Camp Resource Guide

This guide will support your efforts to organize amazing camps. Although some of this information is specific to theme camps and villages, most will also 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, note that there is no one way to camp at Burning Man. Each of the 1,500 Black Rock City camps has its own way of doing things! These resources and advice are here to support you on your journey.

Organizing and Leading a Camp

Acculturation of Camp Members

Acculturation of Camp Members

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

  • acculturating newbies to Burning Man culture, Black Rock City (BRC), and to your camp
  • acculturating returning Burners who are new to your camp or your camp’s culture
  • 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 of new Burners to veterans. 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. Newbie sponsorship by a veteran campmate to guide the newbie through acculturation both pre-Playa and on Playa ensures that important information is shared and the newbie is supported in the experience. Here is a 2019 Theme Camp Symposium video: Acculturation Panel  

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 will run smoothly? What happens if those expectations aren’t met? 

Acculturation Checklist:

  • Burning Man culture 
    • Make sure your campers understand the 10 Principles.
    • Watch this video and look for others that explain the culture and ethos of Burning Man.
    • Discuss some of the more nuanced Principles that may be more difficult for new people to “get” about Burning Man’s culture like the importance of 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 that 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 values. What sets your camp apart? 
    • Explain how you operate together, and how you communicate with new campers.
    • Set clear and specific expectations with campers for participation before and during the event, and for strike and post-event, if applicable. 
    • Make these expectations easily available in a written document. 

Additional Resources:

Consent
Leadership

Leadership

Managing a camp comes with all of the fun and challenges that accompany any project that brings people, infrastructure, and creative spirit together. For 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 expectations, needs, challenges, ideas, plans, requests, opportunities, decisions, and much more. What does the communication loop between your camp’s leadership and the rest of your camp look like? Whether you use email, social media, or collaboration applications, make sure everyone can access important information and announcements in a timely manner. 
    • 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
      • There are many different approaches for leading groups of friends. 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. There’s a common theme when dealing with people, friends or otherwise. 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 lead them. As a general rule, the more communication with new camp members before getting to the playa, the better. 
  • Appreciating campers
    • Providing feedback is vital. It is sometimes easy to forget what a powerful force positive feedback can be. 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 in time, for some reason you may not be able to fulfill a leadership role in your camp. Life happens, burn-out happens, and if you want your camp to continue, you should think about who might take over for you should you step aside. Share responsibility often 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, let the suggestor 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
    • Organizing and managing a Burning Man theme camp or village is hard. There comes a point where everyone needs a break and that’s OK. To avoid burn-out, spread as much of the responsibility around as possible. By sharing the load, you can hang in there a lot longer. 
  • Support networks

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is part of personal and group growth, but we always want to keep it constructive. Disagreements arise during planning and when you are at BRC. Be prepared so that conflicts don’t get past the point where they can be respectfully managed.

A simple conflict resolution plan should be made available for everyone to review and should include defined steps to resolution and an escalation path for more serious conflicts. Post it somewhere accessible to all. Many camps have a member who has been trained in mediation or conflict management and resolution. Take advantage of their skills.

Camp Finances

Camp Finances

Small camps (e.g, fewer than 10 members) may not have a shared budget. In a small camp, each member may simply bring whatever resources they have to share. However, most larger camps require members to contribute dues, which might be as little as $50 per person, up to $500 per person or more to make sharing resources within the camp easier to manage. Examples of major expenses for a large camp include: purchase of shade structures, equipment and vehicle rental, communal kitchen supplies, materials for art projects or interactivity plans, storage costs, and the cost of producing high quality swag.

Experience has shown that it is best to have a designated camp treasurer who collects the dues and manages the camp budget. It is the treasurer’s responsibility to collect dues from everyone before getting to the playa, and to maintain an up to date report on camp expenditures.

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

  • 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.”
  • Burning Man protects the copyrights for the design of the Man, the design of the Black Rock City map, and the 10 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, trademarks and copyrights here, as well as proper use of images and media rights 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:

  • You can watch a video about the above information here.

Camp Size

Camp Size

Every year Black Rock City is completely rebuilt and with that comes many changes. Camps grow, camps shrink, camps hibernate for a season, 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 for your camp. 
  • Size thresholds: There are many theories regarding 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 before the Statement of Intent is due, which is typically in January (announced in the Placement Newsletter). 

Villages 

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

  • Planning: 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 20’ (6.1m) wide. For specific requirements, take a look at the “Fire and Service Access Lane Requirements” 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 mayor, it is 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.

Managing Playa Logistics

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. 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

  • Think about how your camp is contributing to make the frontage of your street a cool place. What does it say when you look down a street and see a full street of vibrant and exciting structures and signage? What does it say when half the camps have cars parked right up on the street and you can’t see the next camp over past the cars? And how does that affect the overall feel of your city block?
  • In designing the layout of your frontage, be aware of not only how it affects your own camp, but also how it affects the vibe/culture/feel of your neighboring camps, city block, and sector.
  • All camps requesting placement are required to submit a camp layout with their questionnaire. Placement uses this to determine how much physical space you will need. 
  • If you camp in open camping or you 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 the available space.
  • 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. 

Space Allocation

  • Think about how much space within your camp you need for interactivity that will be open to the public. Then think about the infrastructure and residences and how much space that will need. The overall flow between the public and internal spaces for your camp will impact people’s experiences in your camp.

Ingress/egress

  • Think about the complete experience of someone visiting your camp, starting from when they see it from a distance and decide to check it out. How will visitors 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. 
  • If there are parts of your camp that you’d prefer not to have visitors cutting though, think about how to signal that with your layout.

