Young Burners at Freezer Burn
The first few sections should be considered mandatory reading for everyone considering bringing their young burners to Freezer Burn. Following that, we have a plethora of recommended reading developed in consultation with a Freezer Burn parent's group comprised of veteran Fraya parents who have shared their insights follows years of bringing their young burners to the Fraya.
Freezer Burn is a Family Friendly Event!
Our Freezer Burn community welcomes young burners of all ages, but we have certain guidelines for minors to attend the event. Any person under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a ticketed parent or legal guardian at all times. If you fail to adequately supervise minors in your care, you may be ejected from Freezer Burn immediately, at Producer discretion. Young burners aged 12 and under are admitted for free but must be registered in advance with the Ticketing team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15. Young burners aged 13 and older require full-price tickets.
Additionally, parents or guardians should be prepared to show proof of their child's age at the gate. These rules are in place to safeguard the safety and well-being of all participants, including minors.
Should I bring my young burner to Freezer Burn?
Absolutely! Young burners are an essential part of our community at Freezer Burn and we hope to make the family experiences better every year.
That said, it's important for parents to carefully consider whether or not to bring their young burners to Freezer Burn, as the experience can be both exciting and challenging. Some young burners may not be suited to the extreme conditions of the event, such as the noise levels and the need for preparation and effort in parenting in a less comfortable environment.
Before making a decision, parents should consider factors such as their young burner's ability to sleep in a noisy environment, the availability of childcare options, and their young burner's overall reaction to the stimulation of the event. It may also be helpful to talk to the young burner about their concerns and ideas so that they are involved in the decision making process..
If parents do decide to bring their young burners to Freezer Burn, it's important to plan their time on the Fraya based on their young burners' age and abilities, and to make sure they have appropriate supervision and support throughout the event. With careful planning and consideration, the experience can be a positive and enjoyable one for everyone involved.
Where should we camp?
Families with young burners are welcome to camp anywhere at Freezer Burn. However, giving some thought to where you will camp will make a big difference for your experience.
Consider the nighttime noise levels and how they might affect your little one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Consider also where you might want to hang out and what you may want to see. You may want to locate your camp away from adult-themed camps or villages. Find a site that will make travel convenient. Having other adults that you trust to provide support is really useful should you have a tough day, suddenly feel overwhelmed, or get sick or injured. But don’t assume your campmates will be happy to take care of your young burners for you, they may be struggling just to take care of themselves.
Sharing this responsibility successfully requires open and direct communication prior to arriving on Fraya; set expectations together,make sure everyone is on the same page, and check in regularly.
“Kidsville” is a theme camp village within Freezer Burn that is committed to providing a community for all families. Registration is required to camp in Kidsville (email@example.com). When registering to camp with Kidsville, please include the names of family members camping with you, and the rough footprint you will require for your camping structures.
Even if you are not registered to camp with Kidsville, camping close to Kidsville may be a good choice because you will be close to other young burners, the Rangers, our medical team, potties, information resources. Kidsville is also located at the end of the event where young burners are less likely to encounter adult activities and behaviours.
Your young-burner friendly camp
Having a dedicated play area for your young burner can also make a big difference. Bring toys and games that are easy to pack and durable enough to withstand the rain and rough conditions of the event. Consider bringing MOOP-free toys, crafts, or art supplies for your young burner to enjoy under a shaded and/or waterproof canopy.
Finally, remember to pace yourself and your family. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and forget that young burners have different needs than adults. Make sure to take breaks and rest when needed. Encourage your young burners to drink water regularly and make sure they are getting enough to eat. With a little planning and preparation, you can create a fun and safe experience for your family at Freezer Burn.
Keeping your young burners safe at Freezer Burn
Consider making your own laminated ID card for younger burners with their name, your name, and your camp name and location on the Fraya. This will help Rangers and other burners get your young burner back home to you if the need arises. Put the ID card on a lanyard, fanny pack or belt clip, along with a whistle, a toy and lip balm (and bring extra copies).
