Greeters

Who We Are

We are the grinning face of Burning Man: A demographic sample, a community example. We are the First Contact between participants and the denizens of Black Rock City. We are the moment of impact: GROUND ZERO for INFO.

What We Do

We make the first impression. Greeting is a vital role that helps shape and form the initial perceptions and expectations of first time participants. Greeting is the one and only chance to communicate with each and every participant on a one-on-one basis, mano-a-mano, facia-a-facia.

Armed with wit, wisdom and infectious exuberance, we Greeters take advantage of this opportunity by becoming skilled information providers conducting helpful, informational workshops to carloads of people.

Sometimes wearing nothing but a smile, Greeters are dedicated to providing useful answers to all questions. Starting with our specialized greeting equipment that enables us to provide up-to-the-minute weather reports (“It’s been pretty dusty”), Greeters have enlightened tens of thousands of new and returning participants and done so with notorious flair.

Faster than the 5 m.p.h. speed limit, able to leap tall RVs in a single bound, Greeters do their darndest to drive home the major issues of critical importance, not only to personal safety, but to the continued survival of the event itself. Greeters are experts on such topics as “Leave No Trace”, Camera Tags versus Media Registration, the latest word on Tiki torches and other weapons of mass destruction.

From the mundane to the profane, Greeters are adept at dispensing practical guidance and, if pressed, will zealously describe, in visceral, gut-clenching detail, the consequences when porta-potties are incorrectly utilized as depositories for items other than human waste.

Well-versed in the guiding principles of the Prime Directive, Greeters are eager to engage discussion and clarify the concepts that define the atypical standards of our unique Burning Man community.

In short, the mandated goal of our Greeter mission is the orientation and education of each and every arrival before setting them loose as newly indoctrinated citizens of Black Rock City.

How We Do It

The medium is the message. How we communicate can have lasting impact.

Proven studies have shown that students absorb more information and retain it better when they are engaged in the subject matter. Well, boy-howdee, look out! As a Greeter, the attention-getting possibilities are as endless as your imagination – and your stamina.

Needless to say, creative educational techniques and other novel methods of communication are greatly encouraged. Past experiments in group and/or individual Greeting have included one-of-a-kind absurdist performances, clownish interpretive dance, friendly nudity, the ever efficient “no nonsense” method, and a variety-pak of endearingly hostile affectations (you know the type: Surly Greeter dressed in a playful tu-tu? Or, its aesthetic opposite, the super-friendly gregarious Greeter outfitted and accessorized for revolution and terrorism?) just to name a few.

Who You Are

Gregarious Philosophers, Guides and Messengers, Hosts and Ushers, Communicators and Educators, Troubadours and Clowns.

What We Need

Energetic, dependable and informed Greeters with fabulous Communication Skills and the Ability to Relate to just about Anyone. Qualified Greeters should be able to demonstrate an ability to recognize when (and how!) to exercise the recommended daily allowance of common sense. A modicum of patience and a good sense of humor never hurts.

Is Greeters your destiny or just your destination?

SIGN UP NOW! So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss this rare opportunity to share your talents and add your energy to our highly-dedicated (and sometimes sophisticated) team of zany Greeting experts and professionals. It’s easy!

Just fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire and choose “Greeters” under “Volunteer Interests”. It’s that easy!

Greeters’ Operations continues to expand creating an ever-growing need for qualified and committed Greeters. Regardless of your level of interest, experience and/or skill, if you are interested in becoming a Greeter, we have a place for you. Check out the growing variety of positions to chose from, both on the playa and pre-event (during the annual planning process).

Dept. of Mutant Vehicles

Friday morning I wake up to another beautiful sunrise on the Playa. All is quiet, so I hug myself and get ready to begin working at the DMV; wishing I hadn’t stayed up quite so late drinking and having fun with new and old friends.

“Where’s the coffee? I need coffee!!!!”

Three cups later it’s 9:30. Grits and I have managed to get the boxes of required paperwork moved back to the DMV table and we’re starting to give and get hugs and kisses from Hotties showing up for their shifts (what a great perk to the job, we love that Hottie Love).

By 10 a.m. the Mutant Vehicles are starting to show up and there are some absolutely beautiful mutations. “Oh my gawd it’s a Giant Roach coming to say good morning! Ya gotta love those art car kids from Houston!!”

But no time to visit. I’m busy trying to get the water truck to come through and water our little corner of the Playa before we’re covered in dust that the vehicles kick up. “Quick, where is some Hottie schwag to give that sweet man driving the water truck?” (I dig through 3 boxes to find a sticker and a magnet from my personal stash!).

Each team of Hotties is busy viewing the Mutant Vehicles, reviewing licensing requirements, making sure they’re safe and going over where to drive or not drive on the Playa. Thank gawd the Hottie team is well trained, cute and fun to hang with.

“Would ya look at that?” Animal Control pulls in to tag us for being naughty animals. But I miss them cuz five people are talking to me at once and the benches are full of people waiting to get licenses. I got one pissed off person that doesn’t have a clue (it’s a golf cart that looks like a golf cart but has an umbrella attached so it’s been modified and why won’t I license it?) Well, thirty minutes later trying to explain it still looks like a golf cart and no it’s not a staff vehicle and no it’s not for a handicap person and no it’s not modified and did you read the criteria on the Web site when you sent in your pre-registration? The golf cart left with one pissed off person. Ooohh I can feel the bad karmic vibes he’s trying to send me cuz now it’s the cart with the fabric tied on that can’t understand why we won’t give it a license, “Well I don’t care what’s gonna happen if I drive. Anyway. Other cars are driving. Look at that truck.”

“Yeah. Look at it. It’s DPW waving at us as they head out to the Playa with a vehicle full of equipment needed for one of the projects that help the citizens of BRC enjoy their experience even more.”

