2014 Trip Report

We are going to look at a lot of things from the week because the camp is becoming a stronger presence and is slowly commanding a more need for professional roles to make it successful. From 2013 to 2014 there was 110% growth  and 200% demand for leadership. We think we accomplished these things in general and kept to the core of the camp, but we also asked all of you from 2013 and 2014 to give us feedback.

On a personal note I saw some points where I failed and should have done better but hearing from you all via the survey has so far proven to be very helpful. The best part was that in my opinion Knot-O and I felt like a Yin/Yang voice in camp leadership.

Fund Raising

This was the first year we put a camp fee into play and it seems to have been successful for covering the costs of creating the camp over all; well, mostly.

  • Most camp mates paid $120/person with exceptions*
  • There were donations from members over fee: about $350 total
  • Some members paid a little extra for water and vodka
  • We also charged riders in the van used to brought the camp out: $400
  • The total funds raised were approx $3400./ and we almost broke even

Huge thanks to Giorgio who managed a solar panel through Black Rock Solar, a direction we will do again in the future if we can implement it. We were a green camp. All the money went to the camp and between CMonster and I not a lot extra came out of our pockets. I suspect a lot of you put extra to make this happen and it is greatly appreciated.

Where did all that money go?

We have none of the infrastructure from last year so everything was bought new(ish). Matt owned one of the car ports and gave it to me at a good discount. I bought the second one in SLC and had them sent together for only $40 since I could not find them in the bay area.

Good deals were had and much was bought through Amazon. There was a lot of money spent on general items for the temple and all you saw.

Many members contributed out of their own pockets to make it work whether they were given a break on the camp fee or not. Those investments were so appreciated and we hope those contributors know they were appreciated.


If a member was bringing a major element of the camp out of their own pocket the $120. fee was waived and there were only 3 cases where this happen.

Fund Raising Conclusion

If there are any questions about this money or where it went please let Toaster know. There was a fairly detailed trail of the money made.

Who’s Who

We had quite the diverse group of people who came together and if we make it to 2015 it will be interesting to see how that lays out. We are seeing 2013 members saying they might want to come back and it looks like some 2014 family will also be returning. I think in the individual comments this was the best feedback we have seen.

Survey Says

Not every question was a required question. People could skip any one or more they were not comfortable answering. But most people answered them as completely as expected.

While we asked you to write the year you attended, all respondents put down 2014.  We were hoping to hear from people who joined the camp in 2013 as well. However, with a less than 50% response to the question many said they might return in 2015.


While the results of the following questions can seem harsh in their delivery, it should be noted they are not unexpected and unwanted. This feedback is what we need to make future camping better with Sun Guardians.




Quotes: Feedback from people surveyed:

The camp members were great and drama was minimal. With more delegation and more democratic/team structure I think the camp could take on a more ambitious schedule/shape/mission without a lot of extra work.

Overall, great work! The planning and organization is greatly appreciated and helped to make my burn a wonderful experience. I think that being more open and welcoming to guests will help to make the Sun Guardians camp more inviting, and pleasurable. After all, the spirit of BM is inclusive, not exclusive. Being able to interact with the general population as it goes by, as well as being courteous and welcoming to guests that do stop in, is part of what makes Burning Man unique. 🙂

Would look towards a more structured meal plan for next year.

Camp mates were fun, friendly with no drama! I love my new friends.

I loved our camp. I think our strongest asset was the diversity of the group – young/mature, gay/straight, mellow/wild – tied together by the common tread of respect for our camp members and leaders. Our camp theme/mission statement was not as strong as I think the leads intended, but the spiritual aspect of camp was not a draw for me personally. Our monk party was definitely not as popular as expected, but that was a blessing as we were were not super prepared for it. I think everyone had an amazing experience and real bonds were created. Next year, I think Scott or “camp lead” will benefit from assigning committee chairs once the roster is confirmed — definitley need a kitchen chair, a party chair (if planning to host anything), and a chief engineer. The role of engineer is a lot for one person, but someone with experience and know-how is absolutely needed to create sound structures and systems. I believe the Sun Guardians had a FANTASTIC burn, but I can’t help to attribute that to a bit of playa magic and contributions form strong camp members like Hunter and Giorgio, among others.

In terms of drug use, I think there was a lot of personal use. This was not a problem, per se, but I think that it would be something to aware of and maybe tell new campmates so it can be anticipated. I think things that went best were things that had an individual who was delegated to manage. Perhaps having better defined roles would help camp logistics run more smoothly. Overall I think there is room for improvement, but the “status quo” was really amazing!

