2015 was our most successful year and celebrating that, on any level I can think of, will not do it service. While there were weak points in the presentation and production the camp was a win. Participation was beyond expectation with very few exceptions.
- Pre-production and builds – win
- Getting people and stuff to the playa – win
- Build day – painful and windy but… win
- Meal Plan – bumpy road (Feast Plan: win)
- Kitchen Mngt – refinement needed
- Resources – (pantry, water, ice, shower) – bumpy
- Breakdown – went well but needs some help
Preproduction and Builds
Planning for the camp started in September 2014 and the budget was dependent on the camp fees collected. We agreed to keep the camp number to about 30 max, but we ended up finishing at 34 camp members. Almost everyone paid a camp fee. There was some bartering and no circumstances where someone fees were totally scholarship based.
We collected around $7500. and spent somewhere around $9000. on the camp this year. Additionally, outside of the expenses during the event, the storage fees equal somewhere around $1200./year approximately. Total Est $10,200 which is right on track with a camp of our size.
Almost all projects were completed including the zoetrope and wheel of destiny. The only build project out of budget was the sign for the face of camp because it would have taken us well over budget.
Huge thanks for the people that were able to help construct projects.
Travel to the Playa
The van that was rented to take the infrastructure out to the playa worked, but coming home we were well below what was needed to take our belongings back. Planning went relatively well and people united nicely from the Reno storage unit (which is no-more) to get our stuff out to the playa.
The support team beat the infrastructure out by a day. While we lost a day of build time everything still managed to get done on time. Because of weather conditions (white out and winds 50 mph plus) Saturday’s build suffered but we still managed to get a lot done.
We managed to get the main structure of the camp up and spent Sunday morning tweaking the space to make it presentable for guests.
The over all meal strategy was “good” but we fell into a problem with a surplus of food and the failure of people to pack out when they packed in, thus dumping their excessive amount of goods on the camp. In essence, food was just left behind in huge amounts with the expectation that someone else was going to manage it.
- Menu Plan good: meals needed better adjustments for people coming in v. exodus
- Pantry Foods: we sorta lost control of that as well; better planning next time
We generally stuck with the meal plan, but many meals were not prepared to meet the dietary needs of some camp members. There was not enough conversation about how to meet the needs of a minority of camp members who deserved to have food they could eat. We had several allergies and special food needs that could have been easily met; this was a failure that will be corrected next year.
We expanded the kitchen on some level but there was a failure to have a solid system to maintain a clean space.
- Dish washing: we fell down on this section and were lucky no one got sick
- Cooking equipment: we seemed to have just what we needed in this area
- Camp members: Ziploc plates and bowls for each camp member – genius
We really suffered on cleanup and people in camp carrying through on making sure the camp space was always kept clean.
One solution is to add to the Kitchen Team and have a lead that only job is to inspect the kitchen daily and hold campers to the fire who cook or are assigned cleaning and that person would have the full support of the camp leads.
This year we took a chance and ordered a 500 gallon tank of water and initiated a lot of controls around the use of that water and ended up using only 60+% of it. Concerns about it not being enough were unfounded but valid. We required all camp mates to bring some emergency water to avoid any conflict (based on last year’s disastrous Gypsy Flower Camp noted in the Burning Man Blog). It is recommended to make sure individuals are not dependent on someone else for their well-being on the playa.
- water: plentiful but we had a problem disposing waste water; thank you RV1 crew for your help
- ice: we took daily collections and spent <$50/day with careful cooler management
- pantry: food available 24/7 mostly went uneaten
Next year we will add a gray water tank to reduce the impact on the kitchen and the camp.
- shower: it worked well again this year
The evap pond did okay, but we were left with too much in the base when it was time to put it away. The evap pond solution is not the most practical and realistic solution moving forward. With the new gray water tank and some changes to the shower we can make a better system for next year, too.
We took the camp down in phases starting Saturday night with some minor items and reserved the larger elements for Sunday. The goal was to be able to leave the playa by Monday morning at 10am.
Enough people remained to have most of the camp down by Saturday night with 2 car ports (kitchen and lounge) left behind for Monday. We were able to enjoy the burns and have space for function until the last minute.
Monday, so many people had left camp and left behind a lot (A LOT) of their items and donation that placed a heavy burden on the last people left behind.
- we had oil stains from the kitchen that had to be dealt with
- spill from the fire barrel that was never cleaned up properly
- the water tank stuck on top of tarp that we were forced to leave behind
- SO MUCH extra stuff that thanks to the grace of Gender Blender they were able to take many items with them
The last members of camp left at 3pm in a horrible state and did not arrive in Reno until 9pm.