Leads Handbook

The Flipside Organization

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

If you picture a tree, the board of directors is at the base of the tree. This is what we are talking about when we say “the LLC” or “AAR,” although starting in 2023, it would be more correct to refer to the new nonprofit entity, Catalyst Collective (CatCol). In any case, this is 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 the board, and as a communications channel between the board 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 further branches out 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 will be 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 the board 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 the board 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.

The buck stops with you as far as your department is concerned. You are responsible for recruiting volunteers in your department, or declining to have people volunteer. You are responsible for submitting reimbursement requests for money spent by your department. And so on.

We encourage every lead to find a lieutenant, but we don’t do co-leads at Flipside: with co-leads, it’s never clear where the buck stops. If there’s some aspect of a lead’s responsibilities that you know will be a weak spot for you, find a lieutenant who has a complementary strength.

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 on 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/s.

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! Flipside will take as much as you give, so you need to set boundaries for yourself.

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 the board) 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. There are no doubt some milestones that will be unique to your department not in that list. Work out in advance when you need to do what, communicate that to volunteers, and allow for delays.

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.
  • If you are involved in an independent project that is critical of the organization or is prone to be confused with it, talk to CatCol first.

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 person who can explain 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 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.

If you ever need to explicitly disinvite 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 CatCol beforehand. If the reason you are disinviting that person is especially serious, you might want to discuss your concerns about that person with CatCol.

Communications resources

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.

We have a web contact form for contacting the organization, which creates a trouble ticket on the website http://burningflipside.freshdesk.com. This will forward the message to everyone in an area. You can respond to new messages via e-mail, or log in to Freshdesk and respond through the web (you can also see if any questions have gone unanswered). You should be able to log in with your @burningflipside.com address, although you will need to request a password reset the first time you use it.

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 recycle 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 another way of commoditizing our relationship. 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 board members along with their family members, are exempt from any 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 the board. 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. And lotteries suck.

As you probably know, the mail-in window tickets is always in 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 have 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 board members are entitled to be on these lists. Other volunteers can be added by leads as needed, subject to reality-checking by they AFs.

About a month before Flipside, your AF will ask you for information needed to put together the early-entry & stay-late lists. You’ll need to give info on yourself, your SO (if you have one), and any volunteers in your department who need to be there early/late. The stay-late crew is ordinarily much smaller than the early-entry crew.

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. If you don’t receive a “welcome to early entry” message, that means you’re not on the list.

Organizational and 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, the tag is removed; anything that keeps its tag throughout the event can be discarded. 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.

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!

Last day of Flipside

Get your HQ broken down. Many 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.

We leave most of our equipment behind when Flipside ends to collect it on load-out day. This usually the following Saturday, but 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.

This is important–if you used any water coolers or ice chests, empty them, leave them open, and flip them over so they don’t turn into science experiments in the intervening time. Make sure that anything you’re leaving behind is secure against wind and rain.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Post-event inventory

Once you’ve recovered from Flipside, 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 the new Lead, the Equipment Librarian, the appropriate AF(s), and the board so we all know what resources we have for community use and what we’ll need to replace next year.

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.

Cart Pick Up Points (PUPs)

Starting in 2023, in an effort to be more accessible to differently-abled folks, some Disinformation Kiosks are becoming designated Pick Up Points.
As you’re driving your cart around the city, keep an eye open for people at the PUPs and offer rides if you’re not on the way to something urgent. PUPs will be clearly marked, and will likely have some seating/shade for participants. You can drop folks off as close to their destination as is practical for you (you don’t have to be a taxi, though). The designated Pick Up Points are located throughout the city of Pyropolis and can be found on the map.

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. CatCol-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.

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 CatCol 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 break down your department’s HQ (if it has one). See “Last day of Flipside” above.

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 (CatCol, 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.”


Load-out is when we move stuff back to the Warehouse. See “Load-out” above.

Warehouse clean-up and storage

See “Post-event inventory” above.

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 board members, 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 May Burning Flipside. 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 board 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 board 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 (board 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 (board 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.


As an incoming lead, you may find it useful to read over the afterburns written by your predecessors. Your AF should have access to them.

