A lot of us older Burners originally came to the festival at the urging of our children. In my case it was when my 20-year-old son talked his nearly 60-year-old dad into going.
So I’m putting a call out to all the young Burners who happen by this site to make this “The Year of Taking Your Parents (or, as appropriate, grandparents, uncles and aunts) to Burning Man”. They may love it or hate it, but they’ll never forget their Virgin Burner experience.
How can you seal the deal with some likely tough customers? I’d suggest you find ways to make their decision as easy as possible. Consider the burden to older people of spending a week in an uncomfortable tent with few creature comforts. Suggest an RV, trailer or camper instead. You can also seek out other alternatives such as dome-style encampments. Google “Burning Man Shelters” for some creative options that offer a comfortable life while retaining a feel for Black Rock City.
An important proviso is the cost of renting an RV for the Burn. Your folks can expect to pay a deposit roughly equal to the amount of the rental cost to cover clean-up. But they can mitigate or eliminate that cost by thoroughly scrubbing away all evidence of their playa experience, both inside and outside the vehicle.
A few preventative steps can help. For example, we use carpet remnants to create a false layer of flooring in our RV. The remnants can be pulled out and thrown away or stored for next year’s Burn – leaving only minimal clean up of the deck. For cloth furniture and draperies, use Press ‘n’ Seal to keep out the dust. Also be sure to seal windows and other spots where dust can creep in. Post-Burn, take the rented vehicle through an RV wash. Pricey as these automatic washes can be (usually around $100), that expense is a pittance compared to losing the entire deposit.
Preparing for Burning Man can seem like an onerous task, but you can provide plenty of help based on your own experience, plus the advice available on the Burning Man site. Haven your parents check out this site for a thorough review (including videos) of playa preparations.
If you’re serious about bringing your parents, you’ll want to make a commitment to their success. Travel or caravan with them and join in the fun of welcoming them as Virgin Burners. Show them the important facilities, including the closest medical tents and porta-potties. Walk through the What, When, Where guide you receive at the gate to help your folks pick out activities that they’d enjoy. And while you’re at it, choose a couple of activities that you’ll want to share with your folks.
Another idea is to get them signed up for an Art Tour where they’ll get to see the major art installations and even meet some of the artists – all without walking or riding their bikes. Check with the Artery for more information on art tours.
Finally, be your parent’s mentors. If you’re camping away from the, check in on occasion to make sure they’re okay, comfortable, and having a great time. Introduce them to other older or some of the truly fascinating people you find at Burning Man Warning: Setting your folks up in a campsite and then forgetting about them is a sure way to undo much of the goodwill that should be part of your aspirations for their visit.
So let’s declare this “take your parents to Burning Man” year, and bring along the folks. It may just deepen your relationships for all time.