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Plug, Play & Profit Camps

People offering ready-made camps to others in the interest of making a profit is an issue that’s raised its head over the years – and as we grow, we’re seeing this kind of stuff come up more frequently. The bottom line: we don’t seek to profit off each other. 

Here’s the thinking from our Theme Camp and Creative teams:

AfrikaBurn bursts with brilliant creativity thanks to the limitless imaginations and tireless toil of a vast sea of participants who contribute each in their own unique way, but who also co-create each and every detail together. It’s this collaboration, this magical concoction of interacting ideas and efforts that allows for an individual to experience the power of collective intention and effort first hand by building community with friends and strangers alike.

Through multiple consultations over many years, our community has voiced the opinion that so-called “plug & play” or “turnkey” camps go against our 11 guiding principles and compromise the essence of the experience.

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 camps. (see here for a detailed explanation of the guiding principles). To specifically uphold the principle of Decommodification, the community has taken a stand against the concept of an individual being able to pay a service provider to provide them with an all-inclusive, no effort required AfrikaBurn experience.

So we’ve changed the name of this monster to “Plug, Play and Profit” as we feel this better encapsulates the challenges with these camps – and tells it like it is.

The following camp scenarios are not acceptable at AfrikaBurn:

  • Where transport, tents, bikes, food, water, showers, costumes etc. are provided, not through personal relationships, collaboration and effort, but for a fee paid to a provider.
  • Where you can pay someone else to take care of your day to day needs such as set up, cooking, cleaning, MOOPing and the breakdown of the camp, instead of you taking care of yourselves.
  • Where someone else, who is paid, makes the effort to ensure you are secure in comfort and who mitigates your need to participate and collaborate to survive in the harsh conditions of the Tankwa, which results in you missing the fundamental point of the experience altogether.

 

This is particularly relevant when someone sets out to make a profit by selling you an ‘all-included’ deal, which is in opposition to the efforts of everyone else at AfrikaBurn that participate for the pure love of gifting their efforts to their fellow attendees. AfrikaBurn’s a different kind of event; the organising team doesn’t line up entertainment for you and camps shouldn’t be set up for a profit.

The guidelines below have been developed to help camp organisers identify what to watch out for and solutions to help them along. Whether you’re part of a private camp or a Theme Camp open to the public, these guidelines apply. Perhaps the scale is different, but process is the same – it’s all about participation and levels of involvement.

Guidelines

1) Contribution is a touchstone in our community.

Red flag

The only contribution you’ve made is to pay your fees – everything else was arranged and provided for you.

Green flag

Each camp member meaningfully contributes to the running of the camp and/or towards a project

Fly the right flag

Camp organisers: Make it very clear, right from the start that everyone is expected pull their weight in the camp or associated project. This can start with a letter or a disclaimer that states that all the participants in the camp are expected to participate.  

Campmates: Everyone has skills and talents – and everyone can contribute with camp duties like MOOPing, setting up tents, and if someone needs guidance and doesn’t seem to be sharing the load, teach them.

2) Advertising for new members on social media is a common way for existing and new camps actualise their gift in Tankwa Town and it doesn’t automatically mean those advertising are Plug Play and Profit camps.

Red flag

Camp leads and organisers are only interested in your money and only one or two people are arranging the logistics.

Green flag

Camp leads and organisers are interested to know what role you can play in the camp and/or project.

Fly the right flag

AfrikaBurn hosts a Theme Camp Directory to facilitate this process for both participants and camps. Communication is vital for organising purposes and so it’s not the fact that they are advertising that should be questioned, it is what exactly is being  advertised is important

3) Luxury comes in different levels in Tankwa Town and some can afford to be flamboyant. Over-the-top experiences do not define camps as Plug Play and Profit – such Theme Camps and gifts can provide much needed respite for your new friends in the desert.

Red flag

Your camp hired people or “staff” to take care of the basics such as cooking and cleaning and you’re not expected to do any chores.

Green flag

Only necessary professional services have been engaged in your project such as engineers, technicians as there are no camp members with the expertise or capacity.

Fly the right flag

The crux here is that the efforts and expenses need to be shouldered as equitably as possible, and focus on external gifting to the wider community, rather than internal benefit.

Camp organisers: ensure that you have a collective experience, one that doesn’t exonerate individual responsibility in creating the AfrikaBurn experience.

4) Package deals are out there but what’s exactly on offer? Tickets? Transport? Tents? The whole bang-shoot? From profiting to sharing some basics like infrastructure, costs of food, we understand that some people (eg: international visitors) won’t have everything to hand and don’t want to buy big things like tents for a week.

Red flags

Is the camp offering:

  •       Pre-set up tents, including bedding etc
  •       Cooked meals, without you needing to spend time helping in the kitchen
  •       Someone to clean up after you
  •       Concierge services to help you with your other needs
  •       Exclusive camp member benefits not open to the public, such as a private bar etc…

Does the camp not require you to:

  •       Help with the set-up or breakdown of camp
  •       Volunteer for tasks and activities that need doing
  •       Take your rubbish and waste home.

Green flag

Camp organisers and members are encouraged share resources, responsibilities and contributions and support each other to run the camp equitably.

Fly the right flag

Camp organisers welcoming new members are ultimately responsible for setting expectations to ensure they are not perceived as Plug Play and Profit.

Learning to delegate prevents burn out and spreads the ethos faster.

5) Financial transparency is queen of the desert camp and open books go along way to building trust within the team and the community you are part of building. It is imperative that camp mates can be shown financial info (and if required AfrikaBurn may request to see them too). The reality is some camps cost a hell of a lot to create – infrastructure, transport, gifts, numbers of camp members are all variables that make Tankwa Town what it is. So cost isn’t a measure of Plug Play and Profit either  – but profit is.

Red flags

Camp organisers don’t share their accounts with camp members

Camp organisers don’t ask camp members for guidance and input with regard to purchases and options around logistics or levels of luxury.

Green flag

Camp organisers communicate with the team and include them in decision making.

Fly the right flag

Camp organisers: share the detail of the cost of creating a camp, receive questions and input. The goal of the organisers must be the collective experience, not profit.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you charge a camp fee?
  • Does the fee exceed the amount required to buy camp supplies?
  • Do you have paid labour in the camp?
  • Do you keep record of camp expenses and are those records open?
  • Are you hosting a camp to make a profit?
  • Is the relationship between camp members financial?
  • Do some camp members only contribute money to the camp?
  • Are you offering a gift to the broader community?

If money is left over or if you aim to create a surplus to sustain your gift into the future, give to charity, or you built in a contingency that you will return to camp mates, communicate it to the team so all plans are above board.

Camp mates: engage in discussions, hold people to account, don’t leave everything for the organiser to decide.  Ask other camps about their costs, share ideas and hacks.

And remember…

All of our policies are geared towards helping and enabling our beautiful participants to do their thing. However if we find that individuals have ignored policies, we will discourage such actions in the future by:

  • Denying placement if we discover a camp is in fact a Plug, Play and Profit camp. Which will adversely affect the camp members who expect the camp to secure an address or prime real estate.
  • A future ban for the camp organiser and possible removal from site, if commercial vending takes place.

AfrikaBurn is defined by people who attend and make the event. You ARE AfrikaBurn.

To heklp 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:

Quick check for Camp Leads and Campers
Campers Camp Leads
Check there are no staff serving you Open Books
Make sure of your duties in the camp Full responsibility in terms of PPnP Policy
Make sure your package deal does not include a profit – insist on seeing the books if it’s not evident where the money goes. Ensure all campers have and know their responsibilities before arriving in the desert.