Would ya look at the time? Second shift is coming on and we’ve only seen 47 vehicles so far. But more are coming in and we have to license two vehicles off-site (just too big to get through the streets safely). But quick. More hugs and kisses from the Hotties before I jump on my bike and head over to this great big Carousel Swing that someone in Lamplighter Camp made. It’s awesome. I go for a swing and it’s a blast. Well, yeah, the tow truck supports the carousel looks like a truck but its interactive with the community, something we love. And it’s so much fun. I’m laughing like a little girl again as I swing round and round. Twenty minutes later, paperwork filled out, license on truck, it’s back to the DMV while hoping someone, anyone, please have lunch there for me.

DMV is once again a cluster-fuck with 15 Mutant Vehicles and their drivers awaiting inspection. And the list is growing on how many people we’ve had to direct to the bus stop. I’m hungry, cranky, and tired of saying ‘no’ to these great fun-loving people who have worked hard. But their vehicles don’t meet the outlined criteria. Thankfully Grits is now dealing with the clueless cart with an umbrella attached so it’s been modified. Oh, and by the way, the driver had decided to get as many departments involved in this dispute so the information people around the corner from us have been brought into the discussion too. I roll my eyes, kiss Grits who can handle these situations so much better than I can (it’s why I’m the evil twin). I gather up my paperwork and head out to license the Eyes of Gawd.

Wow! These folks are sweet. They gave me an afternoon beverage to quench my thirst while I inspected their vehicle for safety and reviewed the driving guidelines. I can’t wait to see it at night. But right now it doesn’t have enough lights for nighttime driving when there is no moonlight and I can only issue a day license. I promise to come back at 9 pm to give them their night license. Back on the bike to the DMV. I make sure there is nothing the Hotties need but no one there pays any attention to me with all the people hanging around waiting for their license or just needing to sit in the shade cuz it’s too darn hot out and we don’t want heat stroke. I grab one of the stronger Hotties of the male persuasion to help carry and fill the ice cooler with water and ice. Another shift is coming on but who pays attention when it’s been so busy and we’re running out of paper registration forms for people to fill out? I wonder if a mandatory pre-registration process will help us manage the paperwork and unlicensibility issues?

Once again, for the fourth time, the golf cart comes in covered in fabric that we would not license earlier. This time the driver says, “Well, I hate to pull the handicap card but this is my camp mate with a broken foot.” (Yes, there was a cast and a handicap placard issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles), “See. We’re handicap we need an art car license?”

“Sorry. But all you can have is a handicap sticker. And why didn’t you say so before? Cuz this is not a Mutant Vehicle. But yeah, you can have a handicap sticker.” All I can think is why are these people wasting our time? Can’t they look over at Art Car Camp to see what a Mutant Vehicle is? Okay. I’m getting too negative. I’m tired and cranky and I need a cold beverage. And I still have to go back in an hour to the Eyes of Gawd for their night license. But look! The cars that need a fire license are all starting to gather. AAHHHHHHH!! It’s a cluster-fuck of pyro. Thank gawd the Hotties are a great team of trained Hotness, cuz I really can’t deal with another person and be positive about why that swag of fur thrown over their motorcycle does not make a Mutant Vehicle.

It’s time. I’m off to night license the Eyes of Gawd. But for now I’m sorry, I can’t give a night license without more lights at eye level (don’t want the altered state people walking into it), and glow sticks won’t do the job. “No I can’t give you a license based on what your gonna do. I have to see it. Listen I’m tired and cranky. I’ve been at this since 9:30 this morning. Stop arguing with me and just do it. You have 30 more minutes before the DMV closes for the night.”

Back to the DMV. Aahhh a cold beer comes from a lovely sexy woman waiting to get her Mutant Vehicle licensed. Wait! Was that a big pink bunny rolling down the street or am I seeing things? I’m losing it. Too tired of the constant barrage of people asking questions and arguing because they worked for three whole hours altering their vehicle and deserve a license cuz of the fabric. Got to get back on the bike to the Eyes of Gawd. YES! It’s got lights, not glow sticks!!! I’m so happy. I can give them a license.

Now its back to the DMV to shut down, pack everything back into boxes, store it all in the storage space allotted to us and then I’m off to home to clean up, KISS my sweetie, and make sure he eats. About an hour later I’m wandering the Playa and encounter the Eyes of Gawd making its maiden night voyage. I’m invited aboard. Then we’re off at a snails pace (actually the pace of the spotter on the bicycle in front). I’m having so much fun on board making the eyes blink and wink as we slowly cross the Playa looking at the fabulous art.

By whatever hour I stumble into bed, sleep beckons me and I definitely need it before tomorrow’s coffee.

Want to be like me? Fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire and check the box for Dept. of Mutant Vehicles

Department of Public Works

Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is the workforce dedicated to building the physical infrastructure of Black Rock City, the place Burning Man calls home in the Black Rock Desert. The DPW works side by side with all of the departments within the Burning Man Project. We also work with Burning Man participants, cooperating agencies, and our worldwide community to ensure that Black Rock City becomes a reality, and then vanishes without a trace. You can check out a full list of our mandate here.

It’s long hard work, and we have a damn good time doing it. Each year we bring together more than 700 people — some new folks, some returning crew — to build our team. We look for electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, licensed truck drivers and bus drivers, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, office assistants, dispatch operators, and Depot staff. We also look for unskilled, hard-working individuals who are eager to learn and who have a strong desire to help create the temporary city in the desert we all call home.

