Survival Guide 2018

Please see our Key Dates and Forms page for all deadlines, applications, and submission forms.

This is for those who want to survive.

What is Lakes of Fire?

LoF_logo_colorYou are Lakes of Fire. You embody the theme we choose together each year, and you bring the performance and the story. You are the artist and the audience, because there’s no “them” — we’re all in this together.

Every year, we build this experiment in creative freedom, participation and commodity-free community building, only to tear it down again to prepare for renewal the following year.

Lakes of Fire (LoF) is an annual gathering that takes place at the Lucky Lake Campground in beautiful Western Michigan, seeking to bring artistry and energy to the entire Great Lakes region.

This official Burning Man regional event is sponsored by Great Lakes Experimental Arts, Inc.


Guiding Principles

These are not rules – they’re ideals that offer guidelines to how we as a community can reinvent the world. Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture.

Radical Inclusion

Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.


Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance

Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression

Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort

Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace

Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.


Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.


Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

We ask all participants to

  • Ask first
  • Protect the community
  • Protect the land

Volunteers: We need you!

Lakes of Fire is an event that only happens each year because volunteers put in hundreds of hours, both during the event and throughout the year. Communal Effort means that we all sacrifice a little fun time so that we all get a chance to experience something special.

We are always looking for enthusiastic burners that want to help out, so volunteer your time! If you miss out on volunteering ahead of the event, come visit the Nexus at center camp and ask whether there are any open shifts.

The Nexus

Last year, we prototyped a group effort in the center camp area called The Nexus, where multiple departments could work together for the benefit of all.  As it was a great success, we are expanding!  Inside the large tent, near Greeters, you’ll find Leave No Trace, Volunteers, Info_bot, Art Hub and Perimeter Ninjas teams.

If you’d like to register your art, sign up for a shift, leave a comment, need directions, or just want a place to relax for a bit, join us at The Nexus.

On Arrival

You must arrive during the Gate’s official hours, or you will not be admitted. Please remember that there is NO re-entry without prior approval. Participants only! No spectators, please.

Gate Hours

Wednesday, June 13th- Friday, June 15th, 2018

  • 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 Midnight

Saturday – June 16th, 2018

  • 10:00 A.M. – 6:00 PM
    Arrive by 6:00 PM to participate in Lakes of Fire.

Sunday – June 17th, 2018

  • 10:00 A.M. – 3:00 PM – (NO ENTRY – Exodus only)
    All participants except for organizers, DPW, and LNT must be off the property by 3:00 P.M.

Entering LoF

You must have a valid, non-expired government-issued photo ID that matches your name and birth date on the will call list at Gate to gain entry. Upon verifying both photo ID and name on the will call list, you will be wristbanded. Keep your wristband on throughout Lakes of Fire. No ticket? No entry. No exceptions.

  • There will be absolutely no ticket sales at the Gate…as in zero.
  • Participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • All parents and guardians are required to register each minor in their care at the Gate Station.
  • Participants at Lakes of Fire who are 21 years and up will receive a wristband identifying them as such. You may not gift alcohol to those under 21!

Gate Rules

  • IMG_20140618_121409Please remain in your vehicle to help us get you in safely and quickly.
  • All vehicles are subject to search.
  • Firewood (except sold by the landowner) is not allowed.
  • Fireworks, Chinese lanterns, weapons, illegal substances, handheld lasers, and trampolines are not allowed.
  • Think twice about bringing glass, glitter, or feathers.  Lakes of Fire asks that you minimize the amount of glass containers you bring to the event.  Glass is heavy, bulky, and breakable.  Glass shards are a serious LNT concern!
  • “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may accompany a disabled owner – All other animals, including pets and emotional support animals, are prohibited and will be turned away at the Gate without admission. please pre-register your service animal by emailing ADAanimals@lakesoffire.org so that we can best accommodate your circumstances and simplify the entry process. Please see our service animal policy for further details.
  • At Gate you must report the sound equipment you have with you, even boom-boxes.
  • Exit and re-entry, i.e., “ins and outs”, are only allowed in cases of emergency. If you must leave the event early, your wristband will be removed at the Gate and you will not be allowed re-entry.
  • In case of emergency, re-entry will be allowed on a case-by-case basis and you will be allowed to keep your wristband on and to re-enter the event.

