Camp Resource Guide

This guide will support your efforts to organize amazing camps. Some of this information is specific to theme camps and villages, but most will be relevant to camps of all types and sizes. If you prefer to watch rather than read, we’ve included relevant Theme Camp Symposium videos and additional resources. This info is maintained by the Camp Development and Support Team. 

Before you dive in, remember, there is no one way to camp at Burning Man. There are around 1,500 Black Rock City camps and they each have their own way of doing things! These resources and advice are here to support you on your journey.

Acculturation of Camp Members

Acculturation of Camp Members

Camps play a critical role in acculturating their members for Burning Man, including:

  1. acculturating newbies to Burning Man culture, Black Rock City, and to your camp’s culture
  2. acculturating returning Burners who are new to your camp or your camp’s culture
  3. sometimes re-acculturating veteran Burners and reminding them how Burning Man and your camp are different from the default world.

At the most basic level, acculturation is easier or more challenging depending on ratios. For example, if 5-10% of your camp are newbies or new Burners to your camp, it’s fairly easy for the camp leadership and other campmates to support their acculturation journey. If over 50% of your camp are newbies and/or Burners who are new to your camp, acculturation will be much more challenging. 

Burning Man Culture: How do we introduce those who are on playa for the first time to our city and community? The 10 Principles were created as guidance to help all of us navigate Black Rock City and Burning Man culture around the world. They are a great place to start when bringing new friends to Black Rock City, but it’s important to note the 10 Principles are intentionally descriptive instead of prescriptive. It’s up to each of us to interpret the 10 Principles, so the more you can encourage your campmates to genuinely think about, engage with, and apply them in their own way, the more helpful it will be than telling them how they “should” interpret them. 

Black Rock City Culture: Acculturating your campmates to the unique ways we are together in Black Rock City intersects with the 10 Principles. Introduce newbies to the Survival Guide, which includes tips for how to be a good citizen of BRC, dos and don’ts, and the community resources that they won’t find in the default world. As their camp, you have a huge opportunity to affect individual behavior through the education you do up front, the expectations you set around behavior, and how you respond when something happens that isn’t in line with our culture. Consider covering topics like how to take care of your well-being, Leave No Trace, consent (including consent to be photographed), logos and branding, porta-potty etiquette, encouraging participation, and how to be a good neighbor. 

Your Camp’s Culture: Every camp is unique! How are you different from other camps? What do newbies or Burners who are new to your camp need to know to align with your camp’s culture? What expectations do you have of each other when it comes to participation with visitors to your camp and also ensuring your camp smoothly? What happens if those expectations aren’t met? How can you effectively communicate your camp’s culture to your new campers?

An Acculturation Checklist:

Burning Man culture

  • Make sure your campers think about and understand the 10 Principles.
  • Discuss some of the more nuanced Principles that are sometimes more difficult for new people to “get” about Burning Man’s culture like Decommodification and how seriously we take Leave No Trace. Paint a picture of what the Principles look like in action and why they matter to you.

Black Rock City culture

  • Check they’ve read the Survival Guide.
  • Encourage them to explore information about the event.
  • Establish how they can get support and who can help them when they are figuring out how to go to Black Rock City and/or be part of your camp for the first time.

Your camp’s culture

  • Get clear on your own camp’s culture and how you operate together and ensure all new campers are clear on that.
  • Set expectations for participation before the event and during Burning Man with your new campers.

Additional Resources

Bikes

Bikes 

Black Rock City is a pedestrian-friendly environment that lends itself to walking and biking. Bikes are the most popular mode of transportation on the playa and that means there are a lot of them! Bikes are super useful but, on occasion, they become problematic.

