Camp Loveland – a Case Study in Radical Rituals

Part of the blog series for the 2017 theme, Radical Ritual.

A guest post by Dragonfly and Jenny Bee, managers at Camp Loveland

Loveland Village formed out of a collection of playa camps in 2011, and now comprises a global community of 250+ citizens of Black Rock City spread across three continents.  Each year 65 “Lovelanders” work for months to organize and bring together a community with the goal of creating an awesome physical and emotional space to enable their best burn ever.  The number is deliberately restricted to 65, because we’ve discovered this to be the right balance of crowd and intimacy to build on long established connections while offering the opportunity to meet and experience new people.  Both are vital to the environment we are trying to create.

Over the years, this community has developed a series of rituals and ceremonies that helps deepen the connection with other camp members and to ourselves.

The center of our public space is a 20 foot diameter sacred sanctuary dome, slightly removed from the road but open to the greater community.  At its heart is an altar created and adorned with statues from various traditions, crystals, lights, incense, and small personal treasures brought by many members of our camp.

The Opening Ceremony

At the core of our camp philosophy is the foundational ceremony on Monday night, which we call our Opening Ceremony.  Everyone has just arrived, camp is shiny and hopes, fears, and dreams are entering the vortex of emotions that is Day 1.  It’s a transitional time, and that makes it the perfect moment to connect with our tribe in an intimate and heart centered way.

At sunset we gather in our sanctuary dome, usually with a few curious neighbors and close friends invited to join in. This is where the real work begins.  The ceremony includes an opportunity for each member to share aloud to the group their name, something they’re grateful for, and their intention for being at Burning Man. We believe that this helps foster a sense of belonging, community, safety, and sacredness. We support each other, recognize each other, look out for each other, and encourage each member to show up fully and create their own best experience.

Earth Connection

From there, we call in the four directions and help remind all present of the power of calling in wisdom traditions that honor our living relationship with the planet and all peoples.   The four directions connect us with “earth based spirituality” that sets the great power of place at the center of our collective consciousness, past and present.  We all stand and turn to face each cardinal direction offering a prayer to each. Here is an example of the prayer to the South and prayer for our inner Spirit:

To the winds of the South, Great Serpent, Wrap your coils of light around us, 
Teach us to shed the past the way you shed your skin, to walk softly on the Earth. Teach us the Beauty Way.

Oh Spirit of our souls within, Place of union, love and reverence. We are grateful for this gift of life and for the love that guides our way. We open our hearts and join with all in love. It has begun.


Heart Connection

The end of the prayer connects our hearts back into the center of the opening. We want people to lead with their hearts and intuition as they explore inside and outside ourselves through a week in Black Rock City.

Other Camp Rituals

Own Your Fuck Yeah

Owning your “Fuck Yeah” in the culture of consent embodies our larger philosophy of trying out the strange and new while following intuition.   Many people, we feel, often have the perception that Burning Man happens TO them, instead of WITH them.  We strongly encourage a mental frame we call “owning your fuck yeah!”  Burning man is full of opportunities to grow and stretch oneself, and trusting in the power of your own creative self is often the difference between a TO and WITH experience. Throughout the week conversations can be overheard in camp explaining how one moment or another were totally a Fuck Yeah.

Playa Scouts Adventure – Virgins on Missions

Our camp co-created 25 tasks to be completed out on the playa in only 1 hour, centered on the 10 Principles, that encourage citizens to engage in ephemeral moments of connection, exploration, and play. Four such missions were:

•   Make 3 people laugh, without telling them to laugh
•   Skip arm in arm with someone for one full block
•   Find a busy place, strike an outrageous pose, hold for three minutes.
•   Capture a unicorn and either get proof or bring it back to camp

Players then came back to our camp and we awarded the winners, those with the most tasks completed, special custom made badges designed by one of our camp member. Each winner got to share a story of their favorite interaction. And our Grand prize winner last year was indeed a BRC virgin, who rode in with two minutes to spare on a UNICORN ART CAR with all 25 tasks completed. The smile on his face was priceless.

Bee Love Swarm – Virgins on Missions

We dress as bright yellow and black bees, and parade out from camp in a group of 40-50 people to swarm the playa with love. Our “Queen Bee” selects random passers-by (or passersby who look like they could use a little love), we yell “we found a flower!” and we “swarm” them with love with all 50+ of us buzzing in a circle around them and lightly tickling them, we then go in for a massive group hug, and then “sting” them with a small but loving spank (rated PG only) or playful pokes.

Here’s a video of a group of Lovelanders creating a Bee Love Swarm at Lucidity, in 2016.


Over the years we’ve received powerful and heartfelt feedback from many of our members that these rituals and experiences not only provide a good time, but create a real sense of community, extending even into the world of everyday life. Our camp philosophy encourages exploration, community, responsibility, participation, play, and an opportunity to embody the best and most outrageous version of ourselves, and these rituals let us live that out.  And of course, we always strive to lead from the heart. Put simply, we love to love. Our camp rituals allow us to put that love into practice.


Photo courtesy of Camp Loveland

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

5 Comments on “Camp Loveland – a Case Study in Radical Rituals

  • Caitlyn says:

    I love what you are doing. Tried a camp the first year, and camped by ourselves the last two years, which for us was ideal…lots of loose neighbors who became friends and family, but we would consider a camp again if it did not come with too much much…..

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  • Aunty Hugger says:

    “Our “Queen Bee” selects random passers-by (or passersby who look like they could use a little love), we yell “we found a flower!” and we “swarm” them with love with all 50+ of us buzzing in a circle around them and lightly tickling them, we then go in for a massive group hug, and then “sting” them with a small but loving spank (rated PG only) or playful pokes.”

    i certainly hope you ask permission before this occurs.

    i for one do not like or appreciate anyone touching me, let alone hugging me without consent.

    something to think about, one man’s hug is another man’s invasion of personal space.

    so, in conclusion, ASK FIRST or potentially suffer an unwanted angry response.

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  • Bangarang says:

    Yeah, but who won Best Moresome at the Lovies this year?

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