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Why Join A Camp at Burning Man

Burning Man is an amazing destination for a solo traveler, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your time in Black Rock City alone! When I decided to go to my first burn I immediately started looking for a camp to join. I stand by this as an amazing decision, and feel that everyone would benefit from joining a camp at some point or other.

What Is a Registered/ Placed Camp?

While open camping and walk in camping is available, the majority of people who go to Burning Man are part of planned, registered camps. All placed camps follow a set of guidelines to ensure that they are organized, self reliant, and focused on having a positive effect on their members and the rest of Black Rock City. There are multiple types of camps, including:

  • Theme camps are groups who work together to contribute a unique service, engagement, art, or other creative interactive experience. Like everything in Black Rock City, this is gifted without an expectation of anything in return.

  • A village is a collection of two or more camps that shares resources or shares a focus.

  • Mutant Vehicle Camps focus on using their mutant vehicles to provide interactivity on playa, such as playing music and offering rides.

  • Art support camps focus on building and maintaining registered art installations on playa.

  • Work support camps house burners who are working for the Burning Man Department on the playa as staff members or volunteers.

  • A department camp is an official reserved space for Burning Man Project Departments.

What are the Benefits of Joining a Registered Camp?

Make Friends

Most camps are based on having a similar interest, whether it is an activity, skill, moral value, artistic theme, gift, or volunteer work. The camp I joined was a substance free camp while the one across the road from us was for fire spinners. I saw camps where everyone owned the same make and model of vehicle, and an entire neighborhood road dedicated to parents and families. With camps based around just about anything that interests people, members have at least one thing to bond over when they meet one another. 

  • Share the experience: It was great to have friends to share my day with or problem solve when struggles arose.

  • Give a bigger gift: Many gifts would be difficult or expensive to provide on your own, such as workshops, kitchens, spas, bike repairs, and large art cars. Joining together allows us to make Black Rock City a more exciting and immersive space.

  • Pool creativity: Some camps were extremely creative in ways that could only be done with the help of many minds and hands. Perhaps my favorite was a group which turned their public space into an entire haunted house with animatronics and actors. It was genuinely spooky and fun, and I could feel the joy emanating from the person who led us through it.

  • Party harder: There's nothing like always having buddies to party with. No matter what time of day you bike around, at least a few camps would be sitting or dancing around, just enjoying one another’s company. Even when they weren’t hosting a public dance floor, I enjoyed the energy of so many positive social interactions.

  • Take relationships home: I made many new friends that I still connect with, and know several people who had met their significant other this way.

Share Resources

Joining a camp allows you to share physical and mental resources. This can help reduce the amount of gear you need to bring, your impact on the environment, and make attending more accessible for those who live far away or have a lower budget. It is important to discuss agreements with your camp ahead of time, as every camp provides for its members differently. These resources are often paid for with camp dues and manifested through other members gifting their time and energy to one another, which is what makes planning ahead so important.

  • Space: A camp shares a single address, giving you a sense of home during your stay. It felt great to return to camp and be able to relax in our living room or art piece instead of always needing to be in my tent.

  • Shade: I flew to Nevada from Maryland with two suitcases and a bike. I carried camping equipment and clothes, with only enough extra space for the food I bought when I arrived. After discussing it with my camp, they were able to provide shade for me. This made a big difference in the quality of my time at BRC, due to how harsh the sun can be without a shade structure.

  • Food and Water: Most camps I researched share food and water in some capacity, from set ups like ours where we had a single potluck night to camps that provide all meals for their members. It is important to look into the food situation for your camp instead of assuming anything.

  • Showers: Veteran members of our camp built a wooden structure which accomodated a camping shower and collected the runoff. Nothing felt better in the middle of a dusty week than taking a real shower.

  • Kitchen: Our kitchen was merely a carport with a folding table and grill inside, but it hosted some of the most engaging group discussions throughout our time together. Sharing meals with others can be a great way to get to know one another.

  • Electronics and other gear: Some camps with members who live out of state or abroad are willing to help provide them with camping gear or a bike so they don't have to travel with as many things or arrive early to go shopping.

  • Carpool: Driving together reduces the number of vehicles in Exodus and helps the environment by reducing emissions.

Support Each Other

Burning Man is, when you boil it down very simply, camping in the desert. Though camping is one of my favorite things to do, I have never had an entire trip be sunshine and rainbows. Having people to talk to and get help from can made many of my experiences better.

Be Part of Something Bigger

Along with the love I feel for my own camp, I am grateful for the many camps that made an impact on my burn by proving a workshop, service, food, education, art piece, other engaging interaction. Joining a camp helps you to connect with people who have similar interests, including culture, identity, sexuality, music, art, and more. Working together, we can learn new skills, advocate for one another, act with environmental integrity, and more actively participate in Burning Man, making the experience more fun for everyone.

How Do I Join a Camp?

There are many ways to connect with a registered camp!

The Burning Man official website has several methods of connection interested campers with registered camps, including:

  • Burning Man keeps an archival listing of camps you can browse and make inquiries here.

  • Meet up with members of your local community through your local regional contact.

  • Eplaya

  • Spark Classifieds

  • Other forms of social media are also helpful!

  • If looking for specifically queer-friendly camps, Queer Burners keeps a directory of camps that have dedicated themselves to inclusivity:

Interested in getting on Playa? Learn more about the 10 Principles of Burning Man! Interested in getting on Playa? Learn more about the 10 Principles of Burning Man!



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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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