What is a Theme Camp?

There are many ways to describe theme camps, but in general it starts with a personal interest, something someone, or a group of someones’ desires to share with others. And SHARING is the keyword here, no matter how elaborate or minimalist, expensive or cheap to create, the theme camp is a group of individuals sharing a part of themselves with any and all whom choose to enter their camp and experience their offerings. In a nutshell a theme camp is 2 or more people camping together offering an interactive experience for other people to come participate in. Beyond that, imagination is the only real limit.

Another way is to illustrate with examples: A theme camp may prepare food to share with anyone who chooses to partake of that food, or a theme camp may act as a free bar or pub. A theme camp may provide art supplies and provide a space and opportunity for people to come explore their inner artist, or the theme camp may have a bunch of musical instruments for people to explore their inner musician and experiment with others in making music. A theme camp may offer a quiet space to meditate, rest or cuddle, it may provide DJs and a dance space for people to move to the music. One theme camp may offer a playground to play in, while another may provide a sensual play space, and yet another may be festooned with op-art and all manner of visual mind toys, while another may have unique or familiar games to play. Some theme camp create never before seen or conceived interactive art pieces or music making devices or mind challenges. Still other theme camps provide a space for people of like minds together and share time together, a place to make new friends or discuss life’s deep mysteries or frivolous meanderings. Some theme camps provide entertainment, others give you a chance to BE the entertainment, some educate, and some inspire thought, or simply inspire.

A theme camp does not HAVE to be stationary! Okay, so the home camp is stationary, but elements of the camp can travel. For example bars have been known to traveled about, occasionally stopping for 20 or more minutes at a time to offer their beverages to passersby. Mobile theme camps can be interactive, offer performances, offer food or drink, or whatever else you like. A mobile theme camp is NOT an art car(t)or bike, an art installation, or a solo traveling performer, but they are all cousins!

Ultimately, the burn experience is about radical self expression, and Theme Camps are one of the great ways in which people get together to radically express themselves, and give others a chance to participate too. Be it a tea house or a temple, a jungle gym or a game show, be they serious or pointless, theme camps are the heart of a Burn for they are the unique expressions of sharing and gifting which members of the burner community offer their sibling burners.


Ignite is a Leave No Trace (LNT) event.  This includes Theme Camp areas, who are required to do a final clean up.  Although Leave No Trace events are not exclusive to burns, Burning Man is the larges LNT event in the world.  There is no trash service nor clean up crews to clean up after you.  All Matter Out Of Place (MOOP) must be collect and packed out by the individuals and theme camps. What if you see MOOP that’s not yours? Pick it up! We’re all a community here.

Food Containment and Cooling

When packing food, try to remove as much extra packaging beforehand as possible, this will create less MOOP, and be easier for you to pack out.  If you are packing with dry ice and you do not want all of your food frozen solid, remember to but a towel between your food and the dry ice as an insulation barrier.

Packing Boxes

It is really best to pack everything in and out in labeled plastic Rubber Maid style boxes.  These are easy to stack and carry and do not fall apart in the rain.  Paper bags are equally vulnerable to the rain. Remember to de-MOOP all of your packaging before placing items in bins.

Folding Chairs

Labeling the back of them with a sharpie and tying the bags around the legs can avoid quite a bit of confusion when it is time to pack everything up

Shade / Rain Structures

It can rain.  Plan for it.  Do you really want to be to poor sodden soggy schmuck who has the really cool shindig, but nobody wants to visit it because it is out in the cold rain all weekend?  It is best to plan for the worst, and besides, the blistering sun can get incredibly hot, so some respite in the shade is also a plus.  If you are using free standing structures, make sure to tie them down at all corners, this makes them repel the water better and insures they will stay standing up in a windy storm.  Don’t forget to adorn the any trip lines with bright decorations, and cover the stakes – empty plastic water / Coke bottles can save many a toe.

