My Project Idea: Comments Please.

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My Project Idea: Comments Please.

Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:28 pm

I have a project idea, and I wanted to pitch it here and get some feedback.

People like me, who live fairly close to BRC, have it pretty easy when it comes to Burning Man. We're close enough that it's easy to get there, we can use our own vehicles, and bring all the necessary equipment, plus an array of creature comforts. Others aren't so lucky. Every year, I read posts from people overseas, who wish they could come to the event, but find the task too daunting from so far away: the expense, getting to/from the event, fitting their gear on a plane, etc. Those who do decide to go often have to spend a lot of money, or are scrambling to figure out logistics. I know the Burner Hostel addressed this need in the past, but had to call it quits due to the problems and demands that came with it.

Well, my idea is to create an International Burner Hosting Program. This would be an online community that people could join either as a traveler or a host, and the hosts would offer accommodation in their camp for the travelers. For example, in my small camp, I would determine that I could host two international travelers. I would provide the transportation to and from the event, the shade, the kitchen, the shower, etc. The traveler just needs to get to an airport close to me, bring a ticket, tent, sleeping bag, clothing, personal stuff, and share in the group responsibilities, like food and gas money, cooking/cleaning, camp setup/breakdown, etc.

Anticipating a possible clash of personalities, the site could include online profiles, and could match people kind of like an online dating site, i.e. so people that want to party all night don't get paired up with early risers.

That's the gist of it. Comments?
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Postby C.f.M. » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:30 pm

That sounds pretty bad-ass.
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Postby Fire_Moose » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:40 pm

Sorta like Playa Surfing....

I think it's a great idea.

But what happens to the people who don't get "picked" to be sponsored?
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Postby Token » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:46 pm

But what would we do with all the Canadians?

Ive got mixed emotions about this. The only difference in flying in from anytown USA and foreign lands is the length of flight.

I don't see why they need special treatment.
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Postby C.f.M. » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:50 pm

Token wrote:But what would we do with all the Canadians?

Ive got mixed emotions about this. The only difference in flying in from anytown USA and foreign lands is the length of flight.

I don't see why they need special treatment.


As one of them American people struggling to get there, that was my first thought. However, I did not read, despite the word "International" being used, that it would be limited to those non-U.S.

I mean, there's some Canadians that have a shorter drive than I have flight.
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Postby geekster » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:50 pm

The thing you are going to have the most problem with is camp setup and breakdown. At least that has been my experience. People are going to arrive late and want to leave early (I have to catch a plane!, something has come up back home and I have to leave, my brain tumor is acting up again, ,can I wait until the shrooms wear off, whatever).

Other than that, it sounds like a good plan. One source of potential drama is kitchen. Someone doesn't like the food, someone doesn't like the way it is cooked, someone wants to use the kitchen to make their stuff their way but doesn't want to clean up or puts stuff places nobody else can find ....

Those two things are from my personal experience and might not hold true in a general sense. The bottom line in most camps I have been in, though, is a small percentage of people end up doing a large percentage of what needs doing. As long as you recognize that and have a cadre of "troopers" who can deal through that, you shouldn't have much of a problem.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:51 pm

Token wrote:But what would we do with all the Canadians?

Don't tell them, but they're not really foreign.
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Postby geekster » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:54 pm

I mean, there's some Canadians that have a shorter drive than I have flight.


How about instead of "international" you make it "burners traveling from outside North America"
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:54 pm

Lots of good points, some of which I anticipated already, and some which I hadn't thought of yet. Bear in mind, this idea is in its infancy, so I haven't figured it all out yet...exactly why I am pitching it here.

Token wrote:But what would we do with all the Canadians?

Ive got mixed emotions about this. The only difference in flying in from anytown USA and foreign lands is the length of flight.

I don't see why they need special treatment.

