partnership between Russell’s Adventures and the Big Island Rendezvous.
Soon after our conversation Perry and I met for a face to face conversation. I walked out of the meeting with more than I had anticipated going into the meeting. We went from my proposed trade for a family pass to the rendezvous, to helping Perry with the social media side of the rendezvous.
I had mentioned to Perry that our family had always wanted to camp at the rendezvous and the wonderful experience it would be for our kids. He loved the idea and loved the idea of being able to help us give our kids an even deeper history experience. We were soon introduced to Foxy who is a wonderful seamstress and she made period correct clothing for all six of us.
Up until Mark’s accident we had planned to camp out there as well. Once Mark had his accident we had to table the camping idea and settle for day trips. Which we discovered was a wise move on our part for many reasons. One of the main reasons is realizing how expensive the period correct tents are. For our family, a used tent that would fit our family well and give us elbow room runs between $500 – $900.
Going out for day trips allowed Mark to go home and rest in his own bed. Neither of us had realized how tired he had gotten until we arrived home. It also allowed us to talk to veteran rendezvousers and ask questions. We honestly felt out of place and we were sure we would stick out like a sore thumb, and we did. We had matching clothes and all of the rendezousers commented on it. I finally asked someone if it was a good thing or a weird thing. She said, no it was a good thing. She also said it was very true to the time period. During the rendezvous era a family would have to buy a bolt of fabric not just pieces of fabric. It was common for a family to match for the economic reason it was the cheapest way to go.
While we felt out of place all of the reenactors where fabulously helpful and supportive. The number one question they asked us was, “are you having fun”. It did not matter if we were missing a few period correct pieces. Each and everyone of them new that going full tilt, period correct, takes time. They all had fabulous tips and advice. They all were quick to know someone who new someone who could help supply us with what we would need. We were thrilled to learn we actually already had some of the main pieces we would need.
You may be wondering like we did, what are the essential, basic items you need to start rendezvousing. Here is what we learned.
First, you need lodging. A period correct tent is important if you are going to be spending the night. If you are going to start out with day trips (which is suggested, you can forego this cost or begin to save up to be ready to purchase your tent when the perfect one comes along). We have heard from several veterans Panther Primitives is a great company to go with or you can also find used, in great condition tents if you ask around.
Second, you need period correct clothing. Our family chose prairie pioneers mainly because we connect to this time period because my great-great grandparents immigrated from Denmark and settled in the midwest to build the family farm. It is a part of our literal history we are able to connect with and it is piece of history we will eventually be able to teach to others. We are open to our story changing and we are excited to see who we become and how our story changes or evolves.
Third, you need cookware. Cast iron cookware to be specific as well as period correct grill grates. We love cast iron cooking and it is what we happen to use at home. We even have a dutch oven with legs. I was, however, drooling over the smaller caldrons I saw many of the rendezvousers slowly simmering their oatmeal or stew in. Doesn’t slow simmered stew cooked over a fire sound delicious and wonderful. Oh, it sounds like heaven to me! You can buy them new or you can look at flea markets and antique stores for cookware as well.
Fourth, ask questions. I am normally bubbly and outgoing, but for some reason I get intimidated to talk to folks for random reasons. Before we even went out to the rendezvous site I had made a pact with myself that I was going to be bold and make conversation. Not weather conversation, but really ask good questions that would help us know the best directions to take. Our matching outfits was a perfect conversation starter. Many of the folks we talked to hollered out to us that they liked our outfits, this opened the door for me to walk over and introduce myself and our family. When they found out we were newbies they were so kind and encouraging. We didn’t feel like we had two heads on at all.
Fifth, food is necessary to keep our bodies going, but what do you cook at a rendezvous? Stews, oatmeal, roast meat over the open fire, rotisserie style, coffee (this will be an essential at our camp) and anything you feel up to the challenge to make over an open fire. We did see folks bringing in coolers (which is the wise and safe thing to do for perishable food items), but they need to be kept out of site so your camp remains period correct. We also saw wood box coolers which are lined on the inside with styrofoam, this allows for a better period correct looking camp.
Sixth, odds and ends. We noticed rendezvousers had beewax candles and candle boxes. No kerosene lamps or flash lights at this shindig. I am sure there will be more odds and ends we will be able to share as we continue to get to know rendezvous life.
We would like to thank everyone we met at the Big Island Rendezvous. You were kind, understanding and supportive. We are excited to get to know each of you better.