The DPW work season is a fast-paced, chaotic, large-scale event production environment. To work well with us, and to create a place for yourself within this aspect of the Burning Man event, you’ll need to have the skills necessary to function and thrive in this type of workplace. These skills include dynamic problem-solving, self-sufficiency, flexibility, emotional intelligence, and a generally proactive approach that keeps things moving forward. Solutions ensure that the show goes on.

You’ve also got to be able to deal with the setting. The Black Rock Desert is one of the harshest environments in the continental U.S., and it takes a conscious effort by the individual as well as the group to ensure everyone’s health and safety. Slackers, whiners, and exceptionally needy people need not apply. It’s tough enough out there, and if you cannot toe the line, we will have to ask you to leave.

The DPW Work Season runs from early August to early October, and has four distinct phases: set-up, the event, tear down, and playa restoration.

Set-up is where we ask you to show up in Gerlach, Nevada, in early August and work with us on putting the city together until the event starts. Working two weeks of set-up will earn you a ticket to that year’s Burning Man event.

The event is when most DPW crews are on call. However, if everything has gone according to plan, you will have the week off to enjoy the Burning Man event. If you WANT to work during the event, there are some DPW crews that keep working, and many other opportunities to volunteer with other departments and projects.

Tear down starts Tuesday morning after the event. Tear Down lasts about two weeks and involves taking apart everything we put together during set-up. The buildings come apart, the fences come down, and everything gets packed up and shipped away.

Playa restoration is the last phase of our work season. Throughout the DPW work season, you will have many opportunities to sign up for playa restoration. You can also sign up any time by emailing restoration@burningman.org. If you are selected, you will join an all-star team of professional environment-restoration specialists, dedicated to leaving no trace of our event in the Black Rock Desert. Playa restoration usually lasts for just over two weeks and brings us into the first week of October. 

You can sign up to do set-up, or tear down, or both. Playa restoration candidates will be selected during tear down.

We will provide for your basic needs while you work for us: three meals a day, water and electrolyte drinks, access to laundry, kitchen facilities, and our own Rec. Center / Social Club, complete with internet access, a pool table, and a phone so you can touch base with the outside world now and then. Working with us for two weeks will earn you a DPW T-shirt, identifying you as one of us, for better or worse.

If all this sounds good to you, and you’d like to be involved, please go here to apply.  We will add you to the list of potentials for the DPW crew, and keep you in the loop as things go forward. We do our best to select and notify crew by late May / early June each year. Please keep in mind that we don’t have room for everyone and that out of the hundreds of applicants, only 30-40 new people will be asked to join our team each year. 

You can read much, much more about our operation in our current DPW Handbook. 

Emergency Services

Black Rock City is just like any lively city on the map. As a participant strolling through the city and interacting with others, you may not be aware of the many other scenes being played out all around you 24 hours a day. Accidents, injuries and other events requiring emergency response come into play hundreds of times during the event.

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) is there when you need them months before the event officially starts, and is on-duty well after the last participant leaves to support the playa clean-up efforts. ESD provides Black Rock City with several different key areas of service; these services include Fire Fighting, Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical evaluation and treatment, Mental Health services (including sexual assault response), 911 Dispatch, and providing the two-way radio communications infrastructure for all of Black Rock City.

The Emergency Services Department is interested in recruiting dedicated, skilled professionals from all areas of emergency services.  If the idea of volunteering with other community dedicated, fun-loving, energetic and professional emergency services providers is of interest to you, please select Emergency Services under volunteer team interest when you fill out our Volunteer Questionnaire.

For more information about ESD, please feel free to check out the ESD section of the Burning Man web site: esd.burningman.org.

Have additional questions? Email 911@burningman.org.

Cleanup and Restoration

Starting the last day of the event and lasting roughly one month, DPW’s Playa Restoration Team works to return the Black Rock Desert to its pre-event condition. The work ranges from removing city structures to picking up large and small bits of escaped trash (onsite and around the desert) and eradicating burn scars (the residue of fired playa sediment and ashes).

It’s a large undertaking to leave no trace of a week-long city with an ever-growing population of tens of thousands of people, but our future existence demands it, and it is the right thing to do. It is a rewarding, team-spirited effort as well as a nice way to intimately experience the Black Rock Desert and unwind after the hectic Burning Man week (not to mention that staying after is the perfect solution to avoiding the mass exodus traffic). However many days you can stay, or come back up for, your contribution will be greatly appreciated!

The citizen cleanup effort begins on the final Sunday of the event and goes through a few days past Monday, Labor Day. Everyone attending is asked to clean up their own camp (down to the granular level), plus contribute two hours scouring the open space of the city before departing.

Starting the day after Labor Day (Tuesday), the event is officially over and the only people allowed to remain at the site are the DPW Playa Restoration crew (this is mandated by our permit). Clean Up is an organized effort. You can sign up by coming to the daily 8 a.m. meeting at the DPW Depot (check out Playa Info for directions). Things that are handy to have: gloves, hat, water bottle, trash bucket (an empty plastic water jug with 3″ hole cut out of the top for sharp items such as glass and nails), and a pickup truck! If you plan on helping with this effort, email the DPW Volunteer Coordinator at dpw-volunteers@burningman.org, or check “DPW” on the Volunteer Questionnaire and specify Clean Up when prompted.

Center Camp

In 2022, we’re trying something new: there will be no sales of coffee (or anything else!) at the Center Camp Café. Center Camp will remain a vibrant hub of engagement and participation with performance and art. There will still be nearly an acre of beautifully designed, shaded and welcoming space for members of the community to enjoy and activate. We’re excited for the reimagining of the space, and hope you are too. You can learn more about these changes, as well as the history of the Center Camp Coffee Shop, in this post. To learn more about how to be involved in activating this space, read below and complete the Volunteer Questionnaire.


