How to start a Theme Camp #8 – Final Tips

Sep 18, 2023 | Kiwiburn, Theme Camps

Welcome back!

Captain here, this is the final blog in my ‘How to start a Theme Camp’ series.

This time I’m discussing any final tips that may come in handy.

I asked 25 fellow Theme Camp leads what they consider for the health and safety of their camps. So you can be sure that you’re getting great info from all 26 of us (I ran a camp at KB23 too!).

I’ve grouped the answers into most common replies and ordered them from most common to least common.

Finally, before we begin, If you missed the last blogs in the series, catch up on them here:
#1 A general overview
#2 The application process
#3 Choosing a theme
#4 Organising Camp Members

#5 Choosing Events
#6 Structures and set up
#7 Health & Safety

Final Tips

Question 1 – What’s your top tips for starting a camp? 
The answers were:
– Have committed people and a clear shared vision. Have solid ways and plans of how you work together and share the load. Communicate with love and respect, even when stressed, remember “it’s just a possum in a paddock”. It can be a lot of work, so make sure it’s fun, otherwise….what’s the point?
– Just do it, it doesn’t have to be big or complex. The theme doesn’t need to be fully thought out. Just try out an idea and iterate from there. After the first year, you will end up with so many ideas for next year.
– Put some deep thought into what you’re offering and try to stick to it. One good, strong idea, well executed is better than throwing a thousand half-baked ideas into a camp. A core intention will keep the camp tight.
– Have a solid team, write role descriptions, communicate expectations clearly, assign every member to at least one department. The success of a camp I think comes from everyone working together as a tight family. Allow people to grow in the camp and look after them.
– Start small and build year on year. If you try go too big you’ll just burn out and not want to do it again.
– Have a go. Get organised. It takes weeks of thought and time to create a good theme. Divvy up the jobs.
– Have a Trello. It’s better than slack.
– Friends and enthusiasm! Brainstorming meetings. Taking a punt.
– Have fun. Don’t over do it so that people are burning themselves out for the camp. Keep community in mind.
– Run a camp because you’re excited to provide that gift to the community.
– Do it with your friends 🙂
– Get jiggy with it.
– Make sure you focus one one main offering when you start.
– Energy in = energy out. It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! Don’t take on too much – you’re not the only camp on the paddock! Get to know your crew well. We had meetings every month in the run-up to the burn… these were a mix of some planning / logistics, shared food, and nice hang-times. This made our time on the paddock (even the stressful times) really smooth as we knew / trusted each other.
– Make sure people are genuinely enthusiastic about doing the work involved. It’s a lot of work, they should know this up front and be stoked to do it. If people aren’t enthusiastic, it’ll just be a lot of pushing shit uphill. Or the camp lead ends up doing everything. Get people to volunteer to do things, don’t assign roles. This way they get to pick what they do, and are more likely to remain motivated. If you have roles and no one to fill them, recruit specifically for people keen to do that thing. Eating together is a great way to build community.
– Brainstorm, talk to ppl about it and have a spreadsheet. Organisation is keeeey.
– Don’t. But if you do, find a core crew first and make sure you all know your roles & responsibilities. Don’t do it all first then try and off load responsibility to people.
– Honestly hard to say, I was in 2 theme camps (while leading one) last year, and they’re structures and run sooo different due to the different dynamics, humans and theme of the camp.
– Make a space that people can relax in, shelter in, connect in.
– Have an awesome idea? Brainstorm with friends, and go for it. Even if it doesn’t look like what you envisioned, at least you had fun along the way!
– Find a great group of doers. It’s all about the people. Good communication, collaborative organising, efficiently dividing up tasks, and a shared vision.
– Ensure you have a solid group of like minded people to go on this journey with. People you feel comfortable with, have the same vision, can rely on etc.
– Do what you love, do it for yourself and your camp members, don’t be beholden to the public.
– We found it helpful to have regular Zoom sessions 6 months before the Burn to start pre planning and brain storming, sorting out our camp leads and other camp roles.
– It needs to come natural.

Phew, that’s it. There’s a huge number of tips and insights for you!

And that’s a wrap on the series!

I hope this has been helpful for you, I had a lot of fun creating it.

Remember though, the information in these blogs is here to help you, but you (and your fellow camp members) should be the ones who decide on how to create your camp.

The beauty of Theme Camps is that they are all different.

Different people, different ideas, different themes and different events.

So get to brainstorming and come up with some fun new ideas.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

See you on the Paddock at KB24!

Until then, have a wonderful day.


Image Credit: Tim Warren

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