Camp infrastructure Blog Highlights of what it takes to support our camp
This blog explores issues and accomplishments confronting the small group responsible for most of the camp infrastructure and art. Some people can’t figure out why camps request member dues, or consider even the smallest requests unworthy. Camp dues barely cover annual consumables, such as water, generator fuel, pump out, supplies for camp offerings, gear rental, and required kitchen items. Here we discuss some of the special items we use camp dues for, but most of what you see represent additional member contributions, for the spirit of the event and love for our camp. Understanding these challenges is a window into hidden Burning Man culture.
Over the past decade, our clan has never lost a tent at Burning Man, but hasn’t been so lucky with tents used for long-term storage. This last winter, a storm wiped out all three of our tents that have stood for several years without any problems. There was 20 x 60 ft. of space dedicated to camp infrastructure thrown about and rain damaged as a result of this. All three tents were mangled into uselessness.
Storing gear is a challenge for all camps. They either must pay someone else a lot of money for rent throughout the year, or find land that can host other options. Why not build a building to house the stuff? We’d love to, but building codes either make it impossible or prohibitively expensive to do so. One person had to clean all of this up, get more tents and reorganize everything.
We’ve invested $5k in a large enclosed cargo trailer. This is used as a backdrop to hold one of our major art projects and anchors a shade structure for our camp member hangout area near the kitchen. It is used for storing the bulk of our gear the rest of the year. During the event it hides from view a lot of the tools and boxes a camp typically has in abundance and keeps it all from blowing around during dust storms. This is one of our most essential pieces of equipment.
Saysha and Trixie are building and bringing two of the most dazzling interactive art displays for the front of camp. Cosmic Passage is the largest, with a 30′ diameter base and chill area in the center. Strings of programmable LEDs are stretched from a center pole and attached to the ground to make a large cone shape. In the center of the pavilion is a seating area with many pillows to chillax on and gaze up at the beautiful patterns issued by a computer.
This project recycles and repurposes a substance that would normally be thrown away. Burners love bacon, strangely comforting it is for the meat-eaters wandering the desert. Camps cook a lot of it to give away. They are left with bacon grease that is a very tricky substance that must be hauled out, but is notoriously difficult to store and transport without spilling. We have a solution: the baconator. We have been experimenting with “choofers,” named for the sound they make as they burn oil to keep fruit crops from frost damage. We’ve discovered a way to tune these to burn bacon grease with minimal smoke. We have two of them we’ll be setting up in back of camp with the required secondary fuel containment and safety setbacks. They will be lit for a few hours nightly, depending on the volume of bacon grease other camps leave with us. They will be placed near the evapotron along the back street for pedestrian warming.
In the process of acquiring this water trailer to support the camp shower and kitchen. These things cost thousands of dollars. This one is discounted, but has no title or registration, so in addition to finding time to make a five-hour round trip to get this in the opposite direction from anything we really need to do, we’ll then face a daunting process of getting this thing titled, which is really difficult in California and Nevada. It has been a nightmare to coordinate schedules with the seller. There are several inspections and ton of red tape. In all, someone must sacrifice the equivalent of five full days for all the appointments necessary to make it legal, get it ready to go, then haul it to the desert. This is an essential camp item that we’ll fill on the way in, then pay to refill several times during the event, then we must pay to store it the rest of the year. No, dues don’t cover this expense, only the water that goes into it. (This is not for drinking! Everyone still needs to bring their own drinking water).
Each year, we make special pendants (on necklaces) for all our camp members. After 35 hours of work, this year’s design is finally done. These are going to be polished nickel with red enamel inlay on both sides. Now we’re negotiating with tool and die manufacturers on the the pendant production. While camp dues cover the manufacturing cost enough to provide each camp member with one of these, we can’t afford to produce extras. If anyone would like to order additional camp necklaces for gifting, let us know by June 27 so we can add it to the bulk order. The cost is $5 per extra necklace.