How to Join a Theme Camp

Whether you're a registered theme camp or not this is the place to discuss and share camp plans, find a camp to join, or recruit new campmates.

How to Join a Theme Camp

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:49 am

There were many queries in the run up to the 2010 event on how to join a camp, so I'm trying to get out ahead of that this year with an advice-ridden thread that we can link to when we are asked that this year.

It's work, joining a camp. Yes, I suppose there are those places where you pay a couple of grand and get butlers and rvs and never have to cook a meal.
I don't know how to join those camps, and I don't care to know.

This is a partial list of registered theme camps for 2012. you can page through and see what appeals and if the camps left contact information you can try sending an email and asking if they are looking for new campers. Some will be, others will not. Some will be, but use other methods of recruitment.

This is the list of theme camps for 2010. (The 2011 list wont be up until late spring or so.) So you can page through and see what appeals and if the camps left contact information you can try sending an email and asking if they are looking for new campers. Some will be, others will not. Some will be, but use other methods of recruitment. Some wont be going out to the playa again.

This is the list of regional contacts, worldwide. Many regional groups have meetings all year round, and listings of fundraising and other parties. Go. You will meet people, and those people are involved with camps and might want to camp with you. Or they may know people... Careful not to just be there for a camp. You are there to have fun, connect with the burn, and make art. People usually know when you think them but pawns in your scheme. Be sincere and contribute and see where it leads.

And ,finally, you can make your own camp and you don't need a camp, anyway.

I'm sure that other people on this board have much more insight into joining a camp, and I'm turning this over to them.
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Postby Schtev » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:33 pm

I just kept emailing theme camp organisers and regional reps until I eventually found a couple of camps with open spots, even though I'd waited until the last minute. S'that simple, really.
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Postby veleda » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:27 am

I'd like to stress that what Cryptofish did. It's work joining a camp.

Please don't join a theme camp just because you want your meals cooked for you. There are "camps" designed for rich burner wanna bes..but that isn't what theme camps are about.

Theme Camps are about providing service to the BRC community. If you join a camp, expect to work at providing the service and expect to be a participant in the community.
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Postby sierra_kink » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:29 am

If you can, plan to stay for tear down. Nobody wants to do it but doing it with a smile is golden and about as bonding as any other part of your experience. Above all... Communicate!! If you get a bad vibe, act on it. Since I started listening to my gut I have had no problems. A simple request with no follow up communication is a serious red flag for me. If you want to be PART of a theme camp it begins with the first contact. Camps don't just happen. Please respect the work that went into it thus far by volunteering and following through with your commitments.
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Postby AntiM » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:00 pm

The question to honestly examine is "why" are you seeking a theme camp? Is it because logistics are too hard for you? Afraid of the unknown? Fear for your safety when solo? Then maybe you aren't looking to the theme camp for the right reasons.

If the answer is the theme camp is a kick ass idea and you want to be a part of it, if you have mad skills to contribute, if you resonate with the people, then go for it.

A cautionary tale: I do know someone who bought into a large camp; she thought she liked their ideas and concepts. The reality was harsh. Her work assignments turned out to be difficult eight hour shifts in the kitchen, cooking meals she couldn't eat as a vegan. When it was her turn to be fed, she couldn't eat what was prepared. They said vegan wouldn't be a problem, they would accommodate her diet, but she went very hungry until she found friends who had food to share. The atmosphere wasn't a good fit whatsoever. She had to literally listen to her gut. (and they weren't very nice to her, but that's something else).
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Postby Edana » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:48 pm

And all camps are not the same (doh!). Some camps will provide your food, kitchen, showers whatever. Others are more a conglomeration of individual camps brought together by a common theme. Some examples I know of are Kidsville, Orphanage Camp, International Camp (I believe).

We camped in Kidsville and were completely responsible for everything for ourselves - food, water, kitchen, shade etc. Yes people shared stuff of course, but there was no expectation that we'd have certain things covered by the camp. It worked out great for us.
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Postby Eric » Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:07 pm

Then there are Villages like Fandango- no dues, but each camp (and camper) is expected to be Self Reliant- as in: You Must Have Your Shit Together. People within Fandango are more than willing to help & share, but not if you're a mooch.