Tarpology 101

Here is a quick bullet list of tarpology tips:

Plan to hang a tarp above your tent!  Yes, I know it has a fly, but odds are it won’t stand up to heavy prolonged rains.

By natural extension you will want a tarp over your kitchen, hang out, and public spaces.  this will also help shade from the heat during the times of intense sunlight.

For maximum comfort use a tarp that will provide at least 4 feet of overhang on all sides of your tent, kitchen, hang out space, etc.  This gives a transition buffer, and helps counterbalance those sideways rains caused by heavy winds.

2 diagonal corners high / 2 diagonal corners low is a great way to beat winds and provide wind block, while also giving a “breezeway.”   You can go way low to the ground with your low corners for maximum protection.  Or you can go as high as head height with your low corners – if  you are going higher with your high corners.  The total difference in height between the high and low can be as little as 2 feet.  The goal is to have a horizontal ridge between the high points.

An alternate approach is to form a shed roof with 2 corners on one side of the tarp high and the other 2 corners low to form one single ”panel” slope with the low side to the wind.

A third approach is to build a structure under your tarp with a central ridge line and all 4 corners lower than the ridge.

With each of these plans you can attach a rock or other weight to a low point on the tarp; place a 5 gallon bucket under that low point and harvest rain water for cleaning dishes, clothes, bodies, etc.

For greater strength, bring harvested poles, or reclaimed conduit (pvc is preferable to metal) and tie or zip tie the tarp’s grommets to the poles or pipes, then tie your tie lines to the poles rather than directly to the tarp.  This technique will help prevent the grommets from pulling out by dispersing the tension along the pipe and thus among all the grommets.

Remember if you tie off to trees, you must put a protective layer between your tie line and the tree, and you must remove all traces when you pack up to leave.   Also make no stake of post hole bigger than can be repaired by stepping on the sides of the hole and thus ‘refilling’ it with the soil that was there, again, leaving no trace.

To prevent mid camp waterfalls when overlapping multiple tarps to create large covered areas, overlap the lower tarp with a higher tarp so the rain sheds all the way down to the outside edge of your camp (and into collection buckets.)

Adorn your guy lines (the tie lines that go from tent/tarp to the ground) with colorful, glow in the dark / or ‘illuminate at night’ decorations to make them easily visible both day and night.  This courtesy will help prevent twisted ankles and falls, as well as knocked down tarps and tents.  Brightly colored ropes and tie lines are great for the daytime, but do need some form of augmentation to be visible in the dark.

Lastly, be sure to find out if your location is a low lying one so that you can “terra form” by building platforms to keep you up out of rain puddles.  Pallets with plywood thrown on top is a quick way to do this, but will require shims for leveling.  Building formal platforms in advance and then cutting legs to the proper height on site is another approach.  Remember to build stable as the legs must rest on top of the ground.  Bring 1 foot x 1 foot squares of 3/4 inch plywood to place on the ground under the legs, both to protect the land and make for more stable footing.

Alcohol Policy

It is illegal in the state of Virginia to serve alcohol to minors under 21. If you’re serving alcohol anywhere at any time, you are fully responsible for making sure the person is over 21 years of age. Wristbands should not be used for legal age verification. Checking official forms of identification is always best. Failure to comply may be grounds for ejection from Ignite!

Generator Policy

Ignite is an exciting and often loud experience. Still, while the THUMP THUMP THMUP of untold numbers of DJ’s spinning in the night is something we look forward to, or expect to deal with, the unending brrrrraaaaaaaaappp of a noisy generator is another thing altogether. The exhaust can often be just as bad or worse for your neighbors.  It can be like sleeping beside a diesel burning bus.

If you do choose to bring a generator, please be considerate of others by following these guidelines:

Bring the quietest generator you can afford, and the smallest that will meet your actual needs. Larger generators are more difficult to transport, use more fuel and create more pollution.

Better yet, see if you can contribute gas to your neighbor’s generator, run an extension cord, and don’t bring your own at all

Be mindful of which direction the exhaust is going.

