Keeping Urchins Safe at Pennsic

As the number of families with children who come to Pennsic continues to rise, so too does the need for clear policies regarding supervision of young people. There have been no changes to the rules in place for a number of years regarding minors—requiring a parent or court appointed guardian to be on site for the duration of the War, requiring those under 12 to be in voice range of a responsible adult or teen at all times, and requiring all young people under 16 to be either in their encampment or in the company of their parent or court-appointed guardian after 11 pm. What has changed is that this year there are clear penalties for first, second, and third transgressions of these rules for both the minor and their parent or guardian. It has been made clear that these policies will be enforced. The complete text may be found at

The Pennsic Independent, as a source ofincome for the young people (Urchins) who sell our papers on a daily basis, is committed to ensuring these rules are respected. As a result, Urchins must be 13 or older to sell alone. Those 12 and under may sell with an adult or teen who has been designated as being responsible for their child. The number of hours an Urchin can sell papers will be limited to four hours a day.

We are also enforcing some additional policies to help ensure the safety of our Urchins. Urchins also must stay out of camps unless it is their own camp. They may sell at the gate of the camp, but may not enter. Urchins begin selling the paper at 9 am each day, rain or shine. We are asking the Pennsic populace to respect these rules by not inviting Urchins into their camps. “Some camps have gotten creative in the past, setting a box at the gate with subscription tabs, dollars with notes requesting a paper, and tips so the Urchins don't even need to cry at the gate,” noted Despotissa Heirusalem, publisher of the Pennsic Independent. She added that signs will be available at the Independent office after Wednesday of the first week to identify camps that would like to receive the Independent.

What happens if a rule is broken? If it is a Pennsic Independent policy, we will contact the parent to discuss the infraction. Sometimes minor problems can be worked out without needing to escalate. However, if a Pennsic youth rule is broken, the incident will be reported and the Urchin will no longer be permitted to sell newspapers. “We have been very fortunate that we have never had to call the Pennsic staff to deal with an Urchin issue,” said Despotissa Heirusalem. “Our parents have always understood the rules and have made sure that their children do, too. We value those parents as much as we value our Urchins.”

Over many years, the Urchins have become a valuable part of the Independent team. Urchins sell the paper for a commission and tips, and courteous and helpful Urchins often make over $50 a day. To ensure their safety, we make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear, provide hats where needed, and water in bottles to carry with them. We also provide them with a bonus if they act responsibly and sell on a consistent basis, as well as a pizza party on Thursday night of War week. They have become part of the Pennsic experience, with their familiar chant “Pennsic Independent! Only a dollar!”

Urchin safety is of utmost importance to the Independent. Commented Despotissa Heirusalem, “I am also a mother, and feel strongly about keeping the Urchins safe, healthy, and happy.” Whether you are an Urchin parent, a customer, or just a member of the Pennsic community, we trust you will continue to help make this possible.

For more information on the PI Urchins and Urchin rules, please see