I brought my DSLR without much protection. A little painters tape and that's it. I've changed lenses inside and outside. I'm due for a cleaning, but ther than that everything is still in working order. I shoot with Canon. 2011 I kept a 50mm lens on it for 90 of the time, but there are so many times when you want to zoom or shoot wide and can't... I'll likely pack my 28-105mm and 50mm... Maybe my 55-300mm if I honestly think I need the zoom, but you can always shoot Raw and crop from 105mm...IMHO. I do use filters on my lenses and was 'thinking' about doing the ziplock trick on my 28-105, but we will see. Most people I know have no real protection on their gear and this includes Mark 5D's. A good post cleaning will do your gear a world of good.
Take pics, even if they are only in auto... You don't need to put much thought into them, those are the one's you look back and laugh at later. Avoid taking photos of the sparkle ponies, I hear they bite.
There are a bagillion camps... Maybe not that many, but lots. Most accept virgins and solo campers... It all depends on what you are looking for. You can look at the list of 2012 theme camps online, as you know(right?), to get a taste for what was on the playa in 2012. There is something for everyone on the playa.. Hushville, Kidsville(but you aren't bringing the tyke), French Quarter, Necatar Village, Death Guild, Distrikt, DeMentha, BDC, Spanky's and the list goes on!!!! I'm not sure which camps have evap ponds though... Nectar Village has an awesome steam bath... I'm packing my shower cap this year.