On arrival you will be welcomed at the cafe by the Welcome Team and registered. After they have checked your name you can find a camping circle (see below). You will also be given a Karma Yoga ticket. Karma Yoga means offering work as a service for the benefit of the community. All adult participants are asked to contribute in this way. The work is likely to require a total of one to three hours of your time during the week. Some of the Karma Yoga duties include helping in children’s workshops, serving in the café and toilet cleaning (rubber gloves provided!). Instruction is given. Our feedback from participants is that it is an enjoyable experience which enhances the depth of connection with the camp and is a good way to make friends.
The Site Crew spend the week before the camps assembling the structures and facilities, and the week after taking them down. While the camps are running they maintain these facilities which include:
These are organic toilets which use sawdust instead of flushing with water. Please do not put anything inorganic into the toilets, a bin is provided. You need to remember to supply your own toilet paper! There is also a separate toilet with disabled access.
There are water points throughout the camp. The water is filtered and good to drink. Please take water away in containers for use in your circle; washing up and teeth cleaning at the standpipe is discouraged as it creates mud and is a health hazard.
We have showers heated by a wood-fired boiler in a spacious dry enclosure. Communal showering and sharing of water is encouraged as being the most efficient mode of use but there is also a separate individual shower for anyone requiring privacy or easy access.
Compost and recycling facilities
As part of our green ethos we do not provide for the collection of general rubbish which you must take away with you so please bring a bag for personal rubbish. There is an on-site recycling facility for all recyclables. The Site Crew will provide recycling bin bags for each circle. There is a compost area to receive organic waste, each circle is provided with a compost bucket.
The Creativity Area is a group of marquees and other structures including a magnificent climbing frame and sports area. There is a daily programme for over 5’s of art & craft activities, music, games and creative play. It is called the ‘Creativity Area’ because it provides a space and materials for creative projects mainly aimed at children but which are open to all ages. Likewise, most of the adult programme is open to children as well and it is stated in the morning gathering if any sessions are not suitable.
Every evening we have Story time for listeners of all ages held by our excellent storytellers.
Our hope is that the whole camp will be mindful of the welfare of our children and feel able to give guidance for safety and good behaviour. Ultimately as parents and guardians we are responsible for their welfare and behaviour. Parents are asked that their children are back in their camping circle by 10pm.
There is a special area of the camp reserved for teenagers of 15 years and above who wish to camp together as long as they observe the same rules as the adults particularly with regard to alcohol, drugs and noise. We have a skilled team who provide a programme of workshops. Teenagers are also most welcome to participate in the main adult programme.
We have a team on site who respond to accidents and emergencies. A fully equipped first aid kit is kept in the Information Tent. Most day to day problems will hopefully be dealt with within your camping circle, where it is useful to identify those with first aid skills and/or first-aid kits.
All participants are responsible for their own health and well-being and that of their children.
Mindfulness of hygiene is especially important when camping together. The weather is often hot and the facilities are more basic than those we are used to at home. With our proximity to each other there is an increased risk of bugs being spread.
We also ask everyone to follow a vegetarian diet on the camps for reasons of hygiene.
- Wash yours (and children's) hands after using the toilets and before eating and food preparation.
- Keep your food cool and covered
- Keep eating utensils clean. Wash up with hot soapy water
Café and Shop
The café provides delicious vegetarian and vegan cooked breakfasts, lunches, drinks and cakes. It is a friendly, comfortable and colourful space to eat or just to hang out where musicians and storytellers provide evening entertainment. You will need to bring your own cutlery and crockery but the tab system means you don’t have to carry money with you.
There is an on-site shop for food and essentials selling organic vegetables, local bread, milk and other daily essentials. We encourage all campers to support the café and the shop and to keep from using their cars during the camp. There is a well stocked general store and post office within walking distance down footpaths to the village.
Circles are formed organically as people arrive and select a space in which to set up their tent. A fire is made in the middle of the circle with wood provided. Circle members share collecting and chopping wood, keeping a supply of water at hand and tending the fire. The evening meal and washing-up is something that is usually shared with the whole circle a talk during Circle Sharing time will establish how you wish to operate. If you would like help finding a circle to join just ask the Welcome Team.
