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Woodstock's Tips for Successful Sunscreening (updated 3/2/2017)


For the Camp SPF burgins who are new to the Sunscreen Station (and returning veterans as well!), here is some info about our Sunscreen Station and a few tips I've learned over the years about helping people apply sunscreen.

Our camp's contribution to Black Rock City is to offer healthy sunscreen to all citizens who stop by our sun screen station. BRC is located on a dry lake in the Nevada desert at an elevation of about 4,000 feet and that combination can literally fry unwary and unprepared citizens. We use SPF 30 Rocky Mountain Sunscreen for Children, which is rated as one of the most healthful sunscreens on the market. Some people are interested in what we're smearing on their bodies, so a list of ingredients in Rock Mountain Sunscreen can be found on the main menu of this website and a copy is usually posted at the Sunscreen Station.

The Sunscreen Station is a separate shade structure from our main camp and is usually open between 10 am and 4 pm (Mon-Sat) during the peak sunshine hours. CampSPF takes responsibility for the area of the sunscreen station and keeps it MOOP free. We also try to keep bicycles clear of the road, which makes everyone happier. Our sunscreen efforts have been recognized by BMORG in the past as helping to reduce the number of heat-related injuries during the week.

People appreciate our service and enjoy the conversation and break from the sun.  For sunscreening, personal boundaries are probably the most important item to remain sensitive about while you're working at the station. Everyone has boundaries of some sort -- although as one customer pointed out to me, all her boundaries were internal :roll:   Some customers are obviously there to participate and have fun, but some are more reserved and just need a quick bit of sunscreen while they're out and about in the city.


Customer Boundaries

Here are some techniques and courtesies I've seen the more experienced sunscreen workers observe with customers: 

-- Ask the person if they need your help before touching them (or just ask what their boundaries are!)

-- Ask before moving or removing any article of clothing (straps, belts, scarves, etc)

-- If a customer requests a lot of help with suncreen application, provide a professional service (or decline if you're not comfortable with that level of contact)

-- Advise customers of 'hot spots' and areas that are getting sunburned or just need more care.  Some burners are not used to the intensity of the sunshine.

-- Be alert for signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion and advise the person to go see the medical folks at ESD if you see the symptoms.  If the person is unresponsive or appears disconnected, advise their companions of your concerns.

-- If customers ask you to sunscreen their face (and many do!), try to clean your hands first and make sure you use fresh sunscreen.

-- Try to keep your hands as clean as possible. The combination of playa dust and sunscreen can get ugly. I usually have clean washcloths and hand sanitizer if you need them.

-- The Burning Man principle of Radical Inclusion applies to our Sunscreen Station. Everyone should get our help and have a great sunscreen experience.

-- Some customers like a firm, massage-like application technique. Some like very gentle application. Be aware of verbal and body feedback and adjust accordingly.

-- Last, but not least, try to get people to use the bike stands and ask them to keep the road clear


What about your boundaries?

We have our own boundaries as well! Some CampSPF members are more reluctant than others to make physical contact with strangers. Some people are not comfortable making physical contact with same/opposite/declared/temporary genders or people who much too obviously enjoy the lack of showers. No problem. Do what you're comfortable doing and no more. If you just don't like touching people, simply offer the sunscreen without assisting or participate by helping keep the station MOOP free and supporting your fellow sunscreeners. Personally, if I get into a situation where my boundaries are being pushed, I find that if I hold out the sunscreen container to them, people just stick out their hands and that takes care of that!

Whatever boundaries you have, working at the Sunscreen Station can be a lot of fun and can be a great way to meet people. I've gotten invited to parties, dinners, and social engagements :oops:  Most of all, have fun and know that you're helping people stay healthy!