Plug n Play section of 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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remi
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Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by remi » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:22 am

I just got from our theme camps annual retreat and thought about a crazy idea.

What if a major theme camp sectioned off a small corner of their camp as a plug n play, sold tickets for a pretty crazy price (as you'd expect for a ticket that includes a yurt, food, booze, bike, water, shower, toilet, set up, tear down, etc,) and the price of that ticket went to pay for all the camps fees. Our camp is run by a non profit LLC and any extra money that wasn't used for our camp would go into art grants. One benefit of this (apart from the financial assistance,) is that with only having a few P&P members, it wouldn't just be a big camp surrounded by walls, it would only be a couple yurts and those members could be exposed to what it's actually like to be in a theme camp.. a true burning man experience, which I believe may also help with the cultural issues that are arising at TTITD.

It was a crazy idea at the end of a night fueled by copious amounts of booze... but it actually sounds feasible. Thoughts?
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by EGAZ » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:37 pm

You would still be a plug n play camp. You are making it easier for those you do not prep to be on the playa. I understand the financial benefits to your theme camp, but this is not the way to do it IMHO. Personally I see a lot of opportunity to make a buck on the Playa. And I could quit easily. Actually before they get to the playa. But that is not how its done.

The same end result can be achieved by having the birgins be a part of your camp like everyone else. What I see making headway on the TCO FB group page is to have a vet mentor/lead/train birgins. They are responsible for the birgins actions and guiding them in the ten principles, community, volunteering, etc. This is a better way to spread the culture. Make them work for it and experience the joy once they succeed! :coffee:
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by BBadger » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:55 pm

I'll acknowledge that the lines seem really blurred when it comes to what constitutes a "plug and play" camp, and what constitutes a camp with dues and amenities that only a few people are qualified to bring and set up. However, I think the real distinction in this case is that you're actually recruiting people with the intention of providing that "PnP" experience, rather than having people in your camp create or pay for it for themselves as something nice you could all enjoy.

In fact, maybe that's what bothers me most about plug-and-play camps, the DGS, and all this shit that has arisen in the past few years: now tickets and established camp amenities are a recruiting and profit mechanism, and the DGS just reinforces this for established camps.

Also that whole "oh we'll provide an art grant" thing sounds like a fat load of bullshit rationalization to me. Huge roll-eyes. If a camp is doing this, why shouldn't BMOrg do that too? Why shouldn't everyone profit "for the art"? Plain and simple, it's profiting by selling a service to outside customers. No lame-ass "non-profit" LLC makes this any different (that entire corporation designation ought to be abolished in my mind).

That plug-and-play service taints the entire theme camp. No amount of polishing that turd and dressing it up will change that fact. One might as well have a "section" of your camp be paid for by corporate sponsorship and branding. "Only a mere section!" Yeah, whatever.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by Token » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:46 am

You are going to Burning Man so may be good to just do it and fuckall. Grow some hair on them peaches and tell us how it works out.

I don't see a problem with it if you can pull off the balance.

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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by Chowski » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:17 am

I believe you have crossed the line. Our camp, going on ten years now, had no "camp dues" for the first five or six years. We are all friends, we all chipped in to create our interactivity, and we added new friends as time passed. Eventually, it became clear that SOME people were getting stuck paying for things that others weren't - like, dump runs at the end, gas for the generators, gas to drive the large trucks that brought all our group infrastructure. Our first year with a fee, it was $50.00 and was all easily spent on group shade and transportation reimbursement for those who shouldered a larger burden. The next year, we upped it to $100, and easily used that for our base expenses (gas, transportation, public bar liquor and mixers, ice on playa) as well as few new shade structures, a new speaker or two, and an upgrade to our public tower. The goal was to get just enough to cover our needs and grow the infrastructure a little. This year, we have come closer to commodification in that we voted to have returning members pay $100, and virgins pay $150. It's not truly equal, but we consider that those who have camped with us before have already spent a few year's dues on infrastructure, while the virgins will now pay a bit more to have use of what the vets have already paid for AND contribute to our growth. It's not quite commodification, since our virgins are all known to us, or friends of friends - they are not "customers" and we are not providing anything for them that we are not providing for everybody. they still have to provide their own shade and tents and transportation and food. I think the line is, what are you providing? And to whom? Making a yurt for somebody who paid you is Commodification. And it isn't cool. Those people shouldn't come to Burning Man. They are the problem. And by accommodating them, so are you.

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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by VultureChow » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:24 am

It's tempting isn't it. I think about the money we put in, and the labor and I think, With no extra cost, I could add a few people willing to spend real money just for some shade, water, food. I already bring too much water and food. It would be so easy.

And you see it with some large, old and established camps. You can buy access to the grid for your RV, a food plan, a shower plan, bike rental, etc. and I have no doubt that the mentality is "We bring something big and awesome and interactive, and whatever it take to bring that, it's worth it. I don't believe most (if any) of these camps really make money. There's no profit. No camp leader goes home and lives off their theme camp wages.

But the principal isn't De-Profitize, it's De-Commodification. PROFIT alone isn't the measure of a commercial transaction. There's no hard and fast line for dues vs buying your way, but perhaps it's more like pornography. Hard to define, but I know it when I see it.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by remi » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:56 pm

Very interesting replies, and thanks for your contributions.

Eldergeekaz - Your mentor/birgin training is a well known method that our camp has used for a few years, which is why our camp has no cultural issues. Unfortunately the end result isn't the same... it doesn't get us enough money to transport our bar/stage/camp down to Black Rock city, which is what makes us participants, not spectators.

