In 2011 a Leeton local, Aurora Sparkles, attended a crazy new addition to the area called... Burning Seed. Back then the population of Red Earth City was still under 500 and Aurora had such a fantastic experience that she spread the word to her local friends. In 2012 another Leeton legend, Jo Roberts, formed the first “unofficial” theme camp specifically for families - Burning Seed Kids’ Camp 1.0 was born.
Aurora, Jo and Mel Browell had about 30 kids that first year, growing to 45 kids in 2013. By 2014 there were 50+ kids and in 2015 we had 63 registered children on site plus all the other kids that visit from other camps.
After 2014 our local legends and founding Mother Monsters retired from KC duties in order to have some grown-up fun. Transitioning leadership of a big camp is not for the faint hearted but family Burners are a special breed.
Last year we had 54 registered families living on site. Kids Camp is a camp with special needs in terms of the relatively high proportion of dependents; imagine if half your camp couldn’t be Radically Self-Reliant (not just that one guy... you know who you are/he is).
So our operational model, while challenging, works really well and is always being refined. Having the support and strong relationships with past Camp leaders means KC is going to be better than ever this year as Bonnie Roppola takes the reigns.
So what happens at Kids’ Camp? SO MUCH FUN! We have a dedicated art tent, a baby and infant marquee, a mess tent that feeds everyone dinner every night, a movie tent and a shaded outdoor space and for the second time running a kids’ only loo. Last year my five year old started the Kids’ Café where they gifted breakfast to each other and passers by (cutest thing ever and a welcome self-reliance exercise for kids with tired parents).
Safe and Inclusive
Kids’ Camp is a reminder that Burning is not just about partying. For families to share the opportunity of a reprieve from the default mode; to see adults playing like children, to meet people of like mind from all sorts of places and socio-economic backgrounds, to focus on creativity and individual self-expression and look after each other outside of institutional models is a precious and rare thing. Kids’ Camp is Inclusion.
Not everywhere at a Burn is suitable for children but Burner parents get to expose their kids to as much or as little of the carnival as they wish to, without judgement. However, children need a safe place with clear boundaries; one they recognise as consistent and not too challenging. At Kids’ Camp we provide this safe place, where the environment is just adventurous enough to be exciting without pushing into causing them to feel insecure. They know where their friends live and can run around our lovely site freely. Our gift is to build and manage it with them in mind.
Kids’ Camp has no nudity, drugs or smoking. These boundaries are of course open to challenge on the Principle of Radical Self-Expression, yes, but as a tribe we have to allow for parents who may have boundaries that require a greater restraint, co-parenting arrangements for example. On the basis of Inclusion these things are non-negotiable on KC site.
KC Families are fiercely collaborative but this is not a drop and run zone; your children must be supervised by you or a guardian you have organized at all times. Leaving a child anywhere at Burning Seed without making adequate arrangements is taken very seriously and Rangers will be informed if a parent cannot be located in a reasonable amount of time.
Deep Space Cadets
So what’s new this year for Deep Space? Improved site management; families don’t travel light and everyone tends to bring the big rig so our population has reached critical mass. Kids’ Camp: Deep Space Cadets will be a child-centric activity world with camping encouraged for new families, sole parents and crew but there is still room for others on our fancy new grid system. We are designing an observatory and hopefully a water feature!
What we do know is it is time for more family theme camps to spring up; last year kids tickets represented roughly 6% of the population. The teens and tweens are not technically allowed to roam, so we need people to help create awesome things to occupy them. We encourage everyone at Red Earth City to think of ways of including kids in their own offerings and to let us know early so we can get it in the Junior Burner Guide. Registrations open soon! Now let’s hear from the kids…
"I like kids cafe. I also like the workshops and seeing old friends from the years before. I also like the art, like painting." Caitlin, 7
"My favourite thing about Burning Seed Kids Camp are the workshops and the grownups spending their time with the kids doing fun stuff. " Tegan, 9