Should Camp Finances be Public?

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Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby dontflipmejack » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:24 pm

After paying my dues to one of the larger camps (dont want to name names) I politely asked for a copy of OUR budget. I was given general information, like we're going to have so many cases or liquor,ice, sound system, ect, ect BUT my camp "leaders" will not give me even a rough-draft of what our budget is. Our camp is taking in WELL OVER $15,000 in dues and probably closer to $20k - that is a lot of $$$$ for one week.

To make matters worse when I complained that my questions were NOT being answered one of the younger tougher looking members (shaved head, tattoos on neck) e-mailed me and asked if I had "any problems" and that if I did he "would DEAL WITH ME!!" Maybe I'm taking this the wrong way but how does your camp operate? Is it too much to ask for a ROUGH copy of your camps budget???

They made ME feel like the bad guy just for asking. Some of these camps are taking in BIG $$$$ does anyone know what checks and balances are in place?

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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby CrispyDave » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:30 pm

You came should have a budget, the camp I am with does and accounts for the spending...

The "threat" sounds like bullshit...

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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Bounce530 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:33 pm

To what end? you see the books and don't like how much is being spent on xyz, so you withhold that amount, or just being nosy?
you're paying dues to a camp that has created something you want to be a part of, because you didn't make it yourself. Pay the dues and be happy that somebody created the place you want to be, or don't pay the dues, and build the camp that you desire.
Yes, you paid money, but no, I don't think for a second that the finances have to be public, if the camp wants to share that's fine, but if not, don't be a busy body, and don't worry about it.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby dontflipmejack » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:44 pm

Bounce530 wrote:To what end? you see the books and don't like how much is being spent on xyz, so you withhold that amount, or just being nosy?
you're paying dues to a camp that has created something you want to be a part of, because you didn't make it yourself. Pay the dues and be happy that somebody created the place you want to be, or don't pay the dues, and build the camp that you desire.
Yes, you paid money, but no, I don't think for a second that the finances have to be public, if the camp wants to share that's fine, but if not, don't be a busy body, and don't worry about it.


That attitude is part of the problem. Keep in mind we're talking about some decent cash here. I don't care if they buy XX cases of vodka, or wine, or even dope BUT just let me know. That's all I'm asking
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby danibel » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:50 pm

dontflipmejack wrote:That attitude is part of the problem. Keep in mind we're talking about some decent cash here. I don't care if they buy XX cases of vodka, or wine, or even dope BUT just let me know. That's all I'm asking



I think that BEFORE you sign up to be part of camp and pay dues of any kind, you should ask - "are camp finances open book?" If the answer is no and you require this information, then find another camp that provides it! Going in now and asking after the fact is being a buttinski.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby dontflipmejack » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:58 pm

danibel wrote:
dontflipmejack wrote:
I think that BEFORE you sign up to be part of camp and pay dues of any kind, you should ask - "are camp finances open book?" If the answer is no and you require this information, then find another camp that provides it! Going in now and asking after the fact is being a buttinski.


This is BURNING MAN not some flea market back alley drug deal. If someone is HONEST why would they hide how EVERYONE'S money is spent??

I e-mailed a few people at BM for a better answer but some of the answers here bother me.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Bounce530 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:12 pm

Honesty has nothing to do with keeping information private. Maybe they just don't want or need your input on how or why they spend what they do.
You know what the camp does, and how much the dues are, if you don't care how much they spend on XXX, what does it matter to see the books?
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Wrath » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:14 pm

dontflipmejack wrote:some of the answers here bother me.

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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:21 pm

Wrath wrote:
dontflipmejack wrote:some of the answers here bother me.

Welcome to ePlaya!


You beat me to it.. :lol:
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby dontflipmejack » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:32 pm

So basically the consensus of this board is IF you are in a position of leadership in a camp you can spend camp money ANY way you wish, with no accountability?? Maybe camp leader XX wants to rent a new RV with camp $$$ to haul himself and a few close friends to the burn.......that's OKAY with everyone here b/c (1) the books are closed so you'll never know and (2) it's HIS camp

Does this bother anyone else?
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:35 pm

#2.