 

Ever wonder how something as huge and magnificent as the Center Camp becomes a reality? Is it magic? A mysterious gift from beyond? A shared waking dream we co-create with our imaginations? Well, yes, a bit of all of these — but the true answer lies in the teamwork of many dedicated volunteers. From planning, creating and installing of our décor, to the building and running of our stages, the heart of Center Camp is its volunteer community.

Volunteering at Center Camp is a uniquely gratifying way to participate at Burning Man, and an incredible opportunity to see how it all happens. You’ll be helping put together the social center of Black Rock City, and you’ll get to enjoy watching the entire city come together and appreciate your hard work.

Construction: At 38,000 square feet, Center Camp offers .65 of an acre or 2/3 of a football field worth of shade in the blistering sun. The structure is held up by two concentric wooden rings and secured to the earth by high-tension cable, capable of withstanding 120mph winds and drastic temperature and weather changes. We need plenty of help to put this sucker up.

Art & Décor: Calling all sculptors, seamstresses, furniture builders, painters, artists, designers, and multi-talented can-do creative people. We’re on the lookout for collaborators to help us bring Center Camp to life. No experience required — just a willingness to work hard and have fun! Enjoy the satisfaction of transforming an enormous shaded circle of bare playa into the beautiful, warm heart of Black Rock City. You’ll get filthy with us on carpet day, and cheer with us as we turn on the lights for the first time, so we can see how gorgeous we’ve made everything look. For specific questions about décor, contact cafe-decor@burningman.org, and for opportunities to have your art be part of Center Camp, cafe-art@burningman.org can help you help us.

Production: Center Camp is as much a performance space as a social space, and the Production Team makes sure the show goes on as it must. From building, lighting, and amplifying the Performance and Spoken Word Stages before the gates open, to booking acts, MCing sets, mixing sound, and herding cats (stage managing). Production is the reason you can spend an entire night on a polka dot couch in Center Camp, and feel like you haven’t missed a moment of the Burn. Reach out to cafe-production@burningman.org to get in on the backstage hijinx, or cafe-performance@burningman.org if you want to perform on the best stages in town.

Center Camp is the social core of BRC, the living room of the city. Come, meet, play, and be inspired. Then, if you’re inspired enough, contact cafe-volunteers@burningman.org and get in on this good Communal Effort!

If any of these opportunities interest you, sign up from the Volunteer Questionnaire.

Box Office

The Black Rock City Box Office is devoted to providing a welcoming and friendly first point of contact with Burning Man while striving to be as efficient and accurate in issuing our participants their keys to the city. Being on the front lines of BRC, along with Gate, we are committed to maintaining a safe and supportive environment for Box Office crew and incoming participants alike.

What Is The Box Office?

For a lot of people, the Box Office is the first point of contact they have with Black Rock City and for many it’s their first contact with Burning Man ever. For this reason, we try and make their experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.

Inside our handcrafted Box Office buildings, we run a full-service Will Call operation. On each shift, you will find a small, diverse, friendly crew asking for photo identification, looking up names in our computer system, issuing tickets, and generally having a fantastic time helping participants as they arrive on the playa.

We are responsible for all of the tickets held at Will Call as well as those left for participant’s friends who are arriving later during the week. We get a high volume of people looking to pick up, drop off, and change the name on their tickets, and it all happens at the Box Office!

Sounds Like a Box Full of Fun! Tell Me More!

The Box Office is open 24 hours a day during the event. We have four 6-hour shifts a day that begin at 6am, 12pm, 6pm, and midnight. We ask all volunteers to commit to a minimum of 4 shifts each, one of which must be a midnight or 6am shift.

Due to the nature of this work, you’ll need to have a healthy relationship with computers as well as people. We will train you on how to use our computer system, but being comfortable with simple technology and basic problem solving is important. Our “search” process is a lot like looking up things on Google, so if you’re nervous, feel free to practice.

Participant Relations at its Best!

While the Box Office can be a relaxing place to volunteer and connect with others, sometimes you will be confronted with a line of people that goes seemingly to the horizon, made up of folks who have been in a vehicle for hours or days. Participants ask questions, present problems, and sometimes are unhappy. Patience is very helpful in the Box, and is even better when partnered with a quick judge of character, a level head, and problem solving skills. If problems arise, have no fear, you are not alone; there is an experienced Shift Lead in charge of each shift as well as other experienced crew members nearby who can help you. In the end, Box Office volunteers should be prepared to deal with any problems one might expect any Will Call Box Office to have.

Who Are These Box People?

We are a small, close-knit crew of mostly long-time volunteers coming from all over the world and spanning generations. Many of us camp together during the event at our family-friendly Box Camp where we have a nightly social hour, festive living room, relaxing deck, charming mayor, and a cozy burn barrel to gather around on cold nights.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Box Office, please fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire in your Burner Profile. Be sure to indicate ‘Box Office’ as your preferred area of interest.

The Box Office Personnel Manager will receive notice of your application and will reach out to you if your skills are a good fit for the Box Office’s needs. This process may take a few weeks, so please be patient.

If you have specific questions that are not answered on this page, after you complete the questionnaire you can email boxoffice@burningman.org.

Volunteering in BRC

As a community-driven event operating in the spirit of the 10 Principles, volunteering is a form of Participation, Gifting and Civic Responsibility. No matter your skills or interests, there are ways to contribute your time, energy, and resources to help make the event happen, both in Black Rock City and year-round.

“Volunteering my time for Burning Man was the best way I could contribute to the community that has given me so much.” ~B.C., Burning Man volunteer

Volunteer FAQ

Q: What makes Burning Man happen?

A: You.

Q: How many volunteers does it take to put on Burning Man?

