Leads Handbook

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The Flipside Organization

Burning Flipside has what we like to call a lowerarchy instead of a hierarchy.

If you picture a tree, Austin Artistic Reconstruction, LLC (AAR) is at the base of the tree. This is the board of directors of the company, and the legal entity that signs contracts.

One branch coming from that trunk, the Combustion Chamber (CC), holds public meetings roughly every other Monday, and acts as an advisory body to AAR, and as a communications channel between AAR and the community at large.

Another set of branches is the the Areas and Departments: Ten areas handle broad aspects of event and year-round operations, and each Area is further subdivided into Departments. Areas are headed by Area Facilitators (AFs), and Departments are headed by Leads. A listing of all the areas and departments with descriptions is online at http://www.burningflipside.com/organization/operations. There is a brief outline of the areas and departments at the end of this document.

The point of this is that each layer supports the one above it: As a lead, you support the volunteers in your department. Your AF supports you and the other leads in your area. And AAR supports the AFs. If someone at one layer is unable to fulfill their role (it happens), the person supporting them can fill in until a replacement can be found.

Being a Lead

First of all, thank you for volunteering to be a lead. The event and the year-round community don’t run without kickass volunteers.

What is a lead?

A lead is the person who is responsible for a department. A department is a single operational aspect of Flipside, or a logically related set of tasks. Every year, we add, move, and delete departments to balance workloads better and make departmental tasks more coherent.

As a lead, it’s your responsibility to focus on your department and to make it kick ass. It’s the responsibility of the AFs and AAR to look at the bigger picture.

Many of us wear more than one hat at Flipside–as a departmental lead, a theme-camp lead, and so on. Be clear about what hat you’re wearing as the lead of a department.

What does a lead do?

What a lead does will vary by department. There are some things that many leads do, though.

Broadly speaking, there are departments where most of the activity happens before the event, during the event, after the event, or year-round. There are some departments that involve a lot of volunteers, and some that consist only of the lead. There are some that involve a lot of infrastructure, and some that involve none. Your responsibilities as a lead will depend on which categories your department falls into.

Following is a list of things that leads do or delegate. Not all will apply to your department.

  • Evaluate your department’s material needs and communicate that to your AF for budgeting.
  • Define goals for your department, and identify the tasks needed to meet those goals.
  • Serve as the subject-matter expert representing your department.
  • Communicate regularly with your AF about how your department is running.
  • Recruit volunteers and communicate with them regularly.
  • Train volunteers or assess their credentials.
  • Submit a lottery-exemption list (if any) to your AF.
  • Ensure volunteers are ticketed and prepared to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • Design shift schedules and fill shift rosters.
  • Inventory and inspect your department’s infrastructure pre-event.
  • Send your department’s infrastructure to the event site on load-in day.
  • Submit an early-entry/stay-late list to your AF.
  • Send your department’s infrastructure back to the warehouse on load-out day.
  • Step in for volunteers to fill empty slots on your shift schedule.
  • Cultivate your successor.

We’re all in this together

The whole idea behind our lowerarchy (see: The Flipside Organization) is that each layer supports the one above it. You support the volunteers in your department. Your AF supports you. If you need help, ask for it. There’s no shame in that. If you make a mistake, own up to it. In either case, let your AF know sooner rather than later so the rest of the organization can support you and can fill in any gaps that need filling.

Take care of yourself

On a related point, take care of yourself, both during the event and year-round. Some volunteers have a tendency to overwork themselves–you might be one! If you find yourself getting in over your head, getting burnt out, hating Flipside, or hating yourself, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Talk to your AF.

Be bold

Your department is what you make it. As long as you get done what you need to get done and don’t step on the toes of other departments, you have a lot of latitude in how you get it done.

And if you’ve got an idea for new ways your department can kick more ass, run it by your AF. It is possible that their broader perspective will give them (or AAR) a reason to say No, but in general, we try to say Yes. Every year is an experiment. In short, don’t be afraid to try new things in your department, but keep the rest of the organization informed.

Many of Flipside’s departments have many volunteers. Some have only a few, and some have traditionally been one-person departments. If you’re the lead of a department that has previously just been one person, you are welcome to recruit additional volunteers if you see fit.

If you’ve never been a lead before, this can be disorienting, but the organization exists to support you as you develop leadership skills. There are lots of people you can talk to for suggestions.


The vast majority of the problems we encounter as an organization boil down to problems of communications. As a lead, you’re expected to be responsive to e-mail. Keep in regular touch with your AF about what you’re doing so that they’ve got good situational awareness of their area (see: Using e-mail).

The organization has other tools you can use for communicating with the rest of the community, or within a group (see: Resources for Leads).

Know your timeline

There’s a timeline of general planning milestones in the back of this handbook. Some may not affect you, some will. And there are some milestones that will be unique to your department. Work out in advance when you need to do what, communicate that to volunteers, and allow for delays.

Prepare for contingencies

Things don’t always go 100% according to plan at Flipside. Try to anticipate ways that your department may be affected by things going sideways, and have plan B and plan C ready to put into action. Roll with it if plan A doesn’t work out. You won’t break Flipside by yourself.

An important form of contingency planning is finding someone to serve as your Lieutenant. We do not have a formal system of Lts at Flipside, but it’s a great idea to have someone who is ready to step in in case you win the lottery and jet off to Rio; also, an Lt might be able to serve as your successor when you’re ready to pass the torch (assuming you don’t win the lottery and jet off to Rio).

Make us look good

As a lead, you are representing the organization–to your volunteers, to the Flipside community, to any vendors you deal with, etc. Do the rest of us proud.

  • Don’t troll Facebook in your capacity as lead, or spread false information about Flipside.
  • If someone asks you a question or you want to contribute a point, be sure you know what you’re talking about before you say it.
  • Be professional in your dealings with vendors.

Have fun

We’re all volunteers, and if we’re not having fun, there’s not much point in doing this. If you’re stressing out over your volunteer position, ask yourself “Am I having fun?”–that’s a good gut-check.

Leading By Example

Volunteer organizations are often prone to lots of turnover and attrition. While very many Flipside volunteers return from year to year, every department will see many brand new volunteers each year. Some may be new to your department, some may be new to volunteering, and some may be new to Flipside. As their department lead, you will be the first, and most important point of contact that have about what your department does, and what it is about.

With this in mind, it is absolutely critical, when dealing with your volunteers, that you act in the way you need them to act. You should be on time to appointments and training sessions. You should be responsive to emails. Also, you should treat your volunteers with the same openness, kindness and professionalism that you would expect them to show toward the Flipizens/vendors/county officials that they will be interfacing with in their volunteering tasks. When you fail to do these things, you are, in essence, telling your volunteers that these values are not held in high esteem by your department and should not be worried about.

Similarly, please avoid leveraging your position as a lead in order to gain perks and privileges with others. In addition to being alienating to the general community, one of the most valuable lessons you can teach your volunteers is that volunteering is a gift to the community, freely given. Volunteer positions are not baubles to be used to curry favor. If you act with a sense of personal entitlement toward the event, you are communicating that volunteer positions may be leveraged to seek status and perks within the community, which is its own obvious problem.

In summary, the real thing to think about here is the first rule of effective leadership: think of the way that you would like the people you’re working with to behave, and then make sure that you are reinforcing that behavior with your own attitudes, communication, and actions. After all, they may very well be fresh into the event from the street, and you’re the one teaching them what this Flipside stuff is about. Help them do the community proud!

