Camp Leaders

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Camp Leaders

Postby griffin » Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:05 pm

Most of the forums on this E-Playa seem to be read by camp leaders. Those of us trying to figure out how to build that perfect structure, or shower, or how to keep food cold all week, and then get it cooked to perfection. Is anybody out there a bit irritated that none of their camp mates pitch in when it comes to all this stuff? Don't get me wrong, I only do it because I love it, but then I feel like everybody's lack of contribution means that I'm being paranoid about making everything perfect. They laugh at me when I talk about a budget, or an ice chest system. But once were there, they live in luxury, because of the camp I designed. Any thoughts? Complaints?
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Postby III » Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:14 pm

>>Is anybody out there a bit irritated that none of their camp mates pitch in when it comes to all this stuff?

not so much, because the things i do i do for myself. i don't do anything for anyone else. i don't mind building shade (although it's gone from being big enough for a dozen people to being big enough for 3, lately), and i only occaisionally cook for large numbers. i like building fires, so i'll do that too.

creating a camp where people *don't* have to take care of their own shit is a magnet for leeches, and a recipe for disaster.
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too intense?

Postby vic » Sat Apr 10, 2004 5:58 pm

I provide some organization for my camp for the fun of it. I know I am trying too hard when I feel resentment toward my camp mates. Personally, I prefer a smaller camp. I also prefer camping with gorwn-ups.
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Postby dingo » Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:56 pm

Hey Griffin, Mike here from Cult of Distraction (think big Asian). You know I suggest ideas like multi-cooler systems and showers similar to those in previous camps I've ran. Often scoffed until we get to BRC. This year will be different for COD. I think some people don't realize the amount of energy it takes to organize a camp. Structures, food, water, transport. And when things aren't right, it's a heavy burden. It's worse when people bitch, considering the amount of thought and energy you've already put into it. Someone once told me, maybe it was III or Playa Matt, that you just have to delegate responsibities and remember to let yourself enjoy this cool shit that you've put together. While we all plan camps (partly because I think that's what we love to do) we also have to remember to have a good time too. I think ultimately as camp planner you have a bigger plate in front of you. I think III's idea of scaling down to a more personal level is also another good idea, but one that isn't an option for me now.

Should be a good year. Got a lot of ideas on the board. Dan and I are trying to get structures ready. Are you gonna be camping near us again? I think we might be near the same location. Let me know if I can help at all.
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Postby III » Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:58 pm

>>delegate responsibities

i'm quite sure i never said that, though i may have said something that could be perceived that way.

delegating responsibilities means that you make up a bunch of stuff that you think needs to get done, and then tell other people to do it for you.

my suggestion would be to pare down those responsibilities to the bare minimum you need to make yourself happy, and let other people figure out their responsibilities for themselves.

it's one thing for a couple people in your group to decide to pool food resources, and agree on the rules they want to follow. it's entirely another to make everyone who might share your camp vision to also buy into your food plan.

the less organization the better, i think. the toughest thing for me about running a village (500 people) was constantly saying "no" to people who had grand plans that they wanted everyone else to follow.
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Postby diane o'thirst » Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:51 pm

I've been on both sides of the fence: gone from kneeling in the dust and sobbing with frustration to the realization that I can indeed just let go let god and still have a great time. I agree with III: you try to do everything and you become a leech magnet. Or set yourself up for a resoundingly vicious Playa prank.

Fortunately, when I gave up and let-go-let-godded, I joined Opera Camp and they're about the tightest group in terms of pulling off a theme camp/performance. The trick to that is twofold: we have a founder who's a benevolent tyrant and poetic terrorist, and he's backed by a couple people cut from the same cloth. At the same time, we shape the year's camp/performance according to what the disparate members bring to the table. Last two years we had theremin players; we have a maskmaker-in-residence; we have a large number of professional performers and they bring their cronies in with them; we have a master woodworker; we have two metallurgists; we have a number of foodies and professional cooks. Most of all we function like a big, extended family/tribe.

The best thing to do is get with a group of like-minded individs, go in with <i>no</i> expectations, and see what emerges from the primordial mists.
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Postby stuart » Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:56 am

I love the fully independant model but it does restrict the scope of projects. I feel you must be a total nazi about who camps with you. No drama, no mooching. Only camp with true believers. 3 motivated folks can do a hell of a lot more than 20 indifferent folks. My camp is experiencing growing pains this year and we fear the tradeoff. Talk to me in september and, depending on the results, I will either be fully in trey's camp or going for exponential growth.
I am NOT for camp kitchens, pantries, etc. I aint cookin for anyone and I don't want to eat anyone elses food. I sure as hell don't want to clean up after anyone but myself either but it happens.
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Postby Chai Guy » Wed Apr 14, 2004 4:19 pm

There will always be those people who love throwing a good party and are committed to making it happen.

There will always be those people who love a good party and won't lift a finger to help. (but love to play host and take all the credit for it)

I try to surround myself with the former, but realize that there are more of the latter.