  • Decor: Personalize your ride. Let it represent you in all possible ways! Decorating your bike is not only fun, it will help you quickly find and identify your bike when you park it with hundreds of others. Here are more tips on personal bikes.
  • Parking: Every camp should plan for bike parking. If you’re a small camp with a few personal bikes, you’ll want a place to park and lock your bikes when you aren’t using them.
  • Crowds: Camps that attract a crowd should provide adequate bike parking space to prevent a pile of metal and rubber from appearing out of nowhere. It’s super important to keep the city streets clear for pedestrians, water trucks and emergency vehicles. Especially at night! Rangers will ask you to clear bikes if they are spilling out into the street.
  • Repairs: As with any situation on the playa, you should be prepared to deal with the most common bike repairs. Be sure to pack multiple replacement tubes that fit any bike you bring with you. A small tool set that works with your bike will also come in handy. If you’re lucky, there’s a camp nearby who is gifting bike repair services, but you certainly can’t count on that, can you?
  • E-Bikes, scooters and more: Make sure you’ve read the DMV’s rules on which personal transport vehicles are allowed. Anything not on their list is not allowed in Black Rock City. Ensure your campers are aware of these rules so they don’t haul something they can’t use.

Camp Layout and Logistics

Camp Layout and Logistics

Living in the desert for a week or two takes some planning. Not only do you have to get all of your stuff there, but you need to know where it goes once you arrive! Even if you’re camping solo, you should know roughly how much space you need, how best to arrange things and how to light it up so nobody trips/rides over your stuff in the dark of night.

Layout Essentials

  • All camps requesting placement are required to submit a camp layout with their questionnaire. Placement uses this to determine how much physical space you need in the desert to make your idea a reality.
  • If you camp in open camping or don’t receive placement, you should still create a layout so you know how much space you need once you get to the playa. Depending on your arrival time to open camping, you may not find all the space you need, but with your plan in hand, you’ll know how you can flex to fit into the space you find.
  • There are multiple tools for creating a camp plan/layout. Use something that you’re familiar with (perhaps it’s a pencil and graph paper or maybe it’s a software program!). If submitting to Placement, it should be as clear and concise as possible.
  • For more details on Placement’s requirements for camp layouts, see their guidelines here.

Ingress/egress

  • Think about how visitors will enter and exit your camp. How large or obvious is the opening to enter your camp?
  • If your camp will have crowds, keep in mind the flow of people from and back to the street, as well as locations for bike parking.

Your Sides and RV Walls

  • What do the sides of your camp say about you? Are they closed off? An unwelcoming line of RVs or cars? The Placement Team will follow up with you and ask you to change your layout if you submit a layout with RV walls with only an opening for your frontage.
  • Can you get creative in how you lay out any RVs and vehicles in your camp? Think about what you’d appreciate as a participant if you were walking on the street by your camp.
  • Can you do anything visual or creative with your sides so they look and feel better?

Emergency Access 

  • In the event of an emergency, Emergency Services (ESD) and Rangers need to be able to get into your camp efficiently. If things are too tightly blocked together, this could be a problem at a time when someone needs immediate help. Make sure there are pathways in, out and throughout your layout.

Fire and Fire Safety

  • If your camp is requesting a space 150’ x 150’ or larger OR your camp stores more than 21 gallons of fuel, you must have a fire lane. Read Placement’s rules here for fire lanes.
  • If your camp has fire, open flames or fire performance, make sure you read the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST)’s rules and recommendations for fire in theme camps.

Managing Parking (or, creative vehicle placement)

  • Oh, the ins and outs of vehicles. Who’s arriving first? Who’s arriving last? Who will leave first? Who will leave last? These are the tricky logistics required for deciding whose vehicle will go where within your camp layout. Oh, and what about that big ol’ truck?
  • It’s helpful to have a list of arrival and departure dates for each vehicle handy for overall camp logistics and for planning parking.
  • Parking of cars must happen within your camp’s layout — there is no parking lot in Black Rock City. Do not use open camping as a parking lot! Open camping is needed for folks who do not have the privilege of arriving early with Work Access Passes. Please ensure the space you request on your Camp Placement Questionnaire includes fitting all your vehicles inside your camp’s boundaries.

Accessibility

Preparing for Extreme Weather

The Black Rock Desert is wild and unpredictable. High winds, rain, lightning, hail, extreme heat, and near freezing cold are all possibilities during the event. Your camp should have various plans in place for all weather conditions. 

