Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

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Token
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Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:43 pm

MM’s ten-years-late awakening has me pondering the impact of service camps and what they bring to the Petri dish in the dust.

I gotta say, I’m vexed.

On one hand, service camps have some of the most decent human beings pouring in the sweat equity and untold generosity into our little tribe/cult. Nothing but respect for anyone so selfless.

On the other hand, the FKO in me wants TTITD to have a high bar for ingenuity, a good helping of struggle, allot of immediacy, and endless shenanigans.

The benefits:

Gifting, no doubt, exemplary.
Radical Inclusion - you bet - enables those who couldn’t meet the bar to have a go.

The cost?:

Did the countless service camps create a subculture of consumption?

Is their gift eroding the other core principles of reliance, communal effort, immediacy, and intimacy?

Have service camps evolved into a strategy and plan for the “casual burner”™ ?

Has the idea become an institution?

Vexing.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by gaminwench » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:55 pm

Token, what is your definition of a service camp?
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:08 pm

Question of clarification: what is your definition of a service camp?

We have services: https://burningman.org/event/volunteering/teams/. There are individual MV camps and individual art project building camps, like the temple.

What the BLM population cap true up showed is that there are about 10,000 services, management and special guest tickets per year beyond the DGS. The big numbers there are the rangers and ESD, ~3000 + ~4000, correct me if I'm wrong those departments are not in the DGS.

So curious where this idea is going.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:21 pm

By Service Camp I refer to folks who generally fix things, provide a utility of some kind, or goods.

Be it bike repair, solar charging, welding, recycling, washing, bars, coffee, etc.

Any camp that gifts on the populace goods or services which remove incentive from their patrons to actually provide for themselves. Things that encourage consumption rather than creativity and ingenuity.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:23 pm

No, not talking about ESD, or other BORG driven programs. Just regular folk.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:58 pm

In that case, here is my idea.

We all have similar brains with receptors for novelty-familiarity, pleasure-pain, fear-hope. We have different backgrounds and personality types that govern what experiences feed those receptors. BRC is a temporary city full of strangers interacting and making hundreds of instant decisions on who to engage each day there.

So many things we have, like Center Camp, the Esplanade, the Man, the Temple, processions are designed to create opportunity to meet people and have a substantive engagement. This is one of the major values of costumes.

Some people, and a substantial number of burners, have a performative personality type. For them it is acting and performing. Sometimes they are not focused on engagement, sometimes they want to see a reaction and some are purely internally-driven. There are also many DJs in the neighborhoods that are purely internally-driven to play music for themselves as loud as possible.

Personally I think the services camps create interactions and they take work to find - so I don't think they are unduly exploited by virgins who are seriously not self-reliant. Those services camps are a great form of participation.

I think if each camp was 100% self reliant and spent all their energy on bullhorning and fuckoing, it would be very boring. Even the original Cacaphos were mostly good friends beforehand in the real world.

Purely in my opinion of course, YMMV.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Ano » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:15 pm

Token wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:21 pm
By Service Camp I refer to folks who generally fix things, provide a utility of some kind, or goods.

Be it bike repair, solar charging, welding, recycling, washing, bars, coffee, etc.

Any camp that gifts on the populace goods or services which remove incentive from their patrons to actually provide for themselves. Things that encourage consumption rather than creativity and ingenuity.
Ehhh.. I think these camps don't really add to the subculture of consumption, as proposed above.

I don't think turnkey campers even know these camps exist, much less how to find them. Turnkey campers absolutely follow the stereotype. I say this as someone who has had to live downwind of turnkeys since 2013 in
the K-hole in 7:30 and used to defend the practices. Their campers are clueless morons who are here for DISTRIKT, Mayan Warrior, Camp?, and Robot Heart. These folks hardly even know that there are actual places to do things other than rave, straight up.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Papa Bear » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:51 pm

Well, by that definition, the camp I've been with the last years is a service camp. Astral Headwash, we wash heads. Shampoo, rinse, conditioner, and a bit of scalp massage. Bald heads too.

We wash around 200 heads a day over the course of each day we are open, and we are only open from noon- 4pm Monday through Friday. It's first-come, first-served, and if you're not the first one there you could easily be waiting several hours for your turn. And wait you shall, because if you're not around when we call your name, you go to the end of the list - if it's still open. Later in the week, if you're not there by about 12:40, you're just not going to get a turn.