Not sure why Badger believes "providing art grants" is a fat load of shit.. our camp already provides thousands of dollars in art grants every year.. adding to that would only benefit the festival. (Well, it goes to artists from our region... so it'll benefit our regional.)

I'm fascinated by the commodification semantics Chowski brought up. I agree in most part, but I still find it interesting when people try to draw the line in the sand for me. Claiming you're moving closer to commodification but this style is "uncool" and people accommodating this shouldn't come to burning man is hypocritical, but logical. I do agree with you.. I just made this post to see what dialogue arises. So, the difference you're describing is it's ok for some people to pay more, however, if they are paying more to receive amenities that would separate them from being radically self reliant, that's crossing this "line".

I am curious how my camp would react to making different camp fees for returning members v.s. birgins. I may suggest that. Gracias.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:38 pm

There are a lot of models and variables in camp budgets. Open books/closed books. One decisionmaker/council/council+consensus. Camp size. Mix of years with camp. Different prices for different volunteer jobs.

The camps I've been a part of except one year were free - with shower, shared kitchen and some group meals. All made by volunteers and large cash flow-out items covered by those who could afford to donate those.

One camp had about $100 dues including meals + extra maybe $50 for a space in a swamp-cooled dome. Everyone helped out on the labor in the kitchen and everyone had another volunteer job. People signed up to cook a meal and bring the main ingredients for that meal. About 150 people were in camp, 65' sound dome, costumery, chill & eating 20x30 tent. The organizer still had to put personal funds in to break even.

To the OP, what you need is a patron(s). Someone you know who likes to hang out with you the rest of the year. It really doesn't work to have a large variation in luxury within the camp. It creates stress and drama, especially if the snowflakes start to melt.

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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by BBadger » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:41 pm

remi wrote:Not sure why Badger believes "providing art grants" is a fat load of shit.. our camp already provides thousands of dollars in art grants every year.. adding to that would only benefit the festival. (Well, it goes to artists from our region... so it'll benefit our regional.)
It's like saying that you're doing something "for the children" as some sort of justification. "Yeah, we're having corporate sponsorship, but we're donating some of it to charity -- for the children -- so it's okay." Maybe you will provide art grants or whatever, but it's the very premise that you feel you can somehow excuse your actions because of some "good cause" side-effect that rubs me the wrong way. "I scalped my tickets so I would have more money to spend on camp interactivity for the playa!" Not the same thing, but that kind of thing.
I'm fascinated by the commodification semantics Chowski brought up. I agree in most part, but I still find it interesting when people try to draw the line in the sand for me. Claiming you're moving closer to commodification but this style is "uncool" and people accommodating this shouldn't come to burning man is hypocritical, but logical. I do agree with you.. I just made this post to see what dialogue arises. So, the difference you're describing is it's ok for some people to pay more, however, if they are paying more to receive amenities that would separate them from being radically self reliant, that's crossing this "line".
These lines are very blurred and quite full of rationalizations and lame excuses. The whole "radically self-reliant" separation concept, just like "participation," is such a flimsy, subjective metric, that it's pretty ridiculous to even pretend that there is a line that can be drawn at all.

In some ways, I'm not even sure if I really care all that much in the absolute sense, despite what I've posted before. Mostly, I don't like that, in this age of ticket scarcity, these camps and tickets are being used for recruiting people with amenities or other services. These PnP type services and accommodations end up drawing people in to be used as resources.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by Eric » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:25 pm

One thing that hasn't touched on, and that should be a major factor in your decision making - if you have a "plug & play" section, you have to let BMorg know, and you have to pay outside service fees to the BLM to do it. If you try to run it in secret you stand the chance of having your whole camp booted, plus being on the hook for fines.

That said, before 2011 the dynamic you're describing happened on playa, but it wasn't as much of an issue because there weren't limited tickets, and what were then called "VIP camps" by those who knew of them tended to blend into the camps they were part of. People in the camp would know the different areas, but not so much people on the street. In the post sell-out world we're living in different times, and the whiff of "plug and play" can taint a camps perception among other Burners.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by Token » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:54 am

Eric wrote: - if you have a "plug & play" section, you have to let BMorg know, and you have to pay outside service fees to the BLM to do it.
And that ties very nicely into the Culture Thread

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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by some seeing eye » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:13 pm

In the patron model, ideally the patron is self sufficient. They bring their own shelter and whatever else is not shared by the camp. That way they are responsible for their own expectations. They support the camp as a gift. They are part of the community and participate in year around potlucks, house parties and campouts.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:38 pm

remi wrote: Not sure why Badger believes "providing art grants" is a fat load of shit.. our camp already provides thousands of dollars in art grants every year.. adding to that would only benefit the festival. (Well, it goes to artists from our region... so it'll benefit our regional.)
Therefor it does not benefit the festival.
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Re: Plug n Play section of Theme Camp

Post by remi » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:25 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:
remi wrote: Not sure why Badger believes "providing art grants" is a fat load of shit.. our camp already provides thousands of dollars in art grants every year.. adding to that would only benefit the festival. (Well, it goes to artists from our region... so it'll benefit our regional.)
Therefor it does not benefit the festival.

Except in cases where our artists get Burning Man art honorariums based on the art that they built with our original art grants... which happens... but yes, other than that it doesn't.. except where artists just bring their art to the burn (sans honorarium) that that originally built for our regional.. or when theme camps come down and hold family friendly events with the infrastructure that our grants paid for, or art cars that attend the big burn and our regional built with funds provided by our regional.... outside of those examples you're right.. it doesn't benefit the big burn.

Anyways.. thanks all for your contributions... our camp isn't going down this road.. but it was nice to see what people thought about the idea. Cheers.
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