This is a good point, and it had occurred to me. Indeed, I have read many similar posts from East Coasters and others who were struggling with the same difficulties in making it to the playa. One reason I was thinking international was I would try to start the project on a somewhat small scale so it doesn't become too overwhelming right off the bat, and if possible, expand it as (or if) demand rose. Making it for international travelers would naturally limit it in scope. Secondly, some Americans who live far away do drive their own vehicles to the event (and I bow down to those who do), but even this is not an option for overseas travelers. Third, someone within the US is simply more likely to have contacts in the western US they can hook up with. Fourth, I look at the population of Burning Man, and it is mostly Americans (no offense, that includes me after all), so this is partially an attempt to foster some more cultural diversity. Fifth, I think it would be a great opportunity to create and expand international friendships, bonds, and good will (idealistic, I know).
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:57 pm

Fire_Moose wrote:But what happens to the people who don't get "picked" to be sponsored?

I think that may be very likely. I would guess there would be more travelers than hosts. Best I can say is it could result in bringing a lot of people to the playa who could never make it otherwise. Some would likely not find a host, but then their situation would be no different than it is right now.
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:00 pm

C.f.M. wrote:As one of them American people struggling to get there, that was my first thought. However, I did not read, despite the word "International" being used, that it would be limited to those non-U.S.

I mean, there's some Canadians that have a shorter drive than I have flight.

Aw dang it, now you're making me feel bad. Ideally, I would like this to be available to Americans too, but as I said, I'm afraid of it getting to be too big a project right off the bat.
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Postby Eric » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:11 pm

"Overseas Burners Hosting Program": that cuts out North America and narrows the concept to your initial idea.

I think it could work. The Hostel was very successful, and if I remember right only ran into problems when the neighbors in their suburb didn't like the numbers of people showing up before the event. (I think they were robbed after this started, which was the final straw. My memory may be faulty on this, however)

Spreading out the travelers would deal with the first issue.

Ground rules would have to be set, and there would have to be some sort of "penalty" if someone doesn't follow them. Hosts not helping their people get supplies, travelers not helping with camps...

Hmm. Lots of work to be done, but I think you've definitely got a viable idea.
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:17 pm

geekster wrote:The thing you are going to have the most problem with is camp setup and breakdown. At least that has been my experience. People are going to arrive late and want to leave early (I have to catch a plane!, something has come up back home and I have to leave, my brain tumor is acting up again, ,can I wait until the shrooms wear off, whatever).

Other than that, it sounds like a good plan. One source of potential drama is kitchen. Someone doesn't like the food, someone doesn't like the way it is cooked, someone wants to use the kitchen to make their stuff their way but doesn't want to clean up or puts stuff places nobody else can find ....

Those two things are from my personal experience and might not hold true in a general sense. The bottom line in most camps I have been in, though, is a small percentage of people end up doing a large percentage of what needs doing. As long as you recognize that and have a cadre of "troopers" who can deal through that, you shouldn't have much of a problem.

Indeed, there are all kinds of personality conflicts that can occur, but these sorts of things are known to happen even between longtime friends who travel to the playa together. I anticipate the website would go into great detail in laying out etiquette and stressing that participants need to live up to their responsibilities. Suggesting that visitors and their hosts travel to and from the event together could minimize some of the problems you brought up. (i.e. I can't ditch early without breaking down camp because they are my ride out of here). Also, as I said, the site would include profiles similar to dating sites which could minimize conflicts. Sample question: (check one).

FOOD: I am an
A. Omnivore
B. Vegetarian
C. Vegan

ALLERGIES (list)

Lastly, from my (admittedly somewhat limited) knowledge of other cultural exchange programs, I get the sense the people who participate, guests and hosts, are generally pretty respectful.
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Postby VeganChoirGirl » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:24 pm

This is a great idea. I do really see the difference in overseas vs. north american travel, just in ticket cost alone. For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!! Buying all their supplies is very cost prohibative. If someone were willing to help them and they arranged that through a program like this, I think it would be great!! It allows those that need the help, but who have the right attitude, to be paired with those who have the funds/supplies and the desire to give. It's awesome! :D
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:27 pm

Eric wrote:"Overseas Burners Hosting Program": that cuts out North America and narrows the concept to your initial idea.