So are we encouraging consumption or enabling a lack of self-reliance? Maybe, but anyone relying on our services is likely to be sorely disappointed. That's a whole lot of waiting around for something you could do yourself fairly easily, especially if you can find a friend to help.

Of course, we don't really consider ourselves a service camp. That's just the trojan horse. What we actually do is set up a space where we invite participants to volunteer to wash each other's hair, and encourage interaction and conversation among the participants who are sitting around waiting. The whole point is to get people participating and interacting with each other.

(Our job is mostly to handle infrastructure, graywater, and coordinate the space, though occasionally some of us will wash some heads just because we enjoy it.)

Edit: and no, I don't see many turnkey campers come through. It's mostly worn-out dusty burners grateful for the treat.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:18 am

Good point Papa, AHW the other bathing institution whose name escapes me as well is about communal effort, boundaries, etc. although Dr Broners does sponsee the other camp but that’s another topic altogether.

What irks me is that at least a half dozen people over the years have said in my earshot that they more or less don’t bother with xyz because there is a camp out there gifting it and they take care of it. (Mostly about bikes but also other items)

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by AddamsonFlint » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:52 am

Very good philosophical question Token-

I really dig the distinction Papa Bear made- there’s certainly a difference between “relying on” and “making use of.”

Repair camps for instance are a great example of this. You never know when and where something will break. So planning on that front in the context of going to BM is obviously not very doable. But when something does break, having that resource is certainly invaluable.


At the same time, there is also credence to your observations Token- the more services grow, the more people will gravitate towards relying on them.

The more detailed question could be “what services should be provided?”

I think services that allow PnP camps to grow more easily should certainly get some healthy scrutiny and consideration. Fuel and water delivery, sanitation (private use), would be a good start.

If these “tour directors” had to haul in and out, all their own shit (literally lol), fuel, water, hook up power, etc, these little bitches would cry and go home in a heartbeat.

Just my 2 cents ;)

Flint

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Elliot » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:54 am

:D
Excellent thought-provoking question, Token.

I enjoy the great honor of managing a bicycle repair camp.

I agree that from one perspective... all Burners could perhaps be expected to provide everything they need for themselves, or at least in their own camp. Within reason, of course.

On the other hand... our interactions with our customers is surely the most valuable element of the entire Burning Man phenomenon.
Life as a human is, after all, fundamentall about people. Our art, our social institutions... are all about the people. And this I cherish above all else.

Everything we do in camp -- repair bicycles, give massage, paint decorations on people, provide a piano for all to play -- and build the camp itself, such as inventing and fabricating clever shade structures -- are all tools we use to create face-to-face interactions with people we have not met before.

It is true that some Participants rely excessively on services provided by others, and bicycles may even top that list. We do see bikes that should never have been brought to the Playa in the first place.
And I find this a trivial price to pay.
In fact, meeting these individuals can be every bit as valuable as meeting anyone else -- as a teaching opportunity, if nothing else.

Burning Man.
Not just a survival boot camp.

Thanks!

Elliot

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Papa Bear » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:13 pm

AddamsonFlint wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:52 am
You never know when and where something will break. So planning on that front in the context of going to BM is obviously not very doable.
In extreme cases, sure. But while you may not be prepared for a bike frame tube to break, you should at least be bringing a spare tube and a patch kit (and know how to use them).

Same thing goes on the medical side. Nobody really expects you to deal with broken ribs on your own, but heading to Rampart for a band-aid is and should be frowned upon.

Some of that basic self-reliance is far less common than it used to be, and that's a shame. I don't know how much of it is due to the presence of camps gifting services, but it's an interesting question nonetheless.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:03 pm

Y'all are awesome!

Reliance vs. Experience - that's gold right there.

Sadly, the reliance part is what tickles me funny, and its not the providers, its the motives of the patrons.

It may very well be one of those 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'' aspects of having such a broad and large population.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by 666isMONEY » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:59 pm

Service vs Self Reliance?

Shade music and art is all we need, BYOB and drugs.

The desert is nice too.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by AddamsonFlint » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:07 pm

We are all awesome (you included Token ;) ), because we are positive builders and creators on this post, having a thoughtful, respectful, engaging discussion.

This...is what posts and threads "should" be constructed of. Unfortunately, this thread here does not represent the majority, not just of the masses, but sadly much of the burner community forums even worse at times. Hell...I don't even visit the Reddit burner pages anymore. The Facebook pages, don't even get me started. But even here, you can't escape it at times. A current thread on the '19 theme page is a perfect example of vitriol for the sake of vitriol for eons and eons.

