Burning Man 2022 (Part 2 – Theme Camps)
In this installment of my series on Burning Man, I’ll look at some of my favorite camps. Except for the most survivalist of participants, everybody is part of a camp. The main reason for joining a camp is there is safety and fun in numbers. Some camps, like mine, had no name and were just a group of people. Others were more public facing and offered entertainment, activity, craft, food or drink to the general public.
There are also villages, which can contain multiple camps. According to the Burning Man 2022 map, there were about 1,750 named villages and camps. This does not include the many nameless and unlisted camps like mine.
In this newsletter, I will present some of my favorite camps from 2022.
Pictured above is the Math Camp. Note that it is in the shape of a tetrahedron, unlike most camps that constructed their physical structures with beams at right angles. Also note the yellow slide rule below the pi symbol. The address on the Playa was a clever 3:15 and E (get it?).
You can see in the lower right of the structure the camp offered a bar, which served pie at 3:14 PM every day. After the daily pie, there was a math lecture. On Thursday, I presented a lecture on the math of casino games. I asked if I could join this camp for a future Burning Man and they seemed to be happy to have me.
Next is the Word Play Café, pictured above. In the big dome were plenty of comfortable chairs, couches, and tables to play a host of word games. Most visitors seemed to prefer the daily New York Times Wordle and crossword. The Wordle was played on a small erase-sheet, which the staff scored by hand.
The camp also featured a wonderful coffee bar, which you see on the right side of the picture. They said the coffee was from the same source Burning Man used in 2019, the last year one could buy coffee at Center Camp. There was also a greeter in the booth behind the bicycles.
I regret I didn’t find this camp until half-way through the week. It was a nice place of refuge in the hot and dusty afternoons. When the wind kicked up, they closed the front door, but they didn’t mind if people snuck through the curtain.
Next, is the Brainy Bar. This camp served drinks, pickles, and occasionally pizza. I also discovered this camp late in the week, unfortunately. What time I did spend there, I had a great time, challenging the staff and other visitors to trivia and Connect Four.
Lots of camps offered some kind of do-it-yourself craft. I tend to not prioritize such camps, but made an exception for Camp Frankenbear, pictured above. They had several bins full of teddy bear parts, separated by body type. They gave you a needle and thread and set you to work to construct your creation. After you were finished, they gave your creation a brain from a jar (although I could see they just palmed one) and in a little ceremony gave it life.
Seem here is my creation “High Five,” as named by a random kid I asked to provide a name. I was told by a friend who was with me that it was hideous and grotesque, but I make no apologies. If I wanted a teddy bear that looked normal, there are plenty of them at home my kids outgrew.
As you might expect, everybody had to suffer my lecture about how Frankenstein referred to the scientist and not the monster, as many overheard comments incorrectly suggested that Frankenstein was the name of the monster. No – the monster never was given a name.
Next, I would like to put in a good word for Camp Fuego. This is a lousy picture of it, but the only one I have. They offered karaoke Gong Show style. There was a big gong was by the stage, which I’m sitting on, and anybody could gong the singer. The rules were if you were gonged you had to immediately vacate the stage without argument.
The camp also had a full bar, including a shaved ice maker for snow cones. This was a great idea and one I didn’t see any other camp doing. Nothing is more refreshing than an ice-cold drink on a hot dusty day at Burning Man, like that of the picture above. Not only that, but they gave generous pours too and happy to serve seconds.
Overall, this was a very cool and fun camp I wish I had more to spend at.
Last, but not least, is the Piano Bar. A friend and I stumbled into this place late on Friday night, the last night most camps were open to the public. Already there were a handful of strangers playing together. When I learned nobody associated with the camp was present, I assigned myself the task of being the bartender. Since this was late in the last night, I figured they probably would be happy to get rid of what little alcohol they had left. Bartendering was a lot of fun and if I should return to Burning Man, I hope to do so at whatever camp I find myself at.
I enjoyed myself here for about four hours. It was interesting to see how the various musicians explained to each other the chord progressions, if one knew a song and one didn’t. Half-way through the night an accordion player wandered in who seemed to be able to play anything the rest of the group was. I am jealous of musicians who can play by ear in this way and instantly be able to pick up a new song. I am strictly a sheet music kind of keyboard player so all I could contribute was playing the bongos and probably did a terrible job of it. Of all the evenings at Burning Man, this was my favorite, by far.
To all the camps mentioned I say a huge THANK YOU for the good times. If I ever return to Burning Man, I’m going to pay it back by attending a public-facing camp and dispense fun, magic tricks, trivia and drinks all week.