Guest Blog: The ShambVirgin’s Guide to Shambhala PART 2

Hello Shambhalovlies! It’s been exactly a month since we published part one of Ms. Zaralea’s Virgin’s Guide to Shambhala! Here is the much awaited Part 2! In case you need a refresher, here’s a link to Part 1.

Much love! – britz



This is how not to set up your tent.

My guess is that 80% of the 200 acres of space used for camping are in an open field with little to no cover. We call it the “Dust Bowl”. If you do end up in the Dust Bowl (and most of you will, based on what kind of space is available), bring tarps and ways to prop them up, or canopy tents so you can create shade from the sun & rain in your campsite. Quite a few people bring RV’s, but they usually end up getting trashed by the end of the festival – tents get the job done, and you can pack ’em all up when you’re done. No intensive cleaning required afterwards.

Some sweet canopy action.

If you’re not able to / choose not to arrive on Wednesday but want to camp with certain friends, your best bet is to get one of your crew who’s arriving on Wednesday to set up your tent so you can roll in on Thursday/Friday (or vice versa).

Note: Marking off areas with flagging tape is not allowed, and any roped off areas will be taken down by Staff. Check out the “Be Considerate” tab on the “Camping” page of the website for full details:

Party regimen:

Eat, Sleep, Party. Eat, Sleep, Party. Eat, Sleep, Shower, Party (and drink lots of water all throughout). Sleep. Get the **** OUT!


Most newbies that aren’t familiar with festivals will probably go all bonkers the first night or two and be completely burnt out by night 3. Don’t be this newbie!

Trust me – I have friends that are notorious for partying before the party. Ive seen this done so many times before. I cant stress this enough: P-A-C-E YOURSELF!! This will add to your enjoyment of the festival! If you show up on Wednesday just chillax for a couple days!

Saturday is usually the best night to bust out. Saturday is where its at for the full on experience, its like everything was developed for showcase on Saturday; the light shows are most intense, the talent is at its best, the people are still alive. Save your party for Saturday. Trust me.

Ultimately for myself,  I find Sunday night to be so much fun! Sunday is for all the troupers that made it that far. Its for all the volunteers and employees that have been busting their asses for weeks – if not months – to finally get out and enjoy the show.

Sunday night can also be the night of the Walking Dead. Zombie-like people that have slept so little it probably doesn’t even count, haven’t been eating enough or drinking enough water – and the only thing propping them up are the basswaves. Avoid zombifiying by following the regiment in the beginning of this section.

Yes, it’s hard to resolve yourself to go to sleep sometimes. Especially your first year, it’ll feel like you’re going to miss out on something. And you will – such is the reality of a party that runs 22 hours a day in 6 different locations. Just remember that you can enjoy *everything* you do experience way more if you’re well rested, fed, and watered! You’ll never see it all, so take good care of yourself instead of pushing yourself too hard!

See more details on self-care below.



For years, I would bring a TONNE of food to make at camp. Making food never happens. Forget it. Bring snacks, drinks, lots of water (LOTS – make sure you have a large jug for communal camp use that you can refill), coffee, some breaky stuff, fruit – but buy your meals at the vendors. It’ll save you so much hassle. Look at spending $10- $15 a meal at least twice a day to survive and make it until Monday morning.

Something like this is great for your camp to share!


Get some sleep!! Plan your partying properly so you can sleep. ALWAYS go to the bathroom before you sleep, because crawling out of bed to take a leak is like a scene from The Grudge & no one needs to see that! My recommendation is (and I realize this won’t work for everyone, but for all intensive purposese) go to bed around 8 am sleep for at least 4-5 hours.

nap attack!

Most of you wont be able to sleep when the sun hits your tent anyway, as it will be too hot – but this goes back to shade structures. Tarps and canopy tents set up over your sleeping quarters will buy you more sleep time, because it’ll take longer for your tent to heat up. Wear earplugs, and even an eye mask (this’ll do wonders for those of you who are light sensitive). Remember to open the windows of your tent, at least partially, for some ventilation.

