The experience of volunteering for Burning Man is as unique as the experience of the event itself. To help you navigate these waters, we’ve compiled this list of tips. They’re the keys to success for any Burning Man volunteer.
When choosing your preferred volunteer role, consider your desired time commitment (short term, long term, two hours, four weeks?), your interests (which are not necessarily the same as your skills), and the type of work you want to be doing (physical vs. mental, for instance). State these things accurately when you fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire, and be sure you know the requirements for your role, so that everybody’s expectations will be well met.
Patience & Perseverance
It sometimes takes new volunteers time to find and settle into their ideal role. Sometimes that role isn’t available, we didn’t realize it should exist, or the right person wasn’t around to do the job! Allow time for things to shake out and don’t be afraid to knock on a few doors to find your fit. Also, in many teams, it’s necessary to start off in an entry-level position, and once you learn the ropes, you’ll likely be offered increasing levels of responsibility. Be patient, stick with it, and you’re sure to find just the right fit for your skills and interests.
Pro-activity & Participation
Burning Man is a “do-ocracy”, and volunteers who take initiative on projects — and see them through — tend to get the most satisfaction out of participation. Keeping in contact with your Volunteer Coordinator and attending team-building events are good ways to stay active in the game. Your experience is ultimately going to be what YOU make of it, so share ideas, raise your hand, contribute, and participate!
While volunteering is a great way to be a part of the city and meet new friends, if this is going to be your first time at Burning Man, you might want to consider NOT volunteering too much of your first year at the event. Burning Man is an incredibly intense experience, taking place in one of the most extreme physical environments you may ever encounter. It will take a physical, mental and emotional toll, and adding a volunteer commitment on top of that can be taxing, resulting in disappointment for you as well as your teammates. Consider taking it slow your first year to get your bearings, and make sure you spend lots of time just exploring the event.
Finally — and most importantly — volunteering is fun when we make it that way, so take it upon yourself to HAVE FUN!!