  • It bears repeating: secure your structures. Bring more rebar, lag bolts, ratchet straps, rope etc
  • Prolonged rain means no driving on the playa. No driving on the playa means no porta potty or RV servicing. Make sure you have five-gallon buckets and extra garbage bags should you need to fashion an emergency toilet (which you will then seal and take with you when leaving the desert). Gross but true. You can even pack your five-gallon bucket as a weather emergency kit with some toilet paper!

Additional Resources

  • 2018 Theme Camp Symposium Video of Panel on “How to Get L.A.I.D. at Burning Man — Best Practices for Handling Logistics, Assets, Infrastructure, and Delegation” with Christopher of Swing City, Doug of Reverbia, Heather of Red Nose District, Jeremy of OKNOTOK, Marisa of Death Guild, and moderator Little Jack of Hushville.

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Sometimes you make really big plans and you need to rely on Outside Services to deliver infrastructure into Black Rock City. There are a few options available for arranging deliveries to the playa, which are explained on the Arranging Deliveries page.

Fundraising and Burning Man's Intellectual Property

Fundraising and Burning Man’s Intellectual Property

What happens when your ideas grow so big you need to find additional capital to make that idea a reality? Fortunately our community likes to support big ideas, but how do you ask for donations without stepping into any weird legal issues or Decommodifcation quagmires? Read on to find out more about Burning Man’s IP (intellectual property) and how to decommodify your camp’s fundraising efforts. 

This summary includes:

   1. an overview of Burning Man’s IP and image-use policies and why we care!

   2. gifting items with Burning Man’s IP or images from BRC

   3. hosting a fundraising event

   4. other tips for keeping your fundraising Decommodified.

1. Burning Man’s Policies

  • Burning Man’s IP and image-use policies are guided by the Ten Principles and aimed at protecting the event, our participants, and the core words and symbols of Burner culture from commercial exploitation.
  • The core trademarks that Burning Man protects are: the Burning Man symbol (logo), “Burning Man,” “Black Rock City,” and “Decompression.”
  • The core copyrights that Burning Man protects are the design of the Man, the design of the Black Rock City map, and the Ten Principles.
  • We also restrict the commercial use of Burning Man images to protect the event and the privacy of our participants, in service to Decommodification, Radical Self-Expression, Immediacy, Participation… Non-personal use of images taken at the event must be approved by Burning Man (typically the Communications team — press@burningman.org).

2. Gifting Items With Burning Man’s IP or Images from BRC

The Burner community is encouraged to incorporate Burning Man IP or images into their BRC artwork and gifts according to these guidelines:

Totally OK: GIFTING

  • Theme camps, mutant vehicles and art installations are gifts to all of Black Rock City. Burning Man participants are welcome to GIFT items that incorporate Burning Man’s trademarks or copyrights as tokens of appreciation to people who support these playa-bound projects, including as “rewards” or “perks” in crowdfunding campaigns.
  • Example: Incorporating the Man symbol or “Burning Man 2018” into your camp or art project logo, and printing it on gifts for people who support your fundraiser — OK!
  • If you’re going to use the Man symbol on a pledge gift, be radically self-expressive and create a custom variation that suits your project!

Not OK: SELLING

  • You can’t SELL items with Burning Man trademarks, copyrights, or images in any forum, including on peer-to-peer websites like eBay, Etsy, Cafe Press, etc.
  • Example: Setting up an online shop for your camp with merchandise that incorporates the Man symbol, “Burning Man” or “Black Rock City” — NOT OK!
  • If you create gifts that incorporate a Burning Man trademark, copyright or image and you have some left after the event, you can’t sell those leftovers. Likewise, please don’t fundraise for the costs of producing your gifts — that’s like selling them for the amount of the donation.
  • Example: Setting up a crowdfunding campaign for the Man symbol jewelry you want to gift at Burning Man this year — NOT OK!

