Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

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Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:05 am

Last Saturday, the Placement Team held a Theme Camp Forum at Burning Man HQ and invited camp leaders to come in person or via internet to participate. As has been the case in the past, this is a great session that has plenty of good info for seasoned pros as well as brand spanking new camps. Audio and/or video of the event may be getting posted of that meeting in the next several weeks, but I also wanted to share my notes from the meeting. I've shuffled a few things around to help organize this post a bit better - here goes...

Placement Questionnaire
covered by AnswerGirl

  • The questionnaire is open now until noon on April 30th
  • The questionnaire has been revamped for 2014, mainly to improve the flow
  • Also new for this year is a 33-character limit for the names of theme camps. This isn't intended to stifle anyone's creativity, but to help with listings and maps.
  • Also also new for this year is an 8/1 deadline for early arrivals pass requests. As in previous years, you specify the number of early arrivals passes that your team needs when filling out the questionnaire. But as plans and needs change it's sometimes necessary to request a change in the number or the early arrivals dates for your crew. The 8/1 deadline will allow placers to be better able to process and accommodate requests, where possible.

When working on your layouts, please consider alternatives to the RV fortress.. Other shapes such as an L or cross or x... Make it inviting for participants and neighbors, think 'pockets of interactivity'

Factors for placement include: Past performance, interactivity, acculturation, moop map score, number and kinds of ranger calls, what your requests are.

New camps ... tell us a lot about what you're trying to do... Communicate your excitement and inspiration, in as much detail as possible. Tell us about your capability to do all the things you're planning to do.

New camps of old burners ... tell us what camps you came from.

Use the comments field to provide additional information about your camp!

Camps that have not been placed in previous years ... Can ask why they didn't get placed. Send email to placement@burningman.com with camp name and sector you requested in the subject line.

Is it possible to get sample answers? ... No! The placement team doesn't want to fence you into prefab ideas and canned responses, we want to see your creativity and originality and self reliance.

See also Tips For A Successful Placement Questionnaire

Heavy Equipment and Outside Services
covered by AnswerGirl

  • Heavy Equipment, you now need to work out your own heavy equipment needs, rentals and possible shares. As the event has grown in size, the heavy equipment team has remained largely the same, which results in Burning Man being less likely to casually cover random camp needs.
  • People arranging deliveries and other outside services for their camps should review this page. Questions about the Outside Services (OSS) program can contact the team at outsideservices@burningman.com
  • OSS vendors need to apply to Burning Man for a pass EACH year, they also need to get a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) from the Bureau of Land Management. The OSS vendor questionnaire closes on Wednesday, July 2nd. The BLM process can take longer, so if you're looking to work with outside parties for deliveries or to provide services, get with your vendor to get their applications started sooner (rather than later).

Vehicle Passes
As has been posted elsewhere, Vehicle Passes are required for 2014. For more info on Vehicle Passes, see the Ticketing FAQ. If your camp will need additional vehicle passes, they will be available for sale in the after-market, via STEP, and in the OMG sale. They will not be sold at the gate.

Burner Express Bus Service

  • Burner Express will be expanding significantly, including the possibility of camps booking an entire bus, and additional stops/cities. More information will be forthcoming.
  • Burner Express site will go live on April 20th.

Turnkey Camping - Challenges and solutions
covered by Charlie Dolman

  • We are seeing an ever-increasing number of turnkey camps, with less interactivity and participation. Less or non-acculturated participants who hire a producer to coordinate their camp.
  • There are every conceivable shade of gray as far as types of turnkey camps
  • One example: Autodesk turnkey camp, their producer is paid to organize the camp, she makes sure that the camp expenditures are matched by their donations to art projects, and to make sure that everyone in the camp is also volunteering throughout the city.
  • Burning man is looking to create ways to bring these producers and participants in so that they improve acculturation.
  • BMan sent volunteers around to turnkey camps last year to gather data. Some camps had no interest in participation or acculturation, but many did.
  • A turnkey camp producer summit is being planned for June
  • BMan also wants to engage with turnkey camp owners and producers, to help with both acculturation and civic engagement. Within the wider community, not just within the camp.