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. Walls of cars/RVs should be used to frame entrances and pathways. Careless placement can screen off aspects of your frontage that deserve to be highlighted, or can convey an imposing, unwelcoming, or boring feeling. Also, be aware of how your car/RV walls are affecting your neighbors and overall vibe of the street or avenue.
  • Can you do anything visual or creative with the sides of your camp so they look and feel more appealing or interesting?

Emergency Access 

  • 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 clear pathways throughout your layout. 

Fire, Fire Lanes, and Fire Safety

  • Camps 100’x100’ or smaller are not required to have a fire lane.
  • Camps/villages are required to have a 20’ fire/service access lane only if:
    • They have a depth greater than 125’ from any frontage on a street,
    • OR They are being serviced by an OSS Vendor for water delivery or pumpouts,
    • OR They are part of the PETROL Fuel Program and require servicing of a generator/fuel tank that is further than 20’ from the street or are within 20’ but have obstructed access. 
  • 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.
  • You must also store your fuel properly. Information about fuel storage here.

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? It’s helpful to have a list of arrival and departure dates for each vehicle. Consider if your layout is flexible enough to accommodate a group of cars that arrives while you’re asleep and parks in a spot that wasn’t planned.
  • 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 are not part of placed camps and 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. 
  • Don’t want those pesky vehicles in your camp? Encourage your campmates to carpool or use the Burner Express. The fewer cars at Burning Man, the better! 

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 plans in place for all weather conditions. 

  • Secure your structures. Bring more rebar, lag bolts, ratchet straps, rope, etc. Be aware of where the winds are coming from once you get on playa and secure your structure. Utilize large vehicles like box trucks to protect tents from prevailing winds.
  • Keep your camp organized and loose objects from flying away. If there’s a dust storm coming, and all your camp’s bikes are in one spot, you can more easily manage them rather than if they’re all over the place.
  • 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:

  • Theme Camp Symposium 2019 — Getting L A I D at Burning Man with Little Jack, Drew Huening of Burning Melon, Bob Herr (CrowBob) of Lavender Lounge, Andy Owens (Fixxer) of Root Pile

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.

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, 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.

Additional Resources:

Neighbors

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, issues are resolved with open and respectful communication. 

  • Introduce yourself and your camp
    • 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! 
    • 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. Do your best to calmly discuss any issues with your neighbor when those issues come up. Assume your neighbors have positive intent. 
  • Tips for resolving issues on your own
  • There are neighborly ways to address problems. 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. 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 [email protected]*%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
  • Neighborliness issues
    • The most common issues among neighboring camps 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 about who may touch those volume dials and review the Black Rock City Sound Policy

Additional Resources:

  • 2016 Theme Camp Symposium — Neighborliness with Piper of DISTRIKT, Candyass of BlissFits, Jester of Red Nose District

Interactivity and Frontage

Interactivity and Frontage

Theme camps and villages form 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 provides to all citizens of Black Rock City. 
  • Designing your camp’s interactivity
    • Ask yourself and your campmates—How do we want to participate in Black Rock City? What gifts do we have for 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 placement questionnaire, you’ll describe your plans for interactivity. 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. 
    • When 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 of the questions you can ask when planning your frontage. 
  • Night Lighting
    • If your camp wants placement on the Esplanade, Portal, Plaza, or Avenue, your camp needs a plan for night lighting. How can you bring lighting into your frontage plans? What will it look and feel like to those 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! 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. 
    • Clearly define your public space from your “back of house” space, but do not make barriers or signs like, Private: Campers Only, for your private space. Create a welcoming space for your visitors, and create a safe space for your campmates. 
    • Plan your camp layout based on the proportions needed for camp interactivity, frontage, and your back of house or living areas. 
  • But I’m not a registered theme camp! Or… I didn’t get placement! 
    • Yes! There are 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

Nobody wants to get sick out there and nobody wants to make others sick. To prevent 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:

Camp Safety and Security

Camp Safety and Security

Here’s a roundup of key safety information:

Videos:

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.

  • Parking: Every camp should plan for bike parking. Even if you’re a small camp with a few personal bikes, you’ll need a place to park and lock your bikes when you aren’t using them. 
  • Crowds: Camps that attract many visitors 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 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 can’t count on that and you will still need to supply tubes.. 
  • E-Bikes, scooters and more: Make sure you’ve read the DMV’s rules on personal transport vehicles. If it’s not on their list, it’s not allowed in Black Rock City. Ensure your campers are aware of these rules so they don’t haul something they can’t use. 
  • Decor: Personalize your ride. Let it represent you in all possible ways! Personalized decorations will help you quickly find and identify your bike when you park it with hundreds of others. Consider lights on bikes for night safety reasons as well as to help find your bike at night. Here are more tips on personal bikes. 
  • Locks. Unfortunately, bike theft is not uncommon, so bikes should have locks (Combination locks are good because you don’t need to worry about losing keys.)

Sound

Sound

Sound Policy:

  • Read in full here. The following four rules make up Burning Man’s basic sound policy:
    • Neighbors should talk to one another when sound becomes a problem and try to resolve the issue through direct communication.
    • Large-scale sound installations MUST be located along the ends of our city. They may express themselves unless community complaints persist.
    • 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.
    • Any complaints about excessive sound will become the concern of the Black Rock Rangers. Concerns about excessive sound can result in:
      • volume check and mediation between camps
      • volume check and a final warning on complaints
      • 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 has some fantastic sound recommendations. We’ve shortened it slightly below 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!

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 things 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:

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Sometimes you make really big plans and will need to rely on Outside Services to deliver infrastructure into Black Rock City. Options available for arranging deliveries to the playa are explained on the Arranging Deliveries page.

