What is a Theme Camp?

There are many ways to describe theme camps, but in general it starts with a personal interest… something someone, or a group of someones’ desires to share with others. And SHARING is the keyword here: no matter how elaborate or minimalist, expensive or cheap to create, the theme camp is a group of individuals sharing a part of themselves with any and all whom choose to enter their camp and experience their offerings. In a nutshell, a theme camp is 2 or more people camping together offering an interactive experience for other people to come participate in. Beyond that, imagination is the only real limit.

Another way is to illustrate with examples: A theme camp may prepare food to share with anyone who chooses to partake of that food, or a theme camp may act as a free bar or pub. A theme camp may provide art supplies and provide a space and opportunity for people to come explore their inner artist, or the theme camp may have a bunch of musical instruments for people to explore their inner musician and experiment with others in making music.

A theme camp may offer a quiet space to meditate, rest or cuddle. It may provide DJs and a dance space for people to move to the music. One theme camp may offer a playground to play in, while another may provide a sensual play space, and yet another may be festooned with op-art and all manner of visual mind toys, while another may have unique or familiar games to play.

Some theme camps create never-before-seen or conceived interactive art pieces or music-making devices or mind challenges. Still other theme camps provide a space for people of like minds to come together and share time together, a place to make new friends or discuss life’s deep mysteries or frivolous meanderings. Some theme camps provide entertainment, others give you a chance to BE the entertainment, some educate, and some inspire thought, or simply inspire.

A theme camp does not HAVE to be stationary! Okay, so the home camp is stationary, but elements of the camp can travel around Mysteria. For example the Gypsy Bar traveled about, occasionally stopping for 20 or more minutes at a time to offer their beverages to passing Mysterians. Mobile theme camps can be interactive, offer performances, offer food or drink, or whatever else you like. A mobile theme camp is NOT an art car(t) or bike, an art installation, or a solo traveling performer, but they are all cousins!

Ultimately, the burn experience is about radical self-expression, and Theme Camps are one of the great ways in which people get together to radically express themselves, and give others a chance to participate, too. Be it a tea house or a temple, a jungle gym or a game show, be they serious or pointless, theme camps are the heart of a Burn for they are the unique expressions of sharing and gifting which members of the burner community offer their sibling burners. Plus, you get a longer burn: theme camps can enter Mysteria on Wednesday to start set up, and can leave as late as Monday. 


Transformus is a “Leave No Trace” (LNT) event.  This includes Theme Camp areas, and final clean up.  Although Leave No Trace events are not exclusive to burns, Burning Man is the largest LNT event in the world.  There is no trash service nor clean up crews to clean up after you.  All “Matter Out Of Place” (MOOP) must be collected and packed out by the individuals and theme camps that said MOOP originates with. 

Food Containment and Cooling

When packing food, try to remove as much extra packaging beforehand as possible: this will create less MOOP, and be easier for you to pack out.  If you are packing with dry ice and you do not want all of your food frozen solid, remember to put a towel between your food and the dry ice as an insulation barrier. 

Packing Boxes

It is really best to pack everything in and out in labeled plastic Rubber Maid style boxes.  These are easy to stack and carry and do not fall apart in the rain like cardboard boxes.  Paper bags are equally vulnerable to the rain. 

Folding Chairs

Labeling the back of chairs with a sharpie and tying the bags around the legs can avoid quite a bit of confusion when it is time to pack everything up


Earth, wind, and rain: Your structures and the elements

It can rain. Then again, it usually doesn’t.  But do you really want to be to poor sodden soggy schmuck who has the really cool shindig, but nobody wants to visit it because it is out in the cold rain all weekend?  It is best to plan for the worst, and besides, the blistering sun can get incredibly hot, so some respite in the shade is also a plus.  If you are using free-standing structures, make sure to tie them down at all corners: this makes them repel the water better and insures they will stay standing up in a windy storm.  Don’t forget to adorn the any trip lines with bright decorations, and cover the stakes – empty plastic water / Coke bottles can save many a toe. 

Wind blows! And when it blows it can blow hard. Be sure to stake down all of your structures. Rebar or
lag screws are really helpful for making sure your tent doesn’t blow away! Read this article from Burning Man about securing your tents and other structures so your burn doesn’t blow.

Tarpology 101

(written by Sunshine, I think)

For TCOs both new and returning here is a quick bullet list of tarpology tips:


Alcohol Policy

It is illegal in the state of West Virginia to server alcohol to minors, and we expect anyone serving alcohol to comply.  Greeters will be checking IDs and dyeing the finger of anyone underage with UV-reactive dye.  It is expected that any open drinking spots will have a black light (even a small battery powered one can be cheap) to make sure they conform to any and all laws.  I don’t expect to see black light on site for any other reasons what-so-ever. 

Generator Policy

Transformus is an exciting and often loud experience. Still, while the THUMP THUMP THMUP of untold numbers of DJ’s spinning in the night is something we look forward to (or expect to deal with), the unending brrrrraaaaaaaaappp of a noisy generator is another thing altogether. The exhaust can often be just as bad or worse — ever think about that! — for your neighbors it can be like sleeping beside a diesel bus.

If you do choose to bring a generator, please be considerate of others by following these guidelines:


Vehicle Policy

All vehicles will be parked off-site this year, and even theme camps must comply.  In general there are three exceptions to this rule, and those are only granted when applied for to the City Planning / Theme Camp Team.

  1. 1) If the vehicle is an Art Car (that would have to be approved by the Department of Mutant Vehicles) or an explicit part of the camp, like a bar.
  2. 2) We do often grant permission for major and / or expensive camps (like sounds camps or camps w/ expensive equipment they do not want to get wet) to keep ONE vehicle on site to lock their gear in and keep their equipment dry.
  3. 3) We also usually grant permission to keep a vehicle on site is if it is being requested for a handicapped person or for someone who has specific physical needs where having their own vehicle on the premises and nearby would be vital.

In all cases, we ask that the vehicle is either painted or otherwise decorated to match the the camps decorum, or hidden with tarps by other skillful means.  This is especially true it it is a rented U-haul or something, please take all measure to hide the logos and whatnot.​​​