Population Density
covered by Charlie Dolman

  • 9 side has become significantly more densely populated than 3 side.
  • Burning Man is looking to try and get more camps to consider the 3 side. If you have ideas or suggestions, please email placement@burningman.com

Camp Safety
covered by Ranger Tool

  • ESD main base is at 9 o'clock plaza, opens on Monday before the gate
  • 3 o'clock plaza gets set up a few days later
  • ESD will have theme camp liasons to help coordinate with big camps throwing big parties, to arrange for ESD/ranger coverage
  • Camps can also get a MURS radio if they want to have radio comms with rangers and ESD
  • Camps should have a designated sober person walking the crowd and keeping an eye open for people who may need help, make sure people are safe, be mindful of predators/creeps, engage with rangers for support
  • Overall there were fewer calls last year, even though the city was bigger.
  • Sexual assault is still a growing concern and is a top priority.
  • If you have a large camp, you may want to have a ranger in your camp. Find out about ranger training by going here.

Fire Safety
covered by Ranger Judas (head of Black Rock Ranger fire safety team)

  • Flame effects are allowed at camp, get with the fire art safety team to get it tagged and inspected. Go to the ARTery, they're there the entire week before the gates open, as well as during the day during the event.
  • Have fire extinguishers near every flame effect location or fire source. Do not leave flame effects or burn barrels unattended. Tiki torches are okay, if they're being managed safely.
  • Do not store your extinguisher near your fuel. Think safe distance, so that if it's on fire, you can safely grab the extinguisher to put it out.
  • Burning Man has specialized resources for Lasers and drones. Drone resources and info is through the airport, and lasers is through the ARTery.

Food Safety
covered by Retro

  • 51 rows of non-compliance in 2013. That ranges from people who didn't pick up their permit in Black Rock City, to unsafe handling, to serving food without a permit.
  • If you're serving food to the public, or your kitchen will be preparing food for 125 or more people, you need a permit.
  • Go here for more information about guidelines, as well as to apply for a license. If you have further questions, write to them.

Environmental Compliance
covered by Charlie Dolman

  • BRC/BLM/Earth Guardians joint program, going through the city looking for environmental compliance issues. Visit1/Stage 1 look for issues and document it, let ppl know how to fix it. Stage 2, followup visit (by rangers)to make sure it's resolved. If not, Stage 3 is visit by law enforcement.
  • The goal is not punishment, it's to educate and help correct problems.
  • If you'd like to have someone come check over your camp or project, get in touch with Earth Guardians

MOOP
covered by DA

  • Burning Man is the largest leave no trace event in the world!
  • #1 MOOP issue on playa - wood
  • Wood moop is on the decline, because people care.
  • Trash is moop, tent stakes are moop, rebar is moop...Everything is MOOP!
  • Cardboard and other small trash is no longer allowed in public burn platforms, because in those spaces it catches fire and floats into the air - either becoming a fire hazard or becoming more MOOP! Camps need to make their own plans for burnable camp trash.
  • Resto isn't shaming camps who moop, that's not what they're about.
  • Dumping large qty's of fresh water is a prroblem. Sprinkle over an area or take it home.
  • Leaving bottles of water, rebar, etc, "for the resto team" or dpw... Is not a thing.

Gate
covered by AnswerGirl

  • Gate will be searching your vehicles, even early arrivals. Plan and pack your vehicles accordingly.
  • If arriving before noon on Wednesday before gate, you need physical ticket in hand, in addition to valid early arrival and vehicle passes.
  • Deliveries need to have necessary credentials and passes. Work with outside services, etc. to get that sorted out in advance.
  • Slow down! Gate road 10mph, city 5mph
  • 95.1 gate radio station
  • Get gas in a bigger city than Gerlach. The fewer vehicles pulling off the road in Gerlach, the better.
  • Expect long waits in/out, and plan accordingly
  • Listen to BMIR for exodus times

Comfort and joy organizes a food drive in Nixon for the local tribe. They're accepting donations of canned goods in Nixon, look for the bright neon flags during Exodus.

Additional Info

  • If you need to contact the Placement Team for any reason, send an email to placement@burningman.com and be sure to include your camp name in the subject line.
  • In addition to the Placement Newsletter, camp leaders can get great information and connect with each other via Facebook groups for each placement zone or here on ePlaya. More information about FB resources will be posted to the Placement Newsletter later in the season.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby Elliot » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:22 am

:D
Three cheers and a tiger for Trilobyte's report!
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:40 am

I'm particularly excited to hear about the expanded bus service. Should be good news for helping with traffic, even if the impact won't be huge-huge. An early arrival bus or two would also be welcome, I think.