Leaving No Trace (LNT)

Leaving No Trace (LNT)

Our event could not exist without vigilant participants packing out their equipment, recyclables, trash, and everything else they brought with them. 

There’s a ton of information on our Leaving No Trace page that will help you manage your LNT efforts! Note that your camp’s LNT history will be heavily weighted when evaluating future applications for placement. 

Additional Resources:

Other Resources

Camp Symposium

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! Now, it’s called the Camp Symposium because there are many different types of camps at Burning Man. The Theme Camp Symposium has historically taken place in March. 
  • Agendas/Sessions from past Camp Symposiums:

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.

Arranging Deliveries

Below are the ONLY ways deliveries can be made on playa:

Option 1: Bring EVERYTHING Yourself!

This means you or your campmates drive your things in and out on your own, without relying on any vendor assistance, even if you’re bringing in large cargo, trailers, etc. We highly encourage camps to share resources with their neighbors. The Burner community is filled with many talented people, and camps may find the help they need by reaching out. 

We’ve seen wonderful examples of neighborliness and communal effort stemming from camps sharing resources like heavy equipment and power. Spark Classifieds is a place to facilitate connections and collaborations among groups or individuals. We encourage camps to post listings for skills and/or resources they need or have to offer. 

Pat yourself on the back for being radically self-reliant!

Option 2: Outside Services Program

Burning Man Project’s Outside Services (OSS) program supports theme camps, art projects, and mutant vehicles by facilitating deliveries from permitted vendors and service providers. 

Camps and art projects that do not have the specialized equipment to safely transport, install, and/or service their infrastructure in Black Rock City can contract with an approved OSS provider to receive support. OSS providers must receive authorization from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Burning Man Project (BMP) to deliver directly to camps or art projects.

All outside deliveries must be arranged through the OSS program. No deliveries, drop-offs, pick-ups, or exchanges happen at the gate. Any commercial deliveries found at the gate will be immediately sent off-site.

NOTE: As of 2022 there will be no delivered housing through the OSS program. We are encouraging everyone who used this service to re-evaluate their housing arrangements this year. 

Allowable Categories of Equipment and Services, aka “ACES”

The last few iterations of BRC saw significant growth in delivered housing through the OSS program which was often used as a backbone for convenience camps. As part of the multi-year Cultural Direction Setting process, we set out to re-align the OSS program to its intended purpose and support the principles of Decommodification and Radical Self-reliance. These three criteria took shape as the best expression of the OSS program’s foundation:

  1. Does this category support health and safety in BRC? 
  2. Is this category helping us towards our sustainability goals?
  3. Is this item or service helping in the spirit of the Communal Effort and Gifting Principles?

New for 2022, only businesses that fit within the ACES framework will be allowed into the program. Potential providers should be able to show how their proposed equipment or service supports at least two of the following ACES criteria: Health and Safety, BMP’s Sustainability Goals, and Communal Effort and Gifting.

How does the OSS program work?

OSS providers can make deliveries to the playa from 6 am until 6 pm each day for the duration of their approved OSS contract. OSS providers must adhere to all applicable federal, state and local laws, as well as operate in accordance with their Burning Man Project contract and with Burning Man’s cultural ethos. 

Your camp or art project must be officially placed by a member of the Placement team or Artery representative, as applicable, before you are permitted to receive any equipment or services from an OSS provider. At least one camp member must be present at the camp or project site. An OSS provider cannot be the first to check in with the Placement team on behalf of a theme camp or any other camp with reserved placement. 

OSS providers delivering potable water must furnish a Nevada State Health Certificate. OSS providers delivering fuel must comply with the fuel delivery requirements. See the Water and Fuel Delivery page for more information about these specific types of deliveries.

Special Recreation Permits

All prospective OSS providers must first apply to BLM for a Special Recreation Permit (SRP). 

Commercial activities in Black Rock City are prohibited unless specifically authorized by both BMP and BLM.

According to BLM press release, “The Black Rock Field Office is requesting all persons or businesses wishing to conduct commercial activities at the 2022 Burning Man Event, submit their application by the close of business (4:30 PM PST) on February 23, 2022.”

The SRP application is available on BLM’s website. OSS providers must call the BLM Winnemucca District Office before submitting or renewing an application: 775-623-1500. Commercial activities in Black Rock City are prohibited unless specifically authorized by both Burning Man Project and BLM.

How to apply for the OSS program

The OSS Application for 2022 will open on March 1 and close on March 15, 2022. Burning Man Project does not accept late applications.

Burning Man Project has a strict evaluation process for any interested businesses to ensure they meet our minimum requirements:

  • Valid business license
  • Current certificate of insurance (meeting Burning Man Project’s minimum requirements)
  • Bonafide business that isn’t limited to the Burning Man event
  • Support decommodified culture
  • Meets ACES criteria

Application process

1) Apply for SRP before the February 23, 2022 deadline
2) Email outsideservices@burningman.org to register interest
3) OSS confirms SRP with BLM
4) OSS sends online application to potential provider
5) Provider completes application by the deadline

Application must include:
        • Current Certificate of Insurance meeting BMP’s minimum requirements
        • Valid business license

6) OSS approves providers and sends contract
7) Providers sign contract and are able to start taking bookings for the 2022 event

If you have any questions about the Outside Services program, please email outsideservices@burningman.org.