Once you are past the Gate, stretch your legs, get out, and hug a Greeter. They know everything!

Parking and Unloading

Carpooling with friends, family, camp-mates, or random strangers is highly encouraged. Lakes of Fire’s site has limited parking available. Upon arrival, you may drop off your gear at your location.

While unloading, you must keep your vehicle off the road – specifically, your vehicle must be parked behind the wooden site markers at all times.

You must return your car to the parking area within the time marked on your car or face being towed or expelled from Lakes of Fire.

You may not camp in the parking lot.

At the Event

  • Please see our Code of Conduct policy for details on expected participant behavior.
  • Only Mutant Vehicles, bicycles, emergency and administrative vehicles are allowed to cruise around. Drive very slowly ( 5 mph) or DMV boss Cabbie will sternly condemn you. Joyriding, or any other misuse of any vehicle is grounds for eviction from the event
  • Ice and firewood are available for sale at the trailer across from the Nexus in the Center Camp area.
  • In the spirit of Decommodification, there will be no other sales or concessions of any kind at Lakes of Fire.
  • Respect the art and artists at Lakes of Fire by only modifying artwork with the permission of the artist. If you see someone vandalizing artwork, ask them to stop or inform a Ranger if necessary.
  • Abide by all relevant local, state and federal laws. If you see law enforcement officers, be friendly. Lakes of Fire cooperates with all local, county, state, and federal officials.


Radical self-expression can take many forms, and that can often take the form of a really sexy costume or even nudity in varying degrees — but what’s important to recognize is that none of that is an invitation to anyone to invade someone’s personal space, or make physical advances.

What is consent?

Sexual consent is an agreement that requires people are of legal age, are properly informed, are not under coercion, and are not incapacitated. The consent model holds that one person proposes an action and the other gives permission for it. Consent is the bare minimum required for legal and ethical sexual activity.

There are a lot of things that do not imply consent. Sexy costumes are not consent, nudity is not consent, being drunk is not consent, being underage is not consent, being asleep is not consent, and being too scared to resist is not consent.

Consent may be withdrawn at any time. If you have agreed to start something and find that it feels wrong to you, you have the right to stop it, and your partner has the obligation to honor your change of heart. Losing the ability to say “No” through intoxication also withdraws consent.

Nudity, skimpy clothing, or even raunchy behavior is not an invitation to have sex or any form of intimate physical contact. The only invitation is a clearly spoken invitation. The bottom line? Just be cool by respecting other people’s bodies and personal space.

For a really good explanation of how consent works, check out this great video.

Please see our Code of Conduct page for more details.

2014-06-21 22.46.26Photography

  • Lakes of Fire is a private event and we expect participants to approach photography respectfully.
  • There is no filming without express permission. Ask first.
  • You have the ultimate responsibility for your image and should ask photographers or videographers how your image will be used.
  • Our guidelines are found here: Photo Policy.
  • No drones, except the previously approved Effigy drone, are allowed.


IMG_20150616_183715Theme Camps are given clearly marked camping spots. Open Camping placement is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please be mindful not to block the pathways!

Lucky Lake (map) is outlet-free camping with some exceptions. Potable water is available from a number of locations and Porta-Potties are set up around the lake. Only the 3 Ps are allowed in the Porta-Potties: Pee, Poop, and Paper. No wet wipes, tampons, plastic or any other objects! “Please do not poop in the forest or lake” – Skennedy

If you’re not used to camping, you can find information on what you need for Radically Self-reliant camping on this Camping Checklist. Failure to bring what you need will be a bummer for you.

Please be responsible about your tent stakes and ropes in order to prevent drunken burners (possibly yourself) from unnecessary wounds. Illuminating guide wires and ground stakes are highly recommended.

  • All generators must have a sound baffle.
  • DO NOT run electrical cords across roads or walkways or “trench” electrical wires.
  • All structures, including tie downs, must be inside the campsite markers.