Recruiting Volunteers

So, you have your department all ready to go, but you need people to make it work. Yes, you do need people to make it work. Even departments that can be done with just a single lead should at least have a lieutenant around to learn how to do that lead role, and to pick up the task if you’re indisposed. Most departments can at least use a small team to distribute the load. Don’t try to do all of this alone. How to go about finding these people?

  • One of the primary focuses of Spring Town Hall is volunteer recruitment. Show up–or at least send a lieutenant if you absolutely can’t show for Town Hall–bring a sign up sheet (or better yet, an online tool to sign up people), and actively recruit. Sell your department. Get the word out about why it’s awesome to work there (and most departments have a pitch about why it’s great to work there. You’re the lead, you should be the most enthusiastic of all, after all), sign people up. And, importantly follow up with them after Town Hall is over. It’s useless to get all of these signups, only to then drop the ball on them by not following up, or waiting until three weeks to the event to remind them of this sheet they signed in March.
  • Similarly, keep an eye out for people at community gatherings. There are often potential new volunteers at church nights and at various other social functions. Even if you’re not actively recruiting people when you’re out, you can look around and identify people who you might want to contact later about that position that is just right for them.
  • Leverage people in various theme camps that you know. If one of your volunteers is in Pelican Camp, perhaps they know other Pelican Campers that want to work a shift with them, or who would be interested in your department. And then it’s their friend and not you pitching the department to them.
  • If they are available, the previous years’ lead can be a wonderful resource – they may have a list of rockstar volunteers that can help you out. They might be able to tell you the traits of people who did a great job in the past.
  • The volunteer coordinator will have access to lists of volunteers and will be conducting independent volunteer recruitment. If you tell them, “hey, I need people to do ____, and the ones who would be best at it tend to be like ____”, then they might be able to find people. Similarly, your AF might have some ideas about where to find certain people to fit certain roles. If you’re feeling trepidatious about recruitment, they can also be a resource
  • Lastly, there are the various social media fora out there. These are visible, and sometimes effective ways of reaching a broad audience. The problem is that calls for volunteers (and for anything, really) can often get ignored amidst the churn of content through the internet. It’s also true that there are some people who can only really be reached this way, though, so it is something that is worth trying.

More than anything, just be enthusiastic and positive. If you make your department look and sound like the awesome place to work that it is (and if you don’t feel this, why are you leading that department?), and then volunteers will follow to get a chance to experience that fantasticness.

Disinviting volunteers

If you ever need to explicitly disinvite or deny someone from volunteering in your department, just send them a “your services will not be required” type of message. Do not explain why. If you feel like you need to explain why, check with AAR beforehand. If the reason you are disinviting that person is especially serious, you might want to discuss your concerns about that person with AAR.

Dealing with Vendors & Spending Money

The income from Burning Flipside’s ticket money funds this year’s event, and pays for the warehouse, our off-season events, rainy-day funds, and a host of other expenses throughout the year.

Most departments have some budget to fund their operations for the year. Leads should meet with their AFs prior to spending any money for their department.

When it’s time to make smaller purchases on behalf of a department, Leads will usually pay for the purchase with their own money and then get reimbursed by AAR. The reimbursement process is easy: Leads make the purchase, label the receipt with their name and department, and submit the receipt to AAR, who will then write a reimbursement check to the Lead. If a Lead can’t foot the bill on their own, no problem: we can also makes purchases using an AAR LLC debit card.

The point is: we don’t want anyone spending their personal money on Flipside as long as the expense is within budget, or is necessary and has been approved by AAR.

Reimbursement and receipts

SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! Original receipts are preferred for reimbursement. However, these can get lost or degrade before they are submitted. If you have a smartphone, it’s a good idea to take a clear picture of it as soon as the receipt is generated.

To be reimbursed for Flipside purchases, all receipts should be turned in to AAR’s treasurer. Please accompany the receipt with your name, position, AF, and the details of the expenditure. All receipts should be turned in as soon as possible after the purchase. A handy form will be available on the website.

You can e-mail clear photos of receipts to . AAR attempts to track our expenses quarterly. This is really hard to do if people don’t let us know what we’re spending.

Expenditures and reimbursements flow through the Lead

If anyone other than the lead is making the purchase, they should clear it with their Lead first. We prefer to give reimbursements directly to the Lead to ensure that the Lead is aware of all purchases made in their department.

Simimarly, reimbursement requests need to come from you, the Lead. Random participants should not be submitting reimbursement requests. If you had a volunteer purchase something for the department, get the receipt from them and pass it along as described here. If a volunteer purchased something on their own initiative, you need to consider whether its appropriate to submit for reimbursement at all.

Budget needs

Figure out what your department will need to spend money on and how much it will need to spend as soon as possible, and let your AF know. The sooner the AFs and AAR have an accurate picture of their budget needs, the more time we’ll have to make sure we can cover those needs. Reading past Afterburns can help. See also “Inventorying infrastructure” below.

Don’t be reluctant to ask for something that will help your department run better or that will make Flipside better in general. You might not get the budget for it, but you definitely won’t get the budget if you don’t ask.

Your afterburn will be the best place to describe your department’s budget needs in the next year. If you found your budget was off, or you know some equipment needs to be replaced next year, there’s a spot in the afterburn for that.

Care and feeding of volunteers

If you’ve got a volunteer-heavy department during the event, budget for volunteer fluffing. Water, food and snacks may be an important factor for your department’s well-being in the hot summer sun. Defining what is a reasonable level of support is an ongoing conversation. We want to take care of our volunteers, but not at the expense of the tenet of self-reliance. We also need to avoid creating a sense of entitlement among some volunteers, or the perception of entitlement among others. And we cannot have the majority of our budget going into food, water and snacks.

Capital expenses

Capital expenses (CapEx), defined as purchases of single items that cost more than USD250 and that are outside of the recurring budget (see above), should be cleared with AAR prior to purchase. For authorized CapEx purchases, AAR can either reimburse you through the normal process, or AAR can pay for the purchase directly using its debit card.

If you are handing off payment to an AAR member, make sure that member knows exactly what you’ve been quoted, and what the quote is for. This bit us on the ass when one person got an estimate from one location of a big company, and then another person went down to write a check at a different location, and was given a substantially higher figure to pay. This took almost a year to resolve.

Shop around

Research prices on your budget items with different vendors. Many times cheaper solutions can be found with a little legwork or Internet research. Talk to your AF, who may have more experience or additional information on where to shop.

Cheap is good, but cheapest isn’t necessarily best. We are happy to spend the money we need to spend to get a good product or service that we can depend on. Having reliable vendors is often more important. Vendors that we’ve built up good relationships with over time and who will cut us some slack are also important. Beware of hidden costs, especially with cheap vendors.


If you can get something free or at an unusual discount, that is great, but make sure to communicate that in your Afterburn so that the organization can budget appropriately if/when the what-a-deal goes away.


We are always talking about saving money, but it’s not because we’re broke—we’re not. We are happy to spend the money we need to spend to run Flipside responsibly. We try to save money because we are stewards of the community’s money: so it’s not that we’re trying to be cheap, we’re trying to be prudent. Flipside is not a commercial festival like Lightning in a Bottle or ACL Festival, where the attendee gives the organizer money, and the organizer gives the attendee an experience. When someone gives us money for a ticket, they’re entrusting us with it to use it on their behalf, so that we all can make Flipside happen together.