 

Camp Layouts

Camp and Village Layout Plans

The layout plan is a diagram that serves several key purposes:

  • It will help you design and build your camp
  • It will help the Placement team choose where and how to integrate your camp into a cohesive and harmonious neighborhood
  • It allows safety and logistical concerns to be reviewed early in the process, reducing the risk of having to make big last-minute changes on the playa

Please prepare your camp layout plan prior to starting your Placement Questionnaire and follow the guidelines listed on this page. Layout plans are submitted as file uploads into the questionnaire. The deadline for the Placement Questionnaire is explicitly stated on the BRC participation forms page. You can find more tips about camp layouts in the Camp Resource Guide.

Example Layouts

Take a look at these mock layouts:

Format

  • Accepted formats are Joint Photographic Group (.jpg), Portable Network Graphics (.png), or Portable Document Format (.pdf). 
  • Limit file size to approximately 1 MB. Most printer drivers will allow a document to be saved as a .pdf file. 
  • While we prefer digitally created layouts, you may photograph a drawing or sculpture of your layout with a digital camera, in order to create a .jpg file for submission.

When submitting your plan as a digital file, be sure the file name is your unique camp name. (NOT the generic “camp plan” or “layout plan”)

Creating a Layout

  • Include your camp name and contact info on your camp plan.
  • Layout plans must be an overhead/birds-eye view of your camp.
  • Include parcel dimensions in feet. Frontage (the parts of your camp that are intended for public interaction, including signs and other visual attractions) should be outlined, highlighted, or otherwise distinguished from “backstage” areas.
  • Use standard printer paper, 8.5 x 11-inch. Color is welcome, so long as the diagram is completely readable when printed in black and white — avoid dark, cluttered backgrounds. (We know they’re cool, but please do not use satellite photos of previous years.)
  • Call out significant features and each project within your camp area:
    • Where is the camp entrance?
    • Where is the main structure or area for the participant interactions?
    • Where are vehicles parked?
    • Where are generators?
    • If you need a fire lane (see requirements below), where is the path of travel for fire and emergency vehicles?
    • If you own a BRC storage container that needs to be delivered and placed, provide the PC# on your plan, indicate the exact placement of the container (with distances from camp perimeters), and indicate where the container doors should open.
    • If you are a village: Where are your access roads? What are the names of the camps within your village? Does your village have a main entrance and frontage? Do your camps in villages have their own frontages within the village or facing the street?
  • A photo or rendering of camp frontage view is requested, but not required.

Want a template to help create a to-scale of your camp? This Adobe Illustrator file can help you get started. You are not required to use this template, and we happily accept other layouts as they include what’s requested above (including hand drawn ones — make sure they’re legible!)

Fire and Service Access Lane Requirements

  • Camps 100’x100’ or smaller are not required to have a fire lane.
  • Camps/villages are required to have a 20’ fire/service access lane only if:
    • They have a depth greater than 125’ from any frontage on a street,
    • OR They are being serviced by an OSS Vendor for water delivery or pumpouts,
    • OR They are part of the PETROL Fuel Program and require servicing of a generator/fuel tank that is further than 20’ from the street or are within 20’ but have obstructed access.
  • Fire/service access lanes must not include any sharp turns or corners, trucks must be able to pass straight through to the street, and provide a clear and visible path. The lane should provide direct access to enter and exit your camp from a street that DO NOT require trucks to turn around or back out. This entrance should be maintained and not blocked by vehicles or bikes at any time. For more information: BRC Fuel Program.
  • Signage and caution tape can be used to designate the fire lane. Participants should keep in mind the fire exposure issue with hard-sided structures lined up side-by-side. We recommend that hard-sided structures have at least 5’ between them to mitigate fire hazards.

Layout Dos and Don’ts

Fire Lanes

Frontage and Parking


Access and Frontage

Don’t

Do

  • Don’t put your generator on your neighbors border.
  • Don’t put private portos and RVs with generators exhausting on your neighbors.
  • Don’t assume you can split your fire/access lane with your neighbor. Only camps with a depth greater than 125’ require a fire lane.
  • Don’t use an aerial photo of last year as this year’s layout submission. It’s hard to read, especially when printed in black & white.
  • Don’t isolate anything that needs to be serviced: RV’s, graywater tanks, etc. need clear access paths the width of a fire lane.
  • Don’t group your liquid fuels and liquefied propane gas storage together. 
  • Don’t place anything that is flammable next to your generator such as trash receptacles or fuel.
  • Do indicate large immovable objects or any kind of pyro / fire. This includes items that absolutely must be faced a certain direction, or that would prevent camp rotation.
  • Do clearly mark where interactivity will be & what will be private camp space. 
  • Do use feet as the standard unit of measurement. 
  • Do include your fire lane. 
  • Do include your fuel storage, your generator(s), and your fire extinguishers.
  • Do place your generator no more than 20’ away from your frontage street or fire/access lane with a straight and unobstructed access for the fuel hose to reach it from the road. 
  • Do protect your neighbors from the sound of your generator that is 20’ from an access road with an RV, container, or build a baffle box for it.
  • Do include which side you consider your frontage; if you are a village, be sure to include the frontages for the camps in your village.
  • Do show where neighbor camps would optimally be placed to facilitate resource sharing.
  • Do, if you are on the Esplanade or 10 & 2, create a diagram of how you are going to utilize the space across the Avenue/Esplanade including how you are planning to power / light up anything you are putting there.
  • Do include sufficient space for bike parking if the camp will be hosting events that will attract crowds; don’t leave it up to your guests to invent a place to park.
  • If you have an activity for ‘mature audiences only,’ DO clearly mark where that will be taking place.
  • Do include your Burning Man PC container with the number indicated. Include dimensions from the borders of the camp to the PC, also include where the door goes.

