This was the year of fine-tuning all the changes Lamplighters made in 2012. We kept the smaller village population as our goal from last year. The daytime party schedule was again successful, although we did bring back the evening Sangria Soiree because of one our volunteers generously offered to fund and run it. We added one more person to our placement team. This made the shifts shorter, and we instigated having the placement team check campers out before they left Black Rock City to make sure they were ‘leaving no trace’. We believe this new village check-out procedure, combined with having a fresh Tear Down crew, resulted in scoring our whole village and workspace areas green on the MOOP map, a goal accomplished for the first time in at least ten years.

2013 Lamplighter management consisted of: a Project Manager, a Setup Manager, three Workspace Managers, two Volunteer Coordinators, a Kitchen Manager, a Lounge/Bar Manager, a Relief Manager and a Village Mayor. We added a second Volunteer Coordinator to support succession, and to ease the burden of one individual managing all the year round emails, questions, planning and record keeping.

Setup and Tear down
One month is a long time to spend working on the playa. This year we had separate Setup and Tear Down Managers. One month is a long time to spend on playa working. Dividing these roles between two individuals potentially prevented the burn out of a single construction manager. This is something we are going to fine tune more for next year. Tear Down went smoother and easier than ever. Having that fresh crew really made a huge, positive impact.

Lamp Lighting
Though there were a few nights when we were scrambling to find the last handful of people to volunteer, Lamplighting was effortless in 2013. Indeed, we had so many volunteers on other nights that we had to turn people away and ask them to come back the next day. We replaced a number of old lanterns that needed to be retired. That really cut down on the time it took the volunteers in the support role trying to keep them lit. We plan on replacing more next year. This year it seemed that there were some issues with people not wanting to clear a path for the Lamplighter Procession, or giving our volunteers a hard time because they had to move for a few minutes. Volunteering should be fun and rewarding, not difficult with any sort of conflict. Some of these situations involved participants wanting to take the perfect photograph at any cost. We will reach out to the community through various channels to help them understand and embrace the “Make Way For The Lamplighters” aspect of our ritual.

The Kitchen Manager who stepped up last year with a day’s notice had a whole year to plan this time around, and she did a fantastic job. Meals were always ready on time and they were tasty. There was clear communication to set expectations between the Kitchen, Setup, and Tear Down managers, so the kitchen set up and take down process was improved.

The Gist
Lamplighter Villagers are a tight crew of volunteers that truly embrace that we really are a family. Any lingering opposition to the integration of newbies into this family is a thing of the past. New villagers have always been welcomed with open arms, and we have mastered how to make them feel included as full participants. To foster this unification, we planned activities such as a veteran/newbie scavenger hunt, which was super-fun and successful. We finally have a great team of returning volunteers who understand and embrace that we are a working camp that provides a community service to Black Rock City, and they take pride in lighting the city each night, without fail.

Submitted by,

Tony Lewis