How to Start 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.

Postby Dr Jet Sinister » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:05 am

Trishntek is very correct. The planning never ends, sure there may be a short break during the winter hibernation, but the theme camp stuff is still very close at hand.

I believe an important aspect that any camp leader needs to understand is it's not all about you and your vision. When a camper invests their time and energy into a project it becomes theirs as well. Of course there is a heavy lifter who's name is on the lease, but that theme camp would not exist without the labor of it's campers. My group of campers is fantastic and all of them have various ideas, concerns, and strengths that are valued. I prefer to hear everyone's ideas and then, as a group, decide what is possible and what is a pipe dream. If you have a serious control issue and cannot work in a group, running a theme camp isn't for you.

Just my .02
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Postby zorro sings » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:55 pm

As mentioned several times here make sure you have the cash to pull it off.One only need check previous years list of camps to see how many ever came back for a repeat effort.Taking a shortcut in the unforgiving environs of BRC is a sure way to join the list of one year wonders.
Make sure you do not bite off more than you can chew.(But as Crypto herself observed years ago"what would Burning man be without people doing this")Each and every year there is a new camp with amazing plans,ambitions and maybe even a web site that flop in a grand fashion.Tell tale hints of this fate can seen in self promotional eplaya posts along with a constant need for more help/campers.Last year such a "camp" left a large empty space at 4:30 and C.Further back Camp Israel in 2004 still the undisputed poster child for this BRC phenomena.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:14 pm

its all about delegation, trusting your captains, and making it fun.

people naturally want to help, the thing a leader does is find out what they do best, what they LOVE To Do and then it's not a job anymore.

everyone has a special talent, find out what your peoples are.

trust your captains, give them a framework, and let them run with it, let them "Own" it...it becomes personal, and the attachment is important when it's 3 am and everyone is whooping it up down the road and your there looking for a charged battery for one of your two screw guns because your double fisting it, and geeked out your head trying to finish by tomorrow...

constantly check in....ask what they need to get it done.

listen.

the logistics are mind boggling, get people to help you make lists of lists and find the one who is most OCD and have them do the nitty gritty nuts and bolts organizing, preferably someone internet saavy.

provide any drug your crew wants, in spades.*

*kidding.

make it fun, it's BURNING MAN, DAMMIT!

make sure your people dont OVEREXERT themselves, especially first timers trying to prove themselves, they end up dehydrated over at medical. Watch the real go-getters, and make sure they sleep...trust me....i know all too well what it's like to collapse on thursday and wake up an hour before the burn on saturday.

whistle while you work...or whatever....the funniest thing i ever saw was our electrical guy, a mean mother from Providence rhode island shaking his 300 lb tatooed shit across the dancefloor WHILE he was wiring it up.

phenomenal.

keep them hydrated and fed....nothing worse than grumpy campers because their electrolytes are outta whack.


keep an eye out for the shy ones, and maybe the outsiders, or the ones who dont socialize well...help them out of their shell and include them whenever possible...i have seen transformations on the playa like nowhere else.

sleep.

eat.

drink enough WATER to piss clear.

good luck.
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Postby Trishntek » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:43 pm

Simon,,,, everything you wrote gets to the heart of it all.

It's about PEOPLE!
It's about FUN!
It's about Burning Man!
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:19 pm

Dang, I want to be taken under Simon's wing...
Simon's real sig line?

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Postby tamarakay » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:35 pm

me too ms. fishy! you can use that advice for any kind of team effort. good stuff
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:15 pm

I am proud to say that i learned these things from my Father, one of the kindest, wisest, most generous men i know...i also witnessed our Leader, Mr. Jeff Taylor display and utilize these concepts. I respect them both with all pf my heart. They walk the walk.

My father taught me early how to shovel shit...

Now, hear me out..

One day, i saw him out in front of our store, shirtsleeves rolled up, shoveling shit...at the time, i thought it was strange that the owner, not his employees were doing this nasty work. I was about 14 yrs old.

He then gave me one of his many secrets to life.

He said "si", because thats what he called me, "dont ever be so high and mighty that you cant shovel shit...do what needs to be done, your people will see this and the next time you ask them to shovel shit, they will, and without any question because they KNOW you would do it yourself if you had the time.

Its all about mutual respect, no matter where when or how.

Thanks Pops, and thanks Jefr.
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Postby lucky420 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:16 pm

+ 100 for Simon
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Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:25 am

Simon's real sig line?

Embrace the Sock

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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:07 pm

I've had a pm from someone asking how for the contact email for "central" to help get a camp set up. I poked around on the website and came up with placement at burningman dot com.
Did I misdirect my correspondent? Is there anything else I should have added?
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Postby rrrenata » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:00 pm

Hey there! I posted this message in the main Theme Camps section, but realized that this thread is probably a better place. Please disregard if you've already seen this :)

I want to host a theme camp this year, based around vocal music. I have done some recruiting in various ways, and am running into the same problem over and over again.

