Zebra riders (Photo by Omer Sehayek)
Black Rock City relies on the efforts, diligence and ethics of the Burners that build the city, run departments and set the stage to make Burning Man possible, and kids are some of the most enthusiastic volunteers who love contributing their time, and have fun doing it.
From the very beginning, playa kids learn survival skills, playa ethics like Leave No Trace, and ultimately how to contribute to their community. When taught the Burning Man principles on playa, kids get it right away. They learn it, live it and incorporate it into their core values as they grow up.
Through programs like Black Rock Scouts, kids get to volunteer and train with departments like Lamplighters, Gate, Greeters, ESD, Media Mecca and DMV. This kind of behind-the-scenes exposure teaches them invaluable skills and often inspires kids (and their parents) to join a crew, which some Scouts have gone on to do.
What are the Risks?
Adult content is concern for some — mostly to those without kids — but exposure to such things challenges parents to talk about tough subjects. Kids are not shy about asking questions, so most parents look at it as an opportunity to talk openly with their children about sexuality, drug use and human nature.
Mobile classroom (Photo by Roth Hall)
As far as nudity goes, kids love being naked so when adults don’t react negatively, it’s no big deal. In the end, it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide what their child should see or not, so Burners should simply be themselves around kids. If your behavior seems unsuitable for kids, it’s up the parents to remove their children from the situation. No biggie.
How About the Rewards?
Interacting with kids on playa can be a rewarding experience for child-free Burners. Do you remember having that ‘aha!’ moment during your first Burn? You relearned how to play, how to be generous and how it feels to be unconditionally accepted. Children who come to the playa are already there. They see the world as one big playground. Their open minds are not tainted with prejudice or judgment.
Playing with children helps us experience the magic of the playa through their fresh perspective. Playa kids raised at Burning Man have the advantage of on-the-playa training with inspiring Burners (like you) as role models. When you encounter a baby Burner this year, take a moment to have a conversation, share your wisdom or simply play with them.
Playa-raised kids are the next generation of Burners and they’ll be the ones keeping the flame alive at Burning Man.