Melon Camp Duties



Creating a camp every year requires...a lot.  A lot of time, work, money, coordination, psychic juju, blood, sweat, tears.

Many Burning Man camp—probably all camps—struggle with how to make it happen, how to strike the right balance.  Camp leaders burn out, n00bs get saddled with overwhelming projects, important infrastructure doesn't get built, people get stuck with bills, etc.

After years of experience and lots of discussion, the XVC (aka Executive Vision Committe of Camp Melon) has settled on requiring Melons in our camp to contribute in 3 ways:
  1. Pay your dues
  2. Make dinner: plan, purchase, cook, and/or clean up with your crew 
  3. Additional camp volunteering until you've reached 10 total hours
Details on dues and dinner are here and here—this page focuses on the 10 hours requirement.

Contributing 10 hours (when, where)

When: In an ideal world, melon campers would volunteer an equal number of hours before and during Burning Man, because that's the ratio that keeps camp running the smoothest.  Due to life obligations such as jobs, children, graduate school, etc, not everyone can contribute in this ratio, and that's OK!

Where: During Burning Man, we're all within a 100 feet of each other, so that's a no brainer.  Before Burning Man, in an ideal world, all melon campers would live in a city with a dozen or more other melon campers, because that makes things so much easier to coordinate.  This is obviously not the case, so camp organizers work hard to enable participation from anywhere.

Examples of how to contribute

Purely hypothetical...
  • Esther HatesCooking (lives in Chicago): Esther camped with the melons last year and this year there are lots of other Chicagoans joining camp, so she puts in serious time at a Chicago build day.  Esther hates cooking, so she works out with her kitchen crew that she'll do minimal dinner planning and cooking, but will buy and transport fresh produce when she arrives on the Playa in the middle of the week.  She finishes her 10 hours with an ice run.

  • Lenny RunsASummerCamp (lives in Alberta): Lenny camped with the melons last year but this year he's very busy with work all summer and no other melons live near him.  Lenny attends one short phone meeting of his dinner crew, but at Burning Man he makes up for it by doing lots of prep, cooking, and cleaning.  He also does an ice run for camp, and puts in 3 hours building camp infrastructure early in the week.

  • Jane PartyHardy (lives in Montreal): Jane joins camp late so she wasn't assigned to a dinner crew, and she's only at camp from Thursday to Monday, so there's not a lot of set-up to do.  From Thursday to Sunday Jane makes it up by helping other dinner crews and doing two ice runs.  Jane parties hard on the night of the Man Burn (Saturday night) but on Sunday night she rests up so she can be super helpful and productive for a long shift during the final pack-in on Monday morning.
How to be helpful
At many points, people want to be helpful, but wanting is just not enough.  In fact, sometimes the person asking "how can I help?" or "what can I do?" is in fact ~*The Worst*~.  Here's how to avoiding being ~*That Person*~ before or during Burning Man:
  1. Take care of your business: Have you not paid your camp dues?  Are your unwashed dishes hanging out in the kitchen?  Is trash blowing out of your tent?  Take care of your personal obligations first...please.

  2. Take care of your self: Someone that volunteers to help but then falls asleep in a hammock 10 minutes later: not actually helpful, arguably negatively helpful.  Well-rested, sober, bringing their own water: these are the most helpful helpers.

  3. Don't flake out: Burning Man provides amazing life experiences that are also handy excuses: "I got lost," "there was a dust storm," "I fell in/out of love," "I had to stop and watch a beautiful sunset/sunrise," "it was the best DJ set of my life,: "I caught a cold from making out with someone I fell in/out of love with" etc.  Take advantage of ALL these life experiences!...but also try to have a sense of balance, as much as is possible.

  4. Be ready to work with others: Purely solitary tasks are few and far between, so if you're not in the right mood or can't stand to be within 10 feet of so-and-so then maybe don't volunteer.