I honestly don't know why people are so motivated for that, at least when it comes to burners. One week of the year, the most amazing people you'll ever meet. And the most soulless shit will get posted for the next 51- I just don't get it.

Sorry for the tangent hijacking your post Token. But this thread is very much representative of the type of discourse that should go about, over such topics and discusssions...

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:50 am

Oh cheese n rice Flint, that kind of talk can stick and soil my street cred!

Don’t go mellowing my harsh on account of one misguided post. ;)

I’m plenty guilty of mischief.

The boards here have a pulse. There’s a groove, and the key is to take and roll with the punches a bit, wade through the piles of bullshit now and again, then land on some pretty fucking amazing stuff.

Just like the Playa, there’s allot of mindless fluff that sets the aroma, and then you find the handful of things that make it all worth the hassle.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:22 pm

Token wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:03 pm
Y'all are awesome!

Reliance vs. Experience - that's gold right there.

Sadly, the reliance part is what tickles me funny, and its not the providers, its the motives of the patrons.

It may very well be one of those 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'' aspects of having such a broad and large population.
Most times when people find my camp it's playadipity, word of mouth, our signage or memory. I love helping out people who made honest mistakes. It's extremely rare that I get someone coming by that brought a broken thing all the way from home to have us repair it without letting me know and get approval before hand. I'm trying to teach repair skills and techniques more so that people leave a little more competent and maybe even confident. We do have a self repair area commonly used by people far from their camps. It's amazing how many people return to gift us tubes after we gift them a tube to fix their flat. People who know about bottom bracket issues and don't take care of it pre playa are assholes. When someone shows up with a vehicle they purchased 2 weeks before the burn and they want me to give it a once over or adjust a part that should have been replaced..... They get a very polite invitation to have a drink at our bar and the answer ends up that there is nothing we can do for their concerns. I will take out all the stops for someone who tried hard for a long time and we can help them finish up nicely.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:30 pm

I hears you Motsky, I have no doubt about the rewarding aspects of altruism.

Heck, I lugged a splatter welder out there for years and never failed to put it to good use myself despite the fact I didn’t really need it. The key is I gone done that without having a formal repair camp. Just part of the ride. (Ask me about welding springs on a 3/4 ton truck that snapped)

Heck, in two separate years we brought yet undiscovered Sparkle Ponies to BM. We thought we done them right, taught and prepared ... and they showed up with boxed bikes and nonchalantly exclaimed: “ Oh, can you give me a ride to camp so-and-so bike repair camp so they can build my bike”?

So I’m biased, burned, and skeptical on top of being a jaded old fart. ;)

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:06 pm

I was unplaced and unofficial for years. I feel ya. I'm a bit biased, burnt and skeptical myself too. Been know to be jaded too. ...Welding Springs is a feat! Spring steel shouldn't like that. Nice work.


Would I rather that I could go back to a responsible land grab sized for my camp and have all my camp mates be able to buy tickets at gate.... That would be awesome! It's been one hell of a pivot. I miss all the weird shit that people did when they planned more for that and didn't have to be part of a huge benefits bureaucracy to have certainty of attending.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Dr Helix » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:47 am

I get a kick in the ass from helping people. I really do. Last year I made my little MV into a tow truck and hauled people and their bikes in when they were disabled. I knew where the bike repair camps were. But in at least half the tows, the folks said just take them back to camp as they had the tools or parts to fix their bike. So I think there's still a good mix of self doers and those who need help and the service camps are there for them.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Canoe » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:04 am

ToorCamp is a five-day open air tech camping event held every two years somewhere around the northwest corner of Washington state. Think of it as something like Burning Man, except you can survive for three hours without water, there aren’t a whole bunch of scenesters and Instagram celebs flying in on private planes, and everyone there can actually build something.
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by BBadger » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:12 pm

I think that as long as service camps aren't enabling lazy/bad behavior I'm fine with it. Such camps should not be an expected service, but something you discover at some point, or seek out when needed.

Mostly, I don't want service camps that give the impression that "the playa provides."
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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by trilobyte » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:12 am

As others have said, I don't think there's anything wrong with those camps. They're awesome for bringing and sharing their gifts and talents. To me it's a similar deal as with the food camps or the bar camps or any other thing out there.

What they do is awesome. Especially when you consider some of the creative ways they manage to do it.

