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A Burner Lexicon: Children

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

A tie-dye flag marks the entrance to the Kidsville Village. Black Rock City, 2005. Photo by Warren B.

Children, –noun, In the default world, an event like Burning Man would not be assumed to be child-friendly. And it isn’t, by the standards of reality camp. Although LEOs have pressured bar camps into carding for would-be underage drinkers, little effort is made to censure any adult behavior — sexual and otherwise — at these events. Behavior abounds which is often considered by some (for reasons confusing to the lexicographer) harmful to children. Yet adults often talk about these events making them feel “like a kid again” or opening them up to a sense of “childlike wonder” so why shouldn’t children be able to enjoy the open, imaginative, uplifting environment of the playa?

Children are welcome at That Thing In the Desert and many other Burn events, but are considered strictly the responsibility of the parents. Although adult-oriented camps are limited to only adult visitors, in the end it is up to a child’s guardian to ensure that a child does not see or experience that which the parent deems unacceptable. The sight of a pack of children on bicycles seeking adventure is not an uncommon one during the day.

On the playa, all children must be accompanied by someone over 21. A village, Kidsville, exists to help keep children safe and happy and make the job of doing so easier for their parents. Age rules vary at regional burns, but openness to their presence is considered so important that when one of them considered a ban, much of the rest of the community stopped considering that event a Burn!

Granted, successful playa parenting requires the sort of mindset which can handle an encounter with a performance artist like Nambla the Clown. However, this lexicographer has now had the privilege of watching several children grow up in the local community and they are without exception smart, sharp-witted and creative. In fact, the lexicographer believes we should all be so lucky to encounter freak pride so young, rather than having to wait till our twenties or even thirties!

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at

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