Becoming a Ranger

“…I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.” – J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

The Black Rock Rangers are a volunteer organization dedicated to the safety of the citizens of Black Rock City and its environs. The Black Rock Rangers are a cross-section of the Burning Man community, who volunteer some of their time in the role of non-confrontational community mediators. Responding to the ever-changing environment, Rangers address situations within their community that might otherwise require outside intervention. By encouraging and facilitating communication, Rangers promote awareness of potential hazards, from sunstroke to tent fires. Through their radios and shift briefings, Rangers carry the latest information to the citizens of Black Rock City.

Requirements and Qualifications

Rangering is probably not what you think. It’s about contributing to a sense of community and well-being. We have fun meeting people while we roam Black Rock City and we feel a sense of fulfillment from knowing we played a part in helping others enjoy Burning Man safely.

Some qualifications we look for in potential Rangers are:

  • A great sense of humor
  • Patience, patience, and more patience
  • Authentic
  • Generous, and compassionate
  • An easy-going, positive attitude
  • Creative problem-solving abilities
  • Serve as a role model
  • Embrace (radical) self-reliance
  • A good listener
  • Self-confident
  • Situationally aware
  • Comfortable communicating over the radio
  • At least two years of attendance at the Burning Man event
  • At least one year of attendance at event within past ten years
  • An ability to look great in a Ranger hat

The Process

  1. Fill out a Volunteer Application
    Once your application has been accepted, you will receive notices of future ranger events, and your email address will be added to the New-Rangers-Announce lists. If you plan on becoming a Black Rock Ranger, you must have a volunteer application submitted prior to August 1.  (Sorry, but we simply cannot accommodate new applications after August 1.)
  2. Attend a Ranger Training
    You will receive lots of information about who Rangers are, what role they play in the Burning Man community, and how to best serve the community’s needs. You’ll have an opportunity to refine conflict mediation skills and become updated on information specific and relevant to the particular year.
  3. Complete the New-Ranger-Volunteer Processing Steps
    Before you can sign up for your on-playa Alpha-Mentoring shift you must:

a) Submit a volunteer application; (deadline is August 1)
b) Have an approved Black Rock Ranger handle (assigned by the Ranger VCs with your input);
c) Successfully complete a full day of Ranger training;
d) Have a photo taken for your laminate (photos are taken at the training); and
e) Confirm with the Ranger VCs and/or your Trainer that you do indeed intend to pursue becoming a Black Rock Ranger and be mentored on-playa.

Once we confirm all the process stuff is complete, you are considered an ‘Alpha’ and are able to sign up for your on-playa Alpha shift in the Ranger scheduler – after July 15.

  1. Alpha-Mentoring
    Alphas go through a mentoring process on-playa.  Alpha-mentoring shifts start promptly at the designated time – you should arrive 30 minutes early to sign in (at Ranger HQ located on the Esplanade near Center Camp). Do not attempt to do your Alpha shift immediately after arriving on the playa. Do come to your Alpha shift fully prepared for a dirt shift, well rested after your long journey to the playa, and bring a lunch and everything you need for a long shift under varying weather conditions as an Alpha-Ranger walking the city under your own power. Sign in at the Alpha check-in table in front of Ranger HQ and hang out until you are called by the Mentors. On-playa Alpha shifts take about 10 hours and are conducted Saturday pre-event through Wednesday of the event. There are no walk-ins for Alpha shifts – you must be pre-registered in the Ranger Secret Clubhouse (our on-line scheduling system).
  2. Alpha Shift Outcomes
    Not every Alpha that goes through alpha-mentoring is a good fit for the Rangers, and likewise, Rangering may not necessarily be a good fit for you.  Regardless of the outcome of your Alpha shift, we really appreciate the time and effort you put into giving Rangering a try.  If you do not continue as a Ranger, go forth and enjoy the Burn with all the great Rangering skills and knowledge you have just gained.
  3. Sign up for Ranger Shifts
    If you pass you will be able to sign up for your Ranger shifts on-playa at Ranger HQ after you have been invited into the Rangers by your Mentors. You are also welcome to attend the Rebar Ceremony (1:30 PM Sunday – day of the Temple Burn, at HQ) in which new Rangers are welcomed into the Ranger community.

If you have any questions about becoming a Black Rock Ranger, please contact