Set some key non-negotiable safety rules for your young burners. For example:
- Never go outside of the pre-established boundaries in camp.
- Never run into the streets.
- Never leave camp without an adult supervisor.
- Never leave camp without proper clothing, water and a snack.
- Never enter any enclosed space without parent’s approval.
- Never get on a Mutant Vehicle without permission.
- Never jump on or off of a Mutant Vehicle while it’s moving.
Practice and review what to do in a rainstorm by having a drill. When a rainstorm hits, have your young burner put on jackets, fetch umbrellas and get inside a predetermined shelter (car, RV, or tent), and stay with parents until it ends.
Talk to your young burners about common-sense safety practices to ensure their safety while at Freezer Burn. Here are some examples:
- Talk to your young burners about the dangers of fire-breathing dragons, sound camp speakers, and other potential hazards that they might encounter. Emphasize that they should never look into the mouth of a fire-breathing dragon, stand too close to sound camp speakers, or get too close to fire art or moving vehicles.
- Reinforce the "stop, drop, and roll" response to clothing on fire. Teach your young burners to immediately stop, drop to the ground, and roll back and forth until the fire is extinguished.
- Instruct your young burner to ask you first before accepting any gifts, food, or drinks. Tell them to never accept food or drinks from people outside of your camp group without clearing it with you first.
- Discuss the importance of staying with a trusted adult at all times. Encourage your young burners to stay close to you or another trusted adult, and to never wander off alone.
- Teach your young burners to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Advise them to be cautious about getting too close to fire art, moving vehicles, and other potential hazards.
- Advise your young burners to exercise caution around the river that runs through the event site. River banks may be unstable and hazards may exist that aren’t readily apparent. In years when the Battle River water level is high, the land owner may ask that all participants avoid the river entirely.
By having these conversations with your young burners and reinforcing common-sense safety practices, you can help ensure that they stay safe while enjoying the unique experiences of Freezer Burn.
Teach your young burners how not to get lost (and what to do if they do get lost)
There’s no better way of putting grownups and young burners into a panic than being separated in a chaotic and unfamiliar environment. Consider strategies to keep your family close at hand and ensure that you always know where your young burners are while at Freezer Burn. Here are some tips:
- Create a plan before arriving at Freezer Burn. Discuss with your family where you will meet if you get separated and make sure everyone knows the plan. Choose a location that is easy to find and always meet there if you get separated.
- Review the event map available before and during the event with your young burners to get a feel for the event grounds and where everything is located.
- Get to know your neighbours. Community is one of the greatest strengths of Freezer Burn. If asked, most folks will help keep an eye on your young burners, your bikes and your camp, while you do the same for them.
- Use walkie-talkies or two-way radios to stay in touch. Make sure everyone knows how to use them and carry them at all times.
- Dress your family in matching or distinctive clothing that is easy to spot in a crowd. This will make it easier to locate each other in a chaotic environment.
- Always keep an eye on your young burners and never let them out of your sight. Designate a trusted adult to watch them if you need to step away for a moment.
- Use a buddy system. Pair up adults and young burners and make sure everyone knows who their buddy is. This way, everyone is accountable for someone else's safety and well-being.
- Walk around with your young burners, and stop every now and then to check out where you are, what you can see, and how to use landmarks to get back to camp.
- Teach your young burners the village names, so they can ask directions if they get lost. Help young burners memorize their address on the Fraya. Set up recognizable landmarks at camp for both day and night, such as banners, flags, and light sticks on poles. Make note of major landmarks at nearby camps and talk about them with your young burners, distinct markers will help both you and your young burners navigate successfully throughout the event.
- Older “young” burners are going to want to stretch their limits and cruise around on their own but they must still be under the supervision of a trusted and responsible Individual. Make sure they have a map and know where their camp is, and set up some guidelines you both feel comfortable with, including how far to go and how often to check back in.