We love it when our volunteers make things happen for little or no money—partly because that involves the creativity that we’re about. That doesn’t mean we won’t spend money on the things that we need.

Departmental fundraisers or donation drives

TL;DR: Don’t.

Participants pay no small change for their tickets. That ticket money is there specifically to make the event go.

Fundraisers complicate our bookkeeping, since AAR needs to account for and pay taxes on any funds raised. If your department needs more money, talk to your AF (see Budget needs; Capital expenses above).

Seeking donations or loans of infrastructure within the community may create the impression that the organization is not willing to spend ticket money when needed. Donations of large items often create more issues than they resolve, including accounting and storage. It’s OK for a few people in your department to fill in gaps with infrastructure they have anyhow, but open calls for donations send the wrong message about Flipside’s priorities (see also Bargains above).

Vendor/service contracts

Non-liability vendor contracts can be signed for by the appropriate Leads, AFs, or LLC members. Service contracts for EMS, security or the like must be signed by an LLC member. Always get LLC approval before signing a service contract with a new vendor.

Vehicle/equipment rentals

All vehicle and heavy equipment rentals must be approved beforehand by AF or LLC members (typically by default through the budgeting/capital expense process). Delivery of rental vehicles/heavy equipment must be received by the appropriate Lead, their AF, or an LLC member. All rental equipment should be inspected and any pre-existing damages thoroughly documented on official paperwork at the time of receipt. Rental contracts will typically offer insurance as an option–always get it.

Check-out process with rentals

Ask if there are any gotchas with the equipment. For example, some of the trucks from Penske require you to refill the gas tanks in a certain way to avoid getting dinged for partly filled tanks.

Walk around and inspect the equipment. Take pictures of the equipment to document its condition in case of later dispute. If there’s an odometer or usage meter, take a picture of that.

Check-in process with rentals

Take pictures of the equipment to document its condition in case of later dispute. If there’s an odometer or usage meter, take a picture of that.

Delivery acceptance

Make sure the thing you receive is the thing you expect.

This bit us on the ass when our survival guides were printed with the pages out of order, and we didn’t realize it until after we had picked them up and brought them back to the Warehouse. Panic ensued while we tried to figure out if we could get them reprinted quickly enough.

Business accounts

In the past, AAR has operated on a cash basis with its vendors. This is fine for smaller transactions, but can be unwieldy with large transactions.

If a vendor is willing to open a business account with AAR and that would smooth out the process, get in touch with an AAR member to discuss it.

Vendor contact info

Maintain a record of the vendors you worked with and the quality of the service the provided, and put that information in your Afterburn (likewise, if there is a reason to avoid a certain vendor). This helps to establish rapport with good vendors, and to avoid reinventing the wheel whenever a new Lead takes the role.

Keep vendor contact info handy at all times during the event, in case you need to contact them due to a breakdown, etc.

Mailing address

If you need to give a mailing address, don’t give the Warehouse address. Use our PO Box:

Austin Artistic Reconstruction / PO Box 9987 / Austin TX 78766

Using e-mail

E-mail is how the Burning Flipside organization handles most of its internal communication. We don’t use Facebook, or Snapchat, or whatever the kids are into this week.

The vast majority of the problems we encounter as an organization boil down to problems of communications. So it’s important to use e-mail effectively.

When you are e-mailing another lead in your area about Flipside-related business, be sure to CC your AF. This is so they’ll be aware of what’s going on in their area, in case you get eaten by a squirrel and they need to step in to cover for you.

When you are e-mailing another lead in a different area, CC your AF and that person’s AF. Same idea.

If you need to find an e-mail address (or other contact info) for a lead or AF, check out the Leads Directory at


Read your e-mail regularly and respond to it promptly. If you’re handling a lot of mail for your department, it’s a good idea to filter that into its own box. If another volunteer e-mails you to ask you a question, they’re probably waiting on your response, so being slow to reply can have a snowball effect.

If you find that you are constantly exchanging e-mail with the same group of people, it’s a good idea to set up a mailing list for that group. We can do that for you (see “Communications tools for leads”). Talk to your AF.

Most leads are assigned “@burningflipside.com” e-mail addresses in the format department@burningflipside.com. These usually are set up to forward to an e-mail address you already have, but if you prefer to have a separate mailbox for that address, we can set that up too.

Communications Tools for Leads

This is an overview of the online resources we use. As a lead, you should be subscribed to the following mailing lists and have access to other online tools.

Mailing lists

We host all our own mailing lists.

The Leads list

You should be signed up for this. This is mostly for sending out announcements that all leads needs to hear.


The Announce list is used to send news from the Flipside organization to all Flipside participants–you should have been subscribed to Announce when you created a ticket request. As a lead, you can also use it as a resource when you need to, you know, announce something. Send a message to our Content lead via the form at http://www.burningflipside.com/contact/ff-submission. Our guideline is to send one Announce message per month at the beginning of the month, and to roll all the news into that. We will break that guideline with one-off announcements when we need to, but we really prefer not to.

You can use the same form to submit messages for the Flipside Flame, and our goal is to also send that once a month, in mid-month. The difference in purpose between the two is that Announce is used for “company business” and the Flame can be used for that or community announcements. In practical terms, Announce is sent as an e-mail message to everyone on the Announce list (which is everyone who has requested a Flipside ticket in the past couple years, plus many more) and also posted on the website, and propagated via social media, while the Flame is not sent out as e-mail.

Other mailing lists

If your department needs a list, please check with your AF to have one set up. One may already exist that has gone dormant.


We use Google Calendars. If you use any kind of calendaring app, it would be a really good idea to add the public calendar to your app.

Burning Flipside public calendar

This is at https://goo.gl/5PMIPO

This is a public calendar that everyone can access. We use this for public events like Town Halls, CC meetings, Work Weekends, and of course Flipside. If you want to get something put on the calendar, ask your AF. The content from this calendar also feeds through to our website at http://www.burningflipside.com/calendar

Burning Flipside Warehouse calendar

This is at https://goo.gl/knBPJA

This is specifically for events booked at the Warehouse. It overlaps somewhat with the public calendar, but there are some events that are not necessarily open to the public that will appear here.

If you want to book the warehouse for your department’s use, make sure it’s available, and book the date by e-mailing the Warehouse Managers at

Burning Flipside website

The Flipside website is divided into several parts. This makes it easier to maintain, and harder for a problem with one part to break the whole thing.

Public-facing website

The public-facing website is at http://www.burningflipside.com

If you need to set up a simple public-facing web-to-mail form, it’s pretty easy to put one on the site. Ask your AF.

Profiles site

This is at http://profiles.burningflipside.com

This is the part of the site where you manage your identity: it stores your personal information. It’s also how you log into every part of the website. It has another cool feature for leads:

Leads Directory

As a lead, when you are logged into the website, you’ll see a “Leads” menu item at the top of the screen. Click on that and it will take you to a directory of all leads, AFs, CC members, and AAR members. The direct link for it is


This is mobile-friendly, and you can even trigger a phone call or text message from the directory.

This pulls information from your profile on the site. Please keep your profile up to date so that your fellow leads can find you.


