Recycle Camp

Key Successes:

  • 2011 was our 14th successful year, and every afternoon we hosted the Dragon Smelters who allowed participants to press coins made from aluminum cans.
  • The camp grew 50%. We had a great, hard-working crew of veterans and newcomers.
  • We made good use of the extra space provided, and setup went swimmingly.
  • We placed a 30 yard container in camp to eliminate transpo runs, and filled it twice.
  • Donated approximately168,000 aluminum cans (over 4,900 lbs) to Earth First Recycling in Reno, allowing a donation to the Gerlach School of $1,515.00.

2011 – The 14th year on the Playa for Recycle Camp. We are honored to be a part of the Community Services Department, giving a valuable gift and educational experience to the community of Black Rock City. 2011 was a great year in Center Camp, the energy was at high levels. We were pleased to have the Dragon Smelter Crew join us each afternoon out in the front of Recycle Camp. They set up their aluminum coin press and participants were invited to press their own original design souvenir coin made from aluminum cans that were collected in Black Rock City. We hope to have the Dragon Camp placed as our neighbors in 2012. This is a great demonstration of the full circle of recycling.

Recycle Camp is a thrival zone in Black Rock City, in fact it was one of the first. We have always attracted hard working, forward thinking volunteers. We had 40 people total camping and running Recycle Camp this year; 20 were returning campers from 2010 or previous years, 20 were first time campers with Recycle Camp and many of those were first time Burners including two moms, a dad, a sister and a cousin with a girlfriend.

As usual, we had day workers; friends and diehards that don’t camp with us but work with us daily at the camp along with the dozens of participants dropping in or being pulled in throughout the event week. The growth of the crew was a concern going into this year; pleasingly we were able to maintain a smooth running camp even with 50% increase in campers over 2010 numbers. We were planning to keep the numbers close to the same as last year, but sometimes you can’t stop growth, you have to roll with it.

We made planned upgrades to our volunteer camping shade this year, purchasing new poles. We were unable to acquire used aluminum poles for this structure. The good news though, we added a new shade structure similar in design and all eight of the 10-foot poles came from four 20-foot aluminum poles that we acquired from the Gate crew and cut in half.The camp infrastructure and layout changed very little from 2010, with the key exception of the camping area. To begin with we were graced with quite a bit more real estate than in previous years. We decided to bring the tent camping shade area and the RV’s together. We also had our first hexi-yurt, the return of the dog house sleeping structure and two additional domes. Set up week was close to the smoothest ever, we had the largest crew at an earlier time than ever before. It was the first time we had 12 people all on site on Sunday before set up week. As a result, by the weekend, we were ready for the rest of the crew to show up, and we just had to lay out the carpet, set up the bar and the sound system, add the lighting and decor. The can crusher was assembled with the upgrades designed by last year’s crusher mechanic. The crusher ran smoothly throughout the entire event with zero down time and much acclaim.

Recycle Camp decided it was time to work smarter not harder, it was time to bring the 30-yard container right into our camp and avoid having to transport all the aluminum cans out to the DPW Depot at the end of the event. We filled super sacks with the crushed cans and then the super sacks were dumped into the container almost as fast as they were filled. By the end of the event, after the rush of participants brought us their cans, we had filled an entire container and had 16 additional sacks. In the end we had filled two 30 yard containers, approximately 168,000 aluminum cans, weighing more than 4,900 pounds.

The cans were transported to Earth First Recycling in Reno. The proceeds once again allowed for a donation to the Gerlach School. A check in the amount of $1,515 was delivered to the school in November. The students of the Gerlach School are always extremely appreciative to receive this donation, perhaps even more so this year, with the closing of the town of Empire, NV at the beginning of the year. When the town closed and the families left, the Gerlach School lost a good portion of the student body. The School remains with a small number of students and only one teacher, but retains the same commitment to education. Recycle Camp is honored to continue our support of the school in this greater time of need.

Recycle Camp thanks all the staff, volunteers and participants of Black Rock City – 50,000 plus – working together to divert more and more each year away from the landfills. Every one of us integral to this experiment … job well done in 2011 my friends.

Submitted by,
Paul Schreer