Fuel Safety Features for Camps

  • All camps and villages must be equipped with fire extinguishers in key locations (e.g., kitchens, near burn bins, fuel storage, and other hazards) located on a post, in full view, close enough but not right next to fire hazards, and indicated on the layout diagram.
  • Fuel containers must be stored in secondary containers (e.g., bins, kiddie pools) large enough to hold 110% of the largest container stored within it. Fuel containers (even little ones) should not be filled more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion.
  • All camps storing or using combustible fuels must educate themselves about and comply with appropriate practices for storing and handling these materials. Not only is this essential for safety, but it is also required as part of our event permit stipulations with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Please refer to the FUEL AND HAZMAT STORAGE website for compliance information. 
  • Here’s a quick reference for required fuel storage distances.

Generator Placement

  • Best placement for generators is just off the street so that the fuel trucks don’t have to turn down access lanes to reach it. This can also help you save on space otherwise used for fire access lanes (unless you have fuel storage in camp — see above).
  • Generators located close to the street can still remain hidden behind a structure, such as a container, so long as the fuel truck hose can reach it from the street (20’ length with relatively straight access and no obstructions to the walking path)
  • Generators can also be placed along access roads so they are placed further within the block. Your access road must be 20’ wide and kept clear of obstruction.
    • If your access road dead ends and does not allow the fuel truck to pull all the way through and back out to the street, it will not be used. The fuel trucks will not back up out of your access roads, it’s dangerous.
  • Try to aggregate your generators where possible, the more stops the fuel trucks make the longer the routes (and the less likely to complete the route that day which can impact your delivery the following day). 
    • The BRC Fuel Program will only make two stops per group.
  • Keep in mind that when you have long cable runs, you will start seeing Line Loss (aka voltage drop) at 250’ cable length away from the generator. You will burn more fuel for less power output.
  • While the Fuel team would like to see LESS generators, we know that having one LARGE generator is not necessarily the answer as you have to size it for peak load and then it is way oversized for build and strike and will run inefficiently. 

Fire Extinguishers

  • Avoid using ABC extinguishers in kitchens (serious contaminants) – recommend damp towels as 1st use in a kitchen fire.
  • At least one hand-held portable extinguisher with a 40-B rating is required for any fuel storage area. 
  • Laminate a “HOW TO USE” tag on each extinguisher (PASS)

Looking for more tips?

  • Check out the Camp Resource Guide, a helpful guide prepared by other camp leaders, which has a whole section on Camp Layouts.

You’re always welcome to email placement@burningman.org with questions or if you come across problems submitting a layout plan. Remember to include your camp name in the subject line and [Camp Layout] to help our routing.

Camps and Placement

Burning Man is not a festival, it’s an event and a city in the desert. At most festivals you’ll find friends camping together in their cars and tents in what looks like a giant parking lot behind where the main festival activities take place. It’s very different at Burning Man!

Camps are the heart of community in Black Rock City. The majority of people who go to Burning Man are part of planned, registered camps. Open Camping and Walk-In Camping also exists for any individual or group to find a spot for themselves without pre-registering. The main event is everywhere; it’s where people like you contribute interactive, creative, incredible experiences to share with everyone. Camps are organized groups of people doing just that.

For more tips and guides about how to plan at camp, please review the Camp Resource Guide, join or start a thread through E-Playa, or turn to the Camp Support Team by emailing campsupport@burningman.org.

Where can I get advice on how to run a camp?
Here are some things we’ve prepared to help people run great camps on playa. We recommend starting here and turning to other experienced Burners to seek advice on spaces like E-playa, the Burning Man Hive Theme Camp Organizers Group, and our volunteer-run Camp Support Team.

What is a Theme Camp?
Theme Camps are organized groups who come together to provide services, entertainment, art, and other creative interactive experiences for everyone at Burning Man. This interactivity can be truly anything! It’s also the home where camp members sleep, eat, and take care of their needs while living in the desert. Theme Camps began in 1995 and have become the way the majority of people camp and participate in Black Rock City. They are the interactive core of Burning Man. Theme Camps are home to groups of anywhere from three to 400 people. There are also Villages, which are groups of two or more interactive Theme Camps combined together. Please visit the Camp Placement Criteria page for detailed information on how theme camps and villages are selected for Placement.
What other types of camps are there?
There are several other types of camps in Black Rock City. There are Art Support Camps that support registered art installations on the playa and Mutant Vehicle Camps that support registered mutant vehicles. There are also Burning Man Departments, Work Support Camps, and Department Approved Service Camps. Please visit this page to learn more about the various camp types.Participants who are not part of a registered camp have areas where they can find open space to camp within Open Camping and Walk-In Camping.
How do I camp at Burning Man? How do I find a camp to join?
Glad you asked! We have a whole section of information about how to join a camp, where you can camp, and about camping options (such as RVs, yurts, tents, etc.) just for you.
What is Placement?
Placement is how camps receive a reserved camping spot at Burning Man. If your camp would like a reserved Black Rock City address, your camp will need to participate in the placement process. If your camp would like to arrive before the Gate opens to build or set up your camp in a reserved camping spot, you will need to participate in the placement process.Placement is optional but not guaranteed for theme camps and villages. Applying for placement does not automatically gain you a reserved spot in BRC. Camps must meet criteria for their camp category to be eligible for placement. If camps are not selected for placement or do not want reserved placement, they are able to still set up camps in Open Camping or Walk-In Camping after the Gate opens. Learn more about these options here.The Placement Team are volunteers who facilitate the placement process, work directly with every camp, and make the map of Black Rock City. We get to know your camps, plan the city and meet you in person to place your camp on the playa.
How can my camp get placed?
If you’d like to receive a reserved camping spot for your camp or village at Burning Man, you’ll need to learn the placement process and submit the Camp Placement Questionnaire before the deadline. The Camp Placement Questionnaire can be accessed through your Burner Profile, and all deadlines are updated annually there. There’s a lot of important information! Read all about the placement process here.