Remember that while Open Camping is quieter than the rest of Lakes of Fire, no place at Lucky Lake is quiet before around 4 in the morning or after 10 am. Some theme camps run music at a lower volume over the entire weekend. Please see the Sound section for specific rules.

There are no lifeguards – swim at your own risk. Bikes are welcome, and there are several trails and dirt roads on the premises.

Vehicle Camping

Car camping is permissible if you have a medical condition or will be using your car as part of a camp’s infrastructure. You must request a Car Camping Permit from the Parking Department. Please visit the Key Dates and Registration Form page for details. Car campers are expected to cover or decorate their car in the spirit of Decommodification. You may not drive your ‘car camping vehicle’ once the event begins.

RVs: There is no special area at Lakes of Fire for RVs to camp – an RV is either a part of a theme camp or finds a spot in open camping. There are no electric hookups available for RVs in open camping.


  • A limited number of campfire rings have been placed by DPW.  Campfire rings and burn barrels may not be installed or moved without approval from DPW (Department of Public Works).
  • If your site needs a fire ring or you wish to use a burn barrel, contact DPW by visiting their camp or stopping a DPW vehicle.
  • Keyhole Theme Camps: Fire rings or fire on the ground is NOT allowed, but elevated burn barrels are allowed. FAST requests that all fire, other than cooking stoves, be placed on the road/path side of your camp and not put in the middle of your camp with tents and such surrounding the your fire piece. We request, as always, that any open fire (flame effect or burn barrel) have a fire extinguisher in close proximity to the fire in case of an emergency. But please, not right next to the fire.
  • NO fire is allowed in open camping except for small propane cook stoves.
  • All structures must be at least 12 feet away from any fire rings and burn barrels, and burn barrels must be raised on concrete blocks.  Keep this in mind when setting up your camp, as DPW will remove rings and barrels that violate safety rules.
  • Only burn materials that are non-toxic and burnable (your plastic, cigarette filters, and cans are NOT safe to burn).
  • Campfires and burn barrels must either be actively attended or completely out (cold to the touch) when unattended.
  • You must clean out your campfire ring (ash, wood, and all) before leaving.  Unburned firewood may be stacked neatly next to fire ring.
  • Please Leave No Trace and respect the environment.


It's alive! (Camera: Mer)

Lakes of Fire’s Effigy Burn is the pinnacle of the event; the Saturday night inferno around a large wooden sculpture designed and built by a hard-working crew of Effigy volunteers. Please honor this art by not intentionally damaging, defacing, or burning it. Do not smoke or use open flames nearby. Participants may leave memories and (non-destructive) thoughts on the Effigy.

The tentative time for Effigy burn on Saturday night is 10:00 P.M., but varies based on weather and other factors.

Fire Conclave

Photo: Katie ForbesThe Fire Conclave is a major fire performance put on by approved performers at the Effigy in advance of the burn. Want to add your passion and special flare to Conclave? Want to spin fire and shake your booty with your friends at the base of the effigy just before it burns?

If you answered, yes, AWESOME! Everyone is welcome to be a part of Conclave. Click here for more information and to sign up.

If you have questions, please email CONCLAVE@LAKESOFFIRE.ORG for more information.

Civic Responsibility

Lakes of Fire’s site, Lucky Lake Campground, is privately owned and operated by our friends and trusted partners. Comply with any reasonable request that law enforcement, your organizers, your hosts, or their employees make of you. Failure to do so is grounds for removal from Lakes of Fire, and that’s way less of a good time.

Leave No Trace Policy

IMG_2076Leave No Trace means that we must leave the site in better condition than we found it. Each participant must remove all items they brought with them – including their trash – when they leave the site.

We also ask that each participant helps clean the full site by picking up any Matter Out Of Place (M.O.O.P.) that they encounter during the event. Smokers bring a portable ashtray for your cigarette butts. Please bring trash bags and other waste receptacles to take your trash and recycling home with you. It’s everyone’s job to Leave No Trace.

Please respect the greater community by not dumping your trash at the nearest rest stop — take it all the way home.

Sound Protocols

Lakes of Fire respects the needs and regulations of the communities surrounding the event. Some of your music may travel beyond our perimeter and into these communities. Therefore, we must limit high-powered sounds to reasonable hours. Basic sound rules are listed below but may be subject to change.