Please, by all means, get an appropriate amount of SLEEP before you exit the event. If you carpooled to the event, make sure you’ve selected a designated driver as a group, and make sure that person gets enough rest. The party ends at noon on Monday – plan so that you can get home safe. Driving on lack of sleep is more dangerous than driving drunk.


Shower! You’ll feel like NEW!

Please be kind to your fellow partiers!! Spend the $5 and go for a hot shower. You’ll feel like a new person.

Check out the shower schedule when you walk past before you get all amped to go, then show up for a 2 hour wait! Naturally theres a lot of people in line around noon. Try the early morning like 8 am or evening around 7 pm.

If youd like to use the freezing glacier river to wash in, please do not use any kind of soaps – even things that are labeled as biodegradable / “earth friendly” products. If a single user used a biodegradable soap in the river, it wouldn’t make much of an impact, but these products are not intended to be used en masse, during a short period of time.

The River: Not for Bathing In!

Use of these products in the river could significantly impact the river’s delicate ecosystem by changing the water’s pH balance. Please respect the wildlife – this is their home!

More Info:

Like the Shambhala Green River Collective on Facebook

Participate in CODEGREEN


Bring cash (keep it safe, if not on you at all times) & water. There are ATM’s, but so many times I’ve walked by the ATM or water station and seen an hour+ long line up for them!! There is a science to hitting these high-traffic areas at the right time to avoid long waits – usually in the dead of night, when everyone is at the stages dancing.

If you smoke cigarettes make sure you bring extra as they are about $20 a pack on site.

Bring hand sanitizer & toilet paper as port-a-potties sometimes run out in the middle of the night. Just carry some with you to be safe. And if you DO encounter a port-a-potty that is not in a usable state or is out of TP, stop by BASScamp to let the Shambassadors know – they will pass the message on to the site maintenance crew so that the issue can be resolved.

Walking. Lots of walking.

Make sure you have good shoes! I’ve often thought spring festivals as training for Shambhala. Just be prepared to do a lot of walking over the course of four days. Plan your trips to the stages wisely as the walk back to camp may be 10-15 minutes & you may not want to be carrying everything around once you get to the stages.

If you have a bike it might be nice to have, but beware if you are riding; there are a tonne of pedestrians who may be oblivious, which can make for an accident waiting to happen. If you do have a bike, make sure you have a horn, and some way of lighting it up at night (maybe el-wire, Burning Man style…or just a flashing bike light will do!).

Less Refills = More Dance Time

Good luck sorting out what DJs you want to see when. No one cares what time it is let alone has a watch, so if you are keen to see an act make sure you schedule it in your phone or something! Even then…you might miss it. There’s so much good stuff going on, it’s easy for hours to pass without notice.

Bring extra cups and/or mugs to carry your drinks in. Preferably with lids, so you’re not a spilly spillerson. Your best bet, really, is going with a backpack with a water bladder (a Camel Pak type contraption) – the less refills you need, the more dancefloor time you get.


There is a message board “downtown” in the main concourse area which you can post notes to friends. But really you have to be creative to get one persons attention in a collage of notes!

There is little to no cell phone reception, but there are some hot spots here and there you can actually make calls or send/receive texts. If for some reason you do need to reach the outside world,  the downtown Columbia Wireless trailer offers pay-per internet access, a skype payphone and cellphone / camera charging services.

Walkie Talkies don’t really work because there are usually 50 people on one channel all screaming into it, trying to get their friends attention. Usually you wont hear it over the music anyways!

Your best bet, while note totally reliable, is choosing a ‘rally point’ at each stage for your crew to congregate if you lose each other. ie; By the “March Hare” at the Fractal Forest. Choose easy spots that are familiar to everyone.