Camp Placement Criteria

Through the Cultural Direction Setting (CDS) project, Burning Man’s Camp Placement Criteria was updated in March 2020 and will be applied in evaluating camps for future iterations of Black Rock City.

Table of Contents

Overview

Camp Placement

Theme Camp + Village Criteria:

1. Interactivity
2. Visual Impact
3. Uniqueness of Offering

Criteria for All Placed Camps:

4. Good Neighbors and Citizens of Black Rock City
5. Culture and Values
6. Safety, Protocols and Procedures
7. MOOP
8. Self-reliance/Strain on Resources

Acknowledgments

Overview

Theme camps are groups of participants who, together, contribute a service, engagement, art, or other creative interactive experience available for citizens of Black Rock City (BRC) without an expectation of anything in return. As a community, we create Black Rock City every year because we all believe there is value in having an entirely different kind of experience — one grounded in what you have to contribute, say, make, do, and share. Theme camps think beyond typical exchanges, and apply their creativity, resourcefulness, and their unique expression of our culture, toward creating experiences that encourage participants to share their expression with the Burning Man community. 

“Culture is our collective lived experience. It’s not something you are, but rather something you do. When we create, contribute, and participate in Black Rock City, it inspires others to do the same. When one approaches Black Rock City as a consumer or a spectator, it discourages others from contributing and devalues the experience. The success of Burning Man culture and Black Rock City will always rest on our community’s embrace of our shared cultural values.
– From the Cultural Vision for Residential Black Rock City published in the Burning Man Journal on July 2019 

The criteria to receive camp placement connect the 10 Principles of Burning Man to direct action camps can take in Black Rock City. The lived culture of Black Rock City doesn’t come from reading a vision document or thinking of the criteria for placement as a checklist. Culture comes from you, your camp, from our community, and how we all collectively show up in Black Rock City. Burning Man Project and BRC’s Placement Team encourage you to imagine how your camp can manifest these criteria each year in your own way. The reality of each year’s cultural direction is up to all of us. 

Camp Placement

Camps organize and bring their gifts in many ways in Black Rock City and can find space in open camping to set up independently. The criteria and expectations set forth are guidelines for camps to receive reserved placement in BRC, though we hope that all camps strive to embody these criteria regardless of whether or not they are placed.

The Camp Placement Criteria is upheld by BRC’s Placement Team as stewards of the city and the placement process. Each criterion listed includes a detailed explanation of what we encourage camps to strive for to receive placement, as well as the things we consider when determining camp standing. We also practice shared accountability by providing direct feedback to camps that are not meeting the criteria and shared principles.

While the top level criteria are important, we do not expect camps to implement every bullet point within each criterion. We suggest that camps prioritize and tailor their approach to meet the overall spirit of each criterion. Please note where the words “all,” “must,” “should,” and “never” appear throughout the criteria, they are intended as requirements rather than as suggestions.

To learn more about the placement process and how to submit a questionnaire for an opportunity to receive a reserved camping spot for your camp or village, you can read all about it here. The criteria applies to theme camps and villages. If your camp is an art support camp, mutant vehicle camp, or work support camp, you can learn which criteria below apply to you here.

Criteria #1-3 apply only to theme camps and villages. If your camp is placed as any other type of camp, Criteria #4-8 apply in addition to the criteria for your specific camp type which can be found here.

Interactivity

(Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Communal Effort, Participation)

Interactivity is the primary offering a theme camp uses to express the 10 Principles. It is the basis for why theme camps come together and the focus of how they engage with the larger community. Interactivity connects people, entertains people, provides services and spaces people need, and helps people learn and grow. Interactivity can be scheduled or spontaneous, but generally means providing activities, happenings, or offerings within your camp.

Consider also that camp interactivity is a gift to the people of Black Rock City and is shaped by our Gifting culture. Gifting culture is based on the unconditional act of gift-giving rather than the material gift itself.

Here’s What Interactivity Looks Like:

  • Aligning interactivity with the 10 Principles – it is Decommodified, Radically Inclusive, and creates experiences that prioritize connection, Participation and Immediacy.
  • Providing experiences that are available to the entire community and clearly open to people who are not part of your camp to participate (including consideration for various levels of accessibility).
  • Matching your interactivity and offerings proportionally to your camp size and square footage, especially if a camp grows year to year. There’s no magic formula here, but each member of a camp should spend a meaningful amount of their time contributing to camp interactivity. Large camps should especially aim to bring something (or a combination of things) to playa that only a camp of their population size could accomplish.
  • Doing something well and not simply going bigger or brighter to get more attention. Big visions can be multi-year projects.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Is it obvious that your camp’s interactivity is available for the community and that there is something about it that would draw people in to engage?
  • If asked, could you clearly explain how the total population of your camp contributes to the scale of interactivity and experiences you’re planning to bring to Black Rock City?
  • Were your camp’s interactivity levels comparable to other camps of your same size?
  • Did your camp’s interactivity on playa match what you said you were going to do on your Camp Placement Questionnaire (even if it didn’t go exactly how you wanted)? If something big changed, did you let us know about it?

Visual Impact

(Radical Self-expression)

Black Rock City is a model for active and engaging streets with camps that have welcoming street fronts that invite exploration. Theme camps can be works of art and experiments in city design created with themed environments or visually-stimulating frontages, not just where people park their cars and build infrastructure to survive in the desert.

