Front Gate is where people driving toward a gathering on a Forest Service road first see Rainbow people and activity, and when things are going well there is a dedicated crew of people walking up to vehicles coming in, saying “welcome home”, and directing them to safe parking places or dropoff points. Some years things have gone well, and there have even been time spans of several good years, but some years they haven’t.
A Welcome Home camp for new arrivals to the gathering is also an ideal that has been achieved with extremely varying degrees of success over past years. Ideally it is the one of the first things that newcomers encounter when they are walking in on the main trail, and it provides a place for them to rest from their journey in. They may be offered tea, coffee, or water. They are given printed copies of Raps 107 and 701, and informed of conditions peculiar to the current Gathering.
Most importantly, it is a place where they are greeted with a “welcome home” and vibrations of love and peace, and not given the impression that rowdy drunks from A-Camp can provide.
In some years there has been a strong Welcome Home presence, like in 2008 in Wyoming, where there was a large kitchen at the main trailhead and a satellite in the form of a step van parked on the road before the turnoff to A-Camp. Other years there has not been so elaborate a setup, but there still has been a cohesive Front Gate crew that could keep it covered and get the cars to the right places 24 hours a day, like in Utah in 2003. Other years it has been practically nonexistent, as in Montana in 2013. (And there have been many years where the first thing newcomers encountered was a blockade of Forest Service policemen.) It has always been hard to find people willing to come out of the womb of the gathering and spend long periods of time on the fringes of Babylon, and miss out on all the fun going on inside.
To the relief of some and the dismay of others, A-Campers have been the kind of people who would want to do this, and some of them have been able to perform front gate and parking chores responsibly. But some of them haven’t been, and this has been a source of conflict. The ideal has been to have enough sober people at Front Gate, especially the ones going up to cars, to overcome any bad alcohol energy, and pleas are made regularly at Dinner Circle for people to volunteer an afternoon or an evening to help out at Front Gate.