“Why take your kids to Midburn?” Is a question I have heard quit a few times. “Don’t you want to have fun?” is usually what follows and at some point a statement along the lines of ”I’m not so sure it’s good for them, to be exposed to all… that.” comes up as well. So, yes, that last one usually comes from people who have never been to Midburn or a Midburn event and “all that” pretty much refers to all those things labeled inappropriate for children among our society, basically people just being openly free. Not to say that there are not quite a few things going on at Midburn which I do not and will not expose my children too, just as there are so many things in this world to which I wish and hope to never expose my children. The most of which would probably be violence, war and sirens warning of rockets falling which, sadly, I have already failed at. One thing I can say, after going to Midburn twice and being involved in many Midburn events, the amount of violence I have experienced there is close to zero. So already, Midburn seems to be in an advantage to the “real world” in regards to things existing which I would not like to expose my children to.
I think the main thing which people don’t understand about Midburn and its community is just how versatile it actually is. Really, there is a place for anyone at Midburn whether you are a loner, a raver, a hippie, a cynic, or someone who completely disregards being labeled, as long as your willing to accept the versatility, you’ll find a place at Midburn. Which brings me to one of the most important principals of the whole burning man community for me which is “radical inclusion.” Being a parent to small children I find myself often asking the question, how do I pass on to them the values which will make them a happy and good human being in their lives? How do I teach them the value of acceptance, the importance of disregarding racial ideas and prejudgment? My daughter mirrors me in everything I do, a constant reminder for me to act according to my values. I have found that when bringing up children the statement “actions speak louder than words” has never been truer and more apparent. I see her making friends, I remember how mean kids and people in general can be and I want my children to fight that, in themselves and in their surroundings. If my daughter sees me interacting, accepting and befriending people who are different from me, and experiences an environment in which radical inclusion is a major principle I believe she will be able to learn from that so much more than any teacher or parent trying to lecture her.
Radical inclusion is really just one of the principals which I hope my children can absorb from attending Midburn. All the principals, I believe, are valuable, but beyond values and principals, there is first a basic fact which I believe is more important than anything else and that is the fact that MIDBURN IS FUN! And it is fun precisely because everyone is included, because everyone participates, because a community is formed in which each takes responsibility for the fun and creativity he/she/lee brings with them. So, can Midburn also be fun with kids? Of course! I cannot express the joy I felt from seeing my daughter being fascinated from the Playa. Seeing Midburn through her eyes reminded me how to look at things without judgment, as if I am seeing them for the first time, reminded me to always embrace the eternal child in me. Family events can be more than Disney shows or “Festigal”. Dancing with my kids and having fun, Looking at art exhibits with them and participating and building a theme camp together is something which we enjoy together. It is something which I hope my kids can always look back on and remember with a smile on their faces. And if my daughter sees me dancing and having fun is that not something I wish to show her? I see myself as a responsible person, and I hope she learns that you can be free, have fun and still be able to be responsible for yourself along the way. A lesson I believe most teenagers learn way too late. I hope my daughter will value the fact that we can have fun together now and will still want to have as much fun with me when she is 15, or 35.
Of course, I also understand the parents who do not take their kids with them to Midburn. Its not easy to be in the desert, in the Midburn environment even without one or two kids. For the past two years we brought the kids with us for half the time and for the rest of the time they enjoyed themselves with grandma and grandpa, while we enjoyed a small break from parenting. Hey, everyone wins! An arrangement I strongly recommend for all parents. However, as much as those days without them were great I still would not give up on the days with them. By now, my daughter won’t even hear of not coming to Midburn!