First organized in 2002, No Border Camps have since become an almost yearly tradition. These No Border Camps bring activists from the European No Border network together to protest the inhuman European migration policies and to discuss the tactics and strategy of their actions against it.
Organizing an international No Border Camp is a major task requiring concerted action and effort from a substantial group of dedicated activists. This how-to guide is meant to offer some help with this task by suggesting how it can be decomposed into subtasks, based on the experience of a few activists who have organized several No Border Camps. In no way is it meant to be prescriptive. A group of activists who come together to organize a next No Border Camp should autonomously decide on the nature and purposes of this Camp, which may need flexible adaptations depending on the local circumstances. This guide can serve the various teams and crews as a discussion framework that can form a starting point for collective decisions regarding the how and what of their tasks, so that everyone is on the same page.
Table of contents
1.1 The No Border movement
1.2 No Border Camps
2 Planning a No Border Camp
2.1 Why and how
2.2 When and where
2.2.1 Selecting a period
2.2.2 Estimating the attendance
2.2.3 Selecting a camp site
2.3 Teams and crews
2.4 Internal communication
2.5 Planning subtasks
2.5.1 Staffing the teams and crews
2.5.2 Site selection
2.5.3 Alternative lodging
2.5.4 Camp layout design
188.8.131.52 Streets and plazas
184.108.40.206 Large tents
220.127.116.11 Participant tents
18.104.22.168 Sanitary facilities
22.214.171.124 Kitchen and bar
2.5.5 Chill-out tent
2.6.2 Cultural program
2.7 Financial matters
2.8 Legal matters
2.10 Website & social media
2.11 Information for participants
3.1 Tools and general materials
3.2 Large tents
3.12 Notice boards
3.13 Sanitary facilities
3.16 Cleaning materials
3.17 Hygienic and camping supplies
3.18 First-aid supplies
3.19 Fire fighting
3.20 Transport of material
4 Setting-up the camp
4.1 Pre-preparation: staking out the layout
4.2 Large tents
4.3 Electricity and lighting
4.6 Kitchen and bar
4.9 Signposts and other signs
4.10 Notice boards
4.11 Sanitary facilities
4.14 Cleaning materials
4.15 Fire extinguishers
4.16 Transport of material
5 During the Camp
5.1.1 Welcoming crew
5.1.2 Security crew
5.1.3 Infrastructure crew
5.1.4 Kitchen crew
5.1.5 Bar crew
5.1.6 Cleaning crew
5.1.7 Crisis crew
5.1.8 Program crew
5.1.9 Interpreting crew
5.1.10 Media crew
5.1.11 Medical-assistance crew
5.1.12 Legal crew
5.1.13 Dismantling crew
5.1.14 Information Stand
5.2.1 General Assembly meetings
5.2.3 Cultural program
6.1 Example budget
6.2 Examples of camp layouts
6.3 Example daily schedule
1.1 The No Border movement [Introduction]
The European No Border network is a loose coalition of autonomous groups and individuals protesting the European migration policies, which lead to much suffering and needless deaths among migrants. Freedom of movement is an elementary human right and the central demand of the No Border activists.
The blind and relentless exploitation of human and natural resources by the capitalist system is the primary cause of many crises and conflicts that lead to forced migration. The logic of capitalism requires open borders for capital, but closed borders for labour. Fighting for freedom of movement for people also means fighting against the capitalist system and its perverse logic.
1.2 No Border Camps [Introduction]
A No Border Camp is just as successful as its participants make it be. Organizing a No Border Camp mainly means creating the framework and opportunity for the participants to meet, discuss and plan; the content of the Camp is largely contributed by the participants. There is usually also a cultural program. Since a Camp lasts only a few days, there is typically not enough time to host all potential contributions, so some coordination may be needed.
A No Border Camp is literally a camp, held on a camp site on which the participants put up their own tents. Large centrally located tents are used for meetings (workshops and the General Assembly meetings) as well as several special functions.
