11 Points of Rangering

In an effort to support regional Burning Man communities and events that are either “sanctioned”, wanting to become sanctioned or are in the process of growth utilizing a large portion of the Burning Man ideals, the Black Rock Rangers have created materials that can be distributed and used by the community to begin, cultivate and nurture their own Regional Rangering Organization.

These materials include a “Regional Ranger Organization Operations Guide” and a Training Guide. The Operations guide is a collection of lessons learned about staffing levels, equipment lists, and general information on a Ranger organization. The Training Guide is a comprehensive list of skills and information that is based on the Black Rock Ranger Training Guide.

Agreeing to follow these 11 points of Rangering is the only requirement to receive the Black Rock Ranger’s Regional Ranger Operations and Regional RangerTraining Guides. The information will be given to the individuals in the community who are offering to begin and or lead a Regional Rangering Organization (RRO) in their burn community.

If you are interested in access to these materials, please send an email to rangers-regionals@burningman.com and you will be put in touch with someone who can guide you toward the documents and answer any questions you may have.

Who are the Rangers?
1. Rangers are participants in their regional community, and in some cases more than one community.

How does one become a Ranger?
2. Rangers attend a training, wear a visual RANGER designation and while volunteering agree that “It is not about the Ranger, it’s about the participant.”

What is the focus of any Ranger Organization?
3. Rangers are primarily concerned with life safety issues, maintaining the community’s standards, and resolving conflicts.

With whom do Rangers interact?
4. Rangers spend most of their time interacting with participants, but also act as a liaison between the community, event organizers and external agencies.
What is the Ranger’s first response to a non-emergency situation?
5. The default action of a Ranger is to do nothing.

What is a primary Ranger skill?
6. One of the Ranger’s greatest skills is being a generous listener.
What is a positive outcome of a Ranger interaction?
7. Rangers help participants solve their own problems using non-confrontational mediation.

How do Rangers uniformly deal with situations throughout “Burn” communities?
8. Rangers F.L.A.M.E. situations: Find Out, Listen, Analyze, Mediate (or move along), and Explain.

What do Rangers not do?
9. Rangers are neither cops, enforcers, nor security guards, they are participants who have agreed to help as participants in the community.

What do Rangers do?
10. Rangers rise out of the dust/forest/shadows/crowd when needed and recede when things can be left to ride the edge of chaos on their own.

What is the Spirit of Rangering?
11. Rangers ride the edge of chaos.


This more in depth explanation of these points should come with the RRO information kit.

1. Rangers are participants first.

Rangers should be members of the community they are Rangering. They don’t carry any special authority that other participants lack, but through their training and with the support of the event, they do have useful skills to deal with certain situations and easier access to more resources (such as other Rangers, medics, etc.) than most participants do.

Rangers who visit from other communities are often accepted as valuable members of the global “burn” community and Ranger at many different events. The idea of this point is: A Ranger must first feel that they ARE a member of a burn community. Being a Ranger should not be someones only means of participating in the community.

Rangers are not members of the community because of being Rangers: they are Rangers because they are participants who want to help sustain the community.

2. How to become a Ranger?

Attend a training, wear a shirt, don’t blow the social capital of the Rangers.

3. Life safety, community standards and resolving conflicts

Rangers look after people, not property. They help other uphold community standards by reminding the community of what they are and helping others keep to those standards.  ”Community standards” refers to the ethics and behavioral guidelines that the event community shares through consensus, not those of individual Rangers.

4. Liaison or Buffer

Rangers are a valuable liason or buffer between several groups. It is suggested that not every member of an organizing group train as and/or self-identify as a Ranger, as this can lead to trying to do too many things at once.

Rangers should not only be able to represent the event organizers to the community at large, but also the viewpoints expressed to them by the community to the event leadership. A Ranger organization can also serve as a buffer between the event organizers and outside agencies, such as law enforcement, as Rangers often need to build relationships with these agencies in order to call upon them for assistance when necessary.

5. A Ranger’s default first action is to “do nothing”

Rangers no not run into situations without first FLAMEing it. Rangers should not be eager to act; or the contrary, many situations that may look like they need action will resolve themselves without Ranger involvement. Rangers do not step in and solve problems for others; the better serve the community by helping others solve their own problems.

6. Rangers listen

Listening to people is how a Ranger earns the right to be heard. Often conflicts rise out of mis-communication, which leads to anger, (and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering) which in turn makes people not listen to each other. A Ranger walking into a situation and simply listening is often all that is needed. Many participants simply need to feel heard (it often helps to be seen writing things down) in order to move on to the next steps towards resolving their concerns on their own.

7. Help people solve their own problems.

Rangers don’t have all the answers. The people involved in a situation are most likely the people who will be able to figure out a way for things to get better. Sometime the presence of a third party helps people who are otherwise too emotionally invested in the outcome to take to each other. Rangers are happy to encourage communication.

8. F.L.A.M.E.

These steps (Find Out, Listen, Analyze, Mediate/Move Along), and Explain) are a useful guideline for Rangers to follow when trying to address a situation. Rangers figure out what’s going on through direct observation and listening to what people have to say. They consider options, encourage those with conflicting viewpoints to talk to each other with respect and civility, and explain what they’d heard and seen in order to both make sure they are hearing what they are being told and to help others hear what they are being told. This process is fluid, and relies on good judgement.

9. Rangers are neither police nor security.

Rangers should never be thought of as the people to guard doorways and entrances. Rangers as a rule do not guard property and should not be involved with commercial disputes. If your event needs a security guard, paid security is usually more appropriate than Rangers. Security guards have different training (eg. arrest) and priorities (not necessarily part of the community) than Rangers. As a result, Rangers carry a different level of trust from the community than security guards typically do.

10. Rangers rise out of the dust when neeeded

Rangers do not necessarily need to “patrol” events. They need to keep themselves attuned to the event and aware of things that might or might not go wrong. Being where the “big thing is happening” is often a good choice for a Ranger. Another choice is being exactly where things are the quietest. Rangers on duty are a part of the community and as such should act like members of the community and participate. By wearing something with “Ranger” on it and the community knowing that signifies a willingness to help is the basic Ranger “Status”. When something happens that needs a Ranger’s attention, the Ranger rises out of the dust/forest/field and helps. When things are changed for the better (hopefully) the Ranger can ease back into being a participant.

11. Riding the Edge of Chaos

“What exactly do we mean by saying this?” It’s something the Rangers throw out there all the time, but what does it mean, really? From the review of The Edge of Chaos on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Chaos-Pamela-McCorduck/dp/0865345783):

“This edge of chaos, a scientific term for that slender territory between frozen predictability and hopeless disorder, is a dangerously unstable place. Learning and change can only happen there, but always under threat of sliding back to frozen order—or over into the chaotic abyss.”

If your Regional Ranger Organization (RRO) agrees that these points are in line with the way you want to have your Rangers work, please fill out the contact form to let us know of your interest.

Thanks – Black Rock Rangers Regional Support Team