Don’t run your generator late at night or early in the morning (unless of course, you are camping in the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP).

Place the generator as far from other camps as possible – even hiking it up into the woods.  You might need to consider bringing extra extension cables for this.

Cover your generator with a sound shield or baffle, or outfit it with a motorcycle muffler.

NEVER bury it to shield the noise.

Make sure people can’t trip over any power cords.

Don’t forget to bring the oil, and to check it’s levels regularly.  A seized generator is a sad generator.

The IPA and Transformus Board of Directors (BoD) reserve the right to modify or turn off any improperly-used generator at their discretion. Failure to correct the installation may be grounds for ejection from Ignite!

Vehicle Policy

All vehicles will be parked in our remote parking lot, and even theme camps must comply.  In general, there are three exceptions to this rule. Permission can only be granted by City Planning/Disability, so ask real nice.

Exception 1: If the vehicle is an Art Car or an explicit part of the camp, like a bar.

Exception 2: Major and / or expensive camps (like sounds camps or camps w/ expensive equipment they do not want to get wet) to keep ONE vehicle on site to lock their gear in and keep their equipment dry.

Exception 3: We also usually grant permission to keep a vehicle on site if it is being requested for a person with disabilities or for someone who has specific physical need where having their own vehicle on the premises and nearby would be vital.

In all cases, we ask that the vehicle is either painted or otherwise decorated to match the the camps decorum, or hidden with tarps or by other skillful means.  This is especially true if it is a rented box truck. Please take all measure to hide the logos and whatnot. Remember, permission can only be granted by the City Planning/Disability team – so ask and honor their response.

Art Car Policy

We love art, we love public transportation, and we love them together! But, our little utopia can’t handle huge amounts of traffic, nor large art cars. We have set the size limit of art cars to “golf cart” sized. Other than that, it is pretty much the same old rules. It must be arted up and it must be lit from all sides if you plan to drive it at night so that it can be clearly seen. Please gel the headlights or dim them another way to not blind people. Plus, offer rides and accept any reasonable request for a ride if you have room.

Because of our burn’s small size and limited volunteer pool, we do not have a DMV team. If you think your art car does not meet the above, or is marginal, contact the City Planning team for clarity before the burn. Otherwise, if it is driving around and doesn’t meet the above standards, you may be asked to park it.

If you have a larger art car you would like to bring as a centerpiece for your camp that remains stationary, great! Let us know; it would be awesome! But, we need to work with you to be sure you can get it in and out of Spirithaven.

Any questions, email us at [email protected]

Laser Policy

The IPA has approved a laser policy that is similar to policies being adopted across the Burn community. All use of handheld lasers and laser pointers is prohibited for the entire duration Ignite!. Violators are subject to having their devices confiscated. Please leave them at home.

A fixed-position laser is permitted as part of an art project or theme camp, but the laser must be aimed not less than 7 feet above ground level at all times. “Ground level” is defined as the highest ground the laser crosses over within Combustia. If it is aimed at a hill, then it must be above the highest point of human traffic on that hill. Look for tents in the the woods!

The only exception to the fixed laser policy are small, approximately the size of a cigarette pack, less than 5 milliwatt “star field simulation” lasers. These are prevalent in our community and are specifically designed to safely scan across people. Each dot is extremely low intensity. They must be set in motion mode, not static mode.

The IPA and Transformus Board of Directors (BoD) reserve the right to shut down any laser installation at their discretion. Failure for the installation to remain off may be grounds for ejection from Ignite!

Under 18 (Kids) Policy

Please reference this link.

Amplified Sound Policy

Please reference this link.

Fire and Flame Effect Policies

Please reference this link.

Press Policy

Please reference this link.

Consent Policy

The BoD would like to reiterate our consent policy. At Ignite, consent is celebrated and viewed as an indispensable part of participant interaction. The BoD will respond to issues that are brought to its attention by those with firsthand knowledge of the situation, particularly if they occur onsite at the event itself.

