To me, Plug-n-Play camping is a natural evolution of Burning Man. The event is a major logistics exercise. The more times you go through it, the better you get at logistics. After a while, some members of your camp will accumulate RVs, trailers, generators, sound systems, lights, bean bags, teepees and domes, bikes, all kinds of stuff that they can re-use AND share with their friends and camp-mates.
On a larger scale, the bigger, older, better camps like Disorient and Opulent Temple know what they are doing, they have their shit together, they pull off a major logistical exercise and deal with every drama that comes up, time and again, with few to no failures. The amount of money they charge is insignificant, in contrast to what it would cost you to have a similar level of amenity and organization in your own camp.
So, if you’re a first time Burner, or just not an expert in logistics, what is wrong with camping with people who know what they’re doing? To me this makes all the sense in the world, and if you have the option to get in with one of these camps, my advice is to go for it.
Their members paid dues to create a camp that was highly interactive with the festival. They built a schoolhouse and had curated classes, including the first TED at Black Rock City. They had numerous art cars, and threw a 7-hour party with international superstar DJ Lee Burridge.
Headmaster Janus says:
Hopefully some of you were able to come and participate in our Interactive heavy schedule last year that included daily talks, classes, demonstrations in our SkoolHouse as well as hosting the first-ever TEDxBlackRockCity at our camp — an incredible venue to share some of the great voices and incredible Ideas Worth Spreading from OUR wonderful community. Or perhaps you stumbled on our Sunday Graduation party with the amazing Lee Burridge spinning for 7 hours leading up to the Temple Burn? Hundreds of people were there and the moment was, for me, sublime — We had envisioned this very party while planning Play)A(Skool, and that vision was eclipsed by the true beauty of the moment.
Our gifts to the Burning Man community not only included these incredible events, but we also shared 8 different art cars in our camp including Shaggadelica – the big furry bus, Shagillac, Christina (the 70ft boat), The Scorpion, BalanceVille, FishTank I and II, and others. One of our campers created the now viral video called, “Home” — which hopefully you’ve seen? Images of Burning Man that were featured in many global media outlets from a number of famous Burner photographers — yes — they too are from Play)A(Skool
Play)A(Skool started from organizing their volunteer plan. A lot of people were spending their efforts on developing art work and art cars through the year off the Playa. When they arrived, they wanted to come with an RV, plug it into an existing structure, and have the pumping, power and water ready to go. They asked around from experienced Burners and what they wanted, and what had worked for them in the past.
So part of the Burner culture community to Burning Man, is how to efficiently run a whole camp without anyone missing out.
Some other comments from the discussion video…
Terry Schoop – Black Rock City Community Services Manager. “Burning Man has a tradition of camps who provide opulent services for participants.”
Jon La Grace aka Headmaster Janus: :“We missed the whole vendor pass thing – in the theme camp guide, it says you have to have it, we also needed certification from the Nevada State Department of Health, because we were serving food to more than 120 people.”
Table Nectar Catering, Andy Tanehill and Kimberly Morabito – in their everyday business, deal with project management and catering issues.
We build 2 camps – [one for the guests and] a crew camp, separate comissary, our own chill zone, bar; we create community within that zone, and a support network; we are service providers in an environment that is diametrically opposed to providing service. Every camp we’ve been involved with has shown up in the green zone, we’ve prepared for it and know what to expect. The people in our crew are Burners, who are involved in other projects out there.
The issue of “Plug and Play” directly affects gate, placement team, DPW (heavy equipment operators, safety concerns), restoration crew. Suppliers to the camp are not necessarily participants, they need to get in and out quickly without dealing with Exodus issues. When the party is over, workers may be there for a week or more trying to make that Moop Map Green
I’ll let Headmaster Janus have the last word:
We are a camp of 200 of the most incredible, giving, wonderful, dedicated Burners who come from all over the world for a week in the desert — to fill our creative well, to let go, to demonstrate a craft or realize a dream. For some it’s about building art and art cars and participating in conversations about how to bring these incredible gifts back to the default world. I’m proud of our Plug and Play camp and campers as I think we exemplify the creative spring and the fabric of Burning Man. I think we are a model community in many ways — and therefore really hope to continue the conversation about what Plug and Play means