No.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby dontflipmejack » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:37 pm

And I didn't even mention what about the PRINCIPLES of Burning Man? What about being selfless and participating in a non monetary economy for a week? This is beginning to sound a lot like how the USSR operated "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" and then you have a few FAT CATS at the top living the high life.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:39 pm

If you stay focused on this you are going to fuck up your burn. :cry:
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby wh..sh » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:45 pm

dontflipmejack wrote:So basically the consensus of this board is IF you are in a position of leadership in a camp you can spend camp money ANY way you wish, with no accountability?? Maybe camp leader XX wants to rent a new RV with camp $$$ to haul himself and a few close friends to the burn.......that's OKAY with everyone here b/c (1) the books are closed so you'll never know and (2) it's HIS camp

Does this bother anyone else?

It's true that your camp should keep their finances open. But, if you are not actively contributing to the camp in any way, the request to "check" the finances can hurt the ego of many.
This could be one such situation.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Bounce530 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:53 pm

You're right, it's "his" camp. A camp that "he" built up that caught your eye so much it made you want to be a part of it. If you want to be a part of that camp and it takes him using dues to make the camp happen, then isn't it worth it?
I'm not sure if it's right or wrong, but I do know if I wanted to be part of a $20K+ dues camp, I'd pay the required dues and embrace the experience. I surely wouldn't bother with inspecting the books, because what would be the end result?
Probably nothing good...
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Zhust » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:54 pm

There are plausible reasons to believe they are hiding something, and there are plausible reasons they don't want to "share their books". For instance, "seeing the books" may not be as easy as "oh, we'll just call accounting and have them send you the latest report". Perhaps they get the camp census in and collect the dues, then figure on required infrastructure, and a loose idea of how much food/booze to buy, and the rest is a slush fund for whatever extra stuff the organizers want to get. I don't see that as unlikely — not a lot of people find it fun to track budgets.

All of this, of course, is completely speculation, so it's ultimately worthless, but I my point is that you seem to be saying that people who are unwilling to share their financial information are likely to be defrauding someone. I don't think that's necessarily true, and I bet under scrutiny, there's some shady deals (speculating again: perhaps that $40 headlamp wasn't exactly for the entire camp) that will raise your ire.

I think danibel has it right: if this is something that is very important to you, it should have been something you discussed before you handed over money.

Alternatively, do you think you're getting a good deal? Is "what you get" worth "what you paid"? If it's at least pretty close, then I think you should just be happy and look the other way so as to play nice with your campmates, what with their flexible morals.

Another alternative: do it. Make your own theme camp and set up a budget and make it open. Others who feel as you do will appreciate it. It may be an enlightening experience, especially if you refuse to permit a "miscellaneous" category.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby MacGlenver » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:59 pm

I think if you dont trust the leaders of the camp to spend the money appropriately, you probably shouldn't be camping with them. I organized my camp's finances this year and it was a pain in the ass for just a budget of ~$1,700 (which I fronted most of for purchases). I posted a detailed list of every purchase, and I worried about a few of the people I didnt know well possibly questioning my purchases. Luckily we had no issues and everyone paid up, but for a much larger and complicated camp, I could see posting detailed expense lists 1) Being a huge pain in the ass to keep track of, 2) Opening you up to endless questioning and second guessing.

