Join the Census Team and Take Part in the Ritual of “Working Man”

By Moonbeams

The Aluminet is “Out for Delivery.” The final yard of tulle on your tutu is sewn. The last connection on your custom sound-reactive bike lights is soldered. The bins have room for just a few more freshly made pendants. The trusty boots are practically crying out for a fresh coat of playa dust. You’ve watched Mark Day’s latest video more times than you’ll willingly admit to. You shiver with antici…pation.

You know you’re forgetting something, but… what is it?

It’s time to pick a volunteer team, of course! If you’ve been wondering what gift you can bring to the playa, and you are nerdy about numbers, why not gift a bit of your time to your friendly neighborhood Black Rock City Census?

There are a number of ways to volunteer with Census, whether you want to work for a few days or only a few hours.

Want to drop in and enjoy some air conditioning and peace and quiet? Data Entry is for you. Want to wander around the city and talk nerdy to people? Data Disseminator is your calling. Want to hang out at the Lab and have fascinating conversations about methodology with visitors? Hey there, Lab Host! Do you enjoy event planning and operations? The Census Lab holds Data Bashes that could use your touch.

Or do you want to go all out and collect data in the lanes? If you’re a seasoned Burner, you might’ve seen our Random Samplers on Gate Road, cute and nerdy with lab coats and clipboards, making sure you count.

Through rain and cold, dust and sweat, Census Samplers are the hardy folk braving the elements to randomly select Burning Man participants in an effort to gather statistically reliable information about this year’s population of Burners. Seriously. It’s science people. Or math. Or something like that. (I’m a history major.)

My first Burn was 2016, and I was so excited. The very first thing I did (after jumping up and down, emitting a joyful “Squeeeeee!”) was to look for a meaningful volunteer project. My partner Spewey and I discovered the fabulous BRC Census and found fun, rock stars and a forever Burning Man family, as well as a way to make a positive impact. We ran around the playa with our new lab-coated friends, ate great meals with our Census family, and forged friendships I hope will last for life.

Whether you are a veteran Burner looking for a new opportunity to engage, or a virgin hoping to forge a strong connection to Burning Man, consider volunteering with the Census. It might just be one of the most rewarding experiences of your Burn.

To join, fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire on the Participation Portal, email us at, or stop by Census on Monday, August 28 at 12 pm for training.

And if you just can’t get it together between now and then, the V-Spot on playa will have up-to-date information about what volunteer opportunities are available, right when you’re ready to serve, all week long!

One more thing, Burners. Remember, when you are slowly inching forward on Gate Road, and the Census Random Samplers pop into view, you just might be the lucky winning vehicle to be sampled! And if you don’t see us on Gate Road, come to your Census at 11 o’clock on the Center Camp Plaza. We’ll whisper sweet Census data points in your ear.

[Author’s note: You probably are forgetting something else that’s critical. I suggest you check your bins for nail clippers, saline nose spray, Imodium and stool softener.]

About the author: Census Team

Census Team

The Census Lab is a volunteer team of information geeks, academic researchers, students, and general data nerds who have surveyed Black Rock City (BRC) residents since 2002.

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