The dust has hardly settled on Burning Man 2008, but it's already time to start thinking about 2009. First off, thank all of you so much for the great comments on my Burning Man Parkour blog post. Anyone who hasn't seen it can look here:
Now that I've been back in the real world for a few weeks, I'm continually thinking about the feasibility of a parkour camp for Burning Man 2009. 2008 was my first time at Burning Man, so I'm not going to pretend that I'm an expert, especially not in organizing a real camp. However, I think that if people are interested and truly willing to commit themselves to the idea, it could work out very well.
First, a few cold, hard facts about Burning Man:
It is hot. It is dusty. It is windy. Tickets are expensive ($225 minimum if you get them very early, $300 if you wait), and depending on how you go, it can cost a lot more in transportation costs to get up there. You have to bring all of your own water. You have to bring all of your own food. Everything you bring with you will be covered in playa dust, which is very difficult to get off. It is noisy at all times of the day and night, and you will never truly escape thumping music and the sounds of other people on the playa, even if it's 4 in the morning and you're trying to sleep. You are subject to everyone else's interpretation of "radical self-expression", which means that people will be acting crazy, be on drugs, and be in various stages of nudity at various times. Here's a link to the Burning Man First-timer's guide for 2008:
If you're still reading at this point, maybe there's some hope. All of those downsides I listed up there weren't even noticeable to me, and I was there for a week. The upsides are that you will see the most amazing art you have ever seen in a mind-blowing setting. Once you are there, everything is free. You will meet some of the most interesting people, and it's perfectly acceptable to simply walk up to someone and ask them what's up. You can dance all night long, you can wander in solitude in the desert, you can ride on cars converted to be rolling art pieces that play music and serve alcohol, you can make friends with basically anyone. You can do a lot of the things you've always wanted to. You can let go completely, and it's totally fine.
Now, on to the parkour part... A parkour camp would be relatively simple. In addition to regular camping stuff (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, foldable chairs, etc.) we would need a couple of sizable shade structures and several movable and/or adjustable obstacles that we could arrange how we saw fit. I'm thinking large sawhorses like they have in gyms for vaults, rails on moveable bases, things reminiscent of picnic tables at least in length and height, and some big wooden things with holes cut out of them for people to jump through. I'm definitely open to suggestions. If anyone knows how to weld, that would definitely be a useful contribution. I have a good friend who welds, and I'm sure she'd be willing to teach me to make a few simple things like rails.
The focus of a camp like this is not only for us to show our art of movement to everyone, but also to bring them in and teach them. I can't think of a community better suited for teaching parkour than this one. We would teach the same principles of the beginner mentality, progression, and not pushing your limits that we do normally. It's just that we'd be dressed a little funny and some of the people we'd be teaching might be stoned (or otherwise). All good, you know?
The key to making a camp like this work is in early planning. It will take a serious commitment of time and effort to work out all of the logistics, so if anyone decides they want to try to do this with me, understand that you are not just along for the ride. We need help and cooperation from everyone involved to make it work. I'm certainly not asking for people to commit to anything right now because there's a whole year ahead, and a lot can change. But consider it. Also, I want to be there for the entire week, personally (Sunday until the following Monday). The longer you're there, the better in my opinion. You can come for a few days if you want, but I think you really miss out.
If enough people are interested, then we could apply to be an official theme camp, which gives us the advantage of a designated camping spot in what would probably be a more hoppin' part of the city. Otherwise, we would go as a ragtag group of traceurs and traceuses, and put down wherever we could find a spot. That's not really as much fun, because we could get stuck somewhere where no one would notice us and it'd be a long walk or ride to the really fun stuff.
I will probably post this on other sites like SFPK and PKCali to try to gauge broader interest.