It's been a busy month for me since the Burn, so I apologize for not personally getting back to the forum to report.
In summary: IT WAS AMAZING. We did rename ourselves to "Camp Internet Strangers", which I loved.
I capped it off at about 12 folks total, and most everyone was in groups of 2 so I didn't have to coordinate with each person individually; unintentionally most of the group had been 2-3 times before. Most of the group met us up in Reno on Saturday and I had cell info for everyone who was coming in later or separately. We caravanned together after at last minute Lowes stop in Sparks, which actually turned out to be a great meet spot. We had some radios, which was helpful for when we split up at will-call. The lead group head to our target area of 4:30 & K and meandered around to find a slightly further in spot of "3:55" & J. I was personally really surprised and disappointed at how much of the closer in city had been claimed well before the gates opened, definitely feeds into my perspective that BM is no longer for independent, self-reliant campers, but anyway...
After finding our space we spread our vehicles out and roughly guessed how much we were going to need for the lounge and later arrivals. I sent out text messages to those still out there with our coordinates, and got confirmations back, so I didn't need to go to my backup methods (signs at 4:30 & L, camp registration at center camp). I'm really glad that the majority of the group was there and didn't require holding space as it quickly dwindled over the next few days.
After some hours of sleep, we got up and started building the lounge and some of our individual spaces that we could with the higher winds on Sunday. It was awesome to take turns helping each other and take some beer breaks with each other. By the end of the day we had most of what we could set up with the conditions and we all took off for the playa to explore together.
Coming back to a group of people we were getting to know was really fun. Every day it seemed like I hung out with a different set of the group. On days we were feeling good, we'd open up the bar and serve up bloody mary's, beer, or whatever combination of things that our group brought to share. The bloody mary's were a HUGE HIT, btw! I highly recommend. People were so excited to find an unadvertised camp with no lines with bloodies.
We all had our own individual setup types -- I had my monkey hut with a teardrop, there was a nice shade coming out of a van, one coming off a hexayurt, etc. That turned out to be really nice, we'd often chill with each other in the other spaces or cook up some food to share with each other.
The big thing I wanted to do for the week was to make quesadillas to take out to playa at night and share. I had bought pizza boxes and delivery warmers, and lots of prepared vegan, vegeterian, and pulled pork stuff and Martin Luther reformer brought some amazing tortillas from LA. One night I asked whoever in our group was interested to help, and we set up an assembly line of building quesadillas! After we made as many as we could, we group rode out to the spikey light pole art and just started handing them out. People were so stoked to have hot food. (We were respectful to stay outside in the bike area and not in the art itself.) It was all gone before I knew it, but it was such a wonderful thing to do together. I was so happy my idea came together and our group did it together.
One more highlight -- my roommate had already signed up and was part of the skydiving camp. He wasn't staying there, just part of it so he could do some jumps. He didn't want to do as many jumps as he was allowed to do, so he could gift his leftover jump tickets to people to take a ride on the jump plane. Towards the end of the week, on his last jump he decided to give his spare tickets to 4 of us in the camp. What an experience! We were so happy to go up with him and see him jump out of the plane above the playa. Seeing the city from the air and take that ride was a one in a lifetime!
The sense of community that we created by just meeting up together and chatting a bit before the week started was the most surprising part to me. It didn't take much to move the needle from stranger neighbors to some of us being friends for a long time.
Thanks, ePlaya. You provided exactly what I was hoping for when I put out that first post.