Groop Camping at Bonnaroo… What is it all about?

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Photo Provided by Gretchen

For the second year in a row, my Roo Croo went the Groop Camping route and had a blast in doing so.  But it seems like every year I always see some Bonnaroovians who are wondering if Groop Camping is the way to go.  They ask, why should we do Groop Camping?  Why not just camp in the general area?  Well I hope to elucidate some of the reasons we all have decided that once you go Groop, you never look back.  Throughout this article, I will touch on the benefits of Groop Camping, the ideal of a Groop community, discuss with some members of Groop camping why they chose Groop Camping, touch on the Bonnaroo Best Groop Symbol Campsite Contest, and logistically why it is a better idea to Groop camp.  After explaining these key points, I hope to answer some of your questions and/or concerns.

First off, let us discuss what benefits you may get out of Groop Camping.  For starters, when you set up a Groop Camp at Bonnaroo there is no reason for every member to have to meet up outside the farm to get in line together nor would each member need to wait inside the check-in gate for the rest of the Groop in order to maintain the continuity of the Groop.  It doesn’t matter what time or day each member comes to set up camp, you will be allowed to set up camp with your Groop in your designated spot albeit all members trickle in at different times.  Groop Camping is set up to make sure you can camp with everyone who is associated with your particular Groop as long as they know what your camp nickname is… this year we were Camp Boats ‘n’ Hoes.  If you saw anyone wearing a Sea Captain’s hat and possibly carrying around Steve (our wooden horse mascot) then you know the deal.

Some other positives to Groop Camping: all members of each individual Groop can plan with each other about who is bringing the EZ-Ups, grill, food, tarps, etc.  Groop Camping is most definitely a communal effort when you look at it and isn’t Bonnaroo all about being a cohesive unit?  In order to successfully get a Groop Camping spot, each Groop must have at least 24 Groopies sign up (including your Groop Leader who is the liaison between Bonnaroo and your Groop) which will also allot a minimum of 8 car passes for parking inside the Groop Camping area.  When 3 more Groopies sign up, 1 more car pass will be given to the Groop.  So the key is to carpool as much as possible, not only to be environmentally friendly but to make sure each Groop car is allowed access to park within your designated campsite.

I decided to discuss this issue with our fearless Groop leader Jill aka JoJo Loki and see what she had to say since she has been responsible for us hooligans over the last two years we decided to do Groop Camping.

Why do you like to choose Groop Camping?

Jill: “Well we can all come in separately and camp together.  We have people from 12-15 states/2 countries that would come to Groop Camping so it is much easier than sitting at a Wal-Mart, etc. to meet up.  It is easier to direct because of a set location for the Groop to meet up.”

What challenges do you face as a Groop Leader?

Jill: “Trying to remind the Groopies to sign up and pay the Groop fee with only a two-month window.  Constant reminding to the Groopies can be a challenge if they do not sign up right away.”

What is something you would change about Groop Camping if you had the ability?

Jill: “I really wish they would send out a map where you camp beforehand… it would make it a lot easier to understand. Like a rubric or something.  Even knowing the square footage would be nice and help with planning out the campsite.”

What is something you love about Groop Camping?

“For the price of $40, it is nice to know that you have a spot with your friends and you are able to leave when you want.  The flexibility of travel and knowing that your camp is safe when you leave is good peace of mind.  The fact you do not have to caravan inside Bonnaroo also.  Setting up your campsite with your cars outside the Groop perimeter instead of lining the cars next to your tent is nice.  Plus, the location to Centeroo is a straight walk to and from.”

Would you ever go back to general camping? Why?

Jill: “No. With all the positives discussed earlier plus the ease of Groop and the way it is set up.  If I’m going with multiple people, I would do Groop Camping.  Guess I would do general camping if I was by myself and completely on my own.”

(Well the good thing is that she will never be on her own with Camp Boats ‘n’ Hoes… just saying.)

This year’s Best Groop Symbol Campsite Award went to Sooper Groop, which was right around the corner from our camp and housed a few friends of mine from the Detroit area.  Many know Bonnaroo Jack and Donny from InfoRoo and other Bonnaroo related social media pages as they are two of the best Bonnaroovians I personally know!  The fact that they made Rolling Stone magazine was simply amazing in the “50 Best Things We Saw at Bonnaroo 2015 article.  Congratulations Sooper Groop on a job well done!  Truly one of the best Groop Camp set ups of all time.  Who knows maybe next year your Groop can win this prestigious prize?  I had a chance to ask Bonnaroo Jack and Gretchen (one of their Groop leaders) from the Sooper Groop about their experience with Groop Camping.  I wish to thank my friend Bonnaroo Jack  and Gretchen for taking time to answer some questions about their experiences in Groop Camping with Sooper Groop.

Bonnaroo Jack

How many years have you been a part of a Groop Camp?

Jack: “This was my first year in Groop Camping.”

Why did you choose to do Groop Camping this year with Sooper Groop?