Your circle is the first place to look for company, friendship, practical help and emotional support. Some thoughts: do you want to camp with families with children, if so what ages? Do you want to be near certain facilities e.g. the Creativity Area, the climbing frame, or the main marquee? Do you want to camp with others with plenty of experience of camps willing to share their knowledge and cooking equipment? As most circles cook communally, size is another factor; would you rather cook more often for less people or vice-versa?
We encourage first-time campers to arrive as early as you can on Arrivals Day as it can be difficult trying to join circles who consider themselves to be complete! We expect circles to be open and welcoming to new campers.
Community is an essential aspect of the Unicorn Village Camps experience. Friendships made during a week of camping together can last a lifetime.
During the camp a lot happens - joys and sorrows are experienced, emotions are felt and acknowledged. The camps support the process through our ethos of inclusivity and acceptance.
Unicorn Village Camps welcome campers with mobility issues, and we will do our best to facilitate your camping experience, but there are some factors you will need to take on board in deciding whether camping with us is feasible:
The camps take place over two meadows containing no permanent structures or pathways. The land has enough flattish areas to site marquees, tents and caravans, but also contains many natural undulations making it potentially challenging if you have mobility issues. The two fields are separated by a road on which there is hardly any traffic, but the gate areas can get muddy and slippery after rain.
There are some semi-permanent wooden compost toilet structures, but intrinsic to their design is that they are elevated above the ground, and therefore are accessed by steps.
For this reason we also erect a toilet in each of the fields which is designed to be accessed at ground level by wheelchairs and people who have other mobility impairments.
The main communal showers are in a converted trailer and also contain steps, but there is an alternative shower which can be accessed by wheelchairs, and is also used by campers wishing to shower with more privacy.
There is also a special area reserved for disabled drivers just inside the gate of the car park field, so that campers with mobility issues do not have to walk all the way from the main car park.
There are special areas reserved for wheelchairs at the gatherings and major performance events, and we encourage campers and teachers to be aware of the needs of wheelchair users and others who need to sit in the workshops.
The rules and conventions governing the everyday running of the Unicorn Village Camps are the result of years of experience and the feedback we gather each year from the campers. Please follow the links to find out why these rules are in place, and how they contribute to making every camp a wonderful experience.
No alcohol or illegal drugs
When Samuel Lewis created the Dances of Universal Peace in 1960’s San Francisco, it was specifically with the intent of providing the young people of that city with the experience of a spiritual ‘high’ as an alternative to drugs. In the decades since, in which the Dances have grown and spread throughout the world, it has been understood that all Dance events whether single sessions, residential retreats or camps have benefitted from a ‘no alcohol/no drugs’ rule.
Many people have experienced these events as having the power to trigger significant personal transformation and that the use of alcohol or drugs would have blocked the process. When the Unicorn Dances of Universal Peace Camp (now called Dancing Spirit Camp) began in the early nineties it was a given that this rule would apply and the reasons for it were understood and appreciated by the first wave of campers.
It also proved to be a very practical rule for a family camp which, along with the 11pm ‘Quiet Time’ convention allowed camping families to feel secure and to get a good night’s sleep. It has been our experience that on camps which allow alcohol this is often not the case; with the best will in the world it doesn’t take many drinks for us to forget both the lateness of the hour and the fact that we are surrounded by people trying to sleep with only thin canvas between themselves and our revelry!
When the Unicorn Natural Voice Camp began in 1998 it seemed natural to continue in this ethos and the majority of campers the first year were familiar with it through the Dance Camp.
As the Voice Camp grew it took in more participants from the world of Community Choirs and the Core Group became concerned that a clash of cultures would occur as in the broader European culture singing and drinking very often go together. Indeed in our feedback some participants felt that moderate drinking should be allowed. The majority opinion however was considerably in favour of the alcohol ban so we have retained it across both our main camps. The policy continues to be enthusiastically endorsed by our feedback process.