If you plan on leaving on Monday, a word of advice: Take enough time off of work for DECOMMPRESSION!

I recommend 2 days to catch up on health & sleep. Too many times, I myself or friends have rolled into work on Tuesday after driving 8+ hours home the day before. It’s awful. You feel like you would rather be dead then at work. Spare yourself the agony. Take some time to cleanse after, at the Ainsworth Hot Springs or by Kootenay Lake. If you decide to

Pretty Little Nelson

rent a hotel/motel room or B&B (recommended – SO nice after camping, and not too pricey if you go in with friends), be sure to book months in advance. Nelson is the closest city, and the population of Shambhala is more than the population of Nelson alone. I may be biased because it’s my hometown, but it’s incredibly beautiful there. Everyone should spend some time in Nelson if they can.


Inevitably, a certain level of disrespect comes out of people in masses. For some reason, there is always a bad apple. Either someone smearing shit on the portapotty walls (horrible, but it does happen), thieves going through tents stealing peoples stuff or people leaving their campsites in utter & putrid disaster when they leave. HAVE SOME FECKING RESPECT!!

If you think this is funny, or you’re coming for the sole purpose to screw with people stay at home. You’re not welcome here.

Shambhala is about enlightenment – a peaceful gathering of like minded people.

If you see someone doing something wrong, or in trouble, please be responsible enough to report to an authority. There are plenty of volunteers and security staff around. Do the right thing.


Again this is a FARM where livestock make their home for the other 360 days of the year. DO NOT bring any glass whatsoever. Bring clear bags for recycling and plenty of garbage bags. Clean your site so its better than how you found it – a basic principle of “Leave No Trace”. The last thing you want is a cow to get sick by eating the rope or garbage you left behind (they don’t differentiate garbage from grass), or getting injured from stepping on glass.


I think I’ve covered the bulk of what to be prepared for. There is much more I could write about, but I’ll let you figure out the rest on your own journey.

I hope this blog finds you well and helps you make informed decisions to better your experience so you can fully enjoy and absorb the magnificent energy Shambhala will provide you with for the rest of your life.

Come with an open mind, leave expectations at the door, be prepared for anything, bring respect & positive vibrations, and leave fulfilled, inspired and full of Shambhalove.


Zaralea Grace

Zaralea Grace is a former Nelson resident and 10 year Shambhazen. She is also known as DJ Ms DVS and currently resides in Kelowna, BC.

About Shambhala Music Festival

It's all about the people on the dancefloor.
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10 Responses to Guest Blog: The ShambVirgin’s Guide to Shambhala PART 2

  1. Pingback: Guest Blog: The ShambVirgin’s Guide to Shambhala PART 1 | The ShambhaBlog

  2. mike says:

    Also just because you are “out in the woods” doesn’t mean the sham farm doesn’t have neighbours. the river is the property line, please respect that and stay in Shambhala grounds. Please don’t go and use the other side as a washroom or a camp site.

  3. sabrina says:

    so cute! im a shambvirgin so this will be my first year, but i already can’t wait. thank you for taking the time to write about it!

  4. Jeff says:

    Not sure how many people are on the FRS radio channels these days, but I brought some in 2009 and they worked out great. Bear in mind you do have access to several sub-channels as well as the main channels.

  5. rob says:

    i am so excited to come on shambhala events,cant wait for partying and meets new people and more,,hope to see you soon all shambhalove

  6. rob says:

    i am shambvirgin too,,my first time so make me excited so much fun,,

  7. Celina says:

    By keeping two batteries charged you effectively double the useful life of radios in
    an emergency. The cost of this type of radio also needs to be considered
    before one can be purchased. When digital technology is used,
    data can be sent and received simultaneously and also
    more data can be sent.

  8. Tiana says:

    Heeey this is very helpful and thank y ou for taking the time to do this! I have a questions though.. I was wondering what the volunteering would be like and how many hours I would have to work per day? Would you happen to know?

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