I think it could work. The Hostel was very successful, and if I remember right only ran into problems when the neighbors in their suburb didn't like the numbers of people showing up before the event. (I think they were robbed after this started, which was the final straw. My memory may be faulty on this, however)

Spreading out the travelers would deal with the first issue.

Ground rules would have to be set, and there would have to be some sort of "penalty" if someone doesn't follow them. Hosts not helping their people get supplies, travelers not helping with camps...

Hmm. Lots of work to be done, but I think you've definitely got a viable idea.

Thanks Eric. Yeah, I was very bummed to hear about the demise of the Burner Hostel. It was such a great thing, and the guy who ran it got all this grief despite the fact that he was working hard to help people. Anyway, as you said, this idea spreads the project out over a great many people, and the only thing necessary for the nuts and bolts of the project is maintaining a website (unless there is something I haven't considered yet).
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:33 pm

I don't know what you're drinking there, Hoolie, but you got a great idea!
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:53 pm

VeganChoirGirl wrote:This is a great idea. I do really see the difference in overseas vs. north american travel, just in ticket cost alone. For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!! Buying all their supplies is very cost prohibative. If someone were willing to help them and they arranged that through a program like this, I think it would be great!! It allows those that need the help, but who have the right attitude, to be paired with those who have the funds/supplies and the desire to give. It's awesome! :D

Thanks VCG, and good points. I know I look at my little camp, and it occurs to me that I have space to share, and it would cost me nothing extra to bring on a couple guests. Then I look at posts from people out of the country which reveal how difficult (or impossible) it is for them to make it happen. So, I started thinking about how I could facilitate that arrangement. Beyond that, my vision is this could actually result in creating longtime friendships, with guests potentially returning the favor with free accommodation in their home if their hosts ever travel to their country.
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:54 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:I don't know what you're drinking there, Hoolie, but you got a great idea!

Cool, thanks UD!
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Postby ygmir » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:09 pm

very cool idea, Hoolie.
lots of "details" to work out, but, great concept.

It'd also be good to work out a way folks could feel and know they are "safe" on both sides..........

expectations and demands are sometimes assumed, or implied.
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:19 pm

ygmir wrote:very cool idea, Hoolie.
lots of "details" to work out, but, great concept.

It'd also be good to work out a way folks could feel and know they are "safe" on both sides..........

expectations and demands are sometimes assumed, or implied.

Thanks ygmir. This had occurred to me as well. I think such arrangements would necessitate a lot of correspondence between the two parties, and this would be encouraged. I think, generally, a lot of communication beforehand, going over all the necessary arrangements and details, should reveal a lot about the people involved and how committed they are (i.e. red flag if emails are not responded to promptly, or ignored altogether). But I will definitely be thinking about other ways to eliminate potential issues.
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Postby swampdog » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:45 pm

It sounds like a good idea. The following is me looking for issues, not just randomly dumping on your idea.

But first, vcg said:
For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!!

and I just don't get that. Why should the ticket be more expensive overseas? Aside from shipping costs, they should be the same. What am I missing?

One risk I can see for people traveling from far is that it seems like currently, if you can make it Reno you can pretty much surf the wave of bodies heading to BRC. But if you're meeting someone in Seattle and it turns out they're flakes, they thought you meant 10 AM and they can't wait until 10 PM, whatever - you're stuck in Seattle.

Others have spoken to the mismatched expectations. "Kitchen privileges" could mean anything from "there's the burner, there's the graywater disposal, go at it" to "would madame care for another glass of chardonnay". This is normal camp stuff and if we could solve that we'd be on our way to a better world. It might be amplified for someone coming from far - "you can stay with me for a few days before we leave" - "ok, I'll be there in April!" but still mostly ordinary communications issues.