Right now, I am at a stand-still. My problem seems to be that:

1) I can't properly plan without knowing how many people will be camping with us / helping out (manpower) during and before BM
2) People won't 'sign up' without knowing the plan


How have you dealt with this in the past? I need one to get the other, and don't know how to get around that.

[I have 4 absolutely 100% definite friends coming that want to take part. Other than that, there are a bunch of "maybe"s.]

Thank you for any guidance or advice you can share! I have enjoyed what I've read in this thread thus far, and hope that one of you awesome leaders or questioners can shed some light on this :)
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Postby Trishntek » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:38 pm

Plan with what you have. Prioritize the essence and purpose of the camp. Build that fundamental plan and keep it simple. As interest builds, so grows the camp. Just start with what you have and build a solid foundation for growth.

It's just like when you've spent Monday finishing up with setup and realize a few little detail,,,, maybe ambiance type things,,,, cosmetic stuff still needs doing,,,, or could be done,,,, if somebody cares,,,,, does it contribute to the purpose of the camp? Is the camp any less without it? Sometimes better is the enemy of good enough.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:24 pm

Gotta sell the sizzle.
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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first time as a theme camp

Postby samuel7x » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:46 pm

Alright, seems like a good post to ask this. This is our first year as a theme camp, we got our stuff planned out as best as can be now, and submitted our placement questionaire. Were keeping things reasonably simple this year too. So I have a few questions, one when should I hear back about placement, how do I get our event placed in the book?
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Re: first time as a theme camp

Postby Trishntek » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:54 pm

samuel7x wrote:Alright, seems like a good post to ask this. This is our first year as a theme camp, we got our stuff planned out as best as can be now, and submitted our placement questionaire. Were keeping things reasonably simple this year too. So I have a few questions, one when should I hear back about placement, how do I get our event placed in the book?


Do not be surprised if the Fourth of July passes before you get confirmed for placement. You may be contacted for more information from your placement rep and they will be your main source of information going from there.

Getting placed in the book is something you do after placement. You won't even know your location until then anyway. Even then, it is a very general,,,, "Near this INTERSECTION" sort of thing. But you will be notified of when things happen. If you applied, you have a log-in on the BM site. Also make sure you won't filter out their emails to you.

Be patient! If you stayed tune here on ePlaya, it's as good of information as anyplace else. It won't be to your liking when you do not even know which way to set up your camp for best wind and sun protection until you actually arrive. Be flexible for different camp layouts.
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Postby gerflash » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:03 pm

[quote="K-mom"]Since it likely ties in with this subject, what's the process for getting a listing in the what/where/when guide?[/quote]

It's my seventh burn, but I'm still looking around! This is my first time logged on here! And like K-mom way back some years, I'm looking for how to get my theme camp activities listed in the WhatWhereWhen for 2011.
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Postby gerflash » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:04 pm

[quote="K-mom"]Since it likely ties in with this subject, what's the process for getting a listing in the what/where/when guide?[/quote]

It's my seventh burn, but I'm still looking around! This is my first time logged on here! And like K-mom way back some years, I'm looking for how to get my theme camp activities listed in the WhatWhereWhen for 2011.
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Postby AntiM » Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:20 am

http://www.burningman.com/calendar/

Use the playa event calendar. For some odd reason, you will be sent to the burning man google earth, but ignore that. Just click LogIn or SignUp. You can't use your eplaya sign in unless you register it, I use a second name and password. THAT process will take you to a page of what you can do. Somewhere in the middle you will find "Add you Playa Event". That's how you get in the WWW guide.
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Postby gerflash » Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:42 pm

[quote="AntiM"][url]http://www.burningman.com/calendar/[/url]

Use the playa event calendar. For some odd reason, you will be sent to the burning man google earth, but ignore that. Just click LogIn or SignUp. You can't use your eplaya sign in unless you register it, I use a second name and password. THAT process will take you to a page of what you can do. Somewhere in the middle you will find "Add you Playa Event". That's how you get in the WWW guide.[/quote]

Yeah, I tried that. It took me to a spot where I started to enter our camp's activities and was about to click "submit" when I noticed I'd just entered activities for 2010!! WTF?! So I carefully backed out of that thread! A little clunky that one can still add stuff for last year, eh?!

Apparently, I'm jumping the gun. The powers that be haven't called for WhatWhereWhen entries yet for 2011. But - to paraphrase - READY WHEN YOU ARE, L.H.!!!!
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Leave No Trace Plan upload

Postby illy dilly » Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:55 pm

I have a quick question about up loading the Leave No Trace plan.
So we have all our Questionnaire done and ready to submit. The Leave No Trace plan was the last thing we had to do. Now that it is done, we realize that we can't find the spot to up load it into the questionnaire.

