Everyone has their first time and for most people it isn't the last. Hashing is a magnificent activity and also a great way to meet lifelong friends. It also serves as a wonderful travel tool because there are so many chapters around the world that as soon as you go to another Hash as a visitor, you will be welcomed by the community and treated like family (unless you are an asshole.)
Here are a few tips for beginners that can ease you into the process that could end up changing your outlook on life:
1: Listen to the "Hare Briefing."
The Hare brief is where the details of the run you are about to embark on will be spelled out to you. While the premise is around the same everywhere in the world, each chapter has slight variations. If you stray from the pack, or if the particular hash happens to not have many participants, you will NEED this information about what to do when you encounter certain symbols on the ground or hanging in trees.
What does it mean? If you weren't listening during the brief and are alone when you encounter it, you could be in trouble!
Basically, the "brief" at the beginning is just our way of having some semblance of a safety briefing before we all head out into the jungle. The trail is not known by anyone except the person who set it, and if you do get lost you will inconvenience the entire crew and that aint cool.
2: Check your sensitivities at the door
Hashers are not politically correct at all. These events are actually ways for us to step away from that sort of crap and be able to let loose for a while. We make fun of everyone and everything. This is not to suggest that we are bigots in any way, we definitely are NOT and most of the things we say that sound crude are totally meant in jest. We are comedians who like to drink and get a bit of exercise.
With names like "Anal Boring, Pussy Whisperer, Blue Balls, Prison Bitch, On the Cock, Big Ugly Fucker (BUF), and Pigshit" it is easy to tell that your Hash name is not meant to be flattering and you should expect a mean one.
If anyone tries to bring PC elements to a hash they will not have a good time and the hash is not going to enjoy having you there either. Just have a sense of humor and have some fun. Also be willing to accept the fact that when people pick on you, they are only doing it out of love.
3: Expect to be singled out
As a visitor or a first timer at any hash, you are going to be "hazed" a bit and this is just part of the process. You do not yet have a "hash name" and are not a member and therefore there is a certain process that must be done. Stay on your toes, have a sense of humor, and accept the fact that you will be put on the ice" (if the hash has ice) on a regular basis.
The reasoning behind this is to find out things about you which hopefully will eventually lead to you getting a "Hash Name" and this is how you are inducted into the flock. It is a pretty special day when you get named because it becomes official that you are now a member of the global group of "drinkers with a running problem."
Becoming a member of the Hash House Harriers is one of the greatest decisions that I have made in my life. The people I have met in it will be my friends for as long as I am on this earth and I will go to meetups around the world until the day comes that I am physically incapable of doing so. It really is that fantastic. However, it can be a bit shocking to people who are unfamiliar with how it works.
Just take it easy, go with the flow, and other such cliches that will ease you into a wonderful group that you will hopefully end up enjoying as much as I, and thousands of other members around the world do.