AfrikaBurn 2023: 24 to 30 April

Image credit: Jonx Pillemer

Theme camps are designed and created with the intention of welcoming, engaging and entertaining other participants. Think of them as little spaces within the larger village of Tankwa Town. You’re collectively creating a spaceship open to all who want to participate, and generating a fabulous project to share with the community.

You can do anything that tickles your fancy …

… a sunset margarita bar, an afternoon braai and ice-cream station, an epic party, a soulful sound experience, a massage centre, a chill space, offer comfort, a talk, a demonstration, lost mind insurance policies, a water fountain, a bakery, a dance class… what are you good at that others would enjoy, and that you’d like to share?

Your camp can be tiny, it can be enough for 2 or 3 guests at a time, or a dozen, or it could go full massive and be large enough to handle hundreds of people – no matter the size it’s all welcome, and we suggest you try and tackle a camp that suits your crew size, and your resources.

If you’re thinking about creating a theme camp, please read the following docs:

Theme camps are the pulsing heart of Tankwa Town. These criteria was worked out to enable everyone to have a clear parameter in which to operate. There is a summary at the end that can serve as a check list.

  1. What should you offer? Something…anything! Theme Camps must be interactive and have some visual presence. They should include activities, events or services for the Tankwa Town community. Clever, well thought out and unique camps are always well received – and simply providing a venue with sunset cocktails isn’t enough to receive placement on Binnekring Rd. If that’s what you want to do though, don’t be deterred, please go ahead, but we can’t reserve a space for you. Bear in mind that some camp crew should be at your camp at all times in order for your activities to be as accessible to others as possible – especially if located on Binnekring Rd.
  2. Daytime – only doesn’t cut it on the ‘Kring. A camp that is a hub of activity during the day but closed at night will leave gaping dark and lonely hole on Binnekring Rd at night. If you don’t have at least some evening activities planned at your camps (a fire brazier and a place for people to gather will go a long way), its unlikely that you will get Binnekring Rd placement.
  3. Be open for the full week. Your camp must be operational throughout the entire week of the AfrikaBurn event (Monday ‘til Sunday). Theme Camps that haven’t arrived in reasonable time will lose their placement and be moved to the private camping area. All registered Theme Camps are allowed early access to the site by utilising early arrival passes.
  4. Keep it tidy. A good MOOP track record will help a lot with requests for Binnekring Rd frontage. Should you have had a theme camp that received red on a past year’s MOOP map, your application for placement will be somewhat compromised. Keep it tidy means a lot in this context.
  5. Keep your SOUND promises. Should you be any kind of sound camp, you’ll need to agree upfront to a certain size sound rig and adhere to the Tankwa Town Sound guidelines for sound camps and also adhere to the sound requirements in the area the camp is placed. (you can check out our Sound Guidelines here).
  6. Play it cool. Theme Camps need to operate within legal parameters. If you’re gifting booze, it can’t be served to underage participants, at all. Not a drop. Seriously – this is a major headache for our Medics, Rangers and community in general. Don’t enable kids getting wasted – play it cool and ask for to see their band (under age kids wear special wristbands)  if in doubt: Tankwa Town may be a Temporary Autonomous Zone, but it’s still in the Republic Of South Africa, so you’re still subject to the laws of the land.
  7. Safety counts too. Our safety guidelines and requirements are important for the same reason as above. Theme Camp leads will be required to adhere to all the safety requirements laid out by our fabulous safety officer.
  8. Your track record counts. We know intentions are mostly always good, but there are some Theme Camps that have been serial “non-deliverers”. These will be viewed as such and the likelihood of placement will be affected by that. The reverse applies too: those camps that are serially amazing will always be considered favourably. Please note: though we can’t always place Theme Camps in the same place as previous years, we will try and accommodate placement requests wherever we can.
  9. Branding? Profit? You’re in the wrong town. This is very serious. AfrikaBurn is a tool for change in the world, and the principle of Decommodification is key to our desert experiment. Branding, promotion and activation of any products or services is just plainly not allowed and deeply uncool. Any Theme Camps operating as a branding or marketing exercise or using branding in any way will be shut down – or at the very least, asked to completely remove or cover up all branding. True story. Similarly, Plug and Play do-all-your-shit-for-you-for-a-fee-camps are a major no-no. Want to run a camp that coins it off guests? Interested in making a killing by supplying accommodation, services and catering? Find another place to do it – Tankwa Town is about relationships – not profits or products.
  10. Idealism. We’re after all an experiment in inventing the world anew, so if your whole camp is powered by solar and wind or other generated power, we’re going to be impressed. Similarly if you have any other innovations that you are using in or at your camp (like greywater evaporation contraptions, or innovative toilet designs), your efforts will be viewed favourably and have an influence on your placement.
  11. Space/people/gifting/car ratio: Your theme camp space allocation will not be measured on the amount of people in your camp but the size of your gift. The ration is a balance between the number of campers, the offering of your camp and the number of vehicles that you need to run your operations.

The quick checklist for theme camps:

Theme camps should be:

  • visually stimulating
  • offer an interactive experience
  • have a theme
  • offer a service to the citizens of Tankwa Town
  • be neighbourly
  • follow safety protocols
  • have a good previous MOOP record
  • be operational and open to the public from the Monday of the event until the Sunday
  • follow our Plug Play & Profit and Tent Policies.
  • to adhere to the Sound Policy and work with our SOOP Rangers.

If your camp is massive with many people, don’t expect to be placed in the tightest part of Tankwa Town. Binnekring frontage is under a lot of pressure, so of your camp has many people and only a small offering to the public, please don’t expect to be placed on a busy frontage like Binnekring Road or 10ish Boulevard.