I'm not saying they shouldn't be open to giving them, but I dont think you should act as if it's a huge travesty that they won't post them (they may not even have all the details to give you since they surely made a lot of purchases). As a camp leader, I'm certain there's something I forgot on my list of expenses, which I'm eating the cost for (since I charged actuals). In addition, organizing a camp is a lot of work and coordination, so I can easily see someone who put in 100+ hours of planning being a little snippy if you demand that they give you detailed expenses (especially if there was no upfront indication that they would give you this info). I think you should look at what they provide and decide if that is worth it to you or not. If not, don't camp with them again. You're not obligated to camp with a big theme camp. Free market, bro! :)
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby CrispyDave » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:05 pm

Now if you get to camp Monday and all they have is 1 case of Popov Vodka and 12 cases of Ramen you may be onto something. As some point out you can always pull out of the camp.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby MacGlenver » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:08 pm

FIGJAM wrote:If you stay focused on this you are going to fuck up your burn. :cry:


Seconded.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Jackass » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:44 pm

To add to this the camp probably isn't even done spending yet either, they still have logistics and associated costs occuring on the way to, at and back from the burn ( flat tires, breakdowns, fuel, water replenishment, tank dumping, garbage disposal, emergency this and thats). Camp leaders are probably all busier than cats covered in shit right now, the last thing the're going to do is bust out all their receipts and catagorize all that mess. Try asking about that shit after the burn or enjoy what you get and forget about it, after the burn you probably won't even remember how much you spent. Let it go...
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby danibel » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:51 pm

Jackass wrote: Let it go...



This. I will repeat myself. If accountancy is important to you, make sure you know the camp policy BEFORE you hand over your cold hard cash. No one held a gun to your head to join this camp. At least I fucking hope not.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby swampdog » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:32 pm

Is this horse dead yet? No? I'll give it a couple of whacks.

It's a matter of trust and timing. If you wanted to have an idea of the general budget, you should have asked up front before you joined the camp. If you expected to audit the books, you should have agreed that up front. I suspect that there aren't any "books", there's the money they got and the shit they think the camp needs and hopefully nobody ends up getting hurt spending an extra $1000 out of pocket at the end because it just didn't quite work out. It sounds like you paid up front without really thinking about it, then had second thoughts and asked to "see the books" which may have pissed people off.

Are they hiding something? Maybe. Probably not. Do they have a "set of books" that they could show if they wanted to? Unlikely. Can you do anything besides SFA* about it now? Nope. So forget about it. Let it go. If you get there and figure "this wasn't worth my $$" then chalk it up to experience and camp with someone else next year.

Are you participating in the plan & build or are you a paying guest? That also

You asked "does anyone know what checks and balances are in place?" which made me laugh. Like there's some Generally Accepted Camp Accounting Principles or something. Here's teh financial protection and standards imposed by Burning Man on each individual camp: please try to follow the ten principles.

*SFA = Sweet Fuck-All, of course
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Kinetik V » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:00 pm

Does the camp tax seem reasonable?
Do you think the money spent will make your burn better?
If so pony up, if not take a walk.

While I'm sure there's always someone who wants to pad their pocket most likely everyone handling the money for most camps wants the best burn they can have and all the money including more than what any tax / dues will cover is spent to make it happen. And when the man burns and everyone's smiling it's all worth it and you leave dreaming of how to do it better next year.

In short, don't worry. Just chip in and enjoy the experience.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby CornMan » Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:04 pm

Just trust them. I don't ask about financial accountability when I go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. I might give trip adviser a peak to see if the resort is any good. Eplaya is the burning man equivalent to trip adviser. If people have paid good money and did not get a good experience, the word tends to get around. Unless you are paying mega hundreds ($500+), I wouldn't worry about it. If you are indeed paying that much, you might want to reconsider your priorities and join a more modest camp or be a solo bad-ass instead.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby jkisha » Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:35 pm

dontflipmejack wrote:So basically the consensus of this board is IF you are in a position of leadership in a camp you can spend camp money ANY way you wish, with no accountability?? Maybe camp leader XX wants to rent a new RV with camp $$$ to haul himself and a few close friends to the burn.......that's OKAY with everyone here b/c (1) the books are closed so you'll never know and (2) it's HIS camp

Does this bother anyone else?

Isn't that basically what Larry does?