3. Hosting a Fundraising Event

  • If you’re having a fundraising event for your camp or other BRC-bound project, feel free to use “Burning Man” or “Black Rock City” in the event description. Just don’t use these names in ways that suggest the Burning Man organization is hosting or sponsoring your event.
  • “Decompression” should not be used in connection with your fundraisers. This name is reserved for events produced by Burning Man or the Burning Man Regional Network.
  • Examples: Saying your fundraiser is for your camp “at Burning Man” or your art project “in Black Rock City” — OK!
  • Calling your event a “Burning Man Fundraiser” or “Decompression Party” — NOT OK!

4. Other Tips for Keeping Your Fundraising Decommodified

Avoid commodifying the Burning Man experience:

  • Steer clear of offering “VIP” access in exchange for donations — a private tour on your Mutant Vehicle, a private party at your camp, etc.
  • REMINDER: Burning Man tickets and vehicle passes can’t be used for fundraising purposes (including as crowdfunding rewards, in auctions, etc.)

Avoid commodifying camp space:

  • Pooling resources and sharing costs with your friends — OK!
  • Selling space in your camp to raise money — NOT OK!

You can read more on Burning Man’s approach to intellectual property and image use here and here.

If you see any questionable uses of Burning Man’s IP or imagery, please let us know ip@burningman.org. We appreciate your help!

Additional Resources:

Generators and Power

Generators and Power

There is an entire page devoted to generators! Check out the Generators page for tips on using a genny in your camp. The most important aspect for camps to consider (beyond the power itself) is how your generator will impact your neighbors. Where are you placing the generator in the context of your camp? 

Rule of thumb for things that are unpleasant (generators, toilets, light towers, etc) — if your camp is going to enjoy the benefits, then your camp should also deal with the downsides of them (smell, noise, light, etc). Don’t place these types of things right on your camp border so your neighbors have to deal with the downsides while you enjoy the conveniences. Try and put them as deep into your camp’s layout as possible. 

Additional Resources:

Interactivity and Frontage

Interactivity and Frontage

Theme camps and villages are the heart of Black Rock City. Big, small, loud, quiet, these are the places created to entertain, entice and inform the citizenry. Interactivity is a key component to a successful theme camp and its definition is, thankfully, broad. Frontage (or visual stimulation, or curb appeal) is also an important aspect of being a theme camp. 

Note: Interactivity and frontage are not criteria for other camp categories. This only applies to theme camps and villages requesting placement. While it may not be required for your camp category, it sure is lovely to provide interactive experiences for your neighbors regardless! And there are many theme camps in open camping who prefer not to be placed.

  • Interactivity is defined in the Camp Placement Criteria for theme camps and villages. It’s the primary “thing” theme camps and villages do. It’s the reason why your camp hopefully receives placement in Black Rock City. You’re not placed because of your delicious camper meal plan or your badass power grid, you’re placed because of the interactivity, frontage and overall offering your camp’s community is bringing and gifting to all citizens of Black Rock City.

Figuring out your camp’s interactivity

  • Ask yourself and your campmates — How do we want to participate in Black Rock City? What gifts do we have to give to the community (both literal gifts and gifts like your skills, abilities, talents, etc)? What experiences do we want people to have when they come to our camp and interact with us? What can our camp community do in Black Rock City that we may not be able to do in the default world?

Make a plan, stick to it

  • On your questionnaire to Placement, you’ll describe your plans for interactivity. The questionnaire is due in April when your plans are likely more vague. As the event gets closer, it’s time to get more specific. What exactly will your camp be doing? Who will be doing what? When will it be happening? What materials or preparations do you need in order for it to happen? How are you ensuring it will actually happen?

Frontage — create visually stimulating, open and inviting spaces

  • Frontage is a component of the Placement Team’s Theme Camp Criteria. You should have a plan for what your camp looks like from the outside looking in.
  • If someone is walking or biking down the street, what will they see? How will people know you’re a theme camp? What about your camp would compel them to get off their bike and come participate? What type of visual experience do you want to create? How does it connect to your interactivity? These are just some the questions you can ask to think or re-think your frontage.

Night Lighting

  • If your camp wants placement beyond a street, your camp needs a plan for night lighting. How can you bring lighting into your frontage plans? What will it look and feel like walking down the street at night past your camp? If your camp’s interactivity is primarily after dark, then night lighting should be even more important. Also, consider going solar!

