Frequently asked questions
We know you are curious... so here we will try to answer some of the most common questions people seem to have about the camp.
If, after reading, you have more questions, just get in touch and we will try to answer them (and add them to this list for others to see!)
About the camp
Where do you get your water from?
- Well, a mixture of sources. Sometimes we bring water with us (sometimes it comes from the Welsh valleys and is very good indeed!) and otherwise there are a range of publicly available taps. It is safe to say we always have good fresh, clean water.
- What about your fire?
We burn wood mostly, though sometimes in the winter we buy some coal too. We get our fuel from several places - sometimes we buy a load of logs, we carefully collect fallen wood (but we leave the forestry piles for insect habitats, etc), and we are donated wood by people who support the camp.
- Isn't it cold? How do you keep warm and dry?
The fire helps! But over the years we have developed innovative ways of remaining warm and dry even through the hardest winter months. Cunning methods include the use of Karrimats on chairs (keep the back and kidneys warm against the cold and wind), plenty of thermals and layers, good socks, boots, hats and gloves - and keeping busy! We also bring waterproofs and have tarps and gazebos or other shelters for coping with the rain. If it's cold, bring a hot-water bottle for sleeping snuggly.
- What do you eat?
We eat very well at camp! We cook predominantly vegan food (though we are by no means all vegan or vegetarian - but it means we can all eat the same dinners) and we try to cook nice things over the fire. The days of veggie slop are over. Over the years our culinary highlights have incldued: vegan sushi, home-made pies cooked in our DIY oven, sauted vegetables with white wine sauce, bean casseroles with cider, thai noodles, and so on.
- What do local people think about the camp?
We have reasonably good relations with some local people and generally get about a 50/50 response to our presence (measured by the number of supportive toots from cars). A few local people come to camp.However, more than 4,000 people work at AWE Aldermaston, many of whom live locally. The local economy depends on AWE and they sponsor many local projects and put a lot of money into local schools. So for some people our very presence is a challenge to their work or their family or buisiness connection with AWE. Most of them ignore us, but some do feel threatened enough get angry with us. However, this is not too frequent. We welcome constructive dialogue with the local community and welcome visitors during daylight hours.
- What is your relationship with the police?
Our relationship with the Ministry of Defence and Thames Valley Police forces is variable. We try to see them as individual human beings with their own ideas and consciences, flawed sometimes by their willingness to blindly follow orders, but ultimately redeemable.
- Will I get arrested? You will not get arrested just for coming to camp. In 2009, we won a judicial review (see Freedom to Protest), which means it is perfectly legal for us to camp on Ministry of Defence land. You can get arrested for other things, see LEGAL page.
About the campers
- Where do you come from?
Everywhere! We come from across Britain and beyond. The nature of camp makes for a transient community. We come and we go, we are from here and from there. The spirit of women's resistance is everywhere.
- Why is it a women-only camp?
In a women-only space a woman expresses herself on her own terms. In the 'real world' male values generally are held up as the norm and hold the most credibility, and a woman’s voice is often only given credence if she adopts the male voice and values. So until the collapse of patriarchal capitalism, women-only space provides women with space free of male influence so we can organise and create our own politics as we best see fit. Many of us also work alongside men in other groups - both experiences are valuable. However, the next time you're at any meeting with men and women present, observe who has the loudest voice and listens the least ...
This doesn't mean that all men are innately domineering or deliberately ignore women's voices. Men are socialised into those roles just as many women are brought up to be passive and submissive. A women-only camp gives us space to explore, analyse and challenge the problems caused by patriarchy. Wouldn't it be grand if a men-only camp(aign) set up on another weekend of the month to do the same?!
- Are you all lesbians then?
Been waiting for that one! No, we are not all lesbians. We represent many forms of women's sexuality - we are heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, militantly queer, active, celibate, married, single, in long-term relationships, etc. We have the same range of sexual identities you'd find in your average high street. Just because we choose to hang out with women doesn't (necessarily) make us dykes, it does, however, probably mean we (a) have some analysis of male power and violence and (b) like hanging out - and working - with other women.
- How do you make decisions?
Slowly! We try to make decisions by consensus (while also recognising its limitations). We try to listen to each other and respect different opinions and ideas. Sometimes this means we take a long time to make decisions. This can also be a bit confusing for the police who are used to strict hierarchical structures and still have not learned that we work in a very different way.