BY ALLISON STEIN
Awe camping, when you either spend a small fortune on bringing the amenities of home to the wilderness or you grab a trash bag, orange juice, maybe some bananas and just wing it. Last month I gave it a try and not only survived but am here to write about it.
In case you missed it, the last weekend of September was the cannabis community’s 2nd annual Errl Camp. The event took place at the gorgeous, lush Jackpot Ranch in Camp Verde, Arizona (Sheila Polk country, boo hiss). As a 1st time Errl Camp-er, I am here to report it was the most fun a person can have on actual grass … the non-smokable kind that is.
We all know about Errl Cup competition held in January and, its summertime cousin, the 710 Cup held in July. Errl events have deeply seeded roots in the cannabis community dating back about 5 years. This year both Errl events topped seven thousand attendees. The Errl Camp is the latest cannabis community concept from Jim Morrison, Jay Nehri and the crew.
Instead of yet another competition, the Errl Camp is a medicated camping trip for medical cannabis patients that allows the medical cannabis community to come together and consume their medicine in the middle of nature. It also extends AZ’s cannabis community beyond the Kingdome of Maricopa, giving local Yavapai County patients a chance to experience some of the wonders of Phoenix’s cannabis culture.
Upon arrival at the Jackpot Ranch the feeling of unity was apparent. Driving down a dirt road towards the campsite, with green grass on the sides, was an experience in itself. Roll the windows down to let the cool Camp Verde breeze blow through the car and let the relaxation begin. Saying hello to all the friends you see along the way to check in. That’s just the beginning.
The first task of every camping adventure is finding the perfect site to set up home for the weekend. Since the Jackpot Ranch is a functioning youth campground and working ranch, there was more than enough cut grass for everyone. Like they say out in the country, the early bird gets the worm or in this case gets the best spots.
The sense of community was strong at Errl Camp. People helping people set up camp and saying things like, “Hey, dude, we need a hand with this.” Almost always you received a reply like, “Sure, dude let me finish this dab and I will be right over.”
Of course, there are sounds of confusion as well. ‘Is this a chair or a table, what is it?” To “Awe dude, you know what? I forgot to pack the tent!”
After setting up “home” for the weekend, it was time to meet the neighbors and say “High.” It was also time to get our bearings around camp and find friends. Walking around, I got a sense of stoner ingenuity at its finest. Each campsite was unique in its own way, no two alike. Props like pool umbrellas were being used as makeshift canopies. Cars, vans, trucks and trailers transformed into homes.
And the endless variety of the tents! Pup tents, pop-up tents, porta-potty tents, canvas tents, mesh tents. From blankets draped over folding tables to small single tents that transformed into huge mansion-like tents with add-ons, each site has a proud team of campers behind it or passed out in it from the last sesh. One of the two.
A former Army medic, Stephen Vega from D-Treatz rushed around the whole weekend, handing out water from his golf cart. He also was one of half a dozen carts that freighted materials around and provided dozens of rides to those unable to make the long hike from their camp to the activities.
There were community dinners in the evenings, followed by hayrides to help attendees become better acquainted with the area. As day one turned to night one, camping spaces were still filling in. Many partaking in late night smoke sessions saw the sunrise as they slipped off to sleep, thanks to the indica.
The next morning, as the sun made its way over the mountains and lit up the valley, Jackpot Ranch campers awoke, but not just to the usual sounds of coffee and coughing. Countryside sounds like roosters crowing, birds chirping, and cows mooing mixed into the background sounds of the morning wake n bake at Errl Camp. From lighters sparking bowls and torches clicking for dabs, you could hear the coughing for miles around.
The 2nd day was vendor day. After breakfast you could see brand ambassadors, and non-profits like AZ-NORML, hauling supplies or catching rides on golf carts to the vendor village. If the crowd of the vendor village wasn’t your thing, there were plenty of other activities to do (baseball, a petting zoo, river stuff down along the Verde and an all-day festival of people in and if you just wanted to sleep the day’s edibles off in your tent, that’s ok too.
Once the sun set, preparations of the world record 8 pound smokable joint started. It wasn’t up and smoking until the early hours of Sunday morning. The 8 pounds were made of “unusable cannabis” or trim. There was chocolate, marshmallows and Graham crackers stationed at every fire pit for those munchy attacks. A movie played on the baseball field for couples to cuddle up and watch together.
All in all, the ending of the second day ended much like the first, with campers seshing until the early morning. To be perfectly honest, I was too stoned to remember a damn thing. The novelty of being able to smoke, consume and dab cannabis anywhere you wanted has an appeal.
By the beginning of the third day, those that didn’t have an opportunity to shower might have started to smell a bit ripe, but it was hard to tell over the smell of skunk being smoked. Still, those that had and those that had not showered, started packing up and tearing down their home for the weekend.
Amongst the sound of the camp wake-n-bake of coughs and lighters could be heard campers gathering their belongings. “Dude, I can’t find my…” and “I think I lost my—” and vendors raffling off prizes for gas money.
Cue memories of the last day of every summer camp you’ve attended as a kid, but this time without the tears. Why? Because we will see each other again in this cannabis community, maybe sooner than you think with all the events.
It’s hard not to appreciate how far the community has come while attending Errl Camp. A camping village of cannabis consuming patients would have seemed like dream decades ago, but thanks to Jim and Jay, their horde of volunteers and the AMMA, it was all possible.
SEE YA NEXT YEAR!!
–Allison Stein writes for AZ Cannabis News