Trilo, I assume there wasn't a specific definition or metric given for how to know whether an individual or camp is sufficiently "acculturated?" More of gestalt thing?
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:21 am

No, there wasn't a specific given (nor should there be). It's a moving target, and the bar keeps getting raised every year as camps step up their game.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby zorro sings » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:31 am

trilobyte wrote:
  • 9 side has become significantly more densely populated than 3 side.
  • Burning Man is looking to try and get more camps to consider the 3 side. .


This is quite interesting as not too long ago it was just the opposite.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby lucky420 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:05 pm

I think one contributing factor in 3 vs 9 is that over on 3 the playa crumbles faster/not as firm.

I could be wrong though.

I have been before :?

It would be kind of interesting if placement flipped sides for all the camps/villages that are traditionally placed at the same locations every year.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:12 pm

lucky420 wrote:I think one contributing factor in 3 vs 9 is that over on 3 the playa crumbles faster/not as firm.


Last burn, I realized that I wasn't exploring the 3 o'clock side very much because of the soft playa. It's not that I actively avoid the area but rather that those little dunes seem to turn me away as I opt for the easier route to bike when I wander.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby zorro sings » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:03 pm

Our camp was on the 9 side our first 5 years and were exclted to be moved/"promoted" to 3 side in 2006.It was thought to be,and proven to be in our eyes,much less dusty.Think that may have changed when they re-routed the entrance road a few years back.
I was surprised last year to see how much more happening the 9 side was at night (compared to 3) and that might be creating its own demand.Had never thought about surface conditions being a barrier/advantage but might be some truth in it.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:25 pm

Contrary to myth and urban legend, which side of the playa is more dusty changes from year to year due to issues WAY out of the control or influence of mankind. With each fall/winter/spring/summer cycle, the playa changes... sometimes dramatically. What was loose pack and deep dunes one year could easily be a hard pack in the next (and vise versa)... mother nature's awesome like that. :)

The city's population density also changes too, though I think that happens more gradually, and is of course 100% the result of us humans. Friends and friendly camps will tend to cluster together, and in some cases camps and campers gravitate towards what they may feel are the big destinations for them. Distrikt and Duck Pond and Spanky's Wine Bar jump to mind, but there are dozens (if not hundreds) of other great examples of camps who've become solid playa destinations in their own right. I wouldn't want any of those camps to make a move they weren't comfortable with (or would cause them a logistical hardship if they were sharing resources), but think it might be fun to see what happens if a couple of those camps moved around.

My own camp (not a destination camp by even a long shot) has always wound up being on the 9 side, though not in the same spot. We're sharing a resource with another camp and need to be near them, but otherwise I would be open to trying the 3 side - there are some seriously kickass camps and villages over there. The real truth is that there probably is no bad neighborhood in BRC.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby FossaFerox » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:28 pm

In my totally anecdotal experience, the 3 o'clock side seemed to have a LOT more RVs which I had assumed had something to do with the broken surface and loose dust. The 9 side seemed to be more small vehicles and large trucks (though with far fewer trucks than 3 had RVs for obvious reasons). This may be entirely confirmation bias and utterly false, a shame we don't have a satellite photo from last year...
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:36 pm

There is a satellite photo, you just have to pay a fuckton of cash to have limited use access to it.

However the aerial images of BRC that Burning Man has reviewed doesn't seem to support the idea that there were more RV's on the 3 side. Your experience may be just the bits of the city you personally experienced, or having been near a few camps that were doing the ugly 'RV fortress' layout for their operations. To me, that creates the illusion that there are more of them there than is actually the case, because to the outside it's just a big wall of recreational vehicles. RV's, like tents and yurts and monkey huts and other types of structure, are generally distributed fairly evenly throughout the city. In denser parts there's more of everything, the camps and vehicles and structures are just packed in a lot more tightly.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby lucky420 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:59 pm

Trilo is right in regards to the condition of the playa being out of mans control. I think the 9 o'clock side is closer to the hills where it may get more/deeper of the spring run offs...

But I am easily discombobulated so I may be off base.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby FossaFerox » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:37 pm

Except that apparently it changes dramatically from year to year, so that theory is too simplistic.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby lucky420 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:15 am

Hasn't the city stayed in basically the same area on the playa for the last few years? I mean it rotates some and moves a bit but basically the same area...

