Kids at Kiwiburn!

Sep 20, 2015 | Kids, Kiwiburn

People often ask what it’s like to bring kids to Kiwiburn. Kids tend to love Kiwiburn. They have a lot of fun. There is so much to do and see! However they do require more care than older people, so if you are thinking about bringing your kids to Kiwiburn, it pays to be prepared. Children have a long history of participation in burn events and there are a few things that you might want to know if you’re considering bringing your kids to Kiwiburn. Read on!

Kiwiburn is awesome for kids, especially if you are prepared. We intend to create a safe festival environment, while allowing people the freedom to radically express themselves. It’s good to camp with people you know so you can keep an adult around in case they need something or get scared. Overall, Kiwiburn tends to be pretty safe and very exciting for kids but you need to be prepared to spend a lot of your festival meeting their needs rather than cutting loose.


Image by Amy Potenger

Adults who bring their kids to Kiwiburn will have a very different experience than if they come without children. This could be due to following the kids around, worrying about where they are, and continually keeping an eye on them. Of course the ages and personalities of children will determine how much care they require and what kinds of care. Multiple adults camping together often take turns to stay with the children to make sure they are feeling safe.  It is also important to note that Kiwiburn is noisy wherever you are camping, so do not expect quiet. There have been a few instances in the past of people not taking responsibility for the care of their children, which puts undue pressure on our support structures. If you want to come to Kiwiburn with children, please take responsibility for their care: feed them and make sure they are safe at night. Our site also has a beautiful river which is lovely to swim in. We do not have life-guards. Children must be supervised at all times near the river.


Image by Amy Potenger

Things to be aware of:

  • Kiwiburn is often challenging. Sometime’s it’s the weather, the too hot or too cold temperatures, sometimes it’s the random interactions. Burns are intense environments. Children often thrive in these kinds of settings, however adults responsible for them can feel conflicted and overwhelmed!
  • Kiwiburn is not like other festivals. You cannot buy food or beverages. There are no main acts. We co-create our own shared social reality. We are all participants. You will probably see amazing things – but we’re not sure what they’ll be each year. There are usually plenty of dance parties, fire dancers, interactive art pieces and creative performances. There is always lots going on.
  • If you are trying to shelter your kids from natural things like nudity, or unnatural things like men wearing dresses, you may want to reconsider bringing them to Kiwiburn (the kids or the dresses).
  • Kiwiburn has a flow. People tend to arrive on Wednesday set up camp and get oriented (unless they are setting up big things, in which case they may have permission to be onsite earlier). The energy of the festival builds up towards the end of the week with more and more things happening. On Saturday night everyone gathers around the effigy – there is a lot of excitement and fire dancing – then we watch it burn. Sunday is a quieter but an equally important day. The Temple, a place to let go and grieve, is burnt in a much more solemn style. Then people tend to pack up and go home on Monday.
  • Kiwiburn is a leave-no-trace event without rubbish bins. You pack it in – you pack it out. We are all responsible for our own rubbish. Do not leave anything behind, not even glitter or cigarette butts. If you need to, carry a container around with you for your rubbish. Make sure your kids know not to leave any MOOP (matter out of place).
  • Kiwiburn is entirely run by volunteers. Everyone has to buy a ticket. All the ticket money goes into festival infrastructure. Our budgets are transparent. When you buy a ticket, you become a participant. Your kids are also participants. Make sure you read and understand the 10 principles (see if your kids understand them better than you do)!
  • If you become genuinely concerned about the behaviour of another participant, please let us know at the Depot or Black Sheep Rangers. We want to do everything we can to make sure people feel safe and that their boundaries are respected.

Check-list for bringing kids to Kiwiburn:

  • Bring everything you and your kids will need for five days including sun protection, food, warm/cold clothing and shelter.
  • Bring your kids.
  • Have a plan:
    • Talk to kids about what to do if they can’t find you – will you meet at your camp?
    • The Depot and the Black Sheep Rangers HQ are also good places to meet.
    • If you are worried about missing children, Black Sheep Rangers or the Depot (during the day) will have someone with a radio for contacting our support volunteers who may be able to help find them.
  • Talk about things: You may see some strange things at Kiwiburn. It can help to have conversations with kids to help them process anything confusing they may see.
  • Kids must be supervised at all times near the river. Make sure they know not to go there alone.
  • Camp in a place where kids will be the most comfortable. The forest has the benefit of being cool, however branches sometimes fall so check where you set up home.
  • Read the survival guide. Everything in there also applies to your kids.
  • Be prepared. Have back up plans. The more plans you have in place to help meet your kids’ needs, the more you can relax and have fun.
  • Talk to other parents about taking turns to watch the kids at night. If you don’t know any other parents yet, why not ask about it on our Facebook group?
  • On arrival you will be given an event guide with a map. If your kids are old enough, show them the map and help them to figure out where everything is.
  • Have a plan for self-care. Have a back up support person in case you need to take a break!
  • If you need help or emotional support, please see our Black Sheep Rangers.
  • It’s a really good idea to get your kids fed and ready for the evening BEFORE it gets dark. After dark, everything is much harder.
  • Read the 10 principles as a bedtime story (just an idea)

Image by Katherine Rushworth

Once upon a time we had an established Kidsville camp, and there are rumblings about starting something like this again. Kiwiburn functions as a do-ocracy and a Kidsville camp will only happen if people step up to make it happen. A good way of getting involved in organising and planning is through our Facebook group.  If you feel you want to lead a and organise Kisdville camp, you can register it as a Theme Camp on our website, and we will help put the word out to the community.

Note: due to our recent policy change, children 15 and under can now come to Kiwiburn for free, those aged 16-18 must purchase a full-priced ticket. Anyone under 18 at Kiwiburn is there under the responsibility of a parent or guardian over 18 years of age.


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