Skip to content

Burning Man Basics: Theme Camps and the Camp of the Space Wanderer

June 4, 2014



As important to the Burning Man experience as the Man, the Temple, and the artwork funded (and unfunded and partially funded) that I wrote about yesterday are theme camps. Theme camps can but don’t always connect to the theme of Burning Man which this year is Caravansary.


(Just in case you are one of those people who hasn’t gone to or heard about Burning Man, it’s an arts and music festival held ever year for over 20 years out in the Black Rock Desert northeast of Reno NV. When I first started attending Burning Man back in 1992, there were about 600 people camping there over Labor Day weekend. This year there will be about 60,000 people. Some people come for the art, some for the music, some for the friendships, some for the naked people, some for the drugs,  but usually it is a combination of some of the above with a lot of freedom and creativity thrown in.)


At Burning Man, many people join “theme camps”  and in many ways, theme camps are the heart and soul of Burning Man because this is where, more than any other place at Burning Man, that people band together to gift and share experiences in their neighborhood. This is where the most interactivity on the playa happens, those wacky places where people offer an Elvis Wedding Chapel and people can get married or play on a giant swingset or skate at the roller disco or or or or! And well yes, there are a lot of bars, but a theme camp is more than a bar and a place to party.

People can just turn up on the playa, grab some land, and set up a theme camp. It’s not hard. And you can list your camp’s activities in the Where What When Guide.

But the more major theme camps, like the one I am working on, the Camp of the Space Wanderer, go through an official placement process, requiring a demanding application that was due May 1. In order to be considered, camps must be visually stimulating and interactive with activities, events or service; offering a dome with music and relaxation is not enough. That’s why our camp application has a dome with hand made chess pieces, two mutant vehicles, and a mural by Rosel and more which you can learn about here.

BigTVMany theme camps, including ours, will also have a mutant vehicle. Ours is called the Big TV or TMSL 2014 which has just received approval from the Department of Mutant Vehicles. Read about the Big TV and see pictures here from LA Decom; more details about the TMSL from our DMV app here.

After getting our application in, it gets reviewed and we won’t know where or if we are placed until July! Not all applications are accepted which means they aren’t placed in advance. Some placements come with perks like electrical supply which can make creating and maintaining a theme camp much easier. We have requested to be placed on the Esplanade which is the main drag at Burning Man; we’d like to be next to the Artery so that we can use the Big TV to host artists and interview them. We think we have a lot of cool art to offer that will be of interest to the people who will be going to the Artery to learn more about the art on the playa.

Many people camp with a particular theme camp, and they help with the camp’s activities. Some are looking for people to join and contribute while others are more for people who already are working together. Usually, camps ask for dues to cover communal camp expenses; these dues can run hundreds of dollars. Some of these camps are known as “plug and play” and they are very controversial: essentially people just pay and come play without really doing much to give back after they’ve given their cash. Really big theme camps become Villages, sometimes with many camps within the village.

For example, “Kidsville is THE place for children of all ages, with a group of diverse families creating a unique space for play and other activities. Families with children 0-17 years of age are welcome to camp with us if they are pre-registered. Registration begins in March and ends when full. Note: Kidsville is NOT a babysitting service. Parents must attend their children at all times.” URL:

The largest village on the playa, Kidsville generally has about 600 people in it. This is where we’ve camped in 2007, 2009, 2011, and again 2013. Within Kidsville, there are a number of different camps, including mine, “Art Predator’s Playground” where we’ve done wine tasting and other activities and given away stickers and necklaces. This year, we’re planning on camping with the Space Wanderers.

Another theme camp that has been around for years and years like Kidsville is Kostume Kult from NYC which in 2013  featured a large, multi-story cityscape playspace with music, interactive art, and costume giveaway experience. Participants could dance,  walk the runway, and and in the crafting dome make booty shorts, tutus and other projects. URL:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Crushed Grape Chronicles

Adventures in Wine Exploration


Taxi Talk Without Tipping

Querus Abuttu

The "Q" Review

Jack Elliott's Santa Barbara Adventure

. . .tales from one man's wanderings, regional insight and history

The magical world of wines from Grocery Outlet

The best and the worst of Gross Out.

Stephen McConnell

A Daily Journal of Fruit, Structure, Varietal honesty, and Balance.

Sonoran Images

Photography by Steven Kessel


Diary of a Wine Student

Syrah Queen

Wine, Food & Travel Resource

The Paper Plane Journey

About my passion for wine and travel

Briscoe Bites

Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

Mythology Matters

Matters of Myth, and Why Myth Matters

Smith-Madrone News

Good Thoughts & Great Wine from Spring Mountain, Napa Valley

Fueled by Coffee

Lifestyle, food, parenting, DYI

Bottled Bliss

Day-colored wine, night-colored wine, wine with purple feet...

Do Bianchi

Negotiating the Epistemologic Implications of Oenophilia


Global wine culture

Elizabeth Gabay MW

Wine, Food and History: from the Rhone to Piedmont

Budget Trek Kashmir

Family run Company Specialist Trekking in Jammu & Kashmir, North Indian Himalayas,

Oldfield's Wanderings

Objects in blog are closer than they appear

Memorable Moments

With Lists & Adventures That Keep Life Interesting

Vinos y Pasiones

Información acerca de bodegas, vinos, gastronomía y enoturismo.

Best Tanzania Travel Guides

from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti and beyond


The Best Guide in Tanzania

Pull That Cork

Wine makes our life more fun.

Always Ravenous

Adventures in Food and Wine

Joy of Wine

"Wine cheereth God and man." -- Judges 9:13

Side Hustle Wino

If you're not having fun, you're not doing right.

Vineyard Son Alegre

Organic Wine And Olive Oil From Santanyí, Mallorca (Spain)

L.M. Archer

wordsmith | consumer, b2b + b2c

What's in that Bottle?

Better Living Through Better Wine!


My humble wine blog


When food and wine click!

The Flavor of Grace

Helene Kremer's The Flavor of Grace

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures


Living La Vida Vino!

Dracaena Wines

Our Wines + Your Moments = Great Memories

Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Gretchen L. Kelly

%d bloggers like this: