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.

First Camp has become the Black Rock City home for many of the Burning Man board members, senior staff, managers and their family and friends. For 2007, in order to accommodate this expanding group of guests we initiated the first major design changes in the First Camp plan in 5 years. These changes included the enlargement and integration of the staff camping area, inclusion of the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) interactive theme camp on the point of the key hole, the presence of the regional out post on the esplanade, shortening of the main public space, a separate staff meeting area, a west wing office, a new raised deck on the network office, better access roads for service vehicles and a separate art car parking area.

2007 First Camp functioned very well as the focal point for event oversight and management. The new shaded area for the daily senior staff meetings was an improvement over previous years, creating more privacy and wind protection necessary to make the space even better. The office trailer functioned as intended, as did the West Wing, the Network Operations Center (NPC) deck, BRAF Camp and the Regional Outpost. Having the regionals and BRAF in arguably the best location in Black Rock City, was challenging, stimulating and led to many ideas for future installations. We look forward to their continued presence and growth. Of special note was the installation of the Illuminatree and Yarn Tree sculptures on the camp frontage, and the Light Trees and Benches on both sides of the keyhole that gave passing BRC citizens a place to rest and reflect.

The External Relations Team (XRT) tours were again organized to gather, embark and return to First Camp Tours were given Monday through Saturday during the week of the event, to a good representation of important guests.

Several teams that formerly met in First Camp, such as the Pyro Safety Team (PST), met elsewhere, taking some of the pressure off the shared meeting spaces.

The most challenging aspect of living and working in First Camp is how to provide the correct amount of public and private space for everyone’s differing needs. While it may not be possible to completely satisfy the varied requirements, we will continue to collaborate with the camp citizens to integrate their requests in the plan whenever possible.

Overall the changes we made for 2007 were successful. First Camp will continue to evolve as a theme camp with management, social, civic, private, interactive and artistic requirements. The challenge is to blend these functions correctly for everyone.

Submitted by Will Roger