The next question I asked myself is, "what substitutes already exist for this?" and I went to "Why is this different from anybody just looking for a camp?"

We've all seen the enormous glut of "I want to come but I don't have a camp" messages on eplaya every year. What about an improved camp matching database?

1. Users (camps and would-be campers) would manage their own match data. No paperwork, just a few simple camp descriptors
2. One key element would be "interest in new campers" which would range from "actively seeking" to "Go away, I don't even know why I posted here"
3. Another key element would be "transport available from"
4. Be specific about what the camp provides and what is expected of campers.

You could post at any time, regardless of deadlines. You could change status on a whim. Placement status would be irrelevant.
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Postby swampdog » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:50 pm

Oh, and I meant to mention: re: Black Rock International Burner Hostel. Minitropolis (with whom I will have the good fortune to camp this year) is being run by mostly former BRIBH gang. They'd be really good people to talk to about it. Camp will be at 8:30 and G-string.
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Postby capjbadger » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:57 pm

swampdog wrote:It sounds like a good idea. The following is me looking for issues, not just randomly dumping on your idea.

But first, vcg said:
For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!!

and I just don't get that. Why should the ticket be more expensive overseas? Aside from shipping costs, they should be the same. What am I missing?

Pretty sure they were talking about the plane ticket, not the ticket to BM. :)

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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:14 pm

swampdog wrote:It sounds like a good idea. The following is me looking for issues, not just randomly dumping on your idea.

Cool, bringing up issues and criticisms is most welcome. If I go ahead with this project, now is the time to address potential problems.

swampdog wrote:But first, vcg said:
For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!!

and I just don't get that. Why should the ticket be more expensive overseas? Aside from shipping costs, they should be the same. What am I missing?

I believe she's referring to airfare.

swampdog wrote:One risk I can see for people traveling from far is that it seems like currently, if you can make it Reno you can pretty much surf the wave of bodies heading to BRC. But if you're meeting someone in Seattle and it turns out they're flakes, they thought you meant 10 AM and they can't wait until 10 PM, whatever - you're stuck in Seattle.

Indeed. It would be awful if something like this happened. Or what if the guest's flight got canceled somewhere, and they were going to be a day late? Would the hosts postpone their departure and wait for them? One possibility is to arrange for the guest to arrive at the host's local airport at least two days before the planned departure, and the guest can either stay with the host or in a local hotel, whatever they are comfortable with. Then they can go to/from the event together.

swampdog wrote:Others have spoken to the mismatched expectations. "Kitchen privileges" could mean anything from "there's the burner, there's the graywater disposal, go at it" to "would madame care for another glass of chardonnay". This is normal camp stuff and if we could solve that we'd be on our way to a better world. It might be amplified for someone coming from far - "you can stay with me for a few days before we leave" - "ok, I'll be there in April!" but still mostly ordinary communications issues.

Indeed. As I said, I think a lot of correspondence should happen before departure, so hopefully things like this can be ironed out. Preferences can also be described in participants online profiles.

swampdog wrote:The next question I asked myself is, "what substitutes already exist for this?" and I went to "Why is this different from anybody just looking for a camp?"

Well, the concept here is more than just a camp matcher, but also a cultural exchange program. Also, the site would be designed to make the participants and their camps more descriptive and personalized.

Here is a site that helped give me this idea. It's a network of people that offer to host bicycle tourists in their home as they pass through. I know it's a very different situation from a trip to the playa, but I think there are some parallels that would apply. It seems to work pretty well.

http://www.warmshowers.org/

(Kinda funny name, I know.)
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Postby swampdog » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:17 pm

capjbadger wrote:
swampdog wrote:It sounds like a good idea. The following is me looking for issues, not just randomly dumping on your idea.

But first, vcg said:
For an overseas burner their ticket is going to be between 800-2500 bucks!!

and I just don't get that. Why should the ticket be more expensive overseas? Aside from shipping costs, they should be the same. What am I missing?