- At big events (like the Effigy or Temple burns), identify an easy-to-find meeting place where you can go if you’re separated. Make sure your young burners can point this landmark out to you, and know what it’s called. Make a plan with your young burners for what to do if you become separated.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your family stays close at hand and that you always know where your young burners are while at Freezer Burn. Remember, safety should always be your top priority!
Water water water!
Despite cold nighttime temperatures, we can still experience some pretty hot daytime temperatures. Like adults, young burners need to drink a lot of water. Young burners however, move faster than we do and sometimes it is hard to get their focus on the little things.
- Encourage your young burners to drink water all the time, even if they don't feel thirsty. Remind them to take regular sips of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Monitor your young burner's water intake to ensure they are not drinking too much or too little. A good rule of thumb is to encourage them to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, or more if it's particularly hot.
- If your young burner complains of symptoms like headaches, stomach cramps, abdominal pains, constipation, or flu-like symptoms, it could be a sign of dehydration. Take them to a shaded area and have them drink water. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical help immediately.
- Dress your young burner in loose, lightweight clothing that is breathable and protects them from the sun. Hats and sunglasses can also help protect their skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.
- Make sure to bring plenty of water with you when exploring Freezer Burn. Consider bringing a hydration pack or water bottles that you can refill throughout the event.
In case of emergency, make sure you know where the medical station is located (at First Response, near the greeter station). It's important to be prepared in case of a medical emergency. If your young burners don't like the taste of water, consider adding a small amount of fruit juice for flavor. However, be careful not to give them too much juice or soda, as these drinks can be high in sugar and can contribute to dehydration. Pack bagged or boxed juices, as they are easy to carry back to your campsite when empty.
Make sure to teach your young burners about MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) and encourage them to bring back their empties. Use sealed sippy cups for younger young burners to prevent spills and ensure they are drinking enough water throughout the day. Encourage older young burners to personalize their own canteen or water bottle with stickers and decorations. This will help them stay hydrated and make it easier to keep track of their own water supply. Consider purchasing a hydration backpack, like a Camelbak, for older young burners. This will allow them to carry their own water supply and stay hydrated while exploring Freezer Burn.
It is your responsibility as a parent or guardian to ensure that your young burner stays healthy and hydrated while at Freezer Burn. Remember to prioritize water consumption and teach your young burners about MOOP to keep the event clean and safe for everyone.By following these tips, you can help ensure that your young burners stay properly hydrated and healthy while at our event. Remember, dehydration can have serious health consequences, so it's important to take it seriously and seek medical help if needed.
Feed your young burners!
The engaging activities of Freezer burn can easily convince a young burner that they are not hungry, but it’s important for young burners to eat nutritious food to keep their energy stable and to avoid meltdowns. Bring lots of healthy foods that they really like to eat. It can be tempting to rely on processed foods or junk food while at Freezer Burn, but it's important to prioritize nutritious options.
- Encourage your young burners to snack frequently to keep their energy levels stable. This will help them avoid meltdowns and stay focused on the fun activities around them.
- Focus on high-energy foods like trail mix, nuts, jerky, dried fruit, protein bars, and apples. These foods provide sustained energy and are easy to pack and carry with you throughout the day.
- Make sure to include some kind of protein in every meal to help your young burners feel full and satisfied. This can be as simple as adding nuts or seeds to a salad or bringing along some canned beans to add to a meal.
- Include salty foods to prevent electrolyte imbalance. While it's important to stay hydrated, it's also important to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. Snacks like pretzels, popcorn, and pickles can help with this.
- Consider hydration with all meals. Encourage your young burners to drink water or electrolyte drinks with their meals to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.
- Avoid foods that are dehydrating, such as crackers and chips. Instead, opt for foods that are high in moisture, like applesauce, grapes, and moist granola bars.
- Never allow your young burners to eat questionable foods. Stick to foods that have been properly stored and prepared to avoid foodborne illness.