A: While the entire population of Black Rock City participants can be considered co-creators and volunteers, it takes conservatively over 10,000 departmental infrastructure volunteers to build, run, and clean up the city. For more information on this massive effort, how it happens, and the intricate details of the magic of Burning Man volunteerism, please take time to read about each group under the Volunteering section of the web site. You can also peruse the Public Infrastructure section. If you have any questions, please write to the dedicated souls who answer volunteers@burningman.org.

Q: What can I do to help make Burning Man happen?

A: There are many ways for you to participate at Burning Man. Please read through the Ways to Participate section of the web site to see what strikes your fancy. Many people prefer to contribute their time in more than one way! Some people prefer to volunteer year-round; others only help out during the event. If you would like to volunteer with the infrastructure of Burning Man, you should read the Volunteering section. If you already know where you would like to volunteer, please fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire. Once we have received your questionnaire, you will be contacted by the Volunteer Coordinators from any departments that you expressed interest in. We also maintain a database (made up of questionnaires), so that as our needs change throughout the year, we can quickly identify people who might be interested in helping out.

Q: Do I get a free ticket if I volunteer?

A: That’s perhaps the most common question. Here is the scoop: receiving a ticket in exchange for volunteering is incredibly rare. If it does occur it usually applies to people who work with-in the organization year-round as volunteers and are highly accountable. These are not roles that are easy to jump into. Generally a person will volunteer with a group for a while, sometimes years. Then they become a team leader or more involved. Ticket sales are Burning Man’s primary source of revenue. There is no corporate sponsorship of the event. Ticket sale dollars help pay for fixed costs of putting on the event, including porta-potties, emergency services, land-use permit fees, and building materials. It is best not to expect a free ticket for any volunteer work you do. Ask around, most people feel that volunteering only brings you closer to the Burning Man community, it enhances your experience there, and that alone is enough of a reward.

Q: Where can I learn more about the different departments and areas to volunteer in?

A: To find a brief description of each department and their volunteer needs, check out the Volunteers section. Each group has contact information posted on their pages, so you can email them directly with any questions that you may have.

Q: Can I volunteer even though I have never been to Burning Man?

A: Yes, first timers are welcome to volunteer. There is plenty of work to do both on and off the playa. Be aware, first time burners can find themselves completely overwhelmed by their experiences and don’t always fulfill their onsite volunteer commitments (even though they mean well and want to). You may want to consider volunteering your time before or after the event if it is to be your first Burn. If you do decide to lend a hand during the event, please make sure to schedule some relaxation and play time into your day. Depending on the length of your stay in Black Rock City, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is Do Not Sign Up for More than Three “Shifts” if this is to be your first Burning Man experience. If you fulfill your three shifts and love it, you can always sign up for more.

Q: Where do I go to volunteer during the Burning Man event?

A: Even if you have not chosen a group to volunteer with or committed to helping a particular department, we recommend that you fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire. Upon arriving in Black Rock City, if you aren’t sure where to report for volunteering with your chosen group or are just not sure where to volunteer in general, stop by and visit the happy crews of the V-Spots in the Portals of Center Camp and the 3:00 and 9:00 Civic plazas. They will do their best to guide you in the right direction. Although many people commit to volunteering before the event, some people also decide to volunteer once the event has started. Visit the folks at the V-Spots to learn about volunteer opportunities and any critical needs there are for that particular day.

Q: Can I volunteer for more than one department?

A: Yes! You may volunteer in as many different departments as you wish. We need volunteers year-round, on and off the playa. Each department hits their “busy season” at different times of the year. When volunteering during the event, please be careful to not double-book yourself or spread yourself too thin. Remember to schedule some relaxation and play time into your day. First-time burners tend to suffer from a condition known as the “Ack! Factor” and find themselves over-stimulated. Be careful not to over-extend yourself. If you volunteer and really enjoy it, you can always offer to come back and fill in for more shifts.

Q: How much time does volunteering take; do I have to volunteer everyday?

A: Only you can decide how much time you would like to spend volunteering. Each volunteer department varies as to how much time they need, expect, or ask of their volunteers. There are a wide variety of commitment levels available. For some departments, such as: Lamplighters, Greeters, Bus Depot, Earth Guardians, you are welcome to volunteer as often as you would like, be it one day or the whole week. Other areas such as Café, Rangers, and Gate have a more structured schedule that they follow. A few groups have a required training session (Rangers, Greeters) that you should plan on attending. Some groups (Café, Rangers, Greeters, and the Gate) ask their volunteers to sign up for “shifts” during the event, others (Recycle, Lamplighters) encourage “walk-up” volunteering. If you have an abundance of time and like physical labor, DPW might be the place for you. Plan carefully, try not to commit yourself to something that you will not do or follow through on. If you sign up for one “shift” and then show up for it, everyone is happier than if you signed up for 10 shifts and made it to none.

Q: Is there a volunteer information briefing that I should attend?

A: There is no informational briefing for volunteers to attend, however most departments have pre-event meetings and training sessions. If you expressed interest in any groups when filling out the Volunteer Questionnaire, you will be contacted by the Volunteer Coordinator of that department with any pertinent information that you may need. Once you have signed up to volunteer, you will be signed up for a list-serve called the Volunteers-Announce. We will periodically post information about volunteering as well as information concerning events for volunteers. Sometime in March, we host a Town Hall meeting where potential volunteers can meet with representatives from each department. In April and July, we host volunteer bar-b-ques to help facilitate connecting people with volunteer opportunities.

Q: Can I still volunteer even if I am unable to attend pre-event meetings?

A: Yes! We need your help! A great deal of work takes place during the event. All groups maintain an announcement list. If there is any important information discussed in pre-event meetings it will be passed along via the announcement list for all to read. There are also several web-based and computer oriented groups that require volunteers year-round. Since these teams operate mostly via computer, it is a great way for anyone with that knowledge to volunteer, no matter where they may live.