I try to only bite off what I personally can chew. I'd rather do something 100% at 1/4 scale than to do something 40% at full scale.
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Re: Camp Leaders

Postby III » Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:33 pm

from the old eplaya:

pinky wrote:
don't tolerate A-holes simply because it seems like the "Burningman" thing to do. Let them be someone else' problem.
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Postby Ivy » Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:44 am

>>I try to only bite off what I personally can chew. I'd rather do something 100% at 1/4 scale than to do something 40% at full scale.

Have I mentioned how much I love Chai Guy?
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Postby griffin » Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:16 pm

Well chai guy, I think you and I would get along just fine. I love throwing parties. I had to beg and borrow after my Halloween party last year just to pay rent. I was financially and emotionally exausted afterwards. I'll do it again this year. Burning Man is the same thing for me. I put a lot of energy into it, but not everybody else does. I still have a great time. I always have a great time on the playa. It's the time before the playa that is stressful.

To clarify, my camp is about ten people, all friends of mine. Some are flying in from portland. Most of them have not yet found their creative genious yet, so yes, they don't really know what or how to contribute. But I still love them. They just need a little coaxing.

Camp kitchens are the way we do things. All year. My girlfriend and I are the ones who make big dinners for everybody, arrange camping trips, provide the bar in the motel room at Disneyland. We are used to it. But it is a bit frustrating.
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Postby III » Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:47 pm

>>the way we do things

it's your choice. but then you've got no one to blame but yourself for your frustrations.
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Postby Chai Guy » Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:16 pm

but then you've got no one to blame but yourself for your frustrations


Or as my favorite quote of all time states:
"An artist is his own fault."
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Postby Tiara » Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:03 pm

Griffin, my frustrations about the issues you mentioned in the initial post are what led me to the decision that I will not be involved in a group kitchen in any way, shape, or form this year. I need some time off from the responsibilities, and to learn to deal better with my frustrations that inevitably arise from such situations.

Luckily, I've managed to find a camp/village group for 2004 where I feel like the responsibilities and planning will be more equitably shared than that past experience.

Some of the posts in this thread discuss other people's take on the subject:

Burning Man 2003 -> Themecamps & Art Installations -> Village Planning -> If you are planning a Villiage you are Fucking Insane

viewtopic.php?t=843&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30
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Postby griffin » Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:50 pm

The funny thing is, is that if it was easy, I wouldn't do it.

If everybody else did the work, I wouldn't be interested.

If it was done for me, I would do something else.
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Postby Jordan 10-E » Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:35 am

Griffin, I feel ya. I understand your feelings. I still take on 70% of the responsibility, including financial, to make things happen, often because I know the theme camp won't happen without it. But over the years I think htings are improving. Communication is important. I still am doing most of the big stuff, but I love my camp and the idea behind it and so I am not going to stop doing what I do. I just accept that it won't always be easy to get everyone else on the same page. But we try and overall our camp runs quite well. Good people that often add things to the mix that I couldn't accomplish myself. I try to look at it from both sides. Sometimes I go forward as if I am the only person in the camp and if people understand what is going on and chip in it's a bonus.
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Postby Juju » Mon Apr 19, 2004 3:27 pm

Sure, it's hard work being a leader, but the rewards make it worth it, or not. I often feel like things don't get done unless I take them on myself, and the biggest reason was because I wasn't camping with the right group of people. This year my group had a grand scheme, but when it was all broken down into individual tasks, no one volunteered. That bummed me out, because with the right group of people, it could have gone off without a hitch. It relied heavily on people being accountable for the group, but I guess responsibility was too heavy a responsibility. I think it's better to choose a smaller group of people you trust, who you know will handle their shit.

Last year I spent a lot of time feeling personally responsible for other people's fuckups, which was rediculous but left me stressed a times. This year I'm taking a break from being a major motivator/worker/contributor to a theme camp, and just going to go.

I'll still do all the cooking, but on a much smaller scale, no themecamp, living with only 3-4 people who I trust. And spending more time handing out tamales and hanging with Chai Guy!
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Postby III » Mon Apr 19, 2004 5:07 pm

>>the biggest reason was because I wasn't camping with the right group of people.

this is *not* directed at you, since i don't know your exact situatiion.

but i hear this complaint often from other people, and it turns out for often than not that it was not the wrong group of people, but that they had a vision that required a lot of dedication and more work than they themselves could supply, and weren't willing to share the ownership of that vision, while still expecting everyone to pitch in equally.

if people don't want to do your work for you, it may be time to reevaluate how worthwhile your project is for those people. if you are having trouble even just getting by, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 28, 2004 11:48 pm

I've actually become my own camp-within-a-camp.
My camp has too goddamm many people now. Some of us drive big trucks with big trailers at big expense and haul big stuff to BRC. Most of us don't. Some of us bring food, booze, generators, shade structures, etc., most don't. Some of us are tired of providing stuff for people who say they can't afford to bring anything but their own tent, but will "contribute in other ways" like offering backrubs, etc., which doesn't even happen even if it would really be of use.
I'm staying with the camp this year again, but will let them fend for themselves. Hell, I'm one of the founders and I don't even know most of these people!
The cashless gift economy breeds freeloaders. It's a fun temporary experiment, but out in the default world where all this shit gets put together, no pay=no play.
The camp has about 60 people. About 7 or 8 of us make everything happen.
4 or 5 of us have sort of unofficially become an internal sub-camp.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."
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