The wiki is at http://wiki.burningflipside.com

This wiki is dedicated to serving the Flipside community. In addition to being the community’s repository for institutional memory, it is also a place where folks can learn more about our organization and create/maintain their own planning pages.

It is not the most popular part of the website, but it has a lot of useful info, and some leads depend on it as a signup form for department shifts. It’s gotten significantly easier to use now that it has a wizzywig editing mode. If you haven’t poked around the wiki before, give it a look.


The secure site is at http://secure.burningflipside.com

This is where secure forms live: these are things like ticket-request registration, theme-camp registration, etc. Apart from managing your identity on the site, this is the place for all the forms you need to be logged in to use.

If your department needs something like this, talk to your AF. Our web team can set something up. It takes some work to create these forms, and they’re only accessible to logged-in users.

Social media

Burning Flipside has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, managed by our Content lead.

For important information, we give priority to channels that we own—our mailing lists and our website—and repost to social media. For small or last-minute news updates, posting directly to social media is OK.

  • Our official Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/BurningFlipside and a number of people can post there.
  • Our Twitter account is, unsurprisingly, @BurningFlipside. It doesn’t seem to get as much action as our Facebook page.
  • It is important to note that the “Burning Flipside Flipizens” group is not an official organ of AAR, LLC. (Nor are any of the many other groups on Facebook that relate to Flipside.) If we want to put something there, we can post it to the official page, and then individuals can repost it to the Flipizens group, or individuals can post links to our website directly to the Flipizens group, but we don’t treat the Flipizens group as a primary source for official information.


New for the 2020 event cycle, we are routing all communications to leads that we receive from the contact form on our website to Freshdesk, which is a customer-relationship management system. Every new message creates a “trouble ticket” in Freshdesk, but Freshdesk is smart about keeping threads about a single ticket together.

Sign in to Freshdesk using your @burningflipside.com e-mail address at <burningflipside.freshdesk.com> (which will forward to your regular e-mail address). The first time you sign in, you’ll need to create a password.

Once you are signed in, go directly to the trouble tickets by clicking the icon below.

freshdesk ticket

Freshdesk has a web interface and a smartphone app, but routine communications can be handled through e-mail if you prefer. There are some fancy features that are easier to do through the web interface, like routing a message to a different lead or leaving a private note on a thread.

The way we have set Freshdesk up, all incoming e-mail will be visible to all the leads in one area, and they can all respond to it. This should make it harder for messages to fall through the cracks. If a message is sent to the Ranger Lead, but the sender just wants to know when Safetyside is, and you’re the Sanctuary Lead and you happen to know the answer, you can answer that question. Don’t step on the Ranger Lead’s toes answering Ranger-specific questions, of course. Your AF and the rest of the leads in your area will need to work out the best way to handle this for your area.

Flipside Volunteer System

Lo these many years have we wailed and gnashed our teeth at the lack of a centralized volunteer management system. No longer. For 2020, we have one.

The system has a lot of features and we’re working on separate documentation for it, but you can log into it right now at https://secure.burningflipside.com/fvs2/

You can create different volunteer roles (for example, Ice slingers, pushers, cashiers, and shift leads) in your department and shift schedules for those roles, and then let participants sign up for shifts. It does smart stuff: it requests each volunteer’s T-shirt size, figures out who should be on early entry, and catches attempts at double-booking. You can create “group shifts” so that a theme camp can take a bunch of slots together at Greeters or Ice, for example. You can set roles that only certain people can sign up for.

A bunch of roles and shifts have already been created in the system, but those aren’t cast in stone. You can change them.

T-shirts & Patches

If you have a department with a bunch of volunteers, you can order them T-shirts or patches. All orders go through the Volunteer Coordinator. There will be an email sent out to the leads list with relevant dates and timelines.

There is a special line-item in the budget for all departmental T-shirts and patches, which is enough for you to get one or the other. If you want to both, you’ll need to pay for one of the two out of your department’s budget. Please note that there will be a minimum order on either of these (varies from year to year, but generally in the 20-50 range). If you have fewer volunteers than this, past departments have gotten around this by making multi-year orders, or simply have foregone T-shirts/patches.


You can offer patches to reward your volunteers, and to build departmental identity and visibility.


Because T-shirts are (generally) more expensive than patches, we prefer to reserve T-shirts for those departmental volunteers who need to be identifiable as such during the event: think of them as uniforms. If you are in the dark about the range of sizes required for your order, the VC will have access to the previous years’ order, and can help you with that as a baseline. We also greatly prefer one-color designs, since each color requires a separate printing pass, which gets expensive. Please avoid putting the current year in the design for your T-shirt, as this complicates reuse of T-shirts.


Your AF should have access to artwork used previously by your department if you want to reuse or update that. And Flipside does have a Graphic Arts lead if you need new art for your department’s T-shirts/patches. When you make your T-shirt/patch order, you will be asked either to name your designer, or to request the services of the Flipside Graphic Arts lead. This makes the wrangling of designs close to the deadline that much easier for everyone. The VC will also be able to answer any individual questions about requirements on design (dimensions, file format, etc.).

Lottery exemptions, Early-Entry/Stay-Late Lists

Volunteering is a gift, and we avoid handing out perqs to volunteers because that is just a way of commoditizing our relationships. That said, some volunteers do receive special treatment because of the role that they play in the event.

Lottery exemption

All Leads, Combustion Chamber members, AFs, and LLC members, along with their family members, are automatically exempted from any ticket lottery.

As a lead, you can designate some other volunteers in your department as lottery-exempt: these are people critical to running the event. You’ll submit your lottery-exemption list to your AF, who will reality-check it and pass it on to AAR. Keep your list short: every time we add a person to this list, we get a little closer to needing a lottery for everyone else. Lotteries suck.

As you probably know, the mail-in window tickets is always around mid-January. The ticket requests are opened and processed about a month later, to allow plenty of time for the mail to arrive.

Anyone who is lottery-exempt A. really needs to have their ticket request in by ticket-request opening, and B. really needs to be designated as lottery-exempt by that date too. It creates a lot of work for other people if they don’t.

There’s a complete guide to the ticketing process on the website at https://www.burningflipside.com/event/tickets, and an even more complete FAQ linked at the bottom of that document that should be able to answer any questions you might have about ticketing.

This is what we previously called “critical volunteers.” There’s been a lot of confusion about what that really means; “lottery-exempt” is more precise.

Early-Entry & Stay-Late Lists

The early-entry and stay-late lists are how Flipside manages access to the land immediately before and after the event proper.

Leads, AFs, CC members, and AAR members are automatically entitled to be on these lists. Other volunteers can be added by leads as needed, subject to reality-checking by they AFs.

New for 2020, the Flipside Volunteer System should be able to automatically compile a list of volunteers who need to arrive for early entry. It does not have a way of collecting that information on SOs and family members, so we’re going to still need to collect that information the old-fashioned way.

What is the early-entry list?

Burning Flipside uses early entry to ensure that we can produce the event responsibly, and be ready for the general population when they arrive. There are three flavors of early entry:

  1. Tuesday infrastructure setup (arrival Tuesday morning): This is when we get the bare framework for the event set up. This is a relatively small group of people.
  2. Wednesday early entry (arrival Wednesday morning): This is a larger group of people. All leads (and their SOs) are entitled to show up for Wednesday early entry. Some other volunteers, including those who have duties that need to be completed before the General Population (GenPop) arrives, and those who will be on shift early Thursday, will also be part of this.
  3. Wednesday early access for theme-camps and art projects (arrival Wednesday afternoon): This is for theme camps and art projects with big infrastructure, and is by invitation from the City Planning and Art areas.

