How to start a Theme Camp #1 – A General Overview

May 1, 2023 | Kiwiburn, Theme Camps

Welcome to the ‘How to Start a Theme Camp’ blog series. There’s a lot to cover in this series, so we’re breaking it up into separate topics, which we’ll share in the EFP over the next few weeks.

Today we’re going to give you a general overview of how to start your own Theme Camp.

What is a Theme Camp?

Let’s start with the most important question, what is a Theme Camp?

Theme Camps are an essential part of the heart and soul of Kiwiburn. They are social meeting places where anything can happen, and often does.

These interactive camps showcase art and activities that embody the principles of inclusion, communal effort, participation and gifting.

A Theme Camp is a pocket of reality created by a group of humans who get together to do something interesting. Theme Camps create an ambience, a visual presence, provide a communal space, or create and host art and activities for Kiwiburn participants. 

They also provide a way for Burner humans to band together and create a gift to the community that is greater than the sum of their parts.

Theme Camp Benefits

Sound like something you’d enjoy creating? Awesome! Now, what are the benefits of running an official one?

By creating and registering an official Theme Camp, your team:

1. Will have your Events and Camp description featured in the Event Guide, distributed to every participant on entry.

2. Will have an allocated Theme Camp placement on site, in line with your space needs, for your camp to be set up for the week. We will also work hard to try to accommodate any other placement requests.
– If you are planning to build a Theme Camp and don’t register your intention, we cannot guarantee that space will be available for you to build your camp.

3. Could be eligible for Direct Theme Camp and Early Entry tickets.

4. You get to see your creation come to life on the Paddock, and get the support of our awesome Theme Camp support team to make it happen.

A birds eye view of Kiwiburn with a spread of tents amongst the green scenery
Your Theme Camp could be here!

Starting a Theme Camp – The steps you’ll take

Alright, now you know what a Theme Camp is and what the benefits are, but what do you need to do to start one? This is not an exhaustive list, and some camps may do things differently, but this is a great place to start.

  1. Gather some friends/family/strangers

Your Theme Camp can be as big or as small as you like, there’s no restrictions on the size or who can be a part of it. You just need to find people who are willing and keen to be a part of the Theme Camp. 

  1. Decide on a Theme

Theme Camps are formed around, you guessed it, a theme, something that the members are all interested in, are passionate about and want to bring to the Paddock to share with others. 

  1. Decide how you’ll structure your members

You’ll need to decide on your Theme Camps roles. Who will be your Camp Lead? Who will be your Co-Lead? Who will be your Health and Safety Officer? Will you need a Sound Lead? What other members will you need? The application process walks you through these roles and that can help figure out what needs doing.

  1. Apply!

To access all of the benefits, and be listed in the Event Guide, you’ll need to officially register with Kiwiburn and submit some paperwork. The application link and relevant dates will come out later in the year, so keep an eye out for that!

  1. Decide and plan your Events (then register them!)

Theme Camps are interactive: your Theme Camp needs Events! Events can be based on anything you like, they don’t have to be based on your Theme, but a lot of Camps like to base some events around their chosen Theme. You’ll then need to register your events – a form will be released later in the year.

  1. Submit your Health and Safety Plan

Later in the year, after registering for a Theme Camp (and being accepted), you’ll need to complete a Health and Safety Plan. 

  1. Plan how your Theme Camp area will look

Theme Camps generally have an area dedicated to hosting other participants, whether that’s for workshops, events or just to hang out. Start planning what your area will look like. Try to do this as early as possible. Then get to work gathering, preparing and building (if possible to do so offsite) your Theme Camp structure/s.

  1. Prepare what you’ll need to run your Theme Camp

With your other members, plan and decide what you’ll need to run your Theme Camp smoothly. Try to think of everything and anything you could need. What items do you need for your events? What items do you need to host participants? What about just meeting the needs of your crew? 

  1. Decide if you’ll do camp meals or cook separately

Cooking together isn’t a necessity, but some Theme Camps like to do this. It’s a great idea to bring everyone together for a meal – catch up, chat about your day or plan your nighttime activities. If you do decide to cook together, plan what food you’ll need to bring, who’s cooking when, and what you’ll need to cook said meals. Spreadsheets can be your friend here!

  1.  Budget & plan your finances

Now that you know what you’ll be doing, it’s time to budget. Decide what you’ll need to buy, borrow or find. Putting together a Theme Camp can be costly, so knowing what you’ll need in advance is important. Many Theme Camps implement an upfront cost that each member must pay yearly, this helps to fund everything your camp will need.

  1.  Meet with your camp regularly

To make sure everything is going smoothly, we suggest you meet up with your other members regularly, throughout the year. It’s handy to meet and brainstorm ideas, ensure that all deadlines will be met, make sure all members know what they are doing and you haven’t forgotten anything.

  1.  Find out where you’ve been placed on the Paddock

Once the map comes out, you’ll be able to see where you’ve been placed on the Paddock. It helps to check this early, to know exactly where you’ll be. Note where the closest toilets are, where you are in relation to the Depot, the Sanctuary etc. Also, checking where you’re placed will allow you to orientate your camp how you see fit. Having an idea of how you’ll set up your camp, before you arrive on the Paddock, is immensely helpful!

  1.  Run your Theme Camp!

You’ve done it! You’ve applied and been accepted, you’ve done your Health and Safety Plan, you’ve prepared your structure/s and you’re on the Paddock. If you’ve followed this list, you should be well prepared to run your camp. Time to run your camp – Enjoy it! 

  1.  Prepare for next year

After you run a Theme Camp – you’ll probably be hooked. You’ll most likely want to return next year! Start by making notes of what worked well, what didn’t and what you would change/bring next time. This helps you to be prepared for next time!

Phew, that’s it! Hopefully this has been helpful. As stated, this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to start and get the ball rolling. We’ve covered the necessary steps here but we’ll explain these in more detail in future blogs.

In the next EFP, we’ll cover the application process, so you can learn more about how to apply to have your Theme Camp on the Paddock. Look out for that soon!

Ka Kite, Captain.

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