Clarify your camp’s “public” space and “private” space

  • We put those in quotes because technically all of Black Rock City is public! Except obviously not your tent or living quarters. Even your camp’s “back of house” should still feel welcoming — do not make barriers, signs like “private, campers only,” etc. And it’s totally okay to have space that is not intended for the public to come into.
  • Make sure your public space feels public, open and inviting. People shouldn’t have to seriously question whether they’re “allowed” into a public space.
  • Proportions are important here. How much of your camp’s total space are you devoting to your interactivity and frontage? How much is devoted to your back of house and living areas?

But I’m not a registered theme camp! Or…I didn’t get placement!

  • Yes! There are many, many theme camps that prefer to be in open camping and don’t want to deal with the placement process.
  • Interactivity and frontage are components any camp can do whether your camp is placed or not, and no matter what your camp’s category is!

Additional Resources:

Kitchens and Food Safety

Kitchens and Food Safety

Let’s start with food safety. Nobody wants to get sick out there and nobody wants to make people sick. In order to fight the threat of foodborne illness on the playa, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (NDPBH) has requirements for camps serving food or beverages, including the need for a health permit. You must apply to the NDPBH and be permitted as a Temporary Food Establishment if:

  • you wish to share, cook, or serve food or non-alcoholic beverages to the general Burning Man population (gifting food)(regardless of # served)
  • you will be cooking or serving food to more than 125 fellow campers in your camp.

You can find information about this year’s application and deadlines on the NDPBH website here. 

If you have a communal kitchen shared by 125 or more campers but meals are prepared individually or in smaller quantities than for 125 persons, a permit is not required. However, we highly recommend you research and review “Burning Man Food Safety Requirements” and the “Burning Man Checklist” found on the NDPBH website’s information page.

There are many ways to structure a kitchen. Some camps have communal meal plans (some do one meal, two meals, or three meals per day), some camps share groceries but individuals make their own food, and some camps do not collaborate on food. The amount of infrastructure and equipment you’ll need for your kitchen depends on the size of your camp and how extensive or simple your food plans are.

Additional Resources:

Leadership

Leadership

Managing a camp comes with all of the fun and challenges that accompany any other project that brings people, infrastructure and creative spirit together. Now that you’ve made the plans and filled out the questionnaire, it’s time to lead! And if you need a bit of inspiration, watch this video of fellow camp leaders at the 2018 Theme Camp Symposium explaining why they do all they do for their camps.

Communication

  • Leaders communicate. They communicate information, expectations, needs, challenges, ideas, plans, requests, opportunities, decisions, and so much more. What does the communication loop between your camp’s leadership and the rest of your camp look like?
  • Many camps have in-person or virtual meetings throughout the year to discuss ideas, make decisions and build community. Find the frequency and method that works best for your camp.

Managing people

  • Friends

    • Sometimes managing friends can be a total blast. But oof, managing friends sure can get weird. There are many different approaches. Openly communicating, staying honest and speaking up as early as possible when something isn’t working is probably the best advice. If you wait too long and frustration builds, your camp stuff can taint your friendship.
  • Friends of friends

    • If managing friends is challenging, managing the friends they want to bring with them can be even more so. You as camp lead may not know the friends of friends that are brought into your group. There’s a common theme when dealing with people, friends or not. Open and honest communication is key.
  • New friends

    • Sometimes you bring in total strangers to your camp. There are various reasons to do so and none of them change how you might lead them. As a general rule, the more communication with new camp members before getting to the playa, the better.

Appreciating campers

  • Feedback is important and it is sometimes easy to forget that positive feedback is a powerful force. It can be easy to focus on the things that are going wrong especially in the midst of camp build or teardown. Remind the people around you that you appreciate them and that their contributions are important. A little praise goes a looooong way. And we hope they’ll appreciate you too!

