I asked a couple of first time Rangers to reflect on their experience at Blazing Swan this year. These are their stories…
My Ranger Experience
I signed up for Rangering for the first time this year at my husband’s suggestion so that we could spend more time together this Blaze, since last year he was so busy that we hardly got to see each other. I’m glad I did. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but it was a fantastic experience. Meeting so many lovely people, getting the lay of the land and getting to know where all the theme camps were, helping inexperienced campers set up their camps, pointing out safety hazards like shin-height uncapped star pickets, politely asking campers to move out of the no camping zone, where a creek had formed, flooding campers in previous years…. We received a mixed response on this last one. The girls’ response was overwhelming “Thank you for telling us! We’ll move right away!” The guys’ response ranged from “Yes we’ll move now” to “Can’t we camp here at our own risk?” with varying degrees of digging their heels in. Ultimately, I think everyone accepted that we had their best interests at heart and that a knee deep creek is not your friend at Blazing Swan or anywhere else if you are camping!
Dealing with the occasional disgruntled camper didn’t detract from the very rewarding experience of connecting with and helping people. Later in the event, while out with friends, we came across a woman lying on the ground, sobbing her heart out. She seemed to be on her own but there were a couple of people trying to comfort her. She was crying that she just couldn’t take it anymore, and she seemed inconsolable. Having done the ranger training and a couple of shifts, I knew I could go to Campassion and find someone who could come with me and help her, so that’s what I did. If I hadn’t been a ranger, I probably would have stood there wishing I knew what to do. I feel that Rangering was like a whole bunch of people acting as invisible threads connecting people to each other – people who wanted or needed something, and people who knew how to find or provide that something. There was some really creative problem solving from the community at times, as well. I felt like I was helping people be interconnected at a really wonderful event. It was a good feeling, and an honour to be able to help my fellow Blazers.
(Ranger Mojo Jojo)
A Double Virgin
It was late one evening, at a dinner party that I first heard of Blazing Swan. Sitting on the front porch, a beer and wine too many, and my interest was piqued. An arts festival. Principled partying? What! No money, not even bartering. Mutant what? A few pictures of Burning Man and Blazing Swan, a video or two from youtube and I was determined to be a part of it.
The weeks turned into months and my anticipation grew. At first I hadn’t planned on volunteering, I was going to freeball – soaking it all up with no commitments.
With two months to go, my sister had bought a ticket, she had decided to make a contribution as a nurse for a few shifts. Got me to thinking, what could I do? I saw the link to the ‘Jilikan Rock Rangers’ a few times on my facebook feed. So I decided to volunteer some time across the seven days as a Ranger.
I expressed my interest and signed up for two shifts. Easy as that! The Ranger Reflux newsletter began to appear in my g-mail. I saw the awesome shirts that the Rangers would be wearing and was told that if I did an extra shift I could keep one. I couldn’t sign up quick enough. 18 hours out of 144 – the least I could do.
The day finally arrived. I joined with seven other virgin Rangers and soon found out I was the only double virgin. First time Ranger AND first Blaze. Training was informative and useful. Pommie and Koi were great. The 3 hours flew. The manual, which I had received well before the event, was comprehensive and well written. The scenarios and activities in the training were thoughtfully designed and all our questions were answered. Lots of practice on the UHF/CB radios and my confidence grew.
I had chosen my shifts strategically so as not to impinge too much on my other plans. I had selected a morning shift, an afternoon shift and an evening (swing) shift. I thought I looked great in my new boots, mid-calf socks, denim shorts and awesome ranger shirt. Those goddam new boots were going to make me pay.
What I didn’t expect when I first met my Ranger partner (rangers always travel in pairs) was that we would become good friends. You really do get to know someone as you walk, talk, and watch them interact with others in all kinds of different situations. Such great people!
As a Ranger you are the eyes and ears for the emergency and other services, it is these support services that really are the arms and legs of support at the Blaze. People stop to ask you for directions, a lighter, to air a grievance. “Can you escort me to the first aide post as my daughter has tripped and cut her lip”. “Can you help me out? The people next to us in general camping are making a huge racquet and it’s 3 am in the morning, I really, really just need a few hours sleep”.
Rangering didn’t feel too much like work. I certainly got to see so much of the Blaze. The little tucked away theme camps, art installations, and people that I would never have seen otherwise.
“Ranger Team One, Ranger Team One: Black Swan.”
“Go for Ranger Team One Black Swan.”
“What’s your current location?”
“We’re walking toward Infinite Loop, just passing Serene Green.”
“Roger that…I hear they are serving great burritos next door to Outrigger Island.”
“Copy that Black Swan and thanks for the tip.”
One word of caution – choose your footwear wisely. It is now a month since the Blaze and I can still feel the new smooth skin from the well-earned blisters on my feet.
Stuart McKenzie – out
Ranger Psycho Stew
Volunteer as a Ranger
If you’d like to volunteer as a Jilakin Rock Ranger for Blazing Swan next year, registration will open soon. In the mean time, checkout our Ranger Pages below.Register