Our camp posts up a budget, but that's just the way we do it. I don't think it should be a requirement for every camp. So, if the fact that the camp you chose doesn't make their budget public and that makes you uncomfortable, you decided to join the wrong camp.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:54 pm

I think that the books are likely to be a bunch of crumpled receipts in a shoe box. And yeah, trust. I know who my camp mates are. I know that they want the camp to succeed. I don't think anyone in the boat wants to line their pockets. I think that typically camp leaders are so far into "get 'er done" that they end up paying several times what the dues are. And that's before taking on the second job from January of making it all happen.

Now, if you're at a plug and play... you're paying so you don't have to think about details, and it'll all come down to the quality of the cabana boy. Or girl.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby gyre » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:11 am

The attitude about answering does indicate a problem.

And we're not talking about public information, but information within the camp.
Shouldn't be a problem to answer to the degree possible.

I've never joined a particularly expensive camp, but when I've paid dues, I was told they had gone up that year and why.
Very reasonable, even though I didn't use the services I was interested in, grid power.

If you're part of a camp, why wouldn't you be interested in how it works?
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby VultureChow » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:19 am

dontflipmejack wrote:This is beginning to sound a lot like how the USSR operated "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" and then you have a few FAT CATS at the top living the high life.


So I guess this means you aren't at APOKILIPTIKA.

Though the"threat" is troubling, we don't know the background or timing or the attitude of anyone here. And email threats are pretty hard to determine. I often read emotions or intent into emails that aren't there. That's the danger of email.
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby Captain » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:36 am

Yes of course, and every camp should also be required to provide free health care and food stamps!
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Re: Should Camp Finances be Public?

Postby swampdog » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:05 am

So basically the consensus of this board is IF you are in a position of leadership in a camp you can spend camp money ANY way you wish, with no accountability?? Maybe camp leader XX wants to rent a new RV with camp $$$ to haul himself and a few close friends to the burn.......that's OKAY with everyone here b/c (1) the books are closed so you'll never know and (2) it's HIS camp

Does this bother anyone else?


Nope, doesn't bother me a bit. It might bother you, but that's your problem.

See, if you really think your camp organizers are spending money on hookers and blow, I see that as your mistake in signing up with people you don't know and/or can't trust. It's YOUR PROBLEM.

But I don't think you've provided any reason to suspect that this is indeed happening. Frankly from what you've written I don't trust your assessment of the situation. Like you gave some money to some strangers, had second thoughts, and got your panties in a bunch when they told you "fuck off, trust us, we're giving you service for your money"

If I were in your situation, first I'd chill the fuck out. Forget about the money for now and have the best possible burn. You have no evidence of bad behavior on their part, and SFA you can do about it at this late date. So chill. It'll probably be ok. Really.

If you get to the playa and you feel you have been screwed, dude, guess what? You just got screwed. It happens. It's a life lesson. Learn from it and move on. Don't go crying to anybody to fix it for you. Hash it out as best you can with the camp organizers. If it were MY problem? I'd be pissed. I'd do what I could to make it better. I'd learn not to do it again. But I wouldn't go looking to some random group of people to be "bothered" about my problem, I wouldn't try to find financial rules that camps need to follow. I'd take my lumps like a big boy and stfu. If anything, I'd be embarrassed to talk about my failure to find people I could trust to camp with.

For the record, I doubt your camp organizers are screwing you over. Although you may be the sort of person who thinks your $150 (or whatever) means breakfast in bed every day, in which case you're going to be permanently disappointed, with this and probably everything else you do. Which, again, your problem.

Does it "bother" me? Nope. Not a bit. There are definitely assholes, whiny bitches, people who will take advantage of you out there. Your job is to be RADICALLY SELF-RELIANT and learn to avoid getting taken advantage of. If your 125 people at $150 a head (guessing) feel taken advantage of, you all need to sort it out with your people. (if only YOU feel taken advantage of, the answer may lie within, grasshopper) Here's a tip: $150 a head doesn't buy much. $200 a head doesn't buy much. If you have a well stocked (gift) bar, some sort of kitchen, some space for showers, some communal shade, power grid - you're getting your money's worth. And your "fiscally irresponsible" camp organizers probably worked their butts off to make it happen.

So chill.
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