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Letter to Prospective Camp Members

Please read this to find out what's inside our heads and our hearts and why we do this crazy, wonderful endeavor each year.


The following is a letter which fellow camp member, Stefan, wrote recently in a rather poetic and all embracing attempt to capture the essence of who we are and why we choose to do what we do every year at Burning Man. It's another long read (assuming you've read the previous two pages - what you need to know and bakery operations & camp life) and likely it'll take you on quite a journey. We hope you find it's worth the time. Link to application form is at the bottom.

Dear Prospective Camp Member,

                  Allow us to introduce ourselves: we are the Lovin’ Oven, a family, a bakery, and dance apocalypse all rolled into one.  We take very seriously (albeit playfully) the celebration of love, friendship, and joy as our core values.  We are a remarkably diverse camp, with members whose origins lie far and wide across globe, and whose places of dwelling or places of trekking seem to be constantly shifting, a truly global tribe whose members are driven endlessly onward by their imaginations down the path of personal discovery and in pursuit of knowledge of the sun, moon and stars.   It is in magical Black Rock City that we combine these individual imaginations into a voyage of communal discovery. Beyond the variety of our passports we are of diverse economic backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles, a camp of truly open hearts and minds, our lone true intolerance being intolerance itself.

                  We believe Burning Man is about becoming as an individual one with a group, and even more significantly, that group of which you’ve become a part becoming a part of one greater group … groups that solve their problems with wisdom and assistance and kindness in search of fairness and unity and “can someone help me lift this?”’, rather than groups that solve their disputes with bullying or conniving or violence in search of an upper hand or exploitation or a free ride.  What we give to the community beyond ours is bread and comfort.  Some say the making of bread gives meaning.  Bread is typically made from few ingredients, yet the result is complex.  And like our campmates no two loaves are exactly the same.  With each piece of bread handed to a stranger, we express our love and unity, and with each gift, we make a new friend.

                  There is a great deal of labor that goes into making this bread, and also into making the comfy setting to be enjoyed by those who come to devour it.  The wonderful news is that we get to enjoy this as our home for the whole week!  This is a crucial element in understanding our camp and Burning Man as whole: work and play exist not in juxtaposition; it is our work that allows us to play within our own camp and which brings others to play with us.  We find liberation in offering up our own individual effort, not in the name of one’s profits or personal glory, but in the name of teamwork. We truly work for ourselves and fellow burners!  So while it is at times draining, it is in fact an exercise in freedom, working on one’s own behalf AND for the benefit of others, and thusly the reward of the work can be not only meaningful but also FUN (:.  

                  We seek people who are both willing and capable to work in a team.  This teamwork calls for discipline, not for discipline’s sake, but out of respect to your campmates in pulling your weight and enabling the gears of our remarkable camp to run smoothly.  We are not looking for Senator Serious Pants however, we are looking for warm fuzzy souls who can excel with others, while also keeping the jokes cracking and the smiles shimmering as we sweat through our work in the blazing sun, for ourselves and for our fellow campmates and Black Rock City as a whole.  

                  We believe problems can be solved simultaneously to giggles being had -  the great social activist William James once said "Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing."   This is how we hope to build our camp, each individual doing his or her part to contribute where they can.  To come up with creative solutions should “eureka!” strike, or to have the humility to ask direction when confused, and regardless to be a boon to the spirits of us all when we become exhausted, by sharing your own little light with the rest of us, thereby maintaining the collective cheerfulness and humor of the camp, to keep the Lovin’ in the Oven, if you will allow me a touch of corniness.

                  Again, this is not just about you being a contributing member to our camp, but our belief that your contributions to our camp lead to our camp contributing to the Playa as a whole, for extraordinary amounts of work have been contributed by those in other camps to create the playground you will find yourself, cruising through mounted wobbly atop your bike with the lights to the right and left blinky-blinking and the flames exploding on the horizon and the womp-womps womp-womping all around and EVERYWHERE, best of all, the smiles smiles SMILES (:.  

                  The philosopher Alan Watts has a quote which sums up the Playa perfectly; “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”  As I interpret this within the context of the Playa, it is that in your contributions to the camp, you become a part of the contributions of all camps, and by extension the wonder that is the Playa as a whole, and then you will be the Playa and the Playa be you, and you will be awash in a sense of communal love so powerful as to potentially rose-tint the prism through which you look out on existence not just within this one weird week but everyday of your life going forward … at least I can say that I hadn’t experienced anything remotely like it previously, and I can say in my personal experience it is the most wonderful feeling I have known in this world.  We the Lovin’ Oven seek to immerse ourselves completely in the Playa as a whole, blood, sweat, and tears included (well hopefully no blood (wear work gloves!), and tears only of joy or from laughing too hard :-p).

                  When the legendary subversive silent actor Charlie Chaplin finally spoke in character, what he had to say was "You the people have the power!  The power to create machines!  The power to create happiness!  You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful!  To make this life a wonderful adventure!"  And if this sentiment appeals to you than you yourself surely have the power to come make bread with us and join our gloriously odd little family in our quest to make this life a free and beautiful wonderful adventure!  If that makes sense to you, if you’ve the capacity to dream and the willingness to work, we’d love to have you join us out in the dust. Peace.

With love,

The Dusty Bakers @ the Lovin' Oven many cups of tea have you gotten through reading through all this? If you're still game, please click here for application form.

Hungry dusty beautiful people