Cultivating new leaders

  • At some point, for some reason you may not be able to fulfill a leadership role in your camp. Life happens, burn-out happens and if your camp wants to continue, it’s important that you think about who might take over for you should you step aside. Share responsibility so you can identify who is willing and able to be that new leader.

Empowerment

  • Does someone have a great idea? Rather than the established leaders taking it on, why don’t they go make it happen! Even if they don’t have the skills, experience, or track record, what better place than Burning Man for someone to take on a project they’re excited about and figure out how to do it? Provide support and mentorship as needed, but let them run with it.

Burn-out

  • Burning Man is hard. Organizing and managing a theme camp or village is hard. There comes a point where everyone needs a break and that’s Ok. If you want to avoid burn-out, you need to spread as much of the responsibility around as possible. Spread the load and you can hang in there a lot longer.

Support networks

Leaving No Trace

Leaving No Trace

Without vigilant participants packing out their equipment, recyclables, trash and anything else they brought with them, the event could not exist. 

There’s a ton of information on our Leaving No Trace page that will help you manage your LNT efforts! There’s a reason it’s one of our 10 Principles! 

Additional Resources

Neighbors

Neighbors

We are all each other’s neighbors. Most of the time we find our neighbors in Black Rock City to be wonderful, supportive, funny and welcoming, but every so often there’s a little friction between camps. Ninety-nine percent of the time any issues are resolved with open and respectful communication. 

Introduce yourself and your camp

  • When an issue arises with your neighbor, it’s easy to get frustrated and build them up in your mind into a Burning Man villain before you even walk over to talk (or yell) about it.
  • Be proactive. When you first arrive, say hello to your neighbors! Introduce yourselves and your camp. Let them know who to come to if they have a problem. When your neighbors arrive from their long journey, greet them, offer them water and introduce yourselves. Welcome them to the neighborhood!

Tips for resolving issues on your own

  • There are neighborly ways to address problems you’re having. First, it helps to know or ask who in the camp to talk to versus talking to (or yelling at) the first person you see. We are all a part of the same community. We need to work together to solve our problems and treat each other with respect.
  • Do you like to be told what to do in a yelling tone by someone you just met? Most people don’t. Discuss how to solve the problem together versus telling them what they should do right-!@*%ing-now. Make sure you’ve both had enough water. Sit down together. Take the high road against drama.
  • If you’re in over your head, you can request assistance from the Black Rock Rangers. If you have a neighbor that consistently isn’t collaborating to solve problems, make sure your Placer is also aware of the situation.

Not everyone wants to sleep when you do

  • Remember, Burning Man is loud. There are no quiet hours or official quiet areas in Black Rock City. Be radically self-reliant and make sure your campers are prepared with earplugs, battery-powered white noise machines, whatever they need to sleep. Help acculturate your new campers to this landscape. Familiarize yourself with the sound policy so you know what’s Ok-loud versus not-Ok loud.

Get to know your neighborhood before you get to the playa

Most common neighborliness issues

  • The most common neighborliness issues are sound and generator noise. Guess what, those are both preventable! See the previous section on Generators and Camp Layouts for how to best plan your generator’s placement. Set expectations with your campers who may touch those volume dials and review the Black Rock City Sound Policy.

Online Communities Directory

Online Communities Directory

We know that before the Man goes up in flames you’re already thinking about plans for next year, and fortunately you’re not alone. There are various resources that are active all year long where you can discuss your next big idea or give help to those who are just figuring this theme camp thing out.

Safety

Safety

We’ll add more soon to this section! For now here’s a roundup of safety reading you can do:

Videos

Shade and Other Structures

Shade and Other Structures

There’s a lot to consider to make sure the structure you’re building on playa is safe. Read our guide, Building Safe Structures, to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

Large structures need to be secured properly. All designs are strongly advised to include safety provisions. For more on this, please check out Securing your Structure.

If you would like to discuss your structural plans, please email us at structures@burningman.org.

Additional Resources:

Size

Size

Every year Black Rock City is rebuilt and with that comes many changes. Camps grow, camps shrink, camps sleep, camps wake up. Know what to expect so your camp can navigate inevitable changes in population or enthusiasm.

