The Virgin Burners Guide to the First Day at Burning Man

Oh man! You finally made it to Burning Man for the first time. You somehow made it through the line and found your campsite. Now what? This is one of those things that one might not really know how to deal with. Maybe this will help some people out.

Drink Water and get ready
Hopefully you've brought all of the junk in the survival guide, and more. Hopefully you've packed some important things where you could get them easily without needing to spend an hour unloading. Some things that you probably should do right when you catch your breath and start to realize what the hell you've got yourself in to.
  • Drink water.  If you didn't start already, begin now. Whether you've arrived at night time or day time you're gonna need that in you. Odds are you just spent way too many hours in line and are about to start being real busy setting up camp or exploring, get that water in you.
  • Find that dust mask, those goggles, and a bunch of headlamps and lights. Whether you've arrived at night time or daytime, these things are important and you won't want to lose them as you're setting up camp. Keep them safe because bad weather can come at any time and you're going to want to be protected.
  • Eat something. Unless you brought some snacks with you for the car odds are you've probably not eaten since Reno and you probably should get something in you. Granola bars, dried cereal, something, eat that stuff!
  • Shelter. You need a place to be protected from the cold ass nights and hopefully you've got the luxury of having something to protect you from the boiling sun. If you've arrived at night, it is probably best to set those tents up now and try and get some rest, try to resist exploring all night, you may just get lost and end up at camp at 8am as the sun is about to boil you to death. If you arrived during the day, make friends with a neighbor who has already set up, wait out the heat and set up camp as it starts to cool off. Odds are you aren't very well acclimated to the conditions yet, take it easy.

Go explore.. but..
OK! so you drank water, and you've got an ample supply on your person. You ate some food, and probably have a snack on your person. Your tent, or RV  is set up and ready to go. You have your goggles, a dust mask, ample light, and some other supplies with you. Now you can go explore the city! Or not. If it is night time the city can be very disorienting, even for long time vets. So do this stuff:
  • Get your bearings. Look around the area around your camp, find landmarks. Things will change dramatically as the sun comes up and as the city fills in. Know where you are. You don't want to get lost. This place is HUGE. Whether it be daytime or night time pay attention to where you are the first time you leave camp, take note of the street signs, remember as much as you can, being lost sucks and it happens to the best of them.
  • Keep hydrated. Seriously. Even at night. You don't want to get behind on your water on the first day. 
  • Have fun! Don't stay out too late!  If its night time, pace yourself, it is a long week, heading to bed early can be a good idea. You'll want a good rest before the sun starts baking your tent or RV. Odds are you'll have more camp set up to do the 2nd day, you'll need the rest. Plus there is more stuff to explore!
  • Take it easy on the booze and other stuff. Fewer things suck more than waking up the second day at burning man with a hangover, with a half-built camp, a barely set up kitchen and knowing you need to wait in line to get ice so your food doesn't spoil.
  • Speaking of food, you didn't forget to eat, did you? Yeah, don't forget that.

Be careful!
Seriously people. While there is ample on-site medical care, be freakin' careful. Wear gloves when you're doing carpentry and pounding in stakes with a mini-sledge hammer. Take it easy. Be aware of your body. You do NOT want to get hurt at burning man. While there's tons of crap to climb and things to see and do, you won't be enjoying much of it with an injury. Take it slow, don't be like Dorothy in the Wizard of oz, skipping around down the yellow brick road. You can trip on stuff in camp, step on sharp things and generally end up having a bad week pretty easily. Be careful. Rest if you need it. Drink if you're not drinking water. Eat if you haven't eaten lately. Take care of yourself.