Excessive sound is the single most likely reason that law enforcement officers will visit Lakes of Fire.

  • All sound equipment 100 watts or larger must be registered and permitted prior to the event as a Lakes of Fire theme camp.
  • Report the sound equipment you have with you at the Gate upon entry, even if it’s just a boom-box.
  • The Sound Squad (Rangers, Organizers, and Sound Team Volunteers) may ask you to turn your volume down, or completely off. Honor these requests.
  • The Sound Squad will be monitoring and working with sound camps throughout the event. Failure to comply with their requests will be grounds for removal. If the police arrive with noise complaints, they may be directed toward camps that are violating sound policies. Please protect the safety and success of Lakes of Fire by complying with all sound restrictions when they are in effect.
  • Measurement will be done by a handheld meter w/ C weighting. We tested several apps at the 2014 event, and found SPLnFFT for iOS to be extremely accurate. The sound squad highly recommends you use this app, if possible, to manage your own sound to keep infractions minimized. When working with Sound on site, they can also test your sound for you.

Sound Permits

Sound Permits will be distributed at check-in and must be posted at all times near your camp/projects soundboard. Infractions will be logged against permits by the Sound Squad, and a third infraction will result in a temporary suspension of permit (and system shutdown) for the day.

Early Entry with Sound

Select volunteer teams and theme camps may have early entry. As we have not taken full possession of the land and will be co-existing with other campsite customers at that time, please respect Lucky Lakes sound policy and limit music to boombox levels prior to gates opening at noon on Wednesday. Exceptions for testing equipment during setup is permitted, with the expectation you be courteous, and comply with the sound team/board’s direction. Violating the sound policy pre-event may not only jeopardize your sound permit but your ability to obtain early entry in future years as well.

Mutant Vehicles

Mutant Vehicles are the crazy mobile art you see rolling around the lake during Lakes of Fire. Owners are responsible for the use and behavior of the vehicle at all times – misuse of an Art Car or any vehicle is grounds for eviction from the event. If you are planning to bring a Mutant Vehicle to Lakes of Fire you must pre-register with the LoF Department of Mutant Vehicles.

If you have any questions, visit the Department of Mutant Vehicles page.

Health & Safety

Our proud volunteers in yellow are our Emergency Services Department. All of our Medical Team volunteers are trained and certified Healthcare providers, many with EMS and ER experience. They’re on hand to triage and treat any medical problems or injuries or assist with wayward fires or participants.

Mental Health volunteers will be available as needed. A Sanctuary will be provided for those who need a quiet, calm space where you can speak to someone or take a breather.

The ESD Tent will be clearly marked on the Lakes of Fire map. Seek help at ESD directly, or we can come to you. Please ask an on-duty ESD volunteer or Ranger if you need medical or mental health assistance.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that you feel may become a problem during the event, please make a campmate aware of it and inform the ESD Medical Team. If you have any questions, feel free to approach any on-duty ESD volunteer.

Emergencies Involving 911

ESD volunteers are also your portal to off-site medical care locations. While you have the right to contact 911 directly, please try and route the request through a Ranger or an ESD Team volunteer so that we can remain “in the loop” and facilitate. In the event, you need to be evacuated to a hospital or wish to travel to one yourself, contact ESD Medical. We will provide information or assistance to get you to the local hospital or Urgent Care Center.

Safety Basics

  • Lakes of Fire is a 101-hour outdoor event. You’re expected to rely on yourself for all your basic needs. Please prepare for rain, wind and other extreme weather. Failure to do so may result in way less of a good time.
  • If you’re severely allergic to bee stings or bug bites, please take the appropriate precautions. A once-over check for ticks before you leave is a good idea, too.
  • Intoxicants and water don’t mix. Alcohol makes it far likelier that you will drown if you enter the water. Always take a friend and don’t swim alone. Play safe, please.
  • We encourage self-reliance in all situations, but some medical precautions are in place, including a volunteer medical team and an on-call ambulance if needed. Please help us to help you by bringing a basic first-aid kit with each group and knowing how to use the contents.
  • A burn can be an intense experience, and preparing mentally can be just as important as physical. Check out Nowhere Burn’s Emotional Survival Guide: http://www.goingnowhere.org/en/generalinfo/emotional-survival-guide

Rangers: Here to Help

Lakes of Fire Rangers are first and foremost citizens of Lakes of Fire. They help to preserve the safety, welfare, and quality of experience of our community while supporting participants. They are burners and participants just like you – they are not “law enforcement.” You can spot LoF Rangers by their all-khaki outfits with the Ranger logo and their Ranger hat!