- Keep MOOP (Matter Out of Place) in mind when selecting food options for yourself and your young burners.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your young burners are well-fed and have plenty of energy to enjoy all the fun activities at Freezer Burn. Prioritize nutritious foods and encourage frequent snacking to keep them fueled and focused throughout the day.
What is MOOP?
MOOP is an acronym for “Matter Out of Place”, a convenient way of referring to anything that is not originally of the land on which our event takes place. The idea behind the term is to encourage participants to be mindful of the impact their presence has on the environment, and to take responsibility for ensuring that the space is left as clean and pristine as it was (or better than) before the event began.
This involves not only removing any physical debris or litter, but also taking care to properly dispose of any waste water, food scraps, or other materials that could potentially harm the ecosystem. By being conscious of the impact we have on the land, we can help ensure that future generations are able to enjoy these natural spaces as much as we do.
Young burners are not always as aware of their surroundings and can be proflific moop generators. It's important to discuss with them in advance expectations about MOOP.
Consider involving your young burners in regular MOOP sweeps around camp. Gamification of MOOP cleanup can be a great way to achieve buy-in (ex: whoever collects the most MOOP wins a prize).
It is important to take MOOP into consideration when planning your food and costume choices. Some foods are simply best avoided, no one wants to spend hours on their hands and knees picking cherry pits out of the grass.
It can get hot and cold out here!
Sunscreen, lip balm, and lotion can be best friends on those hot sunny days! Put on sunscreen every morning and repeat as needed during the day. Avoid putting lotion-based sunscreen on their forehead, because it may run into his or her eyes and burn, (and scalp if they are not wearing a hat). Childrens aerosol sunblock can be helpful, but it's important to note that aerosol sunblock should be avoided as it can be harmful to the environment and possibly other participants. Instead, it's recommended to use non-aerosol, reef-safe sunblock. Sunblock should be applied when your young burner has no clothing on, as clothes tend to move around or even get discarded during the day.
You may want to have a “spa time” routine in the morning when you show them how you put on sunblock and help them to do the same. Wipe their skin down every night and apply healthy oils and moisturizers for extra soft kid skin after a day in the elements.
It is also a good idea to remember that the evenings can be chilly and humid. The cold cuts right through people if they are inadequately dressed, and the same will go for young burners when they are asleep. Make sure that you have adequate cold-weather apparel for your young burners (and be sure to bring extras). Things get lost or wet and the last thing you want is a grumpy, cold kid. Bring blankets, bring warm sleeping bags and make sure to have warm clothes, good waterproof rain gear,boots, and backups in case gear gets wet or muddy.
Prepare your young burners!
Until you have been to Freezer Burn yourself, it is difficult to envision the depth and breadth of the community and the experience. If you haven’t done so already, talk to your young burners about the Burning Man culture, compassion, responsibility, respect, self-reliance, courtesy and generosity. Talk to them ahead of time about the kinds of things they may see and hear at Freezer Burn, such as fire, nudity, explosions, Mutant Vehicles and so on. They still won’t really know what to expect, but having some context will be helpful.
Talk to them about the Survival Guide, about the Leave-No-Trace philosophy, and about what Freezer Burn or Burning Man means to you and to other people. Let them know which other family friends will be there. Like everyone introduced to this event, they will develop their own interpretation of the experience while they are there.
One thing young burners love and are very good at is gifting. Engage your young burners in planning your Fraya gifts, whether they are crafting goodies to give away or learning how gifting can be as simple as helping someone out, they will thrive on the experience and will love being able to make another person smile.
Having fun and enjoying the event is why you’re bringing your young burners to Freezer Burn, right? Here are a few suggestions on how to have fun with your young burners.
- Most young burners don’t have the stamina to keep up with adults in this challenging environment. Break the day into chunks, with lots of time planned for resting, snacking, talking over what you’ve seen and want to do next.
- Check out the online What Where When guide in advance, and pick a few kid-friendly activities to do throughout the day.
