Sober SCamping

Author: Allyce Carlson

Sobriety has always seemed to be a touchy issue. Those who are sober may find difficulty in talking to others about their choice, and those who are not sober tend to worry their own habits will infringe on the comfort of their sober counterparts. In order to shift the paradigm, we must be able to have open and honest conversations about these aspects of our lives. I had the pleasure of speaking to a few SCampers about their tactics for attending Summer Camp and other events while remaining sober. If you’ve made moves to change your lifestyle, or you’re hoping to create healthy changes in the new year, you may find some nuggets of information here helpful; like the fact that Camp Traction is back at #SCamp23 offering an area at our festival for Sober Camping!

We don’t have to give up everything in order to live a more holistic lifestyle, rather, if we observe our habits with an honest eye, oftentimes the habits become more manageable. For instance, when I began tracking how often I drank, the visual gave me the ability to have realizations such as, “You know what, I’ve drunk 5 of the last 10 days, I probably shouldn’t have one today.” Small changes like this can add up to leaps and bounds of progress. Having worked events for years, I generally keep it under control, but I wouldn’t claim to be a person living a sober lifestyle, so let’s take a look at what some friends living alcohol-free have to offer.

Camp Counselor Allyce: Everyone defines “sobriety” through their own lens and life experience. What does “sobriety” mean to you?

Benji: That’s a great question. One that has turned mere comments into social media meltdowns with thousands of comments and resentment that will last lifetimes, and an annoyingly long answer. For me, sobriety is abstinence from drugs and alcohol, paired with working a 12 step program. That said, no one has the market on sobriety, recovery or spirituality. There are people who don’t work a program, there are people who don’t practice complete abstinence (i.e. quit drinking but still smoke weed, or quit doing drugs, but will still have a beer), there are a lot of people in-between. I don’t judge what works for other people, if they are living a good and happy life, I am happy for them.
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Camp Counselor Allyce: What led you to choose this lifestyle?

Carl: My path to sobriety is fairly recent, and I have a personal story that led me to this decision. I had been working in a bar and working festivals for over four years and had many nights of going out and partying for much longer than I should. One of those drunken evenings, after a night of working and partying with friends, I cracked my head open by falling off a handrail backwards onto a concrete curb. I lost a lot of blood and hit my head at the base of my skull-close to where the spinal cord attaches. My friends rushed me to the ER at 2A and I had a CAT scan done on my head. Luckily, I suffered no major damage other than a really bad concussion and 3 staples needed; however, the CAT scan revealed I had done more damage to my brain over time than I expected. I noticed two small holes in the gray matter of my brain and it was a huge wake up call for me to clean up my life. I had to be sober for 30 days due to the concussion anyways, so I decided to continue this way of living and get my life back on track.

Camp Counselor Allyce: 3. What are some challenges you have faced in attending events sober?

Boots: The biggest has to be not being dulled to all the others that are drunk and acting recklessly. Drunk people can being annoying as fuck. I have a tendency to be a helper so it is tough to ignore spunions that need an adult. I also used to absolutely love raging the rail/pit. I’m talking about being crazy as shit and rocking as hard as I possibly can. There’s no denying that sober I cannot bring myself to be as crazy. I still bring it at Umphreys, but it’s a new mindset.
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Camp Counselor Allyce: What could event coordinators do to better support sober patrons?

Benji: Many festivals already accommodate the sober community, some of them have a Yellow Balloon area during the day, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, moe.down and many others have space for us. Even more festivals have a Sober Camping area called Camp Traction. I think those 2 things are the tools we need as a community. It’s not the venue or promoter’s job to not serve alcohol, or shield us from people using, it’s not even other people’s responsibility to not drink/drug on our behalf. You do you, and we will do the same, with respect, tolerance and space for one another.

Camp Counselor Allyce: What advice do you have for people who might be considering going to SCamp sober for the first time?

Carl: For sober SCamping, it helps to have a buddy. Having an accountability partner makes any task easier, and makes you feel less alone!! SCamp also offers a sober campsite area for people to surround themselves with likeminded people and to reduce the temptations of being camped by people partying heavily. I use an app called “Nomo” and it is a sobriety day tracking app that allows you to see the different placeholders on days sober for different substances, money saved over the duration of your sobriety, time lapsed for each substance, the ability to have an accountability buddy, and many other awesome, unique features to help keep you on track. Other things that have helped me are bringing my own beverages to gatherings, bringing candy or snacks to use as an outlet instead of alcohol (also serves as a great ice breaker too), and not engaging with people partaking in drugs or other harder substances. As soon as I noticed someone around me doing drugs, I would dismiss myself. It was hard to walk away from friends, but putting that boundary in place to not be directly around it was crucial to the first couple months in my sobriety. Everyone is different and different things work for different people. I had a friend who made up a funny, random joke-reason every time someone asked why she didn’t drink and that was her way of breaking the ice and making light of something that usually made her or others uncomfortable.

Sobriety looks different for every single person. The main idea is that we are doing our best to take care of ourselves so that we can keep dancing into our twilight years. If you or anyone you know is looking for support, please refer to Much Obliged Facebook Group (Sober UM fans) or on Instagram. Also don’t forget to check out Camp Traction!

We are so looking forward to seeing you at Summer Camp 2023, and if sobriety is your path, please know there are many SCampers out here who want that for you too.

Mad Love friends, can’t wait to see you!
Camp Counselor Allyce