Or are you talking weather pattern changes?
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:24 am

The city's orientation doesn't vary by much, but the location does occasionally change. At no point, however, is it close enough to any of the mountains that the playa surface would be affected by runoff. As I'd said earlier, those theories are generally myth and urban legend.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby FossaFerox » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:44 am

I think a lot of the population distribution and night life clustering probably comes down to self-reinforcing trends, then. People go where their type of camp is already setting up. My camp wound up on the late side for unrelated reasons, but we were glad we were there. More bars, more dancing, more adult themed camps, and of course, plenty far from hushville.

Distrikt. Pink Mammoth. Duck Pond. Spanky's. Slut Garden. Osiris. White Ocean. Nexus. Apex. The list goes on and on. Heck, when the set lists came out saying where big DJs were playing during the week it was never a question of early or late, it was where on the late side do we want to be.

The question then is do we WANT to break this trend? It's not only convenient it's logical for the city to have de facto districts. It gives prepared campers the opportunity to plan their burns a little better. I know that this must create some population balance problems (late side portos being overutilized, probably more situations calling for Rangers/Medical/LEO, etc) but it seems that the city plan could be adjusted slightly to account for these trends rather than trying to manhandle the population to force an artificial balance restoration.

Adding extra JOTs, increasing ranger/LEO presence, maybe even slightly wider radial spoke streets? This is perhaps a slippery slope, but it strikes me as a simpler, more straightforward solution than trying to entice people to break the trend and camp on the early side.

The bottom line? If I'm out dancing and want to find a place with different music I'm not gong to cross the city on a whim. It just won't happen.

Hmm... Okay. An actual idea to help rebalance the population then.

From what I understand some of the bigger MVs were pulling shifts ferrying people around the city. What about having an "express" route running across the great circle from the 9 o'clock portal to the 3 o'clock portal with more regular service and paying special attention to utilize MVs that play music? This would be especially important at night. By effectively shrinking the distance across the city (Now we're thinking with portals!) crossing the widest party of the city while partying would be easier and location would matter less. Instead, it would be proximity to the portals that would matter.

Then it would be a simple matter of publicizing the service and mentioning that it's easier to acquire space on the early side when theme camps request placement next year.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:27 am

It might just be me, but I don't think of mutant vehicles as services. They're art and they happen to be transportation, but I don't board them with any thought that'll they'll take me somewhere in particular. I'm along for the ride, not a pre-chosen destination.

Asking the MV drivers to set up specific, regular routes seems like a huge request, bordering on impertinence, given all the hard work and resources they and their camps already put in. Asking multiple MVs to coordinate regular routes would be trying to herd cats when the spontaneity of a MV ride is what it's all about. Coordinated events do happen but...
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby asr9754 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:47 pm

Huzzah! Just hit "submit" for our questionnaire.

Thanks for the webinar and the notes, and all the Eplaya tips along the way. It's our first year applying for placement (3rd year on the Playa) for the "Barbots" Camp. It took quite a long time to get through all the questions, a couple weeks and 2 meetings at the bar....but it did help us get focused early and get excited for our ideas. Now to wait for everything to change!
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby FossaFerox » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:26 pm

BoyScoutGirl wrote:It might just be me, but I don't think of mutant vehicles as services. They're art and they happen to be transportation, but I don't board them with any thought that'll they'll take me somewhere in particular. I'm along for the ride, not a pre-chosen destination.

Asking the MV drivers to set up specific, regular routes seems like a huge request, bordering on impertinence, given all the hard work and resources they and their camps already put in. Asking multiple MVs to coordinate regular routes would be trying to herd cats when the spontaneity of a MV ride is what it's all about. Coordinated events do happen but...


I was under the impression some MVs were already running a bus service of sorts. We never tried to use it, but then the "route" that we heard about wasn't particularly inviting. I got on several random MVs just for the ride with no destination in mind, but if there exists a bus-like service it would make sense to make it functional if pop balance is a priority.