Whilst we’ll do our best to provide your camp with a great spot, placement is always at the discretion of the Theme Camp committee.

Repsonsibilities of theme camp responsible person/safety officer

YOUR TENT AND STRUCTURES:

  • Tent signed off by an engineer if larger than 100sqm
  • Scaffolding may not be higher than 2m without a structural sign-off

EQUIPMENT AND APPLIANCES:

  • Generator noise needs to be dampened effectively
  • Electrical cables/wires need to be lifted or taped or in a groove in the ground or covered with flooring
  • All branding on equipment & vehicles covered where possible
  • Sound equipment checked by Sound Ranger, and sound zones adhered to
  • Mutant Vehicles licensed at DMV (Registration to happen before arrival at the Burn)

FIRST AID AND HYGIENE:

  • First Aid Box on site and properly stocked
  • Always have hand sanitiser at your camp and on your body
  • RVs with toilets need to insure that they adhere to our wise waste initiative

FIRE SAFETY:

  • Portable fire extinguishers need to be serviced, and their certificate/s valid
    and compliant
  • Theme Camp must have a minimum of 2 x 4.5kg DCP extinguisher and 2 x buckets of sand (for petrol fire firefighting purposes) per 100sqm of tent
  • Please ensure that your extinguisher has been serviced within the last 12 months and is fully charged – if not, then the Theme Camp will need to make a trip to Ceres or Calvinia to purchase one
  • Excess fuel (in a fuel drum) and LPG (more than 90kg) need to be stored at the AfrikaBurn Fuel Dump. Please alert the Safety officer or “Rob Fire” of your excess fuel. The AB Fire Department will come and collect it and deliver it back to you
  • Fuel storage:
    • Distance between Tent and Fuel – 5 metres
    • Distance between Tent and Fire – 5 metres
    • Distance between Fuel and Fire – 10 metres
    • Placed in a triangle.

EMERGENCY AND SAFETY:

All vehicles must be parked with their ‘nose’ to the street in case of emergency

GENERAL RESPONSIBILITY & ETIQUETTE:

If you encounter a vulnerable participant in your Theme Camp, please bring them to the Sanctuary, which is next door to the Medics or alert a Ranger

  • Proper lock-up area of alcohol after “closing time”
  • Be responsible when gifting alcohol, do not gift alcohol to under-age
    persons (check for yellow wristbands)
  • Make provision for safe parking area for Mutant Vehicle on camp site
  • Manage camp layout (ensure no vehicles are parked in the road)

The Safety Officer will come past and ensure that this is all in order before signing off your Theme Camp.

Thinking about joining or collaborating with a theme camp? Head over to our Community Directory: it’s where all registered projects are able to indicate they’re open to new members or collaborators.

Check out the Community Directory here.

Once upon a time, there was a funky little desert kumbaya that got real popular as it grew up. But as things got bigger, some folks just wanted to rock up & enjoy the fruits of other people’s labour of love. They were keen on the action, but just weren’t up for working for it, or getting down & dirty in the dust. So they sought out ways to pay for their comforts, and some people were keen to provide that comfort, for a tidy profit.

The End? Nope – because that’s not how Tankwa Town works.

With growth in popularity, the AfrikaBurn event has experienced a rise in the commodification of our culture in the form of people and organisations that have utilised the event to turn a profit. These camps and package tours have various names: ‘Turnkey camps’, ‘Plug and Play camps’, ‘Concierge camps’. For our purposes here, we refer to them as Plug, Play and Profit Camps.

Camps of this nature compromise the experience of actively participating in the creation of  Tankwa Town, as well as the culture that it espouses which aspires to affect the world in a positive way. It results in people missing the fundamental point of the experience altogether and goes against the efforts of everyone else at AfrikaBurn that participate for the love of it – not the love of profit.

Radical Self-Reliance, Decommodification, Civic Responsibility, Gifting, Participation and Immediacy have been highlighted as the principles that stand the greatest chance of being compromised by Plug, Play and Profit camps. (see here for a detailed explanation of the guiding principles).

Through consultations over many years, our community has voiced the opinion that Plug, Play and Profit camps go against our 11 guiding principles and compromise the essence of the experience. And so our Theme Camp team have developed mechanisms to ensure that some basic rules of play are adhered to. The main mechanisms utilised are these:

  1.  The development of a Supplier Process (and Supplier Gate at our event site). Read about it here.
  2. “Good standing” evaluation criteria
  3. Withholding placement and listing of camps
  4. Withholding the right of a PPP camp operator to return to the event
  • The camp (private or a registered theme camp) advertises or engages in commodification. There is a range of these: product placement, selling services such as putting up tents, cleaning the camp, making the meals, where participants are waited on and add nothing to collective experience. There is no toil.
  • Your camp collaborates with concierge companies selling package tours (there is a range of these too) that involve transport, flights, hotels etc.
  • Your camp places clients of concierge / package tour companies in your camp.
  • If we received feedback from other AfrikaBurn departments or the community that you sold or advertised goods or services during AfrikaBurn.
  • Your camp turns a profit which is not used to fuel future creative projects.

What does that all mean? Read the Plug and Play Guidelines here.

To help you navigate the territory when it comes to camp plans, check out these handy flowcharts:

Click on either image to view a large & zoomable PDF version.



A easy to check reference guide is outlined below:

CAMPERS:

  • Check there are no staff serving you
  • Make sure of your duties in the camp
  • Make sure your package deal does not include a profit – insist on seeing the books if it’s not evident where the money goes.

CAMP LEADS:

  • Open Books
  • Full responsibility in terms of PPnP Policy
  • Ensure all campers have and know their responsibilities before arriving in the desert.