Of course, you do have to get vetted to join, but it's a nice way to do your own camp while being part of something bigger. There are other camps & villages set up the same way.

Personally, I don't think you could pay me to join a large Theme Camp, because I like the freedom to enjoy the playa I get from being in a smaller camp. I also have friends who swear by theme camps, so just like everything else at Burning Man there is no correct way to camp.
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Postby Nitevenus » Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:40 pm

Some theme camps were posting open positions until the last possible moment here on eplaya, I am sure that helped some people. I did exactly what Fishy posted by looking at the previous years theme camp list and found one to send an email to so that I could join in for 2005. It's a matter of research and of course a good fit if you want to go that direction. I wasn't opposed to going it alone, was prepared but it was nice to hang out with some veterans.
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Postby sierra_kink » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:19 pm

The obvious is not always obvious either. My first couple of years I just went and camped on my own. There are several benefits to this. You can see first hand how theme camps interact without being bound to them. You can volunteer to help a camp or just hang out and get to know the people. You can get to sample many camps this way. Also if all you have is a small tent and cooler you are more inclined to explore the city... more opportunities to see what you REALLY want to be a part of. There is no need to pigeon hole yourself your first time out. We saw what worked and a need not addressed so after a couple of years we just started our own theme camp.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:21 pm

You guys are way ahead of me!

I spent so much time answering the question "How do I Find a Camp" this spring and summer, that I thought having a thread all ready to link to would be a good idea.
But I knew that there would be two more threads: "How to Start a Camp" and "You Don't Need a Camp!"
Keep posting as you see fit, and next year we'll be able to send newbs to a place where the details are there for the harvesting.

Thank you.
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Postby pinemom » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:06 am

To be a Birgin again?


I would do at least my first year Nomadically! self camp.

THen I would talk to Theme camps that seem to my liking. hang out there alot. get to know the peeps running it, its members...la la la...Find out how it works and see if truly it would be a good fit for you.

The worst thing could be, paying your dues, set everything you own up and 3 days later finding out it aint your cup o tea....then there's unsaid feelings of all kinds...a feeling of being stuck in a situation you dont feel good in...etc....
It could actually ruin Burningman for you on your first trip out even....
that would suck ass...cause Bm is just to awesome to let where you lay your head down be the issue to make you hate it.
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Postby silkkat813 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 8:49 am

I plan to spend the next year (or hopefully only half the year) finding a new camp. I have been with the same camp for my 3 burns and even though I LOVED them this year and the people I met at the camp, it is time for me to try a new camp. A new experience. It is hard though for me to "get in" close with Burner communities because I move all over constantly. I work 2 to 3 months in one area and then somewhere else. I hope to try to meet more Burners and find a new family to camp with. I have already signed up for regional groups along the east coast.

I think the things I am looking for is 1) camp less than 50 people, 2) everyone helps out someway, 3) no meals, and 4) giving something to the community. Anyone got suggestions of camps I should look to? I am not asking "CAN I JOIN YOUR CAMP?"... just asking suggestions.

Oh and I love helping out camps! I was at my camp early this year to help set up (and was 1 of 4 that got everything out of storage) and I was the last one standing on Tuesday MOOP sweeping and taking the remaining camp trash out. I helped organize my camps events and helping out the birgins.

again just asking for suggestions!
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:18 am

A cautionary tale here. When I started going to the burn, it was with my (then) boyfriend, who was a medic. So we camped with the medics or the firefighters all the years we went together. It was a miserable experience in a lot of ways. It was a sort of poor fit; I felt like the accessory rather than feeling like I belonged. And there was no communal shade, just the med station, so no good place to hang out. No camp is better than the wrong camp.
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Postby maryanimal » Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:35 am

Good reading! I think I'll just pitch my tent and enjoy my first burn. Seems like joining a camp the first time out won't be for me. I want to roam free and take in all I can! Or just sit and read. What ever I feel like doing.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:57 am

There are also a handful of villages to look at, and stag/orphan camps which are loose handfuls of independent campers. These are sometimes placed, sometimes not, and often form up here on eplaya. Keep communicating here and you may find or even form a new camp.
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but isnt' it true?