Here Is What Visual Impact Looks Like:

  • An open, inviting, and dynamic frontage that is available to the public and appropriate for the prominence of the street type requested.
  • Participation in making your neighborhood an inviting, warm and safe place to explore by including visual elements in your camp, for example camp signage, night lighting, illumination along your borders, ornamentation, art, fire, seating, etc.
  • Consideration and experimentation with hiding, beautifying, or otherwise integrating RVs, vehicles, and infrastructure into the streetscape.
  • Camps placed on the Esplanade, Portals, Plazas, and Avenues maintaining their primary frontage through Man burn.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Did you make effective use of all the frontage provided to your camp? 
  • Did you have a balanced amount of public and private space relative to the size of your camp? 
  • Did you have an obvious way to enter your camp’s public space, and was it available to the community? 
  • Did you consider the look and feel of your camp’s frontage even when you’re not actively doing your interactivity?

Uniqueness of Offering

(Radical Self-expression, Immediacy, Radical Inclusion)

More than a thousand theme camps request placement every year and the best ones stand out for their unique, inventive, and original offerings. Theme camps are an expression of its members’ creativity, skills, and talents. They offer distinct spins that evoke imagination and curiosity even among commonly found amenities in Black Rock City. Whatever it is — polished or janky, big or small — camps should boldly celebrate their unique gifts and perspectives they bring to the playa.

Here’s What Unique Offerings Look Like:

  • Interactivity that is anchored in something that feels organic to your group. It doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but it should be something that feels authentically yours. 
  • Interactivity that is playful, whimsical, meaningful, themed, or adds a twist to your core experience (a great playa bar isn’t about the free drinks, it’s about the experience that you create). 
  • Trying something new or changing up your offerings or theme from time to time. Choices like this are celebrated, even if they fail. 
  • Camps that welcome, support and create interactivity for under-represented groups or people at Burning Man.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Did your camp have a theme, experience, or unique story that was easy for the reviewing team to discern and would distinguish it from others? 
  • Did your camp create an experience that a participant would want to tell a story about later? 
  • Was your camp providing an offering, service, or experience that’s less commonly found on the playa? Greater weight is given to camps providing more uncommon experiences.

Good Neighbors and Citizens of BRC

(Radical Inclusion, Civic Responsibility, Communal Effort)

People from all walks of life are valued and respected in Black Rock City. As citizens of this temporary city and as part of a large whole, camps and individuals contribute to a culture which allows room for Radical Self-expression without coming at the cost of Radical Inclusion. As good neighbors, camps embody Communal Effort in all their interactions, are mindful of the people around them, and are open to learning and compromise in conflict.

Here’s What Being a Good Neighbor and Citizen of Black Rock City Looks Like:

  • Keep sound within set limits and check in with your neighbors about volume levels if you are using amplified sound.
  • Provide sound abatement for generators and control where they vent exhaust.
  • Where possible, work together with your neighbors to coordinate layouts, share resources, organize events, and take ownership of your streets. 
  • Demonstrate accountability to one another. When there are issues within the neighborhood, work together to solve problems and mediate differences. When you see your peers “doing it right,” celebrate each other and offer positive reinforcement.
  • If you encounter a camp with a potential problem, approach them with an attitude of curiosity and not with assumptions about what arrangements a camp has within its borders. Engage, inquire, seek to understand, and be neighborly. Focus on the behavior at hand rather than any preconceptions or identifiers such as class, race, or geographic origin.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • What did your neighbors have to say about you in their end of year self-evaluation report?
  • Did noise from your camp cause significant problems with your neighbors that could have been avoided? 
  • Was it clear that you made a sincere good faith effort to successfully resolve any disputes that arose, whether self-mediated or by contacting Placement or the Black Rock Rangers?

Culture and Values

(Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Inclusion)

Camps should reflect the culture and values of our community as outlined in the 10 Principles. As citizens of Black Rock City, we embody Radical Self-reliance and Civic Responsibility — we don’t expect things to be done for us (this is convenience culture) or dictated for us (at Burning Man, we take responsibility for our culture).

Radical Self-reliance and Participation cannot be outsourced, especially not through financial or transactional means. While it is normal in the default world to pay for ideas to be created, Burning Man is based on a Gifting economy. All camp members are expected to engage in Gifting through meaningful and immediate contributions to both camp interactivity and operations according to their skills and abilities.

Please also read our positions on “Payticipation and Paying People” and “Commodification, Gifting, Decommodification, and Participation.” These topics have emerged from an ongoing cultural conversation initiated through Burning Man Project’s Cultural Direction Setting project. They are likely to evolve and iterate over time, but reflect our current thinking on these important issues.

Here’s What Strong Culture and Values Look Like:

  • Serving and enhancing gifting culture, and avoiding the types of transactional exchanges most of us experience in the default world. Transactional exchanges with an expectation of return are the problem. 
  • Allocating your camp’s collective focus, time, and resources primarily toward your public contributions rather than the personal comfort and convenience of your campers. Any conveniences should be used in service of your camp’s contribution, which adds to the vibrancy of Black Rock City.
  • Providing clear ways for participants to opt in to engage with your interactivity. No one should feel coerced into participating, and informed consent should be given freely. Meaningful consent is also revocable at any time, and boundaries expressed by participants should be honored.
  • Offering thoughtful and/or researched interactivity that benefit your visitors and adding to their experience, regardless of their background, race, income level, gender, physical ability, etc.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Was your camp offering inclusive and welcoming to diverse audiences? Camp activities may be controversial or even uncomfortable, but should never make any person feel unsafe. 
  • Did you incorporate clear ways to ask for and receive enthusiastic consent from participants in your interactivity? Did your camp have predetermined ways for participants to easily opt in (or out) of any activity you offered? 
  • Did your actions serve and enhance our Gifting culture? Some people have considered financial contribution a way to gift; we explore the problems that simply offering payment as the only form of one’s contribution to the community causes here.
  • Did you or your camp pay someone to do something for you while on playa? All camps must read the guidance and follow the policies regarding PAYticipation and paying people here.
  • Did your camp act as or work with a concierge company that sells packages to attend the Burning Man event and/or make a profit? This is never permitted.
  • Did anyone in your camp sell or advertise goods and/or services during the Burning Man event? Did someone in your camp tag a brand or product on social media? This is never permitted.
  • If you weren’t sure about something, did you contact placement@burningman.org to ask your question up front? Note that we may also reach out to you to ask questions as this landscape is constantly changing. 

