This time last year, Jon North could be found on the..."/>

This time last year, Jon North could be found on the..."/>

Essentials for Big Blue Madness Camp Out 2011


This time last year, Jon North could be found on the sidewalk in front of Memorial on Avenue of Champions watching the traffic drive by and necks crane at the number of people lined up around the arena, each eyeing their piece of real estate across the road and into the green grass on the other side. Trust me; grass is a lot more comfortable than pavement. I sat with a group of my friends, all trying to quell our boredom with random things like throwing football, playing a Gameboy and giving another group the stink eye when they came too close to our spot, because you don’t want to get a spot by the port-a-potties, (or known as Jon’s Hood).

I’m of course talking about camping out for Big Blue Madness, and it’s became a sort of tradition for my friends and I, and even though it takes one night on a sidewalk and three more in a tent, it’s worth it. I’m now looked at as a bit of a veteran by doing this. This time of year I get plenty of calls asking me advice, tips and how to do it right and still get good tickets. For example last year I was three rows up from the floor and within spitting distance when the players came out onto the stage.

So what should you bring, what should you do and what are some of the advice? I’m about to share that all with you now, so gather in Wildcat Blue Nation because you’re about to get some advice from the best (and any other writers who’d like to pitch in advice from the comment section, be my guest). For now, we will put the usual, tent, sleeping bag, clothes in another discussion. These are the things that you need to do, and what you need to bring to maximize your experience.

So the first thing you need to do, is make up an excuse to get you out of work/school or anything else for three days, because if you want to experience it, you don’t put up a tent and then come back when vouchers are given out. Usually the process goes as follows: You get a wrist band when the tent is put up or later that day. This prevents one tent from having 20 patrons ready to get tickets. That’s not cool. Vouchers, or your place in line is given to you Friday morning/afternoon and then the tickets go on sale Saturday morning.

If you put up your tent and only show up to get your wrist bands and tickets you’re either one of the following three people: 1. Someone who actually is responsible and can’t miss work or their job. 2. Someone looking to sell their tickets for a ton of money or 3. You are just lazy and want the tickets and not the experience. If you don’t stay there the whole time you’re missing things like player pickup games, players bringing YOU breakfast. Two years ago I had Demarcus Cousins knocking on my tent trying to give me a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. Last year Jon Hood gave me a card for a free breakfast at McDonalds. They take care of you.

You miss the little things, such as playing corn hole with the players. I’m proud to say I was a corn hole partner with John Wall, and we dominated. You miss things like players interacting with fans of all ages. The young, the old , it doesn’t matter. So my first bits of advice set up your tent and stay there for the whole three days. Trust me.

My next bit of advice, get there early. I’m not talking in the morning. If you are reading this right now and wondering when you should go camp, GO NOW. Leave, pack up and go stake out on the sidewalk across from Memorial. Last year I got in front of Memorial by 6 PM on a Tuesday night and never moved until we went to Tally Ho’s for breakfast the next morning after the tent was set up. We were the top 100 there on that side of the line. So piece of advice number two: go early, like…Now.

Next, your essentials, what you’ll need. If you’re the type of guy or girl who can go without a shower, more power to you. I would suggest finding a few contacts around Lexington where you can go and shower and brush your teeth. This isn’t mandatory, but it’s worth looking into because it’s hot all day and then cool at night. If you can go without a shower, ignore this. If not find a contact before you go. Let’s face it, everyone knows SOMEONE in Lexington. So third…Connections to hygiene.

Next on the list is essential if you want to own pieces of history. A digital camera, a laptop, a basketball of some sort with UK on it and a sharpie. These players are literally walking around all the time and the only thing that the University asks is to not bother these players while they are on their way to class. Other than that, fair game. You’ve got to realize that some of these guys has been through this before, Daruis Miller for example, Terrance Jones. The freshman? Fresh out of high school and wide eyed on this experience. Make it worthwhile for them, because they don’t mind giving pictures and autographs, just don’t be a goof and sell them on Ebay, that isn’t cool. So number four, bring autograph supplies and a digital camera.

Lastly, bring something like a notebook or your laptop so you can write down your experiences. So many things have happened to me that I wish I had documented because I rarely remember them and I rarely remember them. This team is special. Take for instance one couple I met last year started their own scrapbook of their experiences at Big Blue Madness campouts, and then the season that followed and it was truly special to look through that book.

So leave, go now, pack up the bags and your car and tell everyone that you’re going on vacation for three days, because if you’re a true blue fan…It’s going to be the best vacation of your life.

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