Singing itself can be a very powerful and transformative activity especially combined with the experience of the camp community and the back-to-basics focus of simple everyday camp life away from our usual patterns. Most people who have experienced the camps have appreciated how the no alcohol rule enables this opportunity for deeper awareness and personal development. There are many participants who say that Unicorn Camps have changed their lives. This is something of which the Core Group are very proud and they are most unlikely to ever abandon this key policy.
No amplified music
The camps are full of musicians and singers and provide lots of opportunities to get together to make music both as part of the programme and informally in the camping circles and cafe. We encourage in-the-moment acoustic music. We have experienced other camps where loud recorded music in one venue has made it very difficult to take part in a session in another and recorded music keeping you awake at night.
It is a blessing to be at a camp where these things will never happen!
No noise after 11pm
We have an 11pm 'Quiet Time' in place so that everyone on the camp can get a good night’s sleep and be refreshed for early morning activities. Our experience from other camps is that late night noise causes a lot of discomfort and resentment, especially for families.
Although our camping fields cover a reasonably large area we do not sleep within thick walls and loud noise on one part of the site can be heard on any other.
As with the 'no alcohol' rule this was challenged by some in the early days of the Voice Camp but since then it has been widely acknowledged in the feedback as being very welcome.
We encourage everyone to switch their phones off when on camp to experience more deeply the blessing of being simply present with each other, with ourselves and with nature. Of course sometimes it is necessary to be in communication with someone outside the camp but this can be done sensitively by making the call in the car park or by sending and receiving texts silently.
All gas appliances used on site must meet regulation standards
We were obliged to include this rule after two successive years in which the Fire Brigade was called to the camp. On both occasions the cause of the fire was a camping gas fridge which had been inexpertly assembled. We do not ban such fridges completely as they are often part of the fittings in a camper van but we do require them to meet regulation standards.
Dogs are not permitted
Unfortunately the history of trying to accommodate dogs on camps is an unsuccessful one and nearly all current camps do not allow them on site. They have been known to be a menace to young children and their excrement is a health hazard. They have been guilty of transgressing curfews and the theft of camper’s foodstuffs, including breaking and entering!
However we do allow guide dogs on site.
No visitors and no new arrivals after the first Sunday of the camp
One of the things which enables the very special quality of community on Unicorn Camps is the feeling of safety which comes from being part of a settled group of people. The camps are small enough that all faces become familiar after a day or two and the sudden appearance of new people can be quite strange after we have established our community. It’s also disturbing when people leave early so we ask them to stay for the duration of the camp if possible. These rules do not apply to children who are brought to the camp after it has started. We ask that they are met at the Gate or outside the camp.
Participants must not arrive before Arrivals Day (Saturday).
Suggested Things to Bring
Here is a list of things you might want to bring:
- tent, dome, tipi or yurt
- sleeping mat, warm bedding, hot water bottle
- torch, lantern
- rugs and sheepskins
- ear plugs
- wellies and waterproofs
- all weather clothing (it can get cold at night)
- large pots and pans
- trivet or grill
- plates, bowls, cups, cutlery
- chopping board and knife
- washing up bowl
- water carrier
- stool or chair
- toilet rolls
- bag for non recyclable rubbish
- sun screen and sun hat
If you need an epi-pen or asthma inhaler remember to bring it to camp
If travelling light join a well-equipped circle!
Cars and Camping Vehicles
Once you have put your tent up we ask that you remove your car to the car park.
As we are living physically close to the earth it is a wonderful opportunity to experience everyday living at its most basic surrounded by natural things. Unfortunately it is not practical to do without vehicles entirely as the daily shop delivery and the occasional wood delivery require vehicles as do those campers who have difficulties using a tent and need to use a camper van, trailer tent, or caravan. Camping vehicle dwellers are asked to park up in the Wiltshire Field as part of a circle or on your own. We also ask that you cover your vehicle with awnings and covers to lessen the vehicles impact. Please consider using a tent in your circle if you can with your van in the car park for extra convenience. The camp greatly benefits from having a minimum of vehicles on the site.