An Afterburn is how you document what worked and what didn’t in your corner of Flipside. Afterburns are an important part of our institutional memory, so that future volunteers don’t need to reinvent the wheel–and so you can remind yourself what you did.

Afterburns are critical to the future of the organization. Many decisions are based on the information contained and if you skip yours, your successor will be making decisions blind. Also, don’t overthink it. While the information is important, you don’t need to spend weeks making a PhD thesis. Getting it done is what’s important.

Leads should submit their Afterburns to their AFs unless they have a reason not to, in which case they should submit it to the board. AFs should submit their Afterburns to the board.

It’s a great idea to keep a journal of what you’re doing as a lead when 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 are routinely e-mailing 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 it as well! We call these addenda ‘Ember’ reports. Encourage your volunteers to participate by writing an Ember.

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: Facts & figures
    • 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: The good and the bad
    • What worked well?
    • What worked poorly?
    • Possible solutions
    • What can the organization do to support your department
    • MVPs & VIPs
  • Part 4: 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
    • Proposed budget for next year. The more detailed, the better
  • Part 5: Misc
    • Ember reports. If you had volunteers and they provided feedback, add that here.
    • 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 Leads

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


  • Winter Leads All Hands: Dec 8.


  • Get in changes to theme-camp/art reg form
  • Ticket-request window: Pending (should be 3 weeks in mid-January)
  • Land recon: Jan 5
  • Get art requests in to Graphic Arts lead.
  • Ticket-request opening: 2nd or 3rd weekend
  • {Freezerburn: Jan 13–16}
  • Settle major changes to roads by end of January


  • Spring Town Hall: Feb 4
  • Open Theme-Camp Registration window: at Town Hall
  • Open Art Registration window: at Town Hall
  • Get your Lottery-Exempt volunteers list in: first weekend
  • Ticket-request opening: Feb 18
  • Work Weekend I: Feb 24–26
  • Finish graphic-arts requests: end of month
  • T-Shirt orders due: end of February (varies by year)


  • {SXSW: mid-March}
  • {Unbroken Spring: Mar 16–19}
  • Work Weekend II: Mar 24–26


  • Close Theme-Camp & Art Registration window: Apr 1
  • AlmaBurn: Mar 30–Apr 3
  • Spring Leads All Hands: Apr 8
  • Radio Orders Due: 2nd weekend in April
  • Safetyside: Apr 14–16
  • Work Weekend III: Apr 21–23
  • Patch Orders due: typically mid-April
  • {Eeyore’s Birthday: Apr 29}


  • Get your early-entry/stay-late lists in to your AF: 4 weeks before Flipside
  • Work Weekend IV: May 12–14
  • Load-In: May 20
  • Flipside: May 25–29


  • Load-out/post-event cleanup: Jun 3
  • Volunteer Appreciation party: Jun 17 (tentative)
  • Get those Afterburns in



  • {Burning Man run-up: late August}


  • {Burning Man: Aug 27–Sep 4}
  • Fall Town Hall: Sep 23
  • 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 5–9}
  • Close leads nominations: 3rd Friday
  • Allow AFs a weekend to check in with nominees to let them back out.
  • Open feedback on leads noms following Monday
  • City Planning/Art reviews theme-camp/art/DMV/disinfo registration form


  • DaFT proposal deadline

Areas and Departments

  • Area: 360/24/7
    • CC Scribe (historical?)
    • Church Night Coordinator
    • Edjumication
    • Equipment Librarian
    • Off-Season Events (historical?)
    • Regional Outreach (historical?)
    • WH Managers
  • Area: Art
    • Art Hype
    • Art Liaison
    • Art Logistics
    • Community Liaison
    • DaFT
    • Disinfo Kiosk
    • DMV
    • Graphic Arts
    • Pyrotechnics
  • Area: City Planning
    • Cartography
    • City Planning Admin
    • City Signage
    • Flagging
    • Placement
    • Theme-camp Liaison
  • Area: Communications
    • Content
    • Media Liaison
    • Sticket Contest
    • Survival Guide
    • Ticket Distribution
    • Website Admin
  • Area: Genesis
    • Greeters
    • InterZone Coordinator
    • Parking
    • Towing
  • Area: Safety
    • Echelon
    • Fire
    • Guardians
    • Meteorology
    • 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, aka Bum Squad
    • VC Admin