- At big events like the Effigy and Temple burns, you may want to stay toward the back of the crowd so you can exit easily if it becomes overwhelming for your young burners. Take along folding stools they can stand on to see above the crowd. Don’t feel bad about pulling back when the chaos starts.
- Be sure you have things for the young burners to do while you’re hanging out in camp. Bring art projects (colored pencils or markers), body paints, costumes, water guns, and games. Have the young burners help with theme camp art and schwag distribution. What’s sweeter than a gift from a small burner to be?
- Have them help set up camp, prepare food, or whatever else they like to do. This gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, and a heightened awareness of MOOP, as well as of the needs of others.
- Parents need to have fun, too! Work up plans for how to get out and do grown-up things while someone else watches the young burners. If you camp with friends or other families, try trading off nighttime watches.
- Above all, be patient. If you find yourself getting crabby and snapping at the young burners, settle down and take a break.
Exploring with your young burner!
Freezer Burn is not always a bicycle town. It can get Muddy! Bikes are good for young burners, and wagons or bike trailers are great for younger ones (even when being pushed). Be sure that if you are bringing their bike that they know when not to ride it (like after a rainstorm). It is hard to wash the mud off once it dries. It's also suggested to make sure that your young burner wears a helmet whenever they ride a bike (or even on a Mutant Vehicle). Make sure their helmet fits properly and is securely fastened.
When setting out, bring drinks, snacks, fun stuff, along with the young burners, to help keep them going when they’re running out of steam. Many people hop onto Mutant Vehicles to get around, but beware: you’ll likely not be dropped off where you were picked up. Ask if young burners are allowed on a Mutant Vehicle before you board, and always be a good example of safety around moving vehicles, mutant or otherwise!
Get them involved!
Our event Survival Guide is a tremendous resource for educating older young burners. Teach them and discuss the importance of the Ten Principles of Burning Man, and what the principles may mean to them. Your goal is to teach your young burners what it takes to survive and thrive at an event like Freezer Burn (or even Burning Man), how to embrace their creativity, and how to get involved in their local community.
By engaging with them young burners are more likely to volunteer as they get older, take ownership of their community and become model burners. We like to highlight the benefits of having young burners at our event and recognize that they are, in fact, the future of our Burning Man culture.
Young burners and clothing
For night time, one-piece fleece animal suits and footed pajamas make a great outer layer, but don’t forget warm fuzzy hats for these chilly nights. Write your camp name on their favorite things, in case they get lost (and if something is lost, check in at the Centre Camp lost and found station).
It is important to have open and honest conversations with your young burner about safety and personal boundaries, including when it comes to photography. If your young burner is uncomfortable with having their photo taken, it is important to respect their wishes and communicate this to others. It is also a good idea to establish a clear plan with your young burner for what to do if they become separated from you, including identifying a designated meeting spot and instructing them to find a trusted adult for help.
When moving around at night, make sure everyone has lights for themselves (and their bikes), preferably ones that help you keep track of each other. LED bracelets (particularly multicolored necklaces and bracelets) are a great way to keep track of your kiddo. Remember, not everyone is keeping an eye out for three-foot-high people while walking around in the dark.
Teens and Tweens
Any person under the age of 18 years of age must be supervised by a responsible Parent or guardian at all times. Parents may appoint another responsible adult participant to accompany their Teen or Tween but the parents are still responsible for the safety and actions of their young burner. It’s important to have an open dialogue with your teens and tweens about the expectations and guidelines for their behavior at Freezer Burn. Encourage them to make responsible decisions and communicate with you if they have any concerns or questions. Make sure they understand the importance of staying hydrated, using sunscreen, and being aware of their surroundings. It’s also a good idea to have a designated meeting spot in case you get separated from your teen or tween. Ensure that they have a phone or some form of communication with them at all times (please be aware though that cell phone coverage is spotty, especially ‘downstairs’).