Right now, setting up on the 3 o'clock side if you're hoping to attract and entertain the same people that the late side currently draws is a tall order. You go in knowing that you're going to see less foot traffic that's searching for vibrant night life.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby zorro sings » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:43 pm

FossaFerox wrote:[quote="]
Right now, setting up on the 3 o'clock side if you're hoping to attract and entertain the same people that the late side currently draws is a tall order. You go in knowing that you're going to see less foot traffic that's searching for vibrant night life.[/quote][/quote][/quote]


Point is true but I doubt many 3 camps are all that worried about it.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby Eric » Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:13 am

FossaFerox wrote:I was under the impression some MVs were already running a bus service of sorts. We never tried to use it, but then the "route" that we heard about wasn't particularly inviting.


Other than the art tours MVs volunteer to do with the Artery, I'm not familiar with a bus-type service. There's been lots of posts & threads on it over the years, but I think that would really lower the playadipity of where people can end up, and I can image MV operators not being amused at self-funding a public transit system. Those things are not cheap, nor are they easy to keep running on the playa (our camp has looked into this, and we stepped away due to the logistics of it)
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:08 am

@FossaFerox - yeah, I'd said largely the same thing with regards to camps' influence on population density several posts ago. This thread is less for debating the causes or cures for population density imbalances as sharing the notes from the theme camp forum. If you've got ideas or suggestions for the placement team, please direct them to placement@burningman.com as I'd mentioned in the original post.

The city's continued evolution is filled with ebbs and flows, as well as increases and decreases in population density over time. The current situation with the 9 side isn't the first time BRC has seen something like that, and often times knowing that one side is more tightly packed vs. less is enough to affect change. Some camps aim for a particular neighborhood because they want close proximity to something, others because that's just where they've always been.

@asr9754 - congrats on completing the questionnaire!

@Eric - I've known of a couple different vehicles that have tried their own 'regular stop' routes. Mostly they were big vehicles that couldn't fit into the city streets or navigate the inner playa with much ease, and so it was more a matter of mutant vehicle logistics than it was an attempt to provide public transportation services. From what I recall, the time it took for them to get anywhere wouldn't have made it a very convenient option. I agree with you though.. anyone who's ever built a mutant vehicle can probably attest to them being nowhere near cheap - either to build or to maintain and operate.

Getting back to the subject at hand, though, you've got just under 3 weeks left to get your questionnaires completed folks! Take a look through the notes and read those tips and ask any questions you may have now, rather than waiting til the last minute. Remember, if you don't think you can finish the whole thing in one sitting, there's a link at the top/bottom of the page to be able to Save & Exit, you can come back and resume it later.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby Patamon » Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:05 pm

This year Planet Earth has asked to be on the 3:00 side (4:30 Esp/Portal area) to help spread the awesome over there. :D
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:35 pm

Sounds excellent, I'll definitely be noting your placement info when that's announced.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:20 am

Now's the time to GET 'ER DONE!!!!!

The placement questionnaire closes (meaning you have to have completed all the questions and uploaded your layout and submitted the questionnaire) in just over 24 hours.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby Jovankat » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:11 pm

Done! :) :shock: :) 8)
it's just a fucking picnic in the desert, but it's with some of the best people on earth.
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby Valgar » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:39 pm

I think DG/TD is scaring people away from the 3 o'clock side. :p
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby lucky420 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:17 am

Valgar wrote:I think DG/TD is scaring people away from the 3 o'clock side. :p


Yep, the 3 o'clock side...it's not for the weak :shock:
Oh my god, it's HUGE!
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Re: Notes from the 2014 Theme Camp Forum

Postby trilobyte » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:00 pm

Death Guild/Thunderdome never struck me as even remotely scary for anyone who isn't fighting in the dome. :wink:

It'll be interesting to see how things shake out with the continuing evolution of Black Rock City. The camp placement questionnaire is now closed.

I'll also add that, yes, you have to wait until early July to find out whether your camp will be placed (as well as an approximate location). The placement team has dedicated staffers as well as awesome volunteers who are carefully going through more than a thousand questionnaires - over the next two months they'll be working many late nights and weekends giving every one of them careful consideration, having meetings, and working their butts off to help pull the placement plan together.

Yes, people have to book flights and rentals and other travel plans well in advance. It is absolutely a risk. In booking your reservations, think of it as betting on yourselves. At the very, very worst, you end up with a couple extra days to kill in Reno. That's disappointing, but not a showstopper (room rates are pretty cheap, plenty of buffets, etc). If you've got a solid plan (and LNT plan) and you've put some effort into filling out the questionnaire and communicating your awesome ideas, chances are good that you'll be successful. Good luck to everyone who's completed a questionnaire.
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