Labor Day weekend is creeping up on us, which can mean only one thing (besides the start of the school year): Burning Man! When we first put feelers out to our network of Moms and Dads about the idea of writing an Insider's Guide to Burning Man with Kids we got a lot of, "no ways", "are you crazy" and "not in this lifetime" responses. While it's clear that the majority of Burners opt for a week of adult playtime, there are actually quite a few Burner parents who wouldn't have it any other way. The annual pilgrimage to Black Rock City where nature, creativity, and culture all merge can be a fantastic place for little ones to experience first-hand self-expression.
Long-time Burner Mom Harley K. Dubois (Harley) and newbie mom Cory Mervis (Lady Merv) graciously gave us their advice and insights on life on the playa with kids.
In honor of this years Rights Of Passage theme, we've compiled a list of 10 Insider Tips to make your Burning Man 2011 a fun-filled success with your Burner Babes.
1. The Family Experience
Bringing along the kids will lend an entirely different experience. This is the reality, but it doesn't mean that you won't have an amazing time! When deciding what mode of transportation to bring consider that the distances in the desert are great and can be too much for little legs to walk or pedal on their own. Get crafty and decorate your bike trailer but don't forget to rig up plenty of shade for them to ride in style. When considering your outings, early mornings and late afternoons are best to beat the heat and the larger crowds. Nighttime noise can be an issue for light sleepers, so consider camping further back. The airport can also be a great base camp for kids. It's quiet at night and can be a source of endless daytime entertainment for aviation loving kids.
2. Repeat After Me: No Lost Children
Lights, sound, big art, so much to see! Adventurous ones may have a tendency to wander off so be sure to affix a wristband (the kind they can't pull off) with your name, kids name, camp name, and location. Check out My Precious Kid for a good selection of inexpensive ID bracelets. Cell phone service is unreliable at best so if you do become separated, be sure to contact a Black Rock City Ranger immediately. Misplaced children are taken very seriously and once a child is reported misplaced all enforcement staff are put on alert until the child is located. For the older kids, identify an easy meeting spot in case you get separated. Choose somewhere central and well know so others can help your child locate it as well. Playa Info (6 o'clock and Center Camp) can be a great place to meet since they are trained to help in situations like these.
3. So Much More Than Halloween
Just because it's not Halloween doesn't mean that you can't dress up. Have a little fun and get them into the moop-free costume spirit, people will love it! Just remember that kids in costumes (whether you're in the desert or not) are always a hit so people will want to photograph your sweetheart and give them treats - be prepared! Official media photographers can be identified by their laminates and if you are uncomfortable with anyone taking a picture of your child, be vocal.
4. Dust Storm Diligence
Swim goggles are the best and cheapest dust protection for the eyes (check out Costco for cheap value packs). Consider "goggle training," meaning get the kiddos used to the goggles by wearing them a few minutes each day. Bandannas make good air filters but the best place to be during a storm is inside. Carry the activity guide with you and if you find yourself stranded away from your camp during an extended one, find a kid-friendly activity with a shade structure to hang out in until it passes.
5. Skip the Kiddie Pools
Kid pools are a mess! If you are prepared to drain and wash the pools daily you will be all set, but the first dust storm makes the mini pools brown and unappealing. If you must, bring the kiddie pools out as treat and be mentally prepared to have it as a one time special moment.