Postby RN4kids » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:49 pm

Isnt it true that themed camps are placed closer to the A, B, C, D, streets and then a bit closer to center camp and the themed camps? I personally would hate to be out on the periphery..just b/c my lazy ass doesn't want to walk or ride "THAT FAR". Just saying...
now go ahead and kick my ass you snarkers~
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Postby gaminwench » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:54 pm

Look at the 2010 map of BRC... Theme Camps were placed way up the spokes, and there was designated open camping 1 block from Center Camp; I think the placement team does a great job of 'mixing it all up'....
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Re: but isnt' it true?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:36 pm

RN4kids wrote:now go ahead and kick my ass you snarkers~


Oh dear...Perhaps someone should take RNRkids aside and...weeell...
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How to request to join a camp

Postby clerkkent » Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:30 am

I posted a blog on our camp's FaceyBook page (LetsGo Lounge) addressing a closely related topic, especially in the few weeks before the burn. I'm reposting it here since I think it is pertinent, and provides viewpoint from a camp organizer perspective.

How to request to join a camp

So you have decided to go, and want to camp with others for whatever reason (more fun, good advice, safety in numbers, you're scared to go alone, etc). Most camps, registered or not, spend a certain amount of time, money and energy preparing for the trip. As the burn approaches (particularly in August), most of the camp energy is spent gathering supplies, organizing people and logistics, laboring on camp infrastructure or art projects, and sometimes just basic fund-raising. They may be open to having additional campers with them, but they have plenty on their plate, and trying to figure out if this 'new person' is trustworthy, dependable and fun would be another challenge. Thus, a tip for people asking to join a camp is to demonstrate the value that you can bring, and the almost negligible cost that you will cause. Yes, it is like a job interview. Think of it as interviewing to be someone's roommate.

The following are amalgamations of inquiries I have come across in the years I've been going. Imagine if someone were requesting to share a room in your house or apartment, and came up with the following responses.... what would your reaction be?

BAD:

I have no ticket, but I'm hoping karmic goodness will provide one. I've never experienced it before, and am not sure what to expect, or how to prepare. My specialty is performing 5th level chakra cleansings. I can contribute karma blasts to the camp and campmates to improve our energy flows. I am willing to camp with you, but I would need (economic subsidy). What are your fees, and do they provide RVs and food? I have (verrrrry specific & complicated dietary preferences), would that be a problem? I would need a ride for me, my 3 suitcases of stuff, and an art sculpture I'm bringing. I'm -very- 420-friendly. Can I bring my/ can you bring me some party favors? I know the people from (some group that may have been at BM but I don't know them at all), and they can vouch for me. I don't have (important camping gear), could I borrow one from you? I want to get supplies in Nevada, but could you get them for me and I will pay you back when I meet you up there? I want to go, but is there a way to avoid the dust? We have (large noisy unruly vehicle) that we want to bring. I plan to drag my (friend of requestor that doesn't seem to really want to go but is being 'dragged' along). Can you get me early arrival passes?

GOOD:
I/we am/are (pertinent bio-data), and am looking forward to this years burn because (intriguing back story). I am proficient at (useful and practical skillset), and have (interesting experiences that would enrich a camp)
I have my ticket, and after reading all the resources available on the net, I have the food, water, shelter and clothing I hope I'll need. I want to be leaving on (date) from (location) and plan to leave on (date), but can be flexible. I have room for (people or stuff). I have (camp supplies) that I can bring, but also can bring (interesting foodstuffs, beverages, homemade crafts that are unique to you). If there is something your camp is specifically looking for (item or intangible resource), please let me know. I talked to (someone camp knows) and your camp sounded interesting. I do have some questions, and hopefully you can answer them or point me in the right direction.