We want a No Border Camp to be accessible and enjoyable for everyone who wishes to participate. Lack of money should never form a barrier to participation. Even though the Camp may ask participants for contributions to defray the organizational costs, these contributions will be voluntary donations, and not entrance fees as with commercial festivals. Care must also be taken to make a Camp as accessible as possible to differently-abled participants. And a Camp is ideally multilingual, made possible by interpreters for many languages – although the extent will depend on the presence of volunteers who are proficient in the languages involved.
2 Planning a No Border Camp
2.1 Why and how [Planning]
Decide in advance what the goal and nature of the Camp will be. What mix of aims do you want to achieve? Is it primarily an action camp, or is the emphasis more on exchanging information and networking? Do you seek to support a specific ongoing or new campaign? Do you aim to connect to and with people on the move (refugees/migrants), or even want the camp to be run by or together with groups of people on the move, which means they should be involved from the very beginning?
How large do you want the Camp to be? Is it meant to be international? Having a clear view on such questions will help with the planning.
2.2 When and where [Planning]
2.2.1 Selecting a period [Planning]
A No Border Camp usually lasts for about five days during the summer months of July and August, also generally a vacation period. But this is no hard rule. Another possibility is around the Easter period. Considering the effort it takes to organize a Camp, it is advisable to start planning at least one year in advance. Consult calendars of events to try and avoid clashes. Make a preliminary announcement as soon as plans start to take shape, if only to keep two No Border Camps from being planned during the same time period.
2.2.2 Estimating the attendance [Planning]
The camp site should be large enough to accommodate the participants and their tents, so the planning team needs to have some idea of how many participants to expect. Generally, more well-timed publicity announcing the Camp will attract more participants. Also, central and easily reachable locations will mean a larger participation, including more participants who come for only a day or who commute without bringing tents.
2.2.3 Selecting a camp site [Planning]
No camp site means no camp. Finding a suitable camp site early on is a critical step. Suitability also means that the site should be large enough and freely accessible. There should be at least 10 square metres of space for each participant’s tent, and roughly 800 square metres for the larger tents, plus an addition 200 square metres for sanitary functions. So, assuming 200 participants, that comes out at about 3000 square metres, half a football field. This will be too tight in practice, though, and give rise to tensions; more space is more comfortable, and it is desirable to situate the areas set aside for the participant tents not too close to the central area with larger tents. Obviously, bushes, trees, ditches and such should not be included in measuring the available area – but the space between trees may be suitable for tents.
Commercial camp sites are a no-no. The site could be an outdoor space associated with a community centre. It could be a squatted site, or one made available by an owner who is sympathetic to the aims of the No Border movement. Or it could be undeveloped and unused wild land, in high summer ideally providing some shade. It should be reasonably reachable, though, using public transport, and also be accessible to participants using weelchairs. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is probably not a good location. Fresh food supplies will have to be brought in daily. And in case of medical emergencies, it should be possible to transport participants to a medical facility in a reasonable amount of time.
An important consideration is the availability of running water and electricity. Bringing in enough water by transporting it from outside – think 10,000 liters a day, a small tank truck full – is practically impossible. Unless the site already has sanitary facilities with sufficient capacity, or there are public outside sanitary facilities that can be used, portable toilets need to be rented. If that is out of reach for the budget, the site should be suitable for constructing such facilities on-site (see the section Latrines).
After a period of dry weather, areas where a wildfire could start must be avoided. Consider also the risks of adverse weather conditions. A site that may be hit by a flash flood or landslide is unsuitable.
2.3 Teams and crews [Planning]
The planning phase involves many tasks. Rather than having one large group of organizers involved in all aspects, it is best to delegate subtasks to smaller groups where possible.
During the actual camp period, there are also many tasks that should be attended to by smaller groups dedicated to these tasks.
To avoid confusion, this guide will refer to groups committed to planning tasks and subtasks as “teams”, while groups attending various tasks while the camp is up and running will be called “crews”.
For some tasks there can be continuity. For example, the publicity team of the planning phase may naturally segue into the Camp’s publicity crew, tasked with contact with the media. Mostly, though, there is no particular need for crew members to also have been involved in the planning phase.