What isn't awesome are the individuals that plan their burns around their existence. They have a radical lack of self reliance, and instead bank on being able to mooch off others. I've seen some of these individuals visiting our camp when we've done a public food or drink service. Examples that stood out, when we were serving appetizer-y items at our camp, one individual hovered around the spot on the bar where trays were placed and was first to grab on a number of occasions. Without even thinking there was anything wrong with what he was doing, he turned to the person next to him and boasted that he doesn't even bother bringing food to Burning Man, whenever he's hungry he just finds a camp to provide him a meal. :/ Another time, during a public drinks service, a girl noticed we had a large container of water behind the bar (offered to those who look dehydrated that may not want or need another drink), she asked if she could refill her camelbak. We explained that was part of our camp water supply, but if she was really in need and had a long walk back we'd help her out. She said not to worry about it, she was camped down the street. :roll:

There were mooches on the playa in my first year (damn, 15 years ago now), they still exist today. I'm glad that my experience has been that those people continue to be the exceptions rather than the norm, and my experience has been that it's maybe even a lower number than it used to be. That was my own experience (and to be fair, one of the camps I was close with in 2004 was a bigger one with what seemed like a couple moochers in the camp), who knows how that plays out for others or in the bigger picture.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Papa Bear » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:17 pm

trilobyte wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:12 am
There were mooches on the playa in my first year (damn, 15 years ago now), they still exist today. I'm glad that my experience has been that those people continue to be the exceptions rather than the norm, and my experience has been that it's maybe even a lower number than it used to be.
I've always been astounded by what some people think is acceptable behavior.

Our camp hauls and manages a lot of water as part of our gift. One of the fringe benefits of that effort is that we have a shared shower structure for members to use, nestled toward the back of our private area of camp .

One day midweek a couple of years ago, while my wife is showering, a couple of random women from who-knows-where walk up to the structure (which would have required weaving through all kind of non-public space) and announce that they're taking their turns next.

I don't know whether they were being deliberately brazen and figured she'd just assume they were campmates she hadn't yet met, or whether they were just the clueless types who think anything on playa is open for the taking. Either way, they got run out of camp right quick.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:15 pm

That is a grand story there PB.

I dig it.

This was one of the reasons I went the extra mile to build bleachers in front of the showers, the couple times I was part of theme camps.

All the comforts of home except ... privacy.

We had a mountain of fun both times in the camp and made a game of it. Ended up being as famous as the chainsaw-blender.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Toe » Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:31 pm

I see your
chainsaw-blender
and raise you a pedal blender.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by Token » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:26 am

Toe wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:31 pm
I see your
chainsaw-blender
and raise you a pedal blender.
Which one of the goofy kids is you?

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by trilobyte » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:19 am

That's kind of the thing about BRC. Every camp gets to figure out what matters to them, what amenities and creature comforts that they want to build and bring for each other... and sometimes to gift to the community. On its own, that's okay (and encouraged). It's when that stuff gets outsourced to a service provider, and the campmates have little to do with the experience other than booking the service and writing a check.

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Re: Service Camps: Heroes or Plight of BRC?

Post by jcliff » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:17 am

I dig this question. My first thought is how valuable the service camps are for the unexpected realities of life in BRC. I serve as the placement lead for my village, which equates to being a "residential assistant" for folks during the week - meaning, when the shit hits their fan they come looking to me for direction. Some of the service camps are a go-to option in these cases....broken bike, keys locked in the car, someone having a meltdown and needs some fluffing (quiet space or caring massage), etc. I think those service camps mirror the options any city could provide, minus the money transaction.

My second thought is that any service provided is gonna attract some sponges. This is so petty, but here was an issue I had last year. Lamplighters puts up a cooler of water on our bar/lounge for our guests. I normally hang out in there in the mornings, so I soon noticed this dude coming in off the road to the bar each morning, going right to the water cooler for a fill-up, sometimes sitting down for a minute/sometimes not, and then taking off. I finally asked him later in the week about it.....veiled in the ask whether he had his own water in his camp. Told him I had some extra jugs if he needed it. He replied that he did have plenty of water, but ours was always cold and he liked that better. I gently explained to him that our water was meant as an offering to our playa explorers that have an empty bottle, not as a service to our neighbors that like cold water. He seemed genuinely surprised by that, which was equally surprising to me. Not sure if that story is relevant to the original question, but clearly it's still stuck in my craw!

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