The 'good' section is a decent way to introduce yourself. However, It doesn't guarantee a spot, or even a response. Like all good roommate situations, expect much preliminary cross examination. To point, the following are questions I would ask you if you wanted to camp with me:

Is this your first time? What compelled you to go for the first time? Are you a fan of camping? How do you think you'll do in the dust and heat?
What are your expectations of this years burn?
What are your expectations of a BM camp?
(If you've gone before) What was your camp like last time? Why aren't you camping with them again?
What, if any, are dealbreakers for you in a camp? That is, what are events, behaviors, or characteristics that would cause you to pack your stuff and flee, or at the very least scream in disgust?
Do you have any questions for me, about me, the concept of the camp, or about BM in general?


In the process of this Q&A session, you and the camp are going to get a better idea if you are a match for each other. The process is worth it.. after all, it is a week long experience in a stimulating and stressful environment, not a movie date. You want to be right for each other.
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Postby CapSmashy » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:35 am

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are camps out there that will fuck you over. They will happily collect your camp fees and then tell you they overbooked and oh well, no camping spot for you. Good luck on getting a refund.

Also, beware of communal ride shares. Like one of the Sacred Spaces buses from the Bay Area. One of our campers rode in with them this year. $150 round trip ticket that took 24 hours one way. Upon arrival, it turned out that 6 of the riders had no tickets (including the driver) and he was stuck at gate until these 6 could bum enough money to purchase their tickets.

We heard some other tales of camps that have a similar vibe as Sacred Spaces (the over the top, metaphysical hippy bullshit stuff) that rape people on an annual basis with enormous camp fees for very little in return. If you'r elucky, you might get "hot breath" on your crotch. :lol:

If you are unscrupulous enough, there is good money to be made fishing for newbies to "join" your camp/village because apparently there is no shortage of idiots willing to shell out 2 to 500 bucks a head to be in a theme camp/village.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:07 am

Thank you, clerkkent and capt'n smashy.
(I am really pleased with how this thread is going.)
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Postby sierra_kink » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:12 pm

There are some of us who do not collect "camp dues" (though we sound like a serious minority). We have a voluntary donation of whatever you can afford. We assume if you can't kick in [i]something[/i] you're not that serious about helping our camp to thrive. Those with very limited funds usually are the first to volunteer. I think it is a good system that falls in line with the ethos we are all there to submerse ourselves in. Of course this only works with smaller camps that have small overhead.
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Postby Trishntek » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:10 pm

We simply expect each person to have their own shit per Survival Guide. All we asked for was $20 or five gallons of gas for the genset. As it turned out, the solar setup one of our camp mates brought was sufficient for our needs and we ended up putting gas in vehicles!

We each took turns cooking or contributing food to the cause. We had an abundance of water, gatorade, jerky, coffee and dried fruit. So much that we even offered them to our guests!

Everyone was willing to help, grateful for gifts and stayed to the end and helped strike. Each of us with vehicles also took a bag or two of garbage upon exit. We like it simple and hospitable. It seems if the camp is more like home, the camp mates act more like family.

edit: We started the week with FOUR who only knew each other via email and phone conversations. By the end of Tuesday, we were NINE. One of the additions I had met once for coffee in Santa Barbara early August. After the Man Burned,,,, about 3AM in our community tent, I asked if anyone minded if I took a baby wipe bath while we were partying. Before I finished wiping my face with the first cloth, everyone else was wanting one for themselves. So there I was bathing among other people bathing in a private space. We had a bathing party among friends who did not know each other 5 days prior. We were more than family,,,,, we were one. Sunday we acquired two more who stayed to help strike Monday. We had planned to spend all that day tearing down and packing,,,, with ELEVEN of us,,,,, we were done by Noon. Each of us have a gift and we found how to compliment one another with those gifts of abilities, creativities and conversation.
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Postby Token » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:37 pm

Yeah, but that was only cuz you know rope bondage and are wicked with a short riding crop...

Just sayin'

:)
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Postby C.f.M. » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:48 pm

...be so awesome that a camp wants you.
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Postby Tin Halo » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:11 pm

Eric wrote:...so just like everything else at Burning Man there is no correct way to camp.


Yes, there is: Cleanly/No trace.

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Postby Trishntek » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:41 pm

Token wrote:Yeah, but that was only cuz you know rope bondage and are wicked with a short riding crop...

Just sayin'

:)


Are you implying we coerce our campers into submission?