Safety, Protocols and Procedures 

(Civic Responsibility)

Civic responsibility – doing the right thing for the greater community – is one of Burning Man’s Principles and safety is at its core. Camps are expected to abide by all policies and regulations applied by government entities and Burning Man departments in the interest of caring for one another. Safety regulations create a safer event for everyone, and enable each citizen in Black Rock City to get the most out of the Burn.

Here’s What Following Safety, Protocols and Procedures Looks Like:

  • Showing up on time to claim your reserved spot before Gates open.
  • Using only the space allotted to your camp.
  • Providing enough space to support bike parking and crowd management to keep streets clear for emergency vehicles. 
  • Following the proper regulations stated and posted by Burning Man operational departments such as Placement, Fuel, OSS, HEaT, BLM, Black Rock Rangers.
  • Using Directed Group Sale tickets and Work Access Pass allocations in a responsible manner and as outlined in the rules and conditions for these programs. 
  • Being responsible during build week and not getting the party started early.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Did we receive a negative report about your camp from any of the operational entities at the Burning Man event? 
  • Did you claim your reserved spot before the start of the event? If you couldn’t, did you reach out to us ahead of time to let us know why? All camps must claim their reserved spot before Gates open.  
  • Did your camp (or someone associated with your camp) participate in land grabbing?  Examples include moving blue flags marking your camp’s borders, or taking additional space from the open camping area without pre-approval from Placement. This is never allowed. 
  • At any point during the event did you not have adequate bike parking or crowd management plans and it became an issue that you did not help to solve?

MOOP

(Matter Out of Place, Leave No Trace)

Camps must be good stewards of the land and respect the privilege we have to build our temporary city in the Black Rock Desert. Camps should understand best practices to Leave No Trace (LNT), consider their impact on playa and in surrounding communities, and implement viable MOOP sweeps and a LNT plan. Camps aim for Green on the MOOP Map and are willing to take responsibility if they aren’t.

Here’s What a Good MOOP-Managed Camp Looks Like:

  • Designating a member of your camp as the LNT lead. Consider making it someone other than your camp lead to improve accountability.
  • Writing a thorough LNT plan that covers not just MOOPing during strike, but also during build and the operation of your camp.
  • Teaching your campers — especially those new to Burning Man — about your specific LNT plan, as well as general techniques for MOOPing and restoring the playa.
  • Stocking your camp with the proper tools to execute your LNT plan, such as rakes, shovels, and magnet sweepers.
  • Taking a little extra time to pick up MOOP in the common areas near your camp such as streets and plazas. MOOPing doesn’t end at your doorstep!

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Was your camp location green or mostly green on the MOOP Map? If not, did your camp leadership and LNT lead engage with Placement and Playa Restoration to evaluate where you can improve, and collaborate on a plan for future LNT success?
  • Were all your campers and infrastructure off playa in a timely fashion? For most camps this means completing your final LNT effort and leaving Black Rock City post event by Tuesday at 12pm. If you need more time to strike, do you have a thorough strike plan that was approved by Placement?
  • Did you have adequate participation from your campers compared to the size of your camp? For example, a 100-person camp should have far more than 1-2 people doing final MOOP line sweeps.

Self-reliance / Strain on Resources

(Radical Self-reliance)

Planning and building a camp at Burning Man can be difficult, but resources abound to help camps figure out how to be successful. Radical self-reliance     and personal resourcefulness by camps can lead to interesting and inspiring results, and some of the best solutions to problems camps face in the desert. Burning Man Project’s Departments are here to assist, but cannot substitute for a camp’s own ability to execute on a viable vision.

Here’s What Self-reliance and Not Being a Strain on Resources Looks Like:

  • Being realistic with your goals and not biting off more than you can chew. You know what it will actually take to bring your vision to life on playa and prepare the proper resources in advance to make it happen. 
  • Asking for what you need through the right channels, honor the answers you receive, and always have a contingency plan in place. 
  • Doing your best to find an answer from online resources such as the Camp Resource Guide and Camp Support Team before contacting other departments.
  • Submitting an on time Camp Placement Questionnaire before the deadline, which is the last Thursday in April at 12:00pm Pacific Time.

Here’s What We’ll Look For:

  • Were you courteous, patient, and concise with Burning Man Project departments if/when you interacted with them? 
  • Did departments like Placement, Fuel, Container, or DPW have to spend an inordinate amount of time supporting your camp pre or on playa? 
  • Were you overly reliant on using Outside Services or Heavy Equipment rather than your own resources?

Acknowledgments

This information was created via the Cultural Direction Setting for Residential Black Rock City project by Group #2 focused on Theme Camp Criteria. The “Culture and Values” criterion was created by Group #6 focused on Convenience Camps & the 10 Principles. See here for more information about this project overall and here for the Cultural Vision.