2013 Roundup

Hello Skoolers — it’s Headmaster Janus here —

Enough time has gone by, the dust has almost settled from 2013, and I thought it time to reach out and communicate a bit with you about the year, where we are at, and what’s in store for next year!

First — THANK YOU to everyone who came and participated in this year’s Burn. It was another really amazing year and we certainly had a lot going on! Not only were we dealing with almost insurmountable obstacles, but these challenges coincided with a heightened visibility of PlayaSkool through "Spark: A Burning Man Story" as well embarking on an ambitious collaboration — Aspire Village. All in All, some things worked and some things didn’t --- but as our motto goes — we SHARE, we LEARN. We LEARN, we GROW. We GROW, we EVOLVE.

So, let’s talk a little bit about 2013.

First and foremost, we had the best campers, hands down. Each of you are so incredible and in the end I’m so thankful and GRATEFUL for having a moment to be with each of you in this very special place we call HOME. Kudos to the Fakulty this year for putting up with Headmaster Janus and all my calls and emails and more. Deep LOVE to Travis and crew for their tireless efforts and hard work. Tandy and the DUCK . . . for making me BELIEVE in magic again! ALL the art car enthusiasts, dreamers, makers, do-ers — WOW! All of our DJ’s for being SUPERSTARS — The amazing donors we have who give because they love Burning Man and believe in PlayaSkool —To the Discobunnies, SpaklePonies, and Beautiful Burners and the entire PlayaSkool Family — you are all so amazing and forever entrenched in my heart. The journey of creating is so fucking difficult at times and the sum of all the moments make it worth it. It’s all because of YOU! So thank YOU!!!

2013 was a tough one, in a different way. We did everything we were supposed to do as far as BM is concerned. We fought through the “plug and play” debate and really proved that we are more. In fact, we went so far as to host Marian Goodell and Harley Dubois in London for a dinner to prove that we are committed to helping the BM Organization on it’s mission to “bridge the gap between Black Rock City and the Default World.” We participated in many events like this throughout the year and continued to show that despite being a “plug and play” camp, PlayaSkool also serves as an example of Burners who really “get it” and are already bridging that gap in their own worlds, no matter where they are or what they are doing! So, when we got ready for Black Rock City this year, we thought we would be in a much better position than last year when it comes to the BM Orgs understanding of our Mission. We drank the Kool Aid --- and in the end got fucked because of it.

We were told by Placement that the only Esplanade spot for a camp our size would involve us moving across Playa to the 3:00 Keyhole, which we discussed as a Fakulty and decided, with dissension amongst us, that it was really that or nothing. Then, we got backhanded HARD when we got only 1/5 of the land we asked for! MORE, Placement waited until the end of July, beginning of August to even TELL us this news! And this came in a year when we grew by 50% and pushed through the 300 camper mark. We had planned the space, made the move to appease, and then got body slammed. And it felt like that — the Fakulty felt that it got body slammed to the cement. THEN, when that wasn’t enough, Outside Services denied us Back Gate passes, requiring ALL of our vendors to not only go through the front gate and WAIT in the line, but also making PlayaSkool buy tickets for EACH person that came through. THEN, we got out there to build and got hit by 3 days of the worst storms we’ve seen in 14 years. THEN we had Travis and his crew stretched beyond their capabilities. And the proverbial "icing on the cake" was a TOTAL COLLAPSE of the SUPPLY CHAIN to our camp (which I will expand on). And yep, another Burning Man.

Single-handedly the BIGGEST blow to the camp was the Supply-Chain issue I mentioned. We paid in-advanced several parties that were under contract to provide: food, water, fuel, sewage collection, garbage collection and labor. But what happens out there is simple: the fuel and water and sewage trucks enter through the back gate at 7:00 perimeter — the furthest point they can be to the 3:00 Keyhole. The company is under contract by PlayaSkool, the driver (probably paid hourly) is not. So the driver be-bops from 7:00 to 3:00 and gets waved downed and paid cash and booze and who knows what and IF they even make it to the 3:00 zone, they either aren’t able to service us AT ALL or they can BARELY service us, rendering a camp with our needs, lame. I personally watched United Site Services when they FINALLY got to our camp 4 days after the first PAID AND SCHEDULED pumping — they pulled ONLY the grey water and ONLY on some RV’s.

When it comes to water, we had contracted with the vendor and planned for that vendor to fill us up BEFORE all of you even arrived with 10,000 gallons of water and scheduled a refill 1/2 way through the week. We actually bought 4 large water tanks that should have been enough to keep all the RV’s filled for months if we had to. Problem was: we gave up the water truck in lieu of the tanks and the person who had the water truck didn’t fulfill his agreement for water so we ended up having to purchase water at an astronomical rate — vs what we contracted for — in order to just GET water.

Fuel you ask? Well, the same or worse can be said for fuel . . . by the time the truck made it to us, it was 1/2 to 1/3 full with a 5-6 hour round-trip back to refuel. SUPPLY-CHAIN is a NIGHTMARE on the Playa — and really, only getting worse. With some many RV’s and serviceable projects, there’s just not enough to go around. This is a KEY problem that we have to solve for.

(Really, for the money --- we should go buy a ranch and set up our fuel and water and such beforehand and then create our OWN supply-chain. We could probably make $$ doing a private supply-chain service out there!)

Anyways --- Next year things are going to be VERY VERY different. So I hope you are still reading and plan accordingly — this is the test!

2014 — RECESS!!!
re·cess (r s s , r -s s ). n. 1. a. A temporary cessation of the customary activities of an engagement, occupation, or pursuit.


  • We are going to shrink in numbers from over 300 this year to 120 MAX.
  • We are going to be taking deposits beginning NOW of $500 per RV, $50 per TENTER and once we are full, we are full.
  • We are going to move BACK to the 9:00 side and possibly look to be on 10:00 Avenue or on the outskirts for the ease of art cars . . . but we are not going to fixate on the Esplanade
  • We are going to focus exclusively on TEDx for interactivity as well as our Homecoming and Sunday Party.
  • We are going to use existing structures (Dome, SkoolHouse, Water Tanks, Lighting, Decor) and re-engineer the lounge and chill zone
  • We are going to re-engineer the food plan.
  • We are going to LOWER FEES!
  • We are going to increase our volunteer core and decrease our paid workers core.

Basically, with all the stuff we have, we are going to be a kick-ass, intimate camp AGAIN.

The best part of each year are the people you spend your Burn with. (Sometimes it’s the worst too! hahahaha) — but next year we want to rebuild the camp, break DOWN THE BARRIERS AND SUB-CAMPS, rebuild the core of the heart of PlayaSkool, make it accessible and then rock it out!

We hope that you will join! We are going to be on a first-come, first-serve basis and we will consider alumni FIRST and alumni that VOLUNTEER as PRIMARY. So don’t hesitate too long . . .

Finally, I will be stepping back dramatically from my responsibilities to work on my movie. Therefore, your help will be key this year. If you are inspired to sign up to be on Fakulty, please let us know. We are always looking for those who want to help create the Dream!

In love and dust ---

"Headmaster Janus" --- Now just "Someone."