Jack: “This was my tenth Bonnaroo and last year I decided I needed a new experience. My first 3 years I was in GA and the last 6 years I was in VIP, so I wanted to switch it up. My friend and fellow Bonnaroovian, Donny, knew some people who were in Sooper Groop and asked if I would like to join him.  This wonderful group was originally formed by Brian Hensley and this was the second year for this group. We were featured in Rolling Stone’s ’50 Best Things We Saw at Bonnaroo 2015′ for ‘Best Tent’.  We also won the Groop symbol contest for our beautiful “Wonderoo” camp site decorations.  For this contest, Sooper Groop will get FREE registration for the first 25 Groopies to register for the Groop at Bonnaroo next year.”

What has been your most memorable moment Groop Camping?

Jack: “Our morning sing-a-longs under the huge tent we set up with everyone enjoying ‘breakfast’ together were always a favorite part of my day before I headed to Centeroo. Our ‘breakfast’ was slapping the bag and getting ready for a wonderful day!”

Would you recommend Groop Camping to someone who was on the fence about it?

Jack: “Yes, I would highly recommend Groop Camping. There’s a strong bond within the Groop while you are there. You’re in your own little community in the world of Bonnaroo. I mean, we even had a Mayor!  He was awesome too and enjoyed it the whole weekend.   He was determined to make it the best Groop.”

What is your favorite part about the process of Groop Camping?

Jack: “I like that Groop camping had their own area.  There were no worries about being far from Centeroo. You enter the gates and they sent us to a camping area and we were close to the Grove, which was new to Bonnaroo this year.  We felt like a VIP.”

Is there anything you would change about Groop Camping?

Jack: “The Groop camping should have their own bathroom and showers!  Oh and a coffee shop!”

Would you ever go back to GA Camping over Groop Camping?  

Jack: “No I most likely would not go back to GA if I have a choice. I would go back to VIP though but you lose a lot of the community feel there and there’s way less partying going on.”


How many years have you been a part of a Groop Camp?

Gretchen: “This is my second year in Groop camping.”

If you are a Groop Leader, how many years have you done this role as well?

Gretchen: “While I was not the one that put up the money or planned our space (that was Joseph K) I did get all necessary information from people such as number of people in each car, number of car passes per small group, and addresses for each small group to mail passes.  This is the first year I took on this much responsibility.”

As a Groop Leader, what have you found to be a major issue when organizing your Groopies prior to Bonnaroo?

Gretchen: “Getting everyone to respond.  People have regular lives, responsibilities and don’t always get on Facebook (where we organized and planned everything).”

What has been your most memorable moment in Groop Camping?

Gretchen: “Any time we were together in the community tent.  Laughing, singing, telling stories, and enjoying breakfast.  We really all get along and enjoy each other’s company.”

Would you recommend Groop Camping to someone who was debating on joining/creating a Groop?

Gretchen: “If you have enough people and have at least one person with great organizational skills then yes!  Groop is worth the extra cost in every way.”

What is your favorite part about the process of Groop Camping?

Gretchen: “Knowing where you are going to be (not having to worry about getting stuck in BFE), knowing who you will be camped with, and being able to show up Wednesday for an extra day of Bonnaroo (GA can come Wednesday too, but you likely will get stuck in camping hell as far away as you can get from Centeroo).”

Is there anything you would change about Groop Camping?

Gretchen: “I would always love a little extra space, I think some security out there would be helpful as well.”

Do you have any advice for new and old Groop Leaders and/or Groopies for the upcoming 2016 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival?  

Gretchen:Organize what you can prior to leaving and be ready to change everything once you show up.”

Since Sooper Groop won the Best Groop Campsite for 2015, would like to explain what award/prize(s) were given?

Gretchen: “The first 25 of us that register next year do not have to pay their $40 fee, is how I understand it.  But with a Groop of 100 we are working together to make it fair for all of us.”

The idea of being in Groop Camping is also predicated on the sense of a community with many other Groop communities in close proximity.  Each Groop has its own unique identity and takes on the feeling of communal living to a new level by bringing many different people together.  Not only within each individual Groop campsite, but also with each separate Groop campsite.  As Jack, Jill and Gretchen touched on with their responses concerning the central location of Groop Camping to Centeroo, I wanted to expand upon that piece of information a bit more before closing.  When standing in front of the main entrance into the Groop Camping area, you are facing 7th Avenue which takes you directly to the entrance of Centeroo if you follow it till it ends.  How simple of a walk can it be?  I mean you can walk basically blindfolded straight out of Groop Camping and make it to Centeroo with ease unlike being in certain spots of the general camping area.  Take it from this guy, I am all about streamlining my Bonnaroo experience and making it easier for not only myself but others in my Croo!

All this talk about Bonnaroo and Groop Camping has got the Bonnablues flowing once again.  I wish to thank Jack, Jill and Gretchen for helping explain some of the issues that I see arise from fellow Bonnaroovians over the years on social media.  I hope that maybe some or all of your personal questions about Groop Camping at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival have been answered with this article. For more information visit the Bonnaroo website’s official Groop page.  We all hope to see you next year in Groop Camping and call you our neighbor in June.

Photo Provided by Gretchen


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