Q: Is there a way for me to participate locally year-round?

A: Our Web and Tech teams work throughout the year, from many different locations. They maintain our fabulous web site and create new programs and software to help the Burning Man community. Our Art Installations Team and SF Office Squad are always in need of volunteers as well. Other departments generally have organizational meetings to plan what they will contribute on the playa. If you are interested in participating year-round, please check the box on question # 10 of the Volunteer Questionnaire. If you do not live in the Bay Area, check out the ePlaya and the Regional Contacts page to find other burners and activities in your area. If you don’t find something in your area, start you own group or event and post it to the ePlaya.

Q: What should I do if I have a specialized interest or skill to contribute (such as rigging, pyrotechnics, medical, legal, computer knowledge)?

A: Please indicate any special interests or skills that you may have when filling out the Volunteer Questionnaire and we will try to connect you to the right person, place, or group. If you have checked off a special skill, that information will be stored in our database and quite possibly used to contact you for other volunteer needs in the future.

Q: Can I volunteer with an art project?

A: To learn more about the various art installations and how to hook up with artists who are in need of extra hands please visit the Art and Performance section and click the link for this year’s theme. You can also browse the ePlaya for art projects looking for help.

Q: How do I volunteer as a medical, fire, communications or mental health/crisis volunteer?

A: When filling out the Volunteer Questionnaire, please indicate any of these special skills that you may have, you may also want to indicate that you are interested in volunteering for the Emergency Services Department. If you indicate Emergency Services Department (Professional Medical, Fire/Rescue, Crisis Intervention, and Dispatch), you will also be prompted to fill out an Emergency Services Questionnaire. You may also email Emergency Services with any specific questions you may have about their special needs at 911@burningman.org.

Q: How can I find a stage to perform on, or offer my stage for performance?

A: There is no official “main stage” with a schedule at Burning Man. Rather, individual theme camps often build their own stages and then invite performers to come and fill them with entertainment for the masses. If you would like to get in touch with either performers for your stage or stages for your performers, visit the E-Playa. Look for discussion groups that say “stages looking for performers” and vice versa. If you do not find what you are looking for, start your own discussion and see what happens. You can also scan the listing of theme camps by clicking the link for this year’s theme camps on this year’s Theme Camps page in the Event section for any willing venues.

Q: How can I volunteer with a theme camp?

A: Check out this year’s theme camp listings, which can be found in the Event section. If you find a theme camp that you think you may like to help. Send them an email (their contact info should be listed) introducing yourself and letting them know you would like to help. If you decide that you would like to lend a hand once the event has started, stop by the camp of your choice and ask somebody in it if there is anything you can do to help.

Q: Do I have to wear a uniform if I volunteer?

A: While most departments do not ask their volunteers to wear uniforms, there are a few exceptions. The Black Rock Rangers wear khaki, DPW wears T-Shirts, Media Mecca volunteers don silver cowboy hats when on duty, the Lamplighters wear robes during the nightly Lighting Ceremony, and the people who volunteer at the Gate wear T-shirts.

Q: Is volunteering fun?

A: Yes!!! Volunteering allows you to participate, meet new people, learn new things and will add to your and everyone else’s overall experiences.

Volunteer Teams

All teams listed here have volunteer activities at the event, with the exception of the San Francisco Office Squad, Web/Tech Team (SF), and Air Playa Info (Reno). Many of these teams have meetings and trainings during the year to prepare volunteers for the event, and you may need to be available by phone or in some cases, in person. Be sure you find out what the expectations are for your particular volunteer role.

Please note that unlike other mainstream festivals and events, first-year Burning Man volunteers do not automatically get a ticket to the event.

Browse the teams from the accordion list below, explore the various opportunities, and sign up to volunteer from your Burner Profile. And to help ensure you have a great Burning Man volunteer experience, read our Burning Man Volunteer’s Keys to Success.

If you’re at the event, and you (or your friends) get the sudden urge to volunteer on the spot, visit the V-Spot in the Portal of Center Camp. They’ll hook you up with available volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer Opportunities


Air Playa Info (Reno Airport)
Established in 2008, Air Playa Info is an off-playa bureau of Playa Info. It is an information service provided at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport by Burning Man and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority during the event to assist Burners arriving by airline. The Airport Authority estimates approximately 10,000-15,000 Burners come through the airport during the event. Air Playa Info Oracles greet Burners and answer questions. They provide directions to Black Rock City, local Reno-area resources, rideshare possibilities, and other resources to assist travelers in getting the details they need, so they can move onward toward their playa destination.

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Airport
Did you know Black Rock City has its own Municipal Airport named 88NV? You don’t have to be pilot to join in the fun! We partner with Burner Express Air to provide safe passage and welcome thousands of airborne Burners home to Black Rock City each year. We are an extremely busy, totally real Airport with flying contraptions big and small, friendly people, and plenty to do. There’s something for everyone at 88NV. Join us!

Log into your Burner Profile, then on the Volunteer Questionnaire, click Airport. Our Volunteer Coordinators will respond via email, and you’ll be ready for takeoff!

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Arctica (Ice Sales)
Located at 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and Center Camp, Arctica sells ice to the Burning Masses, with all proceeds going to benefit local Gerlach-area charities and community groups. The gift economy keeps on giving! Nearly 400 volunteers work three-hour Arctica shifts throughout the entire event.