You delivered on the objective to be a safe sane camp with a nice mix of decent people. I truly enjoyed everyone’s company. I didn’t see anyone completely wasted or out of control and very much appreciated the group which could have fun together but stay within their limits. Had great conversations with most people in small impromptu groups from 7 am to as late as 2 am just hanging around. Alwways made a point to come into the tent and say high to others when I returned. Nice conversation with Jim and Durwood late one evening. The Monk party had good camp participation but unfortunately didn’t draw in others. Perhaps some type of workshop or activity would have kept people engaged in the party for a longer time. Not sure what could have improved or if an improvement was even necessary. So many competing shiny things to do! One minor item is we didn’t have enough seating for everyone together which seemed to cause some folks to congregate in the kitchen vs everyone sitting together for dinner. Not really a big problem. Meals were super excellent and I appreciate all the work everyone did in planning to feed the group. The highlight of the camp was returning around 5 noshing a bit, socializing, dinner circle and dinner! For a smaller camp you guys did fantastic. I can see the benefits of scale and logistics with the larger camps where meals and water are arranged in advance (which I don’t think goes against self reliance if in advance the camp responsibilities are specialized along areas of responsibility). On the other hand the larger camps may not just be able to achieve the same vibe of group dynamics and depending upon each other that I felt at Sun Guardians.

– For the most part, SG was a well-run camp with good energy and a wonderful group of people. I think people generally want to be helpful, but they may not know how to help specifically on a day-to-day basis (beyond the regular assigned roles). – Maybe inviting camp mates to attend a short, voluntary morning briefing (Here is what is on Scott’s mind or what he’s worried about/driving him crazy.) This would help align us all with the concerns about the camp and direct our energy towards helping/problem solving. – Some small discreet signage would be helpful to reinforce some expecations/rules (e.g., to discourage too much socializing in the kitchen, to honor the sacred space/activities of the temple). – I would encourage leadership to help communicate your expectations and present problems/issues proactively or collaboratively. Taking a less punitive approach when possible would make us feel better about our participation.

It was a great experience. There could be more focus on the theme of the camp beyond the classes that were offered. Most of the campmates didn’t seem interested in yoga spirituality or art, which I’m totally ok with, but is an issue when trying to establish the character and recognition of the Sun Guardians as a theme camp. There was never any drama beyond people’s personal issues and everyone got along. It really did feel like a family and felt like we all had each other’s backs. There could have been better communication when people left to take their trash and food items from the kitchen. I’m sure those who left their food were doing it out of kindness for those remaining but there needs to be a discussion of what needs to be left and what taken. Overall, an extremely positive experience and props to Toaster for really giving this camp his all! 🙂

Toaster: you are a beast. I heard from lots of people about problems in other camps…and I only heard good things from Sun Guardians about this one. You made something special!

Toaster’s Notes

Overall the feedback has been very positive and any detractors and people who are moving on have their reasons. The data above was collected from 16 voices and my feeling is very good. I am so excited that I have started beginning planning for 2015 already.

I feel inspired on many levels by the feedback, discussions in camp, and the possibilities of what we can do in 2015 so I started working on that already. The new theme announcement will be coming out soon as well as some cool ideas that will further enhance the effectiveness of our camp.

Positives and Negative

I know, no one wants any negative vibes and especially in writing. But there is a distinct balance in this feedback that will lead to better things in the future.

  • Thanks to everyone for putting their best forward in spite of a personal drama played out in camp; which would not have happen the way it did.
  • The meal system will get a full upgrade; we did not fail but it needed to be stronger then what it was. And, my fault for not printing out the list before hitting the playa.
  • SG is not a plug and play camp and everyone needs to do their share. On the other hand there were some real superstars. Not going to put names out there either way, but those who really stepped up ricked it.

There were a couple incident where someone cooked a meal for themselves and I did not see where there was any consideration for anyone else in the camp. Cooking bacon? Make enough for everyone. Eggs? Make enough for everyone. I do not think the question should have even been asked… but on the other hand someone was making food for people anyway so wait and eat with the rest of the crew.

Within the same scope of issues, we had a lot of sloppiness in the kitchen. In this case, everyone dropped the ball a little and messes at breakfast were left for people at lunch and so forth.

To avoid messes like that in the future we will move the pantry and make more shelving for that. This will separate out the presence of too many people in that space except as needed.

Coolers need to be managed a lot better and the system for next year will answer that. Water was not drained off enough daily.


Stay tuned for next year and come back if you can.


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