It’s common to wind up on more than one list. If that happens, show up for the earliest early-entry list you’re on.

What Is the stay-late List?

Much like the early-entry list, this is the list of people allowed to stay at the event site after the event has ended (Monday at 5:00 PM). Again, the expectation is that people who are on this list are there to help with initial breakdown, or people who need to be on-shift past the point where they could get out during normal Exodus.

Important stuff

Everyone who shows up for early entry needs to be on the early-entry list at Gate. You will need to get your info in to your AF for yourself, your SO (if applicable), and any volunteers your department needs to have on-site early. If someone in your department shows up without being on the list, you will be called to Gate to verify that they should be let in. So when your AF asks for your early-entry information, send it in and save yourself trouble later. If someone shows up for early entry, isn’t on the list, and doesn’t know what department they’re supposedly helping in, or who the lead is (yes, this has happened), they will either be sent home or camp out at Gate until they figure it out.

Likewise for the stay-late list: being on the list will save Exodus volunteers the trouble of hassling you for being there late.

The two days before Flipside officially starts are not an opportunity to start the party early: everyone who arrives during early entry is expected to work (including SOs and people there early to be ready for Thursday shifts). There is a lot of work that needs to get done for pre-ops. If you or your volunteers find yourselves at loose ends during this period, there will be plenty to do: Pre-ops will need help setting up, City Signage will need help putting up signs. And so on.

You’ll receive more specific information about early entry close to the event, which is essentially a mini Survival Guide for Early Entry. If you don’t receive a “welcome to early entry” message, you’re not on the list.

Departmental equipment

Before Load-in day

Take an inventory of your departmental equipment before load-in day, get it cleaned up if need be, purchase whatever replacements or additions are needed, and share your inventory with your AF and whoever is going to represent your department at load-in day so they’ll know what needs to be packed.

Consider “red-tagging” everything that goes out to the land; when it gets used, remove the tag; anything that keeps its tag throughout the event is a candidate for discarding. If you suspect your department is sending out unneeded stuff, this is something to try.

Shade structures, tables, generators, water coolers, and radios are common property for all departments–they are not handled on a per-department basis, so you don’t need to worry about having them in your inventory, but you will be asked for your department’s needs for these things so we can make sure to have enough in total.

Load-in day

Load-in day is the Saturday before Flipside officially starts. We meet at the Warehouse, rent a bunch of Penske box trucks, fill them with everything we need to make Flipside go, then drive out to the event site and drop everything off in approximately the right place.

If your department has any infrastructure that needs to get to the event, you should be a part of load-in, to make sure that your stuff gets loaded and to help out in general. If you can’t be there, make sure someone from your department who has an inventory list will be there.

Load-out day

Load-out day is typically the Saturday after Flipside ends, although it may be delayed due to weather. This is also when we perform final LNT line sweeps on the land.

It’s normal to be cracked out after Flipside, but that’s why it’s all the more important to help with load-out: many hands make light work. Load-out with 60 people goes pretty quickly. With 30, it’s really hard.


During the off-season, clean and inventory the material and infrastructure your department uses and stores. It would be ideal to do this right after load-out day (this is especially true if we had bad weather at Flipside, as inventory can come back in rough shape). While you’re doing this, make a list of anything that needs to be replaced due to wear, expiration dates, etc, so the organization can budget for that.

Gear that is stored in the off-season should be cleared and placed by the Warehouse Managers, if it is stored in the warehouse, or the Pre-Post Lead, if it is stored in the container. The inventory lists should be made available to next year’s Lead, the Equipment Librarian, the appropriate AF(s), and the LLC so we all know what resources we have for community use and what we’ll need to replace next year.

As a lead you may find yourself needing something out of the warehouse or access to something in the warehouse. The easiest time to do this is during church night or some other time that the warehouse is already open. However, that might not always be possible. Preferably, you should contact the Warehouse Managers to schedule a time to access the warehouse if you cannot use an existing open time. If that is also not possible for some reason then please contact your AF for access.

Using Carts

The carts are rentals from a local small business, and are paid for with ticket money. Treat them with respect.

Don’t drive like an asshole.

Don’t overload the cart with too many people.

If you have a cart, offer to give rides to folks who look like they need them. Flipside paid for those carts, Flipside should get some benefit out of them. Especially fellow volunteers.

Not everybody gets a cart.

Carts are checked in and out from Cartelle, on the effigy field by the container. Consider cart check-in to be an LNT operation. Don’t leave any of your stuff behind. Some of the stuff that has been left behind is embarrassing or worse.

Carts are refueled by the Fuel lead, who will have a fixed schedule for refueling. There will be more information on that closer to the event.

All carts need to be turned in by Monday afternoon. Keeping a cart past that point is a dick move that makes life harder for other volunteers.

Post Flipside Expectations


Congratulations, you made it through Burning Flipside. The overwhelming majority of leads are done with the “operational” side of their positions. You did great and the whole community had another wonderful year because of that.

However, in the immortal words of Ron Popeil, “But Wait, there’s more!” Yes Burning Flipside as an event may be over but we, as a group, still have to close our books on the year’s happenings. The topics in this section cover some of the more common aspects and occurrences that happen AFTER Burning Flipside is over.

Please note that every year will be different and it can change on the fly at any time, so take these as guidelines and not gospel.

Just after Burn

With some exceptions, most leads don’t have a lot of operational duties after the burn is over. However there still is a city that we built (on Rock and Roll?) that has to be evacuated, dismantled and cleaned up to support our Leave No Trace efforts. AAR-owned items have to come back to the warehouse, rented items need to go back to vendors, and the general footprint needs to be MOOPed. Assuming you are not part of the “after event” leads, who have slightly different priorities, the next couple paragraphs discuss your involvement in these efforts.

Cart and radio return

Carts and radios are not an entitlement. They are tools provided to the leads and other volunteers to fulfill their responsibilities. Once those responsibilities have been discharged, those tools need to be turned in to the proper location. While it may be fun to cruise and listen in to the chatter on Sunday night, Monday begins a very busy day and those resources are needed! Please turn in your equipment as soon as you are off-shift. With that being said though, if you need it you need it, just be cognizant of need versus want!

Breakdown of personal campsite

Like everything else at Burning Flipside, first and foremost, take care of yourself! Although in past years, leads have been authorized to stay on property until Tuesday morning, don’t take it for granted in any year. Weather (as many can recall) or other events could cause everyone to need to leave early. As such, break down and pack your camp as much as possible. We can replace AAR infrastructure, if need be; we can’t replace your treasures! If you are planning on staying overnight Monday, then treat it similarly to early entry. Only your tent and a minimal amount of gear should be still set up by closing on Monday. Why, you ask? Well, not only does this make Tuesday go much easier on you and your tired, spent self; not breaking down is a hindrance to those working the post event activities. They can’t work while still trying to determine if your stuff is MOOP or will be cleaned up later. Additionally, on Monday, it does send a visible false signal to other participants that there is still an event going on and occasionally results in slow pack up with the excuse “Look around, I thought it went until Tuesday.”