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ARTery (Artist Services)
The ARTery, also known as the Burning Man Art Team, works year round, on and off playa, in support of Burning Man art. The ARTery’s on-playa headquarters are located at 6:30 and Esplanade, and function as a check-in center for artists, a hub for information about Burning Man art, and a starting point for art tours. Temple Guardians, Eyes on Art, Man Watch, FAST, and Art Tours volunteers all sign up here. Off playa, the ARTery Team works tirelessly throughout the year, kicking into high gear from February until October, to make sure that artist applications are processed and art-i-facts are catalogued.

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Black Rock City Rangers
The Black Rock Rangers are a cross-section of the Burning Man community who volunteer some of their time in the role of non-confrontational community mediators. Responding to the ever-changing environment, Rangers address within our community situations that would otherwise require outside intervention. By encouraging and facilitating communication, the Rangers promote awareness of potential hazards, from sunstroke to tent fires. They are emphatically not the police or a paramilitary organization.

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Box Office
The Black Rock City Box Office is devoted to providing a welcoming and friendly first point of contact with Burning Man while striving to be as efficient and accurate in issuing participants their keys to the city. Box Office is responsible for all of the tickets held at Will Call as well as those left for participant’s friends who are arriving later during the week. For a lot of people, the Box Office is the first point of contact they have with Black Rock City, and for many it’s their first contact with Burning Man ever. The Box Office is open 24 hours a day during the event.

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Burn Perimeter Support Group
We burn a lot of big art at Burning Man. This team sets up and maintains the burn perimeter around each burn to keep the citizens of Black Rock City safe. Help hold the line of safety and keep the Fire Burning.

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Burning Man Information Radio
Burning Man Information Radio (94.5 FM) is your nexus for essential information on the playa. Check BMIR for late-breaking event announcements and a melange of music. In the event of an on-site emergency, tune into BMIR for rumor-free updates and advisories to surf the storm to a sane conclusion. BMIR’s daily programming reflects the pragmatic, philosophical, and participatory needs of the community.

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Census
BRC Census is a collaborative research project that started in 2002 with the goal of learning more about the participants who make up Black Rock City. We conduct a random sample of Burners entering the event, then collect online survey responses after the Burn. We combine these two data sources to get more statistically accurate data about the people who attended Burning Man that year. Some Census volunteers work on-playa to help with data collection and data entry for the random sample, while others focus on outreach and education at Census Lab and elsewhere in the city. We also have volunteers who participate off-playa by writing blog posts or assisting with data analysis and data visualization.

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Center Camp
Center Camp is the town square of Black Rock City. It’s a 38,000 square-foot space that provides an art gallery, performance stages, and a place to hang out, catch some shade, and meet people. From pre-playa décor planning and prop-making to on-site construction and stage management. The heart of Center Camp is its volunteer community.

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Cleanup and Restoration
Starting the last day of the event and lasting roughly one month, DPW’s Playa Restoration Team works to return the Black Rock Desert to its pre-event condition. The work ranges from removing city structures to picking up large and small bits of escaped trash (onsite and around the desert) and eradicating burn scars (the residue of fired playa sediment and ashes).

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Department of Mutant Vehicles
The Black Rock City Department of Mutant Vehicles licenses motorized mobile works of creative expression otherwise known as Mutant Vehicles. DMV Hotties perform a variety of tasks on and off playa including online pre-registration processing and on-playa inspection, licensing and processing of Mutant Vehicles.

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Department of Public Works

Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is the workforce dedicated to building the physical infrastructure of Black Rock City, the place Burning Man calls home in the Black Rock Desert. The DPW works side by side with all of the departments within the Burning Man Project. We also work with Burning Man participants, cooperating agencies, and our worldwide community to ensure that Black Rock City becomes a reality, and then vanishes without a trace.

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Documentation Team

The “Doc Team” is an international group of award-winning photojournalists, filmmakers and artists. We’re always on the lookout for talent. We cover Black Rock City from start to finish, and we help at headquarters and events such as Symposiums, Decompressions and Regionals around the world.

 

Earth Guardians
Earth Guardians are an outreach and communications group whose mission is to educate and inspire Burning Man participants to Leave No Trace (LNT) at the event. It crafts LNT-specific multimedia messages for the Burning Man community and shares its appreciation of the natural beauty of the Black Rock playa. It also advocates for a greener Burning Man event.

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Emergency Services
Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) provides Black Rock City with Fire Fighting, Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical evaluation and treatment, Mental Health services (including sexual assault response), 911 Dispatch, and provides the two-way radio communications infrastructure for all of Black Rock City.

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Gate, Perimeter and Exodus
The “Gate” department is actually comprised of 3 teams – Gate, Perimeter & Exodus – each with separate but connected functions. Gate staff usher many thousands of people from the blacktop to the dust top, the surly bunch who searches cars and tears tickets. The Perimeter staff patrols the fence line looking for people trying to sneak in, and ensuring the safety of those that have accidentally stumbled out or that are just plain lost. Exodus team helps thousands of Burners get out of Black Rock City and on down the highway as safely and as fairly as possible. “Exiters” control traffic and resolve traffic issues in BRC, and “Flaggers” control and maximize the flow of traffic onto the highway and through the towns of Gerlach and Empire.

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Greeters
The Greeters are the face of the event and form a newcomer’s first impression of Black Rock City. Their mission is to orient and educate arriving citizens while spreading wit, whimsy and infectious enthusiasm to carloads of people. Greeters explain the “Don’t let it hit the ground!” principle, clarify the concept of Community, and answer all questions in offbeat yet helpful ways.

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Lamplighters
The Lamplighters have been a familiar sight in Black Rock City since 1993, a solemn group of white-robed individuals with poles slung over their shoulders, wending their way through the city to provide Black Rock City with illumination. They light and place kerosene lanterns atop the wooden spires that line the most heavily trafficked areas of town. The lanterns burn through the night.

