Although theme camps are pretty common at Burning Man, not every attendee has to belong to such an organization. Many people show up to Burning Man ready to pitch a tent or camp in their car for the week. This option is way more cost-effective, so lots of first-timers choose to free camp.
Free camping is, as the name implies, a free for all. People choose their spots on a first-come, first-served basis and hope that they get along with their camping neighbors. A big part of camping at Burning Man is pooling resources and depending on new-found friends to survive the desert heat in comfort. If you go to Burning Man, be prepared to share with a smile.
On Theme for Burning Man
Who doesn’t love an event with a good theme? Burners are definitely fans. Theme camps and villages are a big part of Burning Man. A theme camp is a collection of Burners who work together to create an interactive service or piece of art that is available to the Black Rock City community. Theme camps are a fun way to create a more dynamic experience for everyone at Burning Man.
Burning Man villages are a collection of at least two theme camps that work together and share resources. Villages and theme camps serve as mini towns or pit stops that Burners can stop in to enjoy everything from boozy snow cones to a handwritten letter exercise. This pirate-themed camp drew in the crowds with its larger-than-life ship, interactive buildings, and fluttering pirate flags.
We Scream for Ice Cream
There’s nothing better after trekking through the hot, late summer desert than sweet, cold ice cream. Thankfully, anything is possible at Burning Man. Ever since 2012, a group of Burners has dedicated their camp to making ice cream for their fellow Burning Man attendees. This is no easy feat because liquid nitrogen must be hauled out to the desert yearly to make this delectable treat.
The theme camp members spent a whole year researching how to make the perfect ice cream, and they didn’t disappoint. They have flavors like Black Rock Rum Raisin and Burning Breakfast, an intriguing mixture of bacon and bourbon. The best part? The ice cream is completely free. Burners don’t even have to barter for a scoop because it’s a gift from the camp.
A Touching Goodbye in the Desert
Every year, artists trek out to Burning Man to erect some truly spectacular statues and structures. None of these installations are as poignant and emotional as David Best’s. Best began his artistic journey with Burning Man in 2000 when he constructed a beautiful temple to honor a friend who had died in a motorcycle accident. Burning Man attendees were so moved by the art piece that Best would go on to create a new temple for several more Burning Man events.
Each year, Best’s temple invites Burners in mourning to write a letter to those they have lost. They can then leave their letter in the temple as a final goodbye. At the end of Burning Man, the temple is ceremoniously burned to the ground, along with the letters. This ceremony holds a lot of meaning for many attendees, and some have even spread the ashes of their loved ones in the desert during the burning ceremony.
Burning Down the Man
Burning Man has come a long way since its first get-together of 35 people on Baker Beach. Despite its rapid growth and booming popularity, one thing has and will remain the same. At the end of each event, Burners light the famous Burning Man effigy on fire and watch it burn to the ground. Seeing the giant wooden effigy burn up in the middle of the pitch-black desert is simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring for folks.
The cool thing about the Man effigy is that it generally looks the same every year but with some slight tweaks. The idea behind burning the statue at the end of each event is to encourage Burners to keep their creativity alive after Burning Man ends. Even though Burners have to go back to the real world, they can still keep that creative spark burning inside.