Pretty sure they were talking about the plane ticket, not the ticket to BM. :)

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Doh! I can be such a simple minded literalist sometimes. Thanks.
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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:17 pm

swampdog wrote:Oh, and I meant to mention: re: Black Rock International Burner Hostel. Minitropolis (with whom I will have the good fortune to camp this year) is being run by mostly former BRIBH gang. They'd be really good people to talk to about it. Camp will be at 8:30 and G-string.

Awesome! Thanks for that info.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:09 pm

Hoolie wrote:[
FOOD: I am an
A. Omnivore
B. Vegetarian
C. Vegan

I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I am not an omnivore. I'm a very picky eater, something that is very hard to expect to be catered to. I don't know how common something like this is, but...

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Postby Hoolie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:26 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
Hoolie wrote:[
FOOD: I am an
A. Omnivore
B. Vegetarian
C. Vegan

I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I am not an omnivore. I'm a very picky eater, something that is very hard to expect to be catered to. I don't know how common something like this is, but...

For what it's worth

Hmm, how about:

D. Other (please explain)?

I suppose different participants can modify certain things as they see fit. As in, "Regarding food in our camp, guests are responsible for bringing and preparing their own food but are welcome to use our stove, etc."
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:39 pm

And maybe some help on shopping etc. Food is primal, which is one reason why the kitchen is so often a point of contention. I don't think I"m high maintenance in general (apart from the fact that I face certain limitations) but boy, when it comes to food...
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Postby geekster » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:07 pm

When you are cooking for people you do not know, you might want to place things you would normally put IN a dish on the side instead.. An example is cilantro. About 10% of the population lacks the ability to taste the chemical in cilantro that makes it taste so yummy to other people. To that 10%, cilantro takes like Tide laundry detergent. It absolutely ruins the flavor of everything it is in.

Have some variety. After about the 5th day in a row some people might not look forward to hummus. Keep it simple. Specialty dishes might be "acquired tastes". Rice is pretty universal as are potatoes. Keep spiritual practices in mind. People might eat meat but might not eat pork (Jews, Muslims, and some Christians such as Seventh Day Adventist). Kosher meats will serve all three of those faiths.

Kitchen waste is a problem on the playa because it tends to stink. You will do well to have what amounts to a separate evaporation pond for dessication of kitchen scraps. Once dried, they can be tossed in the burn barrel. Food from the last couple of days will not have time to dry out completely. If you try to burn it before it is dry, it will make a nasty smelly, smokey mess. Have a contingency plan in case it rains considerably and soaks your nearly dry food scraps.

Give your campers some space with privacy. Put the shower inside a shade structure of its own where people can have a moment of privacy (and less dust) to clip their nails, inspect that zit on their ass, or whatever in privacy after they get done with their shower. Some people are more modest than others. Sure, BM is a great place to be free and let it all hang out but that should be done at a person's own pace. They shouldn't have to choose between hygiene and their modesty and even if they don't say anything, it might be a source of resentment that can amplify other little issues that might be tolerated just fine.

Be very clear on exactly what is expected of everyone and if you make a schedule of responsibilities, try as hard as you can to stick to it and not go juggling it around every day or two. Be very clear on what, if anything, will not be tolerated in the camp and be consistent in enforcing it. Everyone should know exactly where they stand and have to play by the same set of rules. You might not exactly "kick someone out" of your camp but you can certainly invite them to camp with someone else next time. If you decide to do that, it is probably best not to notify them of that fact on the playa.

Control freaks, yahoos, gropers, etc. will self-identify pretty quickly. They weed themselves out by not being invited back over the years and you eventually end up with a really laid back bunch of folks but you ARE going to get the jackass or two, particularly in the beginning.

The more people that you do not know who camp with you, the better the odds of collecting jackasses. One reason people might be looking for camps, particularly if they are experienced burners, is because they have been invited to camp elsewhere this year. Highly weight recommendations of your best campers.

Crap, someone could write a book on Burning Man camps.
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