Let’s please work together to make post-event go as well as the event itself.

Breakdown of HQ areas

Once you have your personal gear under control, the next order of business is to get your HQ broken down. Most leads have a home base on site, or gear somewhere on property. This needs to be broken down, organized and stashed for easy Post-Operations pick up. Although the past few years, Post-Operations has taken place on the following Saturday, this is not always the case. There is nothing stating that the trucks can’t come for your gear on Tuesday (or earlier in the event of unplanned Exodus). Be ready for them.

Secondly, many of the vendors who provide equipment (carts, generators, heavy equipment, etc.) trailers or other infrastructure come during the days/week following the event. You need to ensure your equipment is ready for them to pick up by Monday closing.

Lastly, it should go without saying but, you need to police your areas for any MOOP left behind by volunteers.

Make sure that any water coolers/ice chests that are being left until load-out are empty and can air out. You have no idea how nasty an ice chest can get.

Monday night

Although any year can be different, let’s let the cat out of the bag. Monday night is the leads equivalent of a cast wrap party. We all busted our asses and now it is time to have a little pressure relief. During Exodus on Monday, the team will be marking the tents of people who are allowed to stay behind. This includes the year-round volunteers of Burning Flipside (AAR, Area Leads, Leads, CC) as well as significant volunteers and Tuesday-day volunteers. Please contact your AF if you want to stay Monday night.

Typically, once the sun sets and Gate is closed we meet up near the ice truck for a pot-luck dinner followed by Shenanigans. What those shenanigans are depends completely on the year but they are awesome! Although there is no requirement to participate in the Monday night activities, it does make for a great opportunity to relax with the other Leads that made the event so spectacular, please consider it, I promise you will enjoy it! Take some time and relax before heading into the default world, you earned it!

Tuesday post

Ok, Tuesday is the no-shit-we-have-to-be-off-property day. If you have done what was discussed above, you should be able to pack up your camp in short order, as all you have left is a tent and minimal camping items. Please do this right away. Clean Up crews will be working the lands and the longer your camp is standing, the more delayed they are in doing their job. After you are packed up, we would love to have you help with post operation activities but if you can’t, you can’t. Please though, for the sake of the volunteers don’t just spend the day lounging around. If you are not going to help then please make a hasty exit.

If you do have the strength, it is suggested to go back to your HQ and ensure the clean-up and packing efforts you did on Monday are complete and you did not miss anything. If you have remote or spread-out gear, then ensure you gathered it all up. If you used any ice chests or water coolers in your department, empty them and leave them open to dry out. Super important.

Regardless, take a few minutes and look around and enjoy. Where did Pyropolis go? Reflect and listen for the “echos on the wind.”


Typically, load-out is the Saturday after the event. All the infrastructure is brought back to the warehouse. Like pre-event load-in, leads or designated representatives are expected to be on site to ensure their gear is loaded and makes it back properly. Circumstances usually require gear to be just dumped in the warehouse at the conclusion of the post-operation transport. You need to take ownership of your area’s gear and make sure it is cleaned up and put away to its proper area post haste.

Yea, this sucks but it will save you (if you return) or your successor much heartache later. Additionally, and this should be stressed, other summer burn events, both local and remote, will potentially want to use the warehouse for construction efforts and if you stuff is in the way it makes everyone’s life miserable.

Warehouse clean-up and storage

If you have been around for a while, you remember the old warehouse and how cluttered the outside was. (If you don’t let’s just say it was cluttered with a capital L.) With the new warehouse, nothing is being kept outside so it becomes even more imperative that the inside be kept in order. Please ensure your gear is put away promptly in its designated area. If you cannot, or require more space, contact one of the Warehouse Managers to work out a solution.

Additionally, before you put everything away, it would be wise to take an inventory to ensure everything made its way back, replace items that need it and/or to pass that information along to the next Lead.

Volunteer-appreciation party

As you know our volunteers, include you, are priceless! Burning Flipside could not happen without the volunteers. As such, each year we love to recognize this by celebrating with all our rockstar volunteers. Sometime shortly after Burning Flipside, a Volunteer Appreciation party is held. Of course you are invited – you are a rockstar! This is really an awesome time where we can come back together and enjoy the hard work we put in.

Another aspect of this is that we want to appreciate our non-lead rockstar volunteers. As mentioned, as part of your afterburns, please note those that went above and beyond. We want them at this party. Not only is it doing right by our volunteers, it is also (full disclosure here) an attempt at bringing them into the fold to be the next generation of AAR, AFs, Leads, Lieutenants, Etc… When you no longer do your role, these are the ones that keep the event viable. Even if they have no interest in moving into a role, they should still enjoy the fruits of their past labors!

Off-season events

The typical belief about leads is that you only sign up for ONE event, the Burning Flipside at the end of May. However, you are the subject-matter experts in areas that need to be solved in several off-season events. For example, Town Hall has logistics issues with Parking, Porta Potties, Clean Up, Audio Visual, Equipment, etc. Just because Burning Flipside is over, does not mean you won’t be called upon to help out. Please do so. Until you have a replacement, consider yourself the lead of that area.

Your replacement

As was just mentioned until you have a replacement, you are the lead of that area. As such, until you shake the hand/hug the new lead, consider yourself as the enabler. Once you do have that person, you should meet with them and download your brain. Remember when you first took over and how lost you may have felt? Please help them out and let them know what you know. Of course you did an afterburn but nothing substitutes as much as an in-person meeting to pass down your hard gained wisdom and answer the question that you had not considered.

With that in mind though, don’t expect your replacement to be “mini-me”. They should have their own ideas and as this is just one big experiment hopefully they will implement then and see what works and what doesn’t. Just because they don’t walk in your footprints does not mean you did not have a good trek. You did great, now go…

and become part of the problem in the next year!

Radio Guide

Your radio

The only features you should be concerned with are the two knobs on top and the display in the center of the radio.

Volume/Power Knob
You can turn this knob to turn the radio on or off and adjust the volume.
The Channel Knob
This knob probably doesn’t have numbers on it. Twist the knob until the channel you would like to be on is displayed on the screen.
The Display
The screen (if present) will tell you what channel you’re on. It will also show you your battery status. It may also display the time of day.

Radio accessories

The Battery
To take the battery off, slide down the pair of buttons on the back/sides of the radio at the same time, and pull the battery outwards. To attach a new battery, place the bottom of the battery against the bottom of the radio and push until it clicks into place.
Battery Chargers (also known as a ‘bank’ or ‘gang charger’)
Slide dead batteries into the charger correctly; the light may not turn on for a couple of seconds. A steady green light indicates a fully charged battery.
Shoulder Microphones (Speaker Mikes)
Typically clip to your shirt or anywhere else to make speaking and listening easier.
Headset Mikes
For when you really want to be able to hear what’s being broadcast over the radio (like in a sound camp), it might be more prudent to choose a headset. Downside: you look like a teeny bopper pop star.
Heavy Equipment Headset
Really big noise-canceling headset. We only have one of these and it is generally kept with the heavy equipment.