Pairs of Rangers can be found circulating the event 24/7, helping out as needed. They carry radios to access additional resources such as Emergency Services (Fire & Medical) and are trained to mediate disputes.

Rangers do prefer that you practice radical self-reliance first, and ask for help second – but participants are encouraged to ask for assistance when they need it.

If you’re interested in joining the ranks of the LoF Rangers please check out the Rangers page.

Parenting at Lakes

It’s a wonderful thing to have kids at Lakes Of Fire, but you have to prepare them and be prepared yourself. Lakes of Fire is a family event that welcomes participants of all ages. Little burners under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, both at entry, and at all times during the event.

You are responsible for the welfare of minors in your care. It’s your responsibility to determine how much of it your li’l burners are exposed to.

Failing to adequately supervise minors in your care is your fastest ticket out of Lakes of Fire, as you will be immediately ejected without exception or recourse.

Let your kids know in advance about the kind of things that they will or might see and hear. Nudity, iconoclastic art, sexuality, rude language, cultural commentary, and weird behavior are all a part of any Burn. Talk to them about common-sense safety – advise them to be cautious about getting too close to aggressive art, destructive robots, moving vehicles, and playing in ash heaps or burn scars.

Babies cannot consent to the bangin’ tunes at a sound camp – you may want to consider earplugs or noise blocking earmuffs if you’re going to be hanging out by the fat stacks.

For more tips on how to negotiate bringing your children to a Burning Man event, please see this informative page on BM.com.

Fire Performance Safety

Fire is a spectacular part of our event when done safely and in a controlled manner. The Fire Art Safety Team (F.A.S.T.) requires that you contact us first regarding fire spinning performances, fire sculptures, flame effects and open fires. All physical fire art requires prior pre-event signup. All fire art requires inspection on-site, which may require a phone interview to discuss your art and safety plan. F.A.S.T. members don’t bite – they limit risk and prevent friends from getting hurt.

A fire safety training is hosted every year onsite. This training is geared towards fire performers (spinners and breathers), but all are welcome. There are typically two trainings, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Please check the WhatWhereWhen for the locations and times. If you plan on participating in the Fire Conclave performance preceding the Burn (which you should!) you must attend an LoF specific fire safety training.

Fire Spinning

All participants are welcome to spin fire at their own risk, as long as proper safety procedures are followed. More info is found here.

The Art Hub

The Art Hub is located in the Nexus, by center camp, and functions as a check-in center for artists invited to the event by the Art Hub team and Art Grant recipients, as well as a hub of information about art. You’re welcome to submit the Art Registration Form in advance of the event!

When you arrive, stop in at the Art Hub to make sure your art is registered so others can find it.


Lakes of Fire happens, in part, through the hard work of a few bold soldiers known as the Department of Public Works, who provide the infrastructure, power, and grunt work necessary for the event to run smoothly.

The DPW reminds you that if it’s not yours, don’t mess with it. Things put in place by LoF DPW, like signage, fire rings, and safety barriers, are there for a reason.


Sunday – June 17th, 2018

All participants except for select volunteers must be off the property by 3:00 P.M.

Please make sure to Leave No Trace of your campsite and try to pick up anything you may find along the way. We know trash is not a fun traveling companion, but it is vitally important that everything you pack out ends up at your own home, NOT on the side of the road or in private dumpsters!

If you’d like to help the Leave No Trace team on Sunday, and potentially beyond, please volunteer online or at the event by visiting the Nexus.

Thank you for reading and for your participation! Don’t forget that Lakes can only be the incredible experience it is with YOUR help. Looking forward to seeing you at Lakes of Fire!