Remember, most importantly, that you are the Burn. The IPA and the BoD are simply the organizers of a great event for the community. We are not – and simply cannot be – the neighborhood watch for everything that happens between community members outside of the event. Of course we take the safety of our participants very seriously. If there is reasonable evidence that someone is a threat to our community, we do reserve the right to refuse admission.

If you have specific knowledge of an event that you believe the BoD should be aware of, the best course of action is to email [email protected]

 Code of Conduct Policy

Ignite wishes for you to be free to create art, interact with others, and enjoy autonomy up to a point. Regarding conduct, Ignite believes:

    • Participants are responsible for themselves, their issues and resolution of them, and their own behavior.
    • In behaving and acting in a manner which will not make other participants feel unsafe or threatened.
  • In not condoning any behavior that endangers our community’s ability to hold our events.

If you witness a violation of any of these rules, feel free to correct the situation yourself if possible. If you do not feel comfortable with that, please inform a Ranger or anyone with an event radio.

Zero Tolerance Violations (these will get you kicked out no matter what)

    • Failure to respect consent
        • We believe in body autonomy. Violating a fellow participant’s consent is not okay.
      • If someone asks you to leave their camp or personal space, do so.
    • Effigy, temple, art, or other burn perimeter violations
      • Once a perimeter has been established you cannot cross the perimeter.
    • No ticket/wristband
        • If your wristband is lost, it is your responsibility to promptly work with the gate team to replace it during gate hours.
      • If your wristband comes off, keep it secure until gate can reissue it.
    • Sneaking in or helping someone sneak into the event
    • Entering the lake
    • Unauthorized fireworks
  • Possession of firearms

The following offenses may get you removed from the event:

    • Failure to comply with the Under 18 (Kids) Policy
    • Entering into an off limits area
    • Photographing another participant without their consent
    • Taking photos/video for commercial purposes without registering as media
    • Vending or commerce of any kind
    • Unsafe operation of a vehicle (golf cart, art car, bicycle, etc.)
    • Malicious destruction of property
    • Possession of alcohol if under 21
    • Serving alcohol to someone under 21 (Theme camps serving alcohol are required to check IDs)
    • Disrespect of the land such as digging, felling trees or limbs, etc.
        • No ground fires.
        • No fire in Unicorn Pasture.  
      • Respect the value of Leave No Trace!
    • Violating any of the fire safety rules
    • Harassing wildlife
    • Misuse of lasers
    • Not adhering to the amplified sound policy
    • Not adhering to the generator policy
  • Not adhering to the drone policy

The IPA and BOD reserves the right to deny entry to the event or to revoke event access at any time for any reason or for no reason whatsoever.

Drone Policy

Drones present unique challenges to our community and events. We do not wish to restrict the use of drones by having a registration process; however, we wish to have them on-site in a responsible manner to ensure safe operation. A majority of these guidelines are from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – Hobby Use Link and Commercial Link.

If you plan on operating a drone at a burn, please contact the IPA at [email protected] to receive permission. A brief demonstration of piloting skills via flying your drone will be required on site before operation. The test will require flying in a simple square, “nose in,” pausing briefly at each corner. The drone can only be 5-10 feet off the ground, with GPS disabled and in ATTI mode or similar. GPS is tough to receive at our location and the aircraft will switch between GPS mode and ATTI as the GPS signal increases and decreases. This test is required in order to ensure the operator has the basic skills to operate safely. Only drone pilots who have successfully completed testing will be allowed to operate their remote aircraft.

In addition to presenting safety challenges, drone photography can also present privacy challenges. For example, wide angle lenses coupled with the bird eye’s view from the remote aircraft challenge the drone operator’s ability to secure participants’ consent to be in the video or images. Ignite values consent in all things, especially photography and videography. We ask that you make efforts to not capture images or videos where individual participants can be easily recognized unless you have their explicit consent. Due to the higher quality of cameras that are put onto drones, we request that you not post any images or video in higher resolution than 1080p, to reduce the possibility that individual participants will be recognizable if a viewer were to zoom in on publicly posted media. Adhere to the Photo Policy.