Using a radio: the basics

  1. Make sure you’re on the channel you want to speak on.
  2. Wait for the channel to be quiet; try not to interrupt a conversation unless it’s an emergency.
  3. Press the Push-To-Talk Button (either the big button on the side of the radio, the button on your shoulder mike, or the dangly button on your headset)
  4. Pause a half second (a breath), then call for the person you want to speak to twice and then state your name. For example: if Ghost was calling for Straylight, he’d say: “Straylight, Straylight, Ghost.” (Saying it twice makes sure that it gets through without getting clipped)
  5. Wait for them to respond: Straylight says: “Go for Straylight, Ghost.”
  6. Speak your message. Try to keep it short.
  7. When you’re done with your message, say:
    1. “Over”—if you’re expecting a response, eg “Where’s the bathroom, over?” or
    2. “Out”—if you don’t expect a response and want to end the conversation:“I’ve found the bathroom and going to do my business now. Out.”
  8. In case you go to another channel that isn’t your department’s standard channel, end by broadcasting that you’re returning to your normal channel. If Khaki finishes talking to Shaven Apes on 3, they would say something like: “Khaki out, going back to One,” and then they would switch back to channel one.
  9. Callsigns—A callsign is the name someone uses on a radio. It could be a position name, a nickname, a series of letters and numbers, or their real name. Position callsigns take precedence over personal callsigns. For example, if Patrick is currently on shift as Actual, call for “Actual” on the radio instead of his personal callsign of “Problem.” We try to avoid transmitting personally identifying information on the radios at Flipside, which is why we have a strong preference for callsigns. Here are some Flipside-specific callsigns and the channels you can find them on:
Callsign Channel Name Description
Actual Safety The person currently actively responsible for Flipside. Typically, the AAR member on call.
Khaki Safety The ranger shift lead and dispatch. If you don’t need a specific ranger call for Khaki.
Medic Safety The current PET on duty. If you don’t need a specific PET call for Medic.
Bossy Spice Site Ops The personal handle of the Site Ops AF. If you have a need for Site Ops, but don’t know whom to contact, ask for Clovis.
Lurko Site Ops The name of the Pre/Post Lead. If you need something setup or torn down before/after the event, contact Lurko.
Gate Safety The current gate representative.
Landman Safety The land owner of the land Flipside is being held at. Do not directly contact the land owner unless otherwise instructed by an AAR member of contacted directly by the land owner.
Digital Perimeter The Guardian (Perimeter) shift lead. If you don’t need a specific guardian call for Digital.

Radio etiquette

  • Wait for other conversations to end before calling someone, unless it’s an emergency, then use ‘break break, emergency traffic…’ and then wait to make sure the channel is clear before transmitting your message.
  • If you’re going to have a long conversation, ask the other person to join you on one of the secondary channels. Or request a face-to-face.
  • Return your radio after your shift. There are other people who need it.
  • Don’t shout into the mike; it’ll just overload it and distort it.
  • Be patient. Sometimes people won’t hear you. Sometimes the signal is poor. Sometimes the aliens are flying overhead and scrambling your message.
  • If you’ve never used a radio at Flipside before, listen to the radio traffic for a while to learn how it works; you’ll learn a lot by just listening.
  • When someone is communicating detailed information to you, repeat it back to them. This is called closed-loop communications. This way, they know you understood them, which can be a problem sometimes with fuzzy audio, loud environments, etc.
  • Don’t pick the radio up by the antenna; it will break, and you will have to pay lots of money for it.
  • Take your radio off before you go to the port-o-potty. Just trust me.
  • Primary channels are not your playground. Don’t create unnecessary traffic.
  • Do not use profanity over the radio. The FCC will fine you and me and we won’t be able to have radios anymore.
  • Always remember that anybody could be listening on any channel. With the right equipment, your transmission can be heard from miles away.
  • Don’t ever let your radio out of your sight. If you lose your radio, you will have to pay lots of money for it.

Radio lingo

As much as possible, you should use plain language on comms so that there’s less opportunity for misunderstanding (there’s plenty anyhow). But the special circumstances of radio communications do require some specialized language.

On/Off Comm
I’m on radio and listening, or I’m turning off my radio. “I’m going off comm for five minutes…I’m back on comm.”
Break Break Break
Everyone be quiet, important message coming.
AllCon or AllCom
used to address everyone listening. “AllCom, Khaki; it’s shift change”
means “I have finished what I’m saying and am ready for you to reply.”
means “I have finished what I’m saying and consider the conversation finished.” Note: You can be over, or you can be out, but you can’t be “over and out.” Only The Bandit gets to be over and out, and you aren’t Burt Reynolds.
Same as “out.”
also short for “I understand your message.” i.e.: “copy that, out.”
Stand by
“I’ll get back to you once I get that information,” or a nice way to put someone on hold if they’ve interrupted a conversation. eg “Ghost, Khaki, stand by until I’m done talking with Dirtwitch, thanks.”
Location. “What’s your 20?” short for law enforcement code “10-20.”
Code Orange Vest
A serious, multi-department incident has been declared and resources need to be scrambled to the incident. This is Flipside-specific. With any luck you won’t need to use it.

Flipside-specific radio lingo

Flipside has developed some of its own radio lingo over the years. Avoid using this lingo, particularly on safety channels. It hampers communication for people unfamiliar with the event, especially when outside agencies are involved. But you should know what it means when you do hear it:

synonymous with “copy” in typical radio usage. “Whiskey that” means that you understood the last transmission. It is often used as an affirmative answer to a yes or no question as well.
synonymous with “over” as above. So instead of “Where’s the bathroom, over?” you could ask “Where’s the bathroom, bacon?”
Chocolate Cake
synonymous with “20” in CB radio usage. This is a request for a location. Such as “Lurko, what is your chocolate cake, bacon?” would ask Lurko what his current location is. You can also ask for a location on an object such as “Anyone have a chocolate cake on that ladder, bacon?”


A channel guide and more information will be available closer to the event.


If an incident is declared, one of our unassigned channel may be put in service as the incident channel. By the same token, if you are the one declaring an incident and it looks like there will be a lot of comms traffic surrounding that incident, it’s a good idea to move the incident to its own channel.

Until that happens, the Safety Leads will need Channel One to deal with the event; minimize all traffic on other channels. Your department may assist if requested to do so by Actual (AAR member on call), Khaki, or the Incident Commander (IC); this will be handled by checking in with Khaki at HQ, not over the radio.

Medical calls

If you happen upon a medical emergency, call for the PET on duty by saying “Break break break, emergency traffic: Medic, Medic, {identify yourself}” wait for them to acknowledge you, and then list the following:

  • Age and Sex of patient
  • The injury they’ve sustained
  • Trauma can be elaborated: “twisted ankle,” “fell off of the scaffolding,” “snakebite,” “laceration,” etc.
  • The Patient’s Chief Complaint—if the patient is having chest pain or abdominal pain or nausea or a headache, you can broadcast that.
  • Avoid giving medical diagnoses over the radio. “Possible heat exhaustion” is okay to say if you suspect that’s what is going on.
  • Do not give the patient’s name.
  • The location—name the camp, street intersection, or grid coordinates.

Please stay with the patient until Rangers or PETs arrive, as you’re now the person who has been with them longest. Listen for any other radio traffic for you in case they’re having trouble finding you or have any specific questions regarding the incident.

As of 2018, there are on-call (not on-station) PETs called Field Medics who are on Channel 14. Try that too.