We were able to load the camp layout plan, in the camp layout section, but have been unable to find a spot to load the LNT plan.

I'm sure its there and I'm just over looking it or something- but we've been looking since yesterday and still can't find where to load it.

Did any one else have this issue? And if not could some one please steer us in the right direction?
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Postby gerflash » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:05 pm

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger on that LNT plan. All we could find was the questionnaire's own LNT boilerplate. Ours is pretty much the same we'd developed and entered last two years, so we figure we'll still get some opportunity to add it when they ask and give us a place to put it.
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Postby illy dilly » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:56 pm

OK. So there will be a round two of interviews or something?
This is our first year registering as an official placed theme camp. SO not so sure of the whole process.
Thank you very much for the insight!
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Postby gerflash » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:46 pm

Dat's my own big assumption! No guarantees! But if we haven't heard/seen anything about it by June, we'll be making some waves.
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Postby Trishntek » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:46 pm

PLACEMENT COMES FIRST! The WWW is about the last thing you will do before the event. There is no use listing in the WWW until you know where you will be located. Be patient,,,, about late June/early July you will be able to list your events.

The 2011 theme camps and events will be listed when they get it done. I know you want to promote your efforts and get things rolling but the BMorg has its own priorities and timeline. We are at their mercy. If you are signed up for Jack Rabbit Speaks emails, you will receive information as it becomes available.
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On Boilerplate LNT

Postby gerflash » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:59 pm

FYI to Illy dilly,

Ya got me thinking. Couldn't stop. So I wrote to the Placement peeps and asked them about their generic LNT verbiage.

By gum, they are a Class Act! Got a response in just a coupla hours! Here it is:

We changed the questionnaire this year and went with the list of items
that you checked off as part of the application process. We do not need
formal LNT plans. We'll see how effective this new process is when we do
the sweeps after the event. Thanks for asking.

So there you have the true clue directly from the horse's mouth.
(No offense intended!!)
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How to fail with a Theme Camp

Postby marck » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:58 pm

Anyone have any cautionary tales of what not to do when starting a Theme Camp?

I have several, but I'll relate one. This was one camp I was helping to set up. My theme camp was all ready to go and I wanted to help out what sounded like a cool new bar build their dome.

I arrived with gloves, a shade hat, a quart of water and a couple of my own hand tools for dome construction.
The problems I saw initially:
    1.) Only one person on site knew how the dome was supposed to go together.
    2.) They arrived the day before but nothing had been sorted or organized since they were unloaded.
      - The conduit was dumped in three or four piles.
      - The tarps were mixed in with other equipment(the bar stuff).
    3.) No one knew where anything was packed.
    4.) The camp Leader didn't expect to have to work on construction even though they were short handed(this was why I was there).
    5.) The internal political bickering had already started.

While the leader, the lights/sound guy, and the guy(who knew how to build the dome they borrowed) argued. I spent the time trying to hunt down and sort the conduit.

Then they got their shit together and late in the afternoon we started to put this dome up. A lot of it was finished but they wanted to break for an early dinner. I sat around with an empty quart water bottle, because I had been there since around noonish, for about a half hour pre-staging the remaining conduit while the rest of them ate, then I left.

This was about Sunday before the gates opened, I think they folded up before Wednesday.

I was told that they all met online or briefly IRL. I think their idea for a Theme Camp was good, but I don't think any of them were experienced enough to do a camp of that size.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:44 pm

Simon's real sig line?

Embrace the Sock

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Postby HandJamMasterC » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:32 am

Ha, I don't know how " wise " I am. You just need a concept that fires your imagination.

Funny thing is, we originally talked about building a rock climbing theme camp. It was going to be a 25' tall climbing wall built on plywood, attached to scaffolding, with a bar on top and a giant kiddy slide off the back. Nobody had any place to store the scaffolding though. And then this hot girl gave me a sign, and I had way too much time on my hands to build stuff. The rest is history...............
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Postby Packoderm » Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:08 am

I'd say try to act like your camp is just about filled up and cannot take on many more members. People want to be with the cool people more than misfits.
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Postby marck » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:17 am

Make sure to create an application form that any potential campers have to fill out.

Remember to include the Emergancy Contact, liability waver, insurance, and any tax related forms in this packet.
(We usually have them fill the forms out with some of their blood left over from the blood draw.)

Also during the interview process (You do interview them, right?) Ask leading questions and watch their body language while they reply. This will give you a better idea of if this person would "fit" with your camp culture.

Remember to ask for any social websites or boards they may belong to so you can have the people in your camp's Backgrounds Department do a thorough check.
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