Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Theme camps and villages are the interactive core of Burning Man. This is the place to announce and discuss camp and village plans for Burning Man 2017.
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Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by SunshineSeen » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:50 am

Hello all - looking for some input.

First timer, looking to put together a theme camp. So overwhelmed by this prospect.
Last year I walked about 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. While in international company we all agreed to meet up if we can pull together a Camino camp. Name - El Albergue Tranquile del Camino. (Translating to the Camino Pilgrim Hostel)

There are a number of really neat details from the camino that can be worked into this.
- On the camino you gain stamps from the places that you visit, so make a camp stamp
- You find 'the way' by following yellow arrows, so make yellow arrows that lead to the camp
- Scallop Shells are the symbol of the camino, have shells for visitors to paint
- The camino has been a pilgrimage since medieval times. Decorate with maps of those many routes

Feeling very inexperienced yet driven, how can I pull this off?

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Chowski » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:24 am

I can't tell from your post if you have or have not been to the Burn before. If you haven't my sincere advice is to go with some friends before you try to build a theme camp. Just go. Spend the next six months planning and preparing for YOUR survival. Go with a few of your friends and camp wherever you land, or find an established camp and join their efforts. Spend your first burn overwhelmed and exhausted and overstimulated and overjoyed. Meet people, visit camps, ask them how they do it, gather your ideas. Then go back home and plan to make a more organized camp for 2018.

Getting to and surviving Burning Man is challenge enough for the first-timer. trying to do all that while also trying to pull off a theme camp is just asking for trouble.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Dr. Pyro » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:58 pm

I completely agree with Chowski. Being overwhelmed by the experience and trying to piece together a successful theme camp your very first year is a recipe for disaster. 2018 would be a much better plan indeed.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Leap » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:21 pm

You are going to need some stamps, yellow arrows, scallop shells, paint, and maps. Along with the paint, some googly eyes might help decorate the maps.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Meat Hunter » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:05 pm

My good friend Leap is just pranking you.

Do what Chowski and Dr. Pyro suggested and you will thank yourself later.

Leap, will you be back at 88NV next year?
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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Eric » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:14 pm

The general consensus is correct - do not attempt a theme camp your first year. Burning Man is bigger & stranger than you can imagine, and every photograph and video you've watched only tells a very the smallest sliver of the event, and, at least in my case, most of them document a place I've never been. Allow yourself the freedom to explore and experience the event - you only get one "first time".

Also, in a bit of harsh reality, it's a bit soon to plan a camp - you need to make sure you can get tickets first (unless you're buying them in the pre-sale). More people want to attend than there are tickets available, prepare yourself for that reality first.
It's a camping trip in the desert, not the redemption of the fallen world - Cryptofishist

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Leap » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:40 am

Meat Hunter wrote:Leap, will you be back at 88NV next year?
That's a affirmative good buddy and I'm bringing my co-pilot.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by AntiM » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:59 am

An entire theme camp is a chunk of time, money, and work. You don't get access to theme camp perks the first time either. Enjoy your first time. You can incorporate a few of your ideas into your personal camp, maybe a yellow arrow sign or a shell painting station. Get a feel for the event, and the elusive "playa time".

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:21 am

What's wrong with all of you??
Don't listen to these naysayers. Seems like every other new Burner says "how can I join someone else's camp and have all my needs taken care of". This guy wants to do it RIGHT!!
I highly applaud your intention to bring your own thing to Burning Man. That at least used to be what it was all about!

My first year, some friends and I started right out with our own theme camp, Johnny & the Playa Cruizers. We were the bike repair camp at 9:00.

Your camp idea doesn't sound that hard. Easier than mine was I'd say. You pretty much outlined it already. Bring some shells, some yellow arrows, etc. and have at it.
You have to set up camp anyway, why not go for it!! It doesn't have to be on a huge scale, it can be whatever and however much you want to do.

Welcome to Burning Man, you're doing this right.
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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by WileE13 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:46 am

Sounds like a great theme idea and not too difficult to pull off either. I think you laid out all the major points of the camp. Theme camps can be any size, don't feel like it has to be some big production. Focus on your camp for living purposes first, then figure out how to integrate the theme. Delegate tasks to the group and have things set up so that you can show up and put the camp together quickly and easily. You don't want to spend a day just building then another day tearing down. Biggest tip: start now because it is easy to get busy in the summer and put it off, forcing a last minute scramble that always leads to cutting corners and making mistakes.

