child carving wood

Tips For Your First Firefly Experience

Don’t be shy! This gathering is full of like-minded, open, and kind-hearted folks. Make it a point to connect with someone new and you will be glad you did.

Without a doubt, there is something truly special about the Firefly Gathering. In the spirit of getting excited about (and prepared for) your first gathering, I have compiled a few tips for you!

#1: Attend The Morning Circle:

I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but….gasp… I missed every single morning circle during the first Firefly Gathering that I attended. For those who have never been to Firefly, the morning circle is important for connecting with the Firefly community and receiving announcements (such as schedule changes) for the day ahead. While my family and I still enjoyed our Firefly experience our first year, we felt that something was missing. We also had some scheduling confusion that could have been prevented. After attending our first morning circle the following year, we quickly realized how this daily check-in made our gathering complete. 

#2: Plan Ahead for Classes & Get Ready to Learn. A Lot!:  

Take a peek at the class schedule ahead of time and select your top 3 choices in each time slot. Be forewarned, there is an abundance of interesting earth-skill offerings at Firefly! This was overwhelming to me at first and planning ahead helped my partner and I make the most of our experience. You will receive lots of valuable information in your classes, so having a notebook and pen to capture your teacher’s wisdom will be extremely helpful too. 

Also: Take note of which classes have fees or needed materials. We had to rush out to the store to purchase mason jars for a class I attended at my first Firefly. The beautiful land that holds the Gathering has no cell phone or internet service, so cash is key!

#3: Make a New Friend

Don’t be shy! This gathering is full of like-minded, open, and kind-hearted folks. Make it a point to connect with someone new and you will be glad you did. 

#4: Pack Something to Barter

Trade blanket circles typically happen in the evenings, each bursting with unique, handmade, homegrown, or foraged items. Children are invited to bring special offerings they wish to trade too, a wonderful early lesson in bartering. 

#5: Plan to be Eco-Friendly

Firefly has a “pack it in, pack it out” philosophy, so come prepared to use minimal resources and to haul out the trash you make. We bring a trash bag to keep at our campsite each year and do our best to use less. We also bring a wooden bowl and our son’s divided lunchbox for meals, as well as reusable cups or mason jars, coffee mugs, utensils, and cloth towels. You could also consider bringing your own low-waste snacks—for more info check out this article from last year. There is typically composting on site, however trashcans are usually reserved for waste generated from the food vendors. 

#6: Bring the Kids: 

Firefly is bursting with youth and the children truly inspire me each year. With children, be prepared to let them stay in Youth Village (with a hat and water bottle) or to have a caregiver for them while you are in class. My partner and I took turns attending classes and watching our son (last year was the first time he agreed to stay in Youth Village without us). You truly do not need to bring any extra playthings for the kiddos, nature is enough! Take note of any children’s activities planned in the evening too. 

Related: Why I Bring my Son to Firefly 

One family I spoke with last year mentioned they used walkie-talkies with their older children to check-in, so this may be something to consider as free-range play is common. A few other handy items with kids are: clothing layers & enough changes of clothes (they will get dirty), flashlights for the evening, and a backpack carrier or wagon for younger littles in tow. 

#7: Make Music: 

Late-night drum circles will be held on Friday and Saturday. There are not usually many extra instruments, so if you feel moved to make a beat, pack along your drum or favorite music-maker. 


Firefly Gathering

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Lily Harlin


Lily is an artist, creator, and dreamer. Since a very young age, she has been immersed in the natural world and draws heavy inspiration from the wild. Though her medium changes frequently, Lily’s art and expression always incorporate an element of the organic and unpredictable. She got her associate in fine arts in 2023, and now volunteers at her school as a ceramic studio monitor. She hopes to open a studio of her own one day to have a place to teach and inspire others. In addition to doing commission work, Lily has been creating many graphics for The Firefly Gathering since 2019. Lily grew up in the Earthskills community from the time she was eight years old, so having the opportunity to grow and give back in so many ways has been incredibly fulfilling. No matter where she ends up, this group of people and ideas will always hold a special place in her heart.