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Postby veleda » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:27 am

CapnSmashy

I find it really fascinating you choose to bash my village (Sacred Spaces) by sharing really inaccurate information about it. Did you bother to stop by? We had 10 PUBLIC STRUCTURES, offered a 24 hour acoustic and dj music stage, 8 chakra temples with over 500 workshops and night time activities, and an enclosed labyrinth for silent meditation. Thousands of people poured through our doors and the response (besides your sorry ass) has been universally positive on the valuable public sanctuary and learning space we had on the playa.

If somehow that isn't giving enough back to the BRC Community and instead we're all money grubbing shyster hippies...well that is just absolutely fucking ridiculous.

There were no sacred spaces buses. Also ridiculous. I have to wonder if one of the girls in our camp just turned you down sexually or something and now you had it in for my camp. Please get over yourself.

We don't have people without funds to buy tickets in our camp. Though we do offer full scholarship for hard workers, I know each and every one of them and not one went on some sort of public transport bus as we didn't have one.

I really doubt given our higher camp fees (which support 10 public structures, awesome meals, showers, large common chill, power, etc) that we had some sort of large number of people bumming for tickets given people had enough to pay their camp membership dues to support the village.. Your whole story is irrational. Try to make more up more real sounding stories next time.

We busted our ass to bring 10 public structures to Black Rock City which is more than pretty much any Camp or Village of ANY SIZE that I know of. And yes doing so cost money and we share the cost as a community.

Lastly - Yes my camp is metaphysical and its clear you don't like it but its hardly over the top. Yes some hippies are part of my camp but so are some silicon valley geeks and inventors, some steampunk mystics, some goth and punk kids, and many other sorts. Our camp provides grounded and centered Sanctuary Space on the playa, transformational workshops for people seeking to deepen their burning man experience, night time tea, night time world class projections in our ambient projection space, the heart beat amplifier lounge night, open space for meditation, the large visionary art gallery on the playa with over 80 visionary artist presenting.. In short.. I'm not too fucking worried that I am not GIVING BACK ENOUGH.

You are welcome to go visit barbie deathcamp or whatever else floats your boat. Given how much you seem to enjoy being a hater though I would love for you to come by and try meditating and it seems like it might be good for your overall health.

The joy of burning man is about diversity. Everyone contributing different things that combine together to make something breathtaking and more powerful than any individual thing. I want my Hair of the Dog Bar, my Black Rock Diner, and my Sacred Spaces Temples.

Being an asshole, slandering my camp with inaccurate information.. well i suppose this could be the single way that you feel inclined to 'give back' to the black rock city community..but really in the future i might suggest you try making some art instead about your feelings of disconnection and discontentment.
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Postby Dr. Pyro » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:37 pm

Yo, Velveda, leave us out of this. Barbie Death Camp wishes to remain neutral in any of these bitchfests.

Because we're too cool to get involved.
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Postby veleda » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:45 am

@Dr. Pyro.

Totally. Grin. I won't send our haters your direction. I only use the name of Barbie Death Camp because it is a long-standing icon of the wondrous diversity of the playa.. and because who hasn't stood in awe of all those barbies.. ;) Makes me <3 BM it does.. though I there was competition this year with the camp at 430 that had all the barbies in lewd sexual positions.. and with altered genitals.. :: wink ::

I was upset at that post but after sharing it with a bunch of our core team..they all laughed their asses off.. first because we didn't have any buses in our camp.. and second because "over the top metaphysical hippies" is apparently so amusing many people wanted to write it on our sign next year.

GRIN... only we need to say over the top metaphysical technogeek gonzo hippies.. as we feel that more accurately describes our fervor and passion for creating and fostering spiritual spaces on the playa.

I'm still not for anything that connects me to Hippiedom.. but if my campmates can have a good sense of humor so can I.

On that note.. anyone that is local to San Francisco and wants to come duke it out with me in person (I'll be wearing my flogger) is welcome to come find us at Decompression. :) :) Where I will happily talk your ear off for hours about every bizarre geeky frustrating complex and crazy thing I do manage such a whacky fun mystical yet down to earth village on the playa.. but beware I got me lots of opinions.
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