  • Growth: Sometimes bigger is not better. As a camp lead, it’s super important that you understand your willingness and ability to manage an ever-growing population of campers. It can be challenging when your camp starts as a group of friends, and then the next year everyone wants to invite another friend, and then the year after that they all want to invite their friends, and all of a sudden your camp has doubled or tripled in size. Slow growth is typically the most successful strategy and it helps to have some intention around the maximum size you’d like your camp to be.
  • Size thresholds: There are different theories and research about group sizes and the thresholds at which dynamics and complexity changes substantially. If you’re interested, we’d suggest looking up some of the research. One number that’s cited often by camp leaders is Dunbar’s Number, a theory that humans can only comfortably hold up to 150 relationships. There are thresholds at smaller group sizes as well.
  • Limiting size: The best time to discuss limiting the size of your camp is during the event. Ask the question, is our camp the right size, or should we grow? If the answer to that question is, “we are the right size now”, then start the conversation about how to restrict camp membership next year.
  • Downsizing: Despite our best efforts, life happens in between Burns and your once thriving and robust camp may find itself with campers who are not able to make the trip to the desert. Don’t panic! You can do this. It’s totally acceptable to scale back your interactivity offerings should you find yourself with fewer people to make it happen. Keep the potential of future downsizing or size fluctuations in mind as your camp is growing. Sometimes a temporary solution to accommodate more people for one year makes more sense than permanent infrastructure that you find you don’t need next year.
  • Take a year off: After 15 years of serving grilled carrots and candy bar smoothies you deserve a break! Sometimes a camp just needs to take a breather. If you’re a placed theme camp, you will find Placement happy to work with you and hold your camp in good standing during your break. You have to let Placement know by their deadline each year, which is typically in January (announced in the Placement Newsletter).

Sound

Sound

Sound Policy

  1. Neighbors should talk to one another when sound becomes problem and try to resolve the issue through direct communication.
  2. Large-scale sound installations MUST be located along the ends of our city. They may express themselves unless community complaints persist.
  3. Within the city, a maximum power amplification of 300 watts is permitted, producing sound amplification not to exceed 90 decibels, when measured at 20 feet from the source.
  4. Any complaints about excessive sound will become the concern of the Black Rock Rangers. Concerns about excessive sound can result in:
    a) volume check and mediation between camps
    b) volume check and a final warning on complaints
    c) the disabling of equipment.

Sound Recommendations

We also wanted to share the below fantastic sound recommendations from Noah Reson-Brown from the Theme Camp Cult of the Magic Lady. We’ve shortened it slightly for this format, the original post online is here.

Hey amplified sound camps with a DJ! Wanna avoid noise complaints? It’s doable… but there’s a method to the madness.

1.  First and foremost, DJs should never control their own volume. They can’t hear the sound hitting the audience because they’re not in the audience! Your volume control (usually on a sound board) should be handled by someone in a position out in the audience.

2.  You know that 90db at 20 feet limit? That’s too liberal of a limit. 85db is already causing hearing loss. A good sound system REALLY doesn’t have to be that loud to be good. Proper speaker position can make that work.

3.  But the DJ wants it loud! That’s fine… aim a monitor speaker (which just plays back what he’s playing) directly at his head from close range. Preferably two, one from each side. Now he gets to hear his sound nice and loud.

4.  You can also place the speakers behind the DJ, so the DJ hears everything and gets deafened by his own noise. There’s a reason you see those big speaker walls behind some concert shows… it’s to make sure the musicians get to deafen themselves as much as they want. If the speakers are in front of the DJ, they don’t hear it nearly as well.

5.  Speakers (other than the subs) should be elevated above head height. Low speakers will bounce sound along the playa, scattering it to your neighbors… plus much of the noise is dampened by the bodies of the dancers before it hits ears. If your speakers are higher and aimed down, you can aim the sound at the center of your dance floor/party space and use much lower volume to get the same effect on the floor, while heavily reducing sound outside your dance floor. When aiming sound, remember that speakers generally spread about 60 degrees horizontally and 40 degrees vertically in their peak sound area. For most purposes, you want the speakers at just above head height, generally on standard tripods. Bigger camps will want to go higher. None of this applies to subs, whose noise is so low it doesn’t matter. Low pitch sounds scatter heavily, and aren’t dampened much by people. Plus those things are heavy. Leave ’em on the ground.