One tip, avoid EZ up's, they get trashed. Invest in something stronger like a car port. We got ours at Costco for 200 something. They go up fairly quick and they don't get destroyed by the weather.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by Ratty » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:09 am

Welcome Sunshineseen. It's ambitious of you to plan an activity for the community on your first year. Where are you living? I get the impression you are on a sojourn in the states. If so, do whatever you want at the burn. You never know if you'll get back to it again. On the other hand, if you live in California maybe just enjoy the event on your maiden voyage and 'go big' the next time you attend. Regardless of your plans, do a lot of research and prep. Being prepared for the weather will increase your chance of survival.
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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by LowePro » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:02 pm

Sunny, you can do a registered Theme Camp if you choose, but just follow the directions carefully in the application process. Do your best to describe what you are offering (Sounds like you have a good start on that). They also ask for info on your power, structures, water usage, space requirements, etc. So keep everything else simple-simple-simple since it's your first year. Recruit some helpers now because you'll need them. And don't apply for something unreasonable...don't ask for a 2-acre site at a prime location. Ask for a small site in the outer rings and you might get lucky; you might even get a few Early-Entry passes.

However---if you chose to skip the whole application process, you should still bring all your ideas and projects and just do them "unofficially", that's how many of us got started and some people do it unofficial every time. Unofficial camps are still super awesome.

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Re: Overwhelmed: I Seek To Create a Theme Camp

Post by XaOs » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:33 am


Yes, if you feel inspired, you should do it. Your idea sounds wonderful.

Yes, you can have a theme camp if you want to. What is a “theme camp?” Just a camp where random citizens off the street can participate in something the camp is doing. Theme camps come in all shapes and sizes and types. Some of the very nicest theme camps I’ve visited have been small and simple with just a single focus.

Yes, you can be registered and placed in a spot reserved just for you (nice!), or you can just be registered and listed in the directory by name and description only, or you can just come and set up unannounced. Any way is fine. Even if you decide not to register your camp, it could be a useful exercise to go through the application form online to get an idea of what BMORG asks the applicants. It can be very helpful to use it as a tool to think about important things for your camp such as layout, safety, and Leaving No Trace.

Some thoughts:
- Quality over quantity. Sometimes smaller is better. Think of how many maps, shells, etc. you will be giving out, and how many visitors you will be engaging with. Do you want to hand out stuff to a bunch of people, or could it be better to provide an extraordinary experience for just a few visitors?
- Keep it simple. It’s easy for inspiration to get the better of you, as ideas start cropping up like mushrooms after a summer rain. The fewer moving parts you have in your project, the fewer things to go wrong, and the more effective it can be.
- Interaction makes all the difference. The more engaged you and your fellow campers are with the visitors who arrive and want to participate, the more fun it can be.
- You are the host, and the visitors are your guests. They are strangers who arrive at your door; in the desert, hospitality is everything. How will you look after their pleasure, comfort, and safety? Could they use a bit of shade, or a place to sit for a spell? Might they be thirsty or hungry? Maybe it would be good to least have a little extra water to offer someone who shows up dehydrated, or spare supplies in your first aid kit in case of a mishap. When you open your camp to the public, anyone might show up.
- Do some research. Look around, ask around. There is a Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers group on Facebook - they are very supportive and helpful (snark-free zone). Working with paints on the playa can be tricky.
- Schwag vs. MOOP. The idea of giving people shells is beautiful. Maps are cool, too, yet can easily be torn or blow away. Be mindful that many people won’t have pockets or any other places to put the things you give them. Do you want them to have a shell to throw in their bag to maybe get forgotten, lost, or broken, or do you want them to wear something cool? Idea: What if you pre-drill the shells and bring something to string through the holes (lanyard cords, leather thongs, whatever) so that they could wear it around their neck or on their wrist, or attach it to their backpack or their bicycle? Burners love them some schwag.
- Involving your neighbors, building community. The idea of a map invites thinking about the territory. Who else in the neighborhood is nearby? Where are they, what are they doing, could they be a destination, or a landmark, on the maps? What if the maps you brought were mostly blank and empty, with just the street grid and a few permanent landmarks, and part of the interactive experience would be for them to fill in the blanks with some of your cool neighbors and discoveries they have made for themselves?

If you can dream it, you can do it.
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