Additionally, be aware that some events and activities at Freezer Burn may be geared towards adult audiences and may not be appropriate for young burners, including teens and tweens. It’s important to use your discretion and judgment when deciding which events to attend with your young burners.
While many people have brought babies with them to Freezer Burn, it's important to keep in mind that Freezer Burn is a remote location and access to medical facilities may be limited. If you do decide to bring your baby, make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and any necessary medications. It's also important to ensure that your baby is properly dressed for the weather and protected from the sun. Be prepared to adapt your plans and take breaks as needed to ensure the comfort and safety of your baby.
- The importance of hydration cannot be stressed enough. If you are breast-feeding, make sure you are staying hydrated and If your baby is drinking formula, it may be a good idea to dilute it more than usual.
- Watch carefully for signs of dehydration. These may include: decreased frequency of urination and fewer wet diapers, fewer tears when the baby cries, and a dry mouth or tongue. Your baby should still wet its minimum number of diapers a day.
- If your baby burner seems lethargic, stops having bowel movements, or begins to have small, hard or dry bowel movements, seek medical help.
- Cover your baby burner’s skin and head when out in the sun. Baby burners need bonnets with brims, and light-colored long-sleeved outfits to stay cool on those hot days. Make sure your baby burner is shaded but warm. If you have a tiny one that is crawling, make sure they have adequate leg coverings (and be prepared for grass stains!).
Young burners with special needs
While all young burners are welcome, it is important for you as a parent to recognize that you may have additional considerations to address before making the decision to bring a young burner with special needs to Freezer Burn. For example:
- How immediate or severe are your young burner’s health issues? Our on-Fraya medical team is not equipped for extreme emergencies and the nearest hospital is a 20 minute drive (without traffic).
- Does your young burner require special medical equipment? Determine ahead of time how you will keep devices dry and operational; how you will supply power to the equipment; and what you’ll do if the equipment stops working.
- Does your young burner require medication? Make sure you have proper storage to protect medication from heat. Know how to keep the medication cool if it needs refrigeration.
- Does your young burner have mobility issues? Electric wheelchairs may have issues in the mud and on the hills. Will not being able to join in climbing on structures or exploring interiors of art pieces be a drag for them? If they’re comfortable with their mobility status, these may not be sticking points, but take into consideration that this new and exciting environment may bring up these issues.
- Does your young burner react adversely to loud sound, music, bright lights or strange costumes? There are all types of sources of sensory overload on the Fraya. These things may frighten them, or may cause an anxiety attack or seizure depending on their medical issue.
- Will there be another responsible adult with you to help you attend to your young burner’s needs? Freezer Burn is supposed to be fun for both you and them! Don’t try to go it alone. It won’t do you or your young burner any good if you are overworked, overtired and overstressed.
- Are you prepared to leave early or at a moment’s notice? If your young burner gets sick, hurt or emotionally overwhelmed, you must be willing and able to leave Freezer Burn immediately. This may include leaving all your camping gear behind and making arrangements to come back for it or have someone else take care of it for you.
Our Alberta Rangers are the non-confrontational mediation volunteers that can help you resolve problems. The Rangers help to preserve the safety, welfare, and quality of experience of our community. Rangers patrol the event 24 hours a day.
When you arrive at the Fraya, introduce your young burners to a Ranger. Help them become familiar with what Rangers look like (Green and Gold colors, Alberta Rangers Logo). Make sure they know Rangers are their friends, they can feel safe and comfortable with a Ranger, and they should seek out a Ranger if they’re lost. The Alberta Rangers call the First Response location their home, right beside our professional medical team near the greeter station. Rangers always work in pairs and receive training to support reuniting lost young burners to their parents/guardians.
Our Medical Team
As a member of a community built on self-reliance, you are responsible for your own basic first aid needs. However, if you or your young burners require medical assistance, do not hesitate to contact a Ranger or visit the medical station. Trained emergency medical personnel are on duty 24 hours a day and emergency evacuation is available if needed. Look for the large medical crosses at First Response.