It is not possible for all pilots to safely navigate the burn field area during the burns. If more than a safe number of pilots wish to film the Friday Night Art Burn, the Effigy Burn or the Kids/Temple Burn, a selection process will be developed by leadership. This process and selection may be before the event, or on site if the only applicants are on-site. The following documents can aid a pilot in being chosen to operate their craft during the burn(s):
Proper proof of insurance, or AMA Membership
FAA 107 Remote Pilots Licenses or FAA Section 333 Exemption
The FAA requirements for Night Flights
Proof of FAA registration
A drone demo reel


  • Pilots are responsible for any damages they may incur to and through the use of their drones. You must have and supply your insurance information.
  • ⚫ Have a “spotter” to assist you whenever possible.
  • ⚫ No flying over large crowds. Maintain a minimum of 30 ft horizontal and vertical distance from participants at all times.
  • ⚫ Maintain a safe distance from all controlled burns (effigies) and flame effects. No flying inside the burn perimeter once it is established.
  • ⚫ Only Visual Line of Sight flying is allowed. No First Person Flying. No “FPV Racing” drones. No FPV goggles.
  • ⚫ Congestion of participants may delay safe landing of drone. Pilots must land drone before battery levels fall below 25%.
  • ⚫ Pilots should secure a safe Landing Zone prior to takeoff. Spotter should keep L.Z. clear through duration of flight.
  • ⚫ No intoxicated operation. Per FAA, no alcohol 6 hours prior to operation/flight.
  • ⚫ Maximum Altitude allowed is 400 feet above ground, per FAA.
  • ⚫ No long distance flying. Aircraft must remain inside event property.
  • ⚫ If a crashed aircraft is found, it will be transferred to the Rangers and IPA will be notified.
  • ⚫ Always use safe judgement.

The IPA and Transformus Board of Directors (BoD) reserve the right to shut down any drone at their discretion. Failure for the drone to remain grounded may be grounds for ejection from Ignite! Aircraft can be confiscated for flying unsafely, recklessly or in violation of rules and will be held by the IPA and released upon pilot’s departure of event.

Event Imagery (Photo and Video) Policy

Please reference our waiver for policies related to Event Imagery.

Plug and Play Camps Policy

Our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from commercial exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience. To that effect, no person shall bring or support so-known “plug and play camps,” camps where radical-self reliance is not practiced, or other camps deemed to break the policy in the opinion of the BOD or the IPA. If this policy is violated, the BOD or the IPA reserves the right to suspend, temporarily or permanently, and for any reason, the camp or specific persons at events related to Transformus and Ignite.

Art Policy on Radical Inclusion

Radical inclusion means that ALL PEOPLE are welcome to participate in our community regardless of race, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, country of origin, language, or any other identifying characteristic.

We welcome and respect the stranger.

The guiding principles of our community include among them radical self-expression, radical inclusion, civic responsibility, and communal effort. Radical self-expression is offered as a gift to others. This means the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient, including their right to decline the gift or critique its content. Civic responsibility means, among other things, that the exchanges between participants should be conducted in a civil and responsible manner. Communal effort, another principle, is focused on our commitment to creative cooperation and collaboration. This means that we strive to produce, promote, and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, performances, and other means of communication which support collaborative and cooperative interactions.

No single principle is considered more important than the others and, frequently, these principles find themselves in contradiction with one another. These contradictions are by design and lead to conversations which can be moments for reflection and growth.

With these considerations, and in order to protect and preserve the inclusive nature of our community, the leadership of Transformus LLC and the IPA reserves the right to suspend, temporarily or permanently, and for any reason, the exhibition of artworks or performances at events related to Transformus and Ignite.