Absent child

This is the one exception to the “no personally identifying information on comms” rule. If you know the name of the child, give it on comms, along with the child’s description, campsite, last known location, and your current location. “Break break break. Absent child. I am looking for little Johnny Tables. Camps with Camp ABC. Last seen at Camp DEF. He is 5 years old, has brown hair and brown eyes. I am currently at Camp DEF.”

Catastrophic events

If you are working a shift and happen to have a radio and a large-scale incident happens please do not go to the incident site to ‘check it out’ unless requested—we will likely need people with radios to assist in other ways across the site, and we will not want to make the scene any more chaotic than it already is. Flipside Actual (AAR member on call) or the Incident Commander (IC) will request your department’s assistance if it is appropriate. As stated above, if this occurs, do not clog the radio with traffic, simply report to Safety HQ or whatever location is designated.


Afterburns form an important part of Flipside’s institutional memory. You may find it useful to read over the afterburns written by your predecessors (your AF should have access to them), and you can pay it forward by writing an afterburn yourself: the goal is mostly to record what worked and what didn’t, so that future volunteers don’t need to reinvent the wheel–and so you can remind yourself what you did.

Don’t overthink it. While the information is important, you don’t need to spend weeks writing a PhD thesis.

Also, due to the dictates of Flipside’s year-round schedule, your afterburn is your best opportunity to give input into the budget for the following year. If you know that an important piece of equipment will need to be replaced, if you’ve got a big idea for doing something better in your department that will need more material support, put that in there. If you know your budget was way more than your department will ever need, you can mention that too. We’re all trying to be good stewards of the community’s resources.

Leads should submit their Afterburns to their AFs unless they have some reason not to, in which case they should submit them to AAR. AFs should submit their own Afterburns to AAR.

It’s a great idea to keep a journal of what you’re doing as a lead as you do it, so that you aren’t left scratching your head after Flipside is over when you’re trying to write your Afterburn. If you routinely e-mail other people in the course of your departmental activities, you can use these e-mails both to keep your fellow volunteers up to date and as a journal for yourself, and digest those e-mails into an Afterburn after the fact.


If you have any feedback from your volunteers, we’d love to hear that too. We call these Ember Reports. Encourage your volunteers to participate by sending you an Ember Report.

Online form

There is an online form here:

If you prefer not to use that, you can write your own free-form. Following is a suggested structure for your afterburn.


  • Part 1: Introduction/about your position
    • Describe your position and how you defined it
    • What were your major goals?
  • Part 2: Summary: How did things go this year?
    • How many volunteers did you have? How many did you need?
    • What infrastructure did your department use? Did you need more/less of those resources?
    • What hours did your department operate? Should they be more or less?
    • What vendors did you use? How did they work out? Should we use them again?
  • Part 3: Things that worked well
  • Part 4: Things that didn’t work out so well
  • Part 5: Possible solutions
    • Changes you can make in your department
    • Is there anything the rest of the organization can do to better support your department?
  • Part 6: MVPs & VIPs
  • Part 7: The Future
    • Where do you see your department next year? How might it change
    • Are you interested in returning as Lead? If not, why not?
    • Anyone you see as a potential future lead? This could be in your department or another
    • Do you see any need for more infrastructure investment due to growth, loss, or damaged equipment?
    • Proposed budget for next year. The more detailed, the better
  • Part 8: Ember Reports. If you had volunteers and they provided feedback, add that here.
  • Part 9: Misc/Private
    • Miscellaneous comments. Anything that doesn’t go anywhere else goes here
    • Private comments. Anything you don’t want made public goes here.

Planning milestones for #lead

Items in {braces} are not Flipside-related, but are useful to bear in mind.


  • Winter Leads All Hands: Dec 14.


  • Land recon: Jan 5
  • Ticket-request window opens: Jan 13
  • Get art requests in to Graphic Arts lead
  • Ticket-request opening: 2nd or 3rd weekend
  • {Freezerburn: Jan 17–20}
  • Settle major changes to roads by end of January


  • Spring Town Hall: Feb 1 (first Saturday in Feb)
  • Open Theme-Camp Registration window: at Town Hall
  • Open Art Registration window: at Town Hall
  • Ticket-request window closes: Feb 3
  • Get your heavy-equipment/cart/power requests in to EVL
  • Get your Lottery-Exempt volunteers list in: first weekend
  • Ticket-request opening: Feb 22
  • Work Weekend I: Feb 13–15
  • Finish graphic-arts requests: end of month
  • T-Shirt orders due: end of February (varies by year)


  • {SXSW: mid-March}
  • Work Weekend II: Mar 13–15
  • {Unbroken Spring: Mar 19–22}
  • Safetyside: Apr 27–29


  • Close Theme-Camp & Art Registration window: Apr 1
  • {AlmaBurn: Apr 2–6}
  • Spring Leads All Hands: Apr 6
  • Radio Orders Due: 2nd weekend in April
  • Work Weekend III: Apr 17–18
  • Patch Orders due: typically mid-April
  • {Eeyore’s Birthday: Apr 25}


  • {GLC: May 6–9}
  • Get your early-entry/stay-late lists in to your AF: 4 weeks before Flipside
  • Burning Man Global Convening thingamajig: May 6–9
  • Work Weekend IV: May 8–10
  • Load-In: May 16
  • Flipside: May 21–25
  • Load-out/post-event cleanup: May 30


  • Volunteer Appreciation party: mid-June (approximate)
  • Get those Afterburns in



  • {Burning Man run-up: late August}


  • {Burning Man: Aug 31–Sep 7}
  • Fall Town Hall: Sep 26 (4th Saturday in Sept)
  • Open leads nominations: at Town Hall
  • Open sticket submissions, set dates for judging: at Town Hall.


  • {ACL Fest: first two weekends of October}
  • {Myschievia: Oct 9–12}


  • DaFT proposal deadline: Nov 30

Areas and Departments

  • Area: 360/24/7
    • CC Scribe
    • Church Night Coordinator
    • Edjumication
    • Equipment Librarian
    • WH Managers
  • Area: Art
    • Art Hype
    • Art Liaison
    • Art Logistics
    • Community Art Liaison
    • DaFT
    • Disinfo Kiosk
    • DMV
    • Graphic Arts
    • Pyrotechnics
  • Area: City Planning
    • Cartography
    • City Planning Admin
    • City Signage
    • Flagging
    • Placement
    • Theme-camp Liaison
  • Area: Communications
    • 411
    • Content
    • Media Liason
    • Sticket Contest
    • Survival Guide
    • Ticket Distribution
    • Website Admin
  • Area: Genesis
    • Greeters
    • InterZone Coordinator
    • Parking
    • Towing
  • Area: Safety
    • Echelon
    • Fire
    • Guardians
    • Meterology
    • PETs
    • Rangers
    • Sanctuary
    • Sound
  • Area: Site-Ops
    • Cartelle
    • EVL
    • Fuel
    • Ice
    • Power
    • Pre-Ops
    • Radio
    • Safety Fencing/Safety Signage
    • Safety Lighting
    • Sanitation
    • Sharpshooter/Special Ops
    • Shaven Apes
    • Transpo
  • Area: Site Prep
    • Land Search
    • Roads
    • Waiver Wrangler
    • WW Comms
    • WW Tools
  • Area: Site Sign-Off
    • Clean-up Lead
    • Earth Guardian Lead
    • Exodus
    • Post Ops
  • Area: Volunteer Coordinator
    • Volunteer Assistance Squad
    • VC Admin