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Man Watch
Man Watch is a crew of volunteers dedicated to protecting the Man and its pavilion located in the center of the event, enhancing the experience of all who come to see it. Man Watch volunteers are stationed at the Man Pavilion around the clock from before the gates open until early morning Saturday before the burn. They are enthusiasts, guardians, and information givers who enjoy interacting with participants about the Man Pavilion and Burning Man in general.

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Media Mecca
Media Mecca is Black Rock City’s press room. At the Mecca, members of the media can find out what’s going on, recharge batteries and file stories. Media Mecca staff connect journalists with artists and participants from their region and provide tours of the major art installations. Staff do not baby reporters, coddle them, suggest story ideas, or drive them around on a golf cart.

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Placement, Camp Support, and PEERS
The Placement Team, Camp Support Team, and PEERS are here to support the success of theme camps and camping in Black Rock City. The Placement Team is made up of volunteers who facilitate the complex city planning and camp placement process to layout the neighborhoods of Black Rock City. The Camp Support Team advises, supports, and develops the theme camp community to share tips and tricks for successful interactivity and logistics, to reach goals, and to support leadership and growth among theme camp leaders. PEERS interviews theme camp leads on playa, gathers information about camps and neighborhoods in real-time, and showcases camps that are doing great things.

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Playa Info
Playa Info is a central location for on-playa information located near Center Camp. It offers a camp directory, lost & found, and Oracles for answering both mundane and esoteric questions. Burning Man Information Radio broadcasts from here, and the Volunteer Resources Desk connects willing participants with volunteer opportunities around Black Rock City.

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Pottie Project
Established in the wake of the 2000 POO-Apocalypse Burn, the Pottie Project is one of the longest running and largest art projects on the playa. (Everyone uses a pottie multiple times, meaning that everyone has seen their art.) Their mission is to educate and remind participants of Black Rock City that Leaving No Trace applies to our porta-potties. If it doesn’t come from out of your body, it doesn’t go into the potty. The Pottie Project and its volunteers visit each and every one of the 1,700 porta-potties at Burning Man to educate and remind participants about good pottie etiquette. This is done through creative efforts such as graphic art including porta-pottie posters and signs, performance art, and written and spoken art such as poetry and storytelling.

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Recycle Camp
Recycle Camp is the hard working group of folks who are as committed to reducing waste as they are to having a good time. Begun in 1998, Recycle Camp is the on-playa place to recycle aluminum cans, and all proceeds are donated to Gerlach schools!

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San Francisco Office Squad
BMHQ in San Francisco needs volunteer assistance with all kinds of regular and irregular office tasks. It’s pretty much like working in an office, except it’s a Burning Man office, and all the workers are working on Burning Man.
Technology Teams
The Burning Man Technology Teams build and maintain technology solutions for the Burning Man staff and extended community. Its offices in San Francisco and Gerlach, NV have growing networks with file, database, extranet and web servers and a thriving collection of highly skilled folks who contribute to our ongoing development, system administration and website projects. The teams are comprised mostly of rock star volunteers and everyone is committed to ongoing support year-round. The Engineering Team supports web applications including calendars, forums, surveys, questionnaires, and media galleries. The System Administration Team keeps the servers and networks up and running. The Web Team maintains and improves Burning Man’s website.
Temple Guardians
The Temple rises apart from Black Rock City, an oasis of calm out in the deep playa that stands resolute, able to bear what participants bring and to be what they need at the moment they call on it. Behind the Temple stands a group that has quietly watched over those structures each year since 2002. The main duty of the Temple Guardians is to protect the Temple and those who visit it. They abide with love for the Temple and everything that it represents. Temple Guardian shifts run 4 hours each, 24 hours a day.

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Theme Camps
Volunteering at Burning Man doesn’t stop with the volunteering for the Man. You can also sign up as a volunteer to help theme camps build and serve Black Rock City.

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Keys to Success

The experience of volunteering for Burning Man is as unique as the experience of the event itself. To help you navigate these waters, we’ve compiled this list of tips. They’re the keys to success for any Burning Man volunteer.

Placement

When choosing your preferred volunteer role, consider your desired time commitment (short term, long term, two hours, four weeks?), your interests (which are not necessarily the same as your skills), and the type of work you want to be doing (physical vs. mental, for instance). State these things accurately when you fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire, and be sure you know the requirements for your role, so that everybody’s expectations will be well met.

Patience & Perseverance

It sometimes takes new volunteers time to find and settle into their ideal role. Sometimes that role isn’t available, we didn’t realize it should exist, or the right person wasn’t around to do the job! Allow time for things to shake out and don’t be afraid to knock on a few doors to find your fit. Also, in many teams, it’s necessary to start off in an entry-level position, and once you learn the ropes, you’ll likely be offered increasing levels of responsibility. Be patient, stick with it, and you’re sure to find just the right fit for your skills and interests.

Pro-activity & Participation

Burning Man is a “do-ocracy”, and volunteers who take initiative on projects — and see them through — tend to get the most satisfaction out of participation. Keeping in contact with your Volunteer Coordinator and attending team-building events are good ways to stay active in the game. Your experience is ultimately going to be what YOU make of it, so share ideas, raise your hand, contribute, and participate!

Preparation

While volunteering is a great way to be a part of the city and meet new friends, if this is going to be your first time at Burning Man, you might want to consider NOT volunteering too much of your first year at the event. Burning Man is an incredibly intense experience, taking place in one of the most extreme physical environments you may ever encounter. It will take a physical, mental and emotional toll, and adding a volunteer commitment on top of that can be taxing, resulting in disappointment for you as well as your teammates. Consider taking it slow your first year to get your bearings, and make sure you spend lots of time just exploring the event.

Finally — and most importantly — volunteering is fun when we make it that way, so take it upon yourself to HAVE FUN!!