6.  Elevated speakers must be well secured. Speakers falling on people sucks. Please don’t moop the blood of your attendees. It’s rude. This is especially true if you stack your main speakers on your subs for height… strap that shit down. Subs vibrate, which can dance a speaker right off even without wind.

7.  Aim the speakers through your own camp, not straight out into the playa (or at neighbors) where possible [Placement Note: EXCEPT if you’re an LSSA Camp with frontage on 10:00 or 2:00 avenues]. The nearest sleeping area to the front of your speakers should be your own sleeping area. If you can’t sleep, that should tell you something. This is especially important for those “running all night ambient sound” camps with a pair of speakers on stands.

8.  You can put solid padded material (such as plywood with egg crate foam on it) in position to bounce and dampen sound waves away from areas you don’t want it to go. Your neighbors will love this.

9.  If the music’s playing, someone in camp who can operate the sound system should be there at all times. That person should be easily accessible for your neighbors/rangers who get called in because your neighbors are going insane. Be nice to your neighbors!

10.  If you can, two sets of speakers, one set further out than the other, beats the heck out of one speaker set that’s just really loud. If you do this, you’ll need a delay system or your music will be impossible to understand (especially anything vocal).

Remember, you too can avoid noise complaints!

Theme Camp Symposium

Theme Camp Symposium

Once a year camp leaders get together to support each other and share ideas, challenges and tactics for putting together the best possible camps. 

History

  • The Theme Camp Forum began in 2012 and became the Theme Camp Symposium in 2016. In 2017 the Theme Camp Symposium began inviting Mutant Vehicle Camps and Art Support Camps to the Symposium because in the end, camps are camps are camps! The Theme Camp Symposium has historically taken place in March.

Agendas/Sessions from past TCSs

Info for Upcoming TCS

  • We will post here when available for 2020!

Villages

Villages

Coming together as a village creates a whole new and beautiful dynamic.

  • Planning a village: A village is more than a collection of camps. The goal is to create something greater than separate camps can create on their own. When planning your village, think about how camps can complement each other and enhance the experience of those visiting your village.
  • Sharing resources: One of the advantages to village life is the opportunity to share resources with other camps. While it may be impractical to share everything, any resources that can be pooled will make planning and logistics far more efficient.
  • Emergency access roads: Large villages (and large theme camps) are required to provide an emergency access road in the event fire or rescue personnel need to get to the interior of your village. This access road should be at least 16’ (4.8m) wide. For specific requirements, take a look at the “Important Camp Safety Features” section of the Camp Layouts page.
  • Village frontage (about those RVs…): The frontage of your village should be the most clearly welcoming area. Frontage, of course, is not limited to the “front” of your village. Should your village be large enough to face multiple streets/avenues, it is encouraged to provide interactivity on all sides. This could be anything from a small piece of art or a full on hosted experience. Some of the best things that happen at Burning Man are those random interactions you have while wandering through the city. If you have a number of campers with RVs in your village, try to place them along your fire access road or at the very least parked perpendicular to the road they are facing. A wall of RVs is impersonal, uninviting and really uninteresting.
  • Communication within the village: As village lead, it is super imperative that you keep information flowing to the camps within your village. Use all of the tools at your disposal to organize and disseminate important dates, deadlines and plans. Shared calendars, spreadsheets, group chats, or whatever works for you and your other camp leads are good places to start. No one wants surprises as they arrive in the desert.
  • Communication with Placement: Just as communicating between camps within the village is important, keeping Placement updated with your plans is a must. Placement will only talk to one point of contact — the Village Mayor who filled out the Village questionnaire. Plans change quickly and frequently as we all know, and keeping Placement updated on any major changes in size, interactivity or desired placement location will ensure a smooth arrival and setup on Playa.