First Camp

Traditionally, “First Camp” is the first camp on the playa Esplanade to be occupied, hence its name. First Camp functions as a business management center, a comfortable Black Rock City home for event organizers, friends, and family, and a meeting place for various operational groups. It is an interactive theme camp whose location in Black Rock City provides a constant stream of walk-in traffic. Each year much thought and planning is directed toward its success.


  • Among other things, First Camp is an on-playa hospitality suite for External Relations Team (XRT) public relations. In 2006 the XRT conducted public relations, including tours, to an esteemed variety of important people that included federal, state, and local officials and dignitaries. First camp is the XRT hosting place for these visitors and thanks to XRT members and the ambiance of First Camp all visitors left with a positive impression of Burning Man.
  • Our friends and family who camp with us provide the important familiarity and support that helps keep Board members and management staff grounded during intense and hectic times. This year they further developed the theme camp aspect by creating a theme camp called “Hat’s Off” on the Esplanade. Participants were gifted a hat by performing a song and dance. Despite being blown to the ground on Tuesday of the event Hats Off Camp was rebuilt and open for business by the end of the day!
  • At the entrance to the camp we installed two ‘Flaming Garden’ fire and sand interactive sculptures created by Wally (Pyro Boy) Glenn. Accompanied by three art cars (the kitty kar, the flame kar and the tribute kar) parked nearby, the sculptures and cars added artistic intention and helped provide a whimsical experience at the entrance. New this year was a border fence, complete with obelisks. First Camp DPW construction staff were awesome yet again and a pleasure to work with.

In 2006, First Camp continued to function as the hub for Board level communications, a meeting place for senior staff, central start point for the XRT Tours, Playa Safety Council, Performance Safety Team, the Art Department and placement teams, and many other Burning Man departments. The meeting areas functioned well for these groups and when not formally used they became locations for interviews and a variety of other informal social functions. Several events successfully took place in First Camp, including the senior staff “Thank You Toast,” a regional mixer, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) Advisory Board thank you mixer.

The camp design was enlarged to accommodate additional family, friends, and functions. The annex camp (Sneeky) has evolved to become a unique and more private lounge area and sanctuary place. The annual potluck dinner was a huge success with fine food and drink for all. Everyone in the camp added something valuable to the excellent experience.

Some of the challenges of First Camp require that we anticipate issues in advance and plan ahead to bypass problems. Balancing the public versus the private aspects of First Camp will continue to be a large part of the planning. Each camp member desires a different balance of public and private space. There are also continuing space and parking issues. Some decks and shade structures will need to be redesigned and constructed.

The future goal is to continue to meet the stated purpose of First Camp and maintain the effectiveness of its varied functions.

Submitted by,
Will Roger