About Atom Cult


Atom Cult Camp builds on this year's theme: Cargo Cult. The Nuclear Power Cargo Cult. Our lives, our modern existence are solely dependent on the energy resources. Hence our perpetual quest for the new efficient forms of energy. There are a lot of energy-related doomsday scenarios out there: peak oil, global warming from fossil fuels, nuclear catastrophes, etc. Some are supported by science, others are rooted in the opposite: our lack of knowledge. Awe and fear are the basis of the original Cargo Cults, and we still see it in the Nuclear Age.


Enter the Atom Cult - the most radiant camp at BM. The camp's centerpiece - the Cooling Tower - is an ordinary part of any nuclear power plant. Only this time, it's made out of bamboo, symbolizing the humankind's primitive yet cultish attitude towards this form of energy. With its 24' height and crowned by a combination observation deck/trampoline (safety net included), the tower will surely become a local landmark. People can climb up to the deck with the help of several jute rope tunnels hanging on the outside of the tower. More fun awaits inside the tower: another trampoline on the ground level, where visitors can exercise or just relax in the tower's shade and a slackline just a few feet above. Tours of the tower will be open from noon to midnight daily.

Next to the tower is a "reactor" in the shape of a classic dome. A chill-out place, unlike the innards of a real nuclear reactor, it will also serve as a scene for our DJ/live music entertainment and include sunscreen and fluorescent make-up giveaway stand. Off to the side, evaporation pool doubles as the plant's cooling pond, decorated with UV lights and tinted with fluorescent paint. Add fake barb wire all around the camp, Geiger counter background soundtrack, cheerful hosts in gas masks, and you have a geek paradise in the desert.

And no paradise is complete without the ice cream! When things get hot (more precisely 1-3pm playa time daily) we are giving away the FISSION ICE CREAM. The show includes liquid nitrogen dewar/dry ice meat grinder and lots of fizz.

For a midnight snack and to complement night time tower vistas, we also serve Glow in the Dark Jello (upgraded to shots for the adults).

At first sight, burners are the perfect crowd for a cargo cult: semi-naked folks living in primitive conditions. First sight is deceiving of course and the level of spiritual energy generated at Burning Man is not found anywhere else on the planet. We only hope that our modest camp with its cargo nuclear power can give a boost to that real and precious resource.


As the Burning Man event and culture grows, we are all challenged by demonstrating our values to the newest members of our community. How does our camp meet this challenge?

Atom Cult Camp is firmly built on Ten Principles of Burning Man and will wow the newcomers with our Cargo Nuclear Power Plant concept and fluorescent art.

We will nourish them with our day and night food gifts: super cool ice cream and glow in the dark jello.

And in the spirit of radical inclusion everyone will be taken on a journey of self discovery, starting from a completely safe ground level trampoline contained within a bamboo cage/tower, through a rope tunnel on the outside of the structure, to fascinating views of the Playa from our unique combination trampoline/observation deck at 20' above the ground. As in life, the higher you jump, the bigger are the views and in this case safety net is included.

Our Reactor Lounge will provide shade and relaxing music for those overwhelmed by the immediacy of this experience, and even our evaporation pond with its tracer dye UV highlights will educate uninitiated on Burning Man Leave No Trace ethos.

We are confident that the newest members of our community will come away with a deeper understanding of the ideal of personal participation, through the experience of first seeing the tower from a distance, eventually making their way through our “obstacle course”, and in the end being rewarded with waiting refreshments.

And “everyone likes ice cream no matter who they are”.


  • Our floor plan calls for 100ft x 100ft lot facing East (can scale down to 100ft x 60ft if need be).
  • 20 camp mates cover 10 half-day hosting shifts with opportunities to lead ice cream and jello tasting, live music and DJ performances, and fluorescent make-up sessions (and search and rescue missions around the tower as needed).
  • 6 early arrival passes are needed for 3 of our subteams: two each from SF (tower), LA (dome), and San Diego (costumes/kitchen).
  • We plan 2 day construction schedule starting Saturday morning:
    • shades and hexayurts [nap], unloading, ground level dome and tower setup and staging
    • raising of the tower and dome, electricity and water hookup, lights and barbwire/signage