Camping with the Turtles
So, you're thinking about camping with the Turtles?
The Future Turtles are a welcoming group of friends that spend time together during the year and at Burning Man.
We love you! Here’s a little guide we put together to help you decide if you should camp with us.
- We’re pretty nerdy.
We are, to a large extent, nerds, engineers, programmers, gaymers, creators and artists, scientists and philosophers. A lot of us know our way around Python, LED circuits, computer science, and Monty Python. Debates about tabs vs. spaces turn us on.
- We are a male gay camp.
Everyone is welcome, but we work actively to create a safe gay haven in a heteronormative world.
- We're burners.
We try very hard not to be one of those camps that hosts parties at Burning Man that are indistinguishable from parties in San Francisco. Time on playa is too short to waste it by sipping vodka sodas, bopping slowly to some pop diva disco music, and getting judgy looks from tall men with perfect abs.
We are at Burning Man to get lost in dust storms, to jury-rig elaborate outdoor social showers, to fall asleep in a geodesic dome while somebody explains how to manifest aligned consciousness, to watch frat boys swinging from trapezes while removing their own shorts, and to chase sharks across the desert in a whaling ship.
We share a lot of values. If you share them too, you'll fit right in!
- No spectators.
Participation is key to being a Turtle. Burning Man is a temporary city, not a music festival. The best experiences come from participating in the civic life of that city, not from watching things other people are doing. We put on multiple events during the week and put a lot of emphasis on active participation in the city.
- Everybody works.
Camping for a week in the harsh Black Rock Desert is tough. We try to make it easier by collaborating to build a beautiful camp, organizing delicious shared meals together, and providing communal gifts to the Burning Man community.
The magic of Burning Man is the collaboration. Not only will you be collaborating to build something really awesome that you can be proud of, but you will test your own limits, learn many new skills, and make incredible friends for life. Burning Man is a transformative experience and the people you go through it with make all the difference.
This all takes a ton of work, both in the months leading up to the event getting everything ready, and during the week of Burning Man itself. To camp with us, you can expect to put in several days of work before you even get to the event, and several hours of shifts every day once we’re there.
If that sounds like too much, that’s fine! Maybe you would like to go on a cruise ship? You will not have to work there at all.
- Sliding scale for camp fees.
Our camp fees are “pay what you can” but we have three recommended levels:
- $10 (for students or anyone who gets Burning Man Ticket Aid)
- $200 (our normal camp fees)
- $10,000 - $50,000 (for you damn 1%-ers)
- No drama.
Burning Man is very hard and most people, at some point, have some major emotional moments. Usually a pickle and a nap will fix you right up. If that doesn’t, we have a team of volunteers called the Future Turtles Guardians to help. That said, behavior which creates unnecessary conflict or drama will detract from other peoples’ experience on playa and won't be tolerated.
On playa, we aim to create a gorgeous and comfortable hangout for ourselves, our friends, and anyone who visits. Some of the gifts we offer the playa include:
- A bar serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Sunset parties
- A morning Desert HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. With smoothies!
- Multiple spaces for lounging, cuddle puddles, and intimate encounters 😈
If providing these gifts to people sounds like your kind of thing, for example, as a mixologist, DJ, fitness instructor, smoothie bar person, or just a greeter or facilitator for any of the above, you're in the right place.
Turtles always dive in and do any work that needs to be done. If they see another turtle cleaning something, fixing something, or setting something up, they immediately go over and start helping without asking or being asked.
Every turtle will be expected to make a significant work contribution of some sort before or after the burn. Typical ways that Turtles fulfill this responsibility:
- Participate in a work weekend in Reno, NV in the spring to help prepare our gear
- Join the early build team, arriving on playa a week before everyone else to build the camp
- Join the post-strike team, helping put away gear in Reno after the event
- Join the food or beverages team, organizing food in advance
- Meaningfully contribute to a camp art project and/or bring your own form of art
In addition to those off-playa work opportunities, your obligations on playa include:
- Arriving no later than Monday of the event week
- Doing assigned work shifts including LNT (cleaning), kitchen shifts, ice runs, greetings and crowd control at events, which may add up to 12-18 hours total during the week
- Being on playa and participating in Camp Strike from 9am Sunday morning (the morning after Man Burn) until the camp is fully packed and the site has been raked and restored, which is usually noon Monday
Finally, you can’t camp with the Turtles unless:
- You have camped with us before and are a camper in good standing, OR you are sponsored by an existing camper with the approval of camp leadership.
- You subscribe to our email newsletter (there is a form at the bottom of this page), read it promptly, and always do all the things that it tells you to do.
I know. Your inbox is a mess and you lose things in there. You are very busy and the burn is a long time away. But trust the process. Set up a filter to mark our newsletter as important. When a newsletter is released, drink some coffee and Ritalin, then make a point of reading it and responding right away. Otherwise you may miss some crucial deadline that is non-optional and you’ll find it impossible to camp with us.
What we provide collectively
Under the principle of Radical Self Reliance, every burner is responsible for providing for all their needs to stay alive in a remote desert lake bed for a week. The Future Turtles collaborates on some of these survival needs, bringing and building them together each year.
- Large shade structures
- Field kitchen, where we serve two hot meals daily, with vegan options of course!
- Drinking water
- Grey water removal
- Barebones, outdoor cold showers, featuring hot nekkid boys like you
We usually work to coordinate:
- Rental bicycles, which are crucial to getting around the city
- Tents—we own some slick Shiftpods which you can rent, along with cots
As we get closer to the burn, we'll provide more details on exactly what you have to prepare and bring, and we'll recruit volunteers to work on the things that we are going to bring collectively.
A couple more things...
- Don’t bring a vehicle, RV, or truck unless you are a part of the build team and it is required for that purpose. We don’t have room for them in camp. Most Turtles take the Burner Express Bus and boy is that a great idea, since you avoid huge huge lines getting into and out of the city. (In 2022 the bus saved Turtles 6 hours in line to enter and 12 hours in line to exit).
- Assume that you will be offline without Internet access or cell service the whole time.
- Tickets to the event are very hard to get. We can’t make any guarantees, but, historically, we have managed to find tickets for everyone who had been actively participating in preparation during the year. We will guide you through all the opportunities to buy tickets in the lead up to the event.
A couple of principles we take seriously
We value the transformative experience of sensual and consensual touch, play, and interaction. We believe that consent plays a vital part in our connectivity and community. Our vision is that all parties participate in a physical encounter from a place of enthusiasm and autonomy. Consent must be explicitly granted from an individual who is clearly in a state of mind to be able to grant it.
Future Turtles center diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values of our community. Consent culture and safe places are key tenets of the Future Turtles, particularly for people of color, transgender, and non-binary persons.