A general task for the overall planning team is to find people for forming the teams for the various subtasks. Some people may be members of several such teams, but it is prudent to make sure that no one assumes more tasks than they can handle well. The planning team should keep in regular contact with the various teams to monitor progress and timely address any problems that may arise. One approach is to always have at least one representative of each subteam attend the general planning meetings.
2.4 Internal communication [Planning]
For communication among the teams and team members, it is good to set up group chats, for example using Session or, less secure, Signal.
To keep track of the progress of the various planning subtasks, documents for these subtasks can be set up as pads using Cryptpad. You can use an access list to make sure only selected users will be able to access a document. Setting the expiration date for a document to “Unlimited” will ensure the document does not suddenly disappear due to temporary inactivity.
The overall planning team can also maintain a pad for recording team decisions and keeping track of unresolved issues.
Likewise, the umbrella materials team can set up a pad for keeping track of the status of all material items needed, in which various teams can record status changes.
The program team can also make good use of a pad, listing proposals, suggestions, etcetera.
2.5 Planning subtasks [Planning]
2.5.1 Staffing the teams and crews [Planning]
For each team and crew, assign a member of the organizing team to ensure that it will get staffed with enthusiastic volunteers. For some tasks, more specialized expertise is desirable. Other tasks only need time and energy.
Some crews can be staffed largely ad hoc with volunteers from among the participants arriving at the Camp. Others need to be formed well in advance.
If the kitchen is not properly organized, the whole camp will suffer. Finding a good kitchen crew is vitally important. There are several collectives who regularly cook for activist events, some of which also operate internationally. Otherwise, think of community kitchens (people’s kitchens); perhaps one or a couple can offer to form the core of the kitchen crew.
The kitchen crew should know the positions of the fire extinguisher and familiarize themselves with its use.
2.5.2 Site selection [Planning]
See above. Planning can only seriously start when at least one suitable site has been identified, but there may still be further candidates that should be examined. The site-selection team should visit each potential site and inspect it for suitability. The team should also ascertain the legal situation as best as possible – if necessary in consultation with the legal team. The final selection decision will generally be made by the entire planning group.
Depending on the situation, it may be wise to have a “Plan B” in case the envisaged site somehow becomes unavailable.
At least some members of the planning team should make sure they are quite familiar with the local conditions at and near the planned site. The best is if some local activists can join the planning team.
2.5.3 Alternative lodging [Planning]
Some people who would like to participate may not physically be able to sleep in a tent on the ground. The possibilities for alternative accommodation should be investigated. Perhaps there are activists who live nearby and who can offer a place to sleep and transport from and to the camp site. Another possibility can be a cheap B&B.
2.5.4 Camp layout design [Planning]
Designing a good layout for placing the various tents and other facilities, making optimal use of the available space, is worth a serious effort. This should be done well in advance. By the time the camp is actually set up, the setting-up team should know in detail what is planned to go where. Therefore the layout should be made available on a precise and detailed map, drawn to scale, indicating the locations of the various components of the camp, including the walkways and the locations of large poles, fencing and notice boards.
A less detailed, easily readable map must be made available to the participants.
126.96.36.199 Streets and plazas [Planning – layout]
One possibility is to create “streets” with larger tents on both sides, to create a space that can be navigated without too much confusion.
Another possibility is to have one or a few “plazas”: round open areas surrounded by larger tents.
Combinations or in-between variants of these two models are also possible, but the design space will be limited by the actual situation on the ground.
188.8.131.52 Large tents [Planning – layout]
Tents need more space than just their floor plans. Make sure that the layout allows enough space for the guy ropes, which may extend for several metres out.
The Information Stand should be near the entrance of the site (assuming there is an identifiable entrance), or else in a central spot where walkways come together.
184.108.40.206 Participant tents [Planning – layout]
Areas set aside for the participant tents should (as already said) preferably be at some distance from the busy central area with the large tents. It may be advisable to set aside a women-only sleeping area.
220.127.116.11 Sanitary facilities [Planning – layout]
The sanitary facilities should ideally be located somewhat to the side, between the central area and the sleeping area(s). Water should be able to run off away from the camp site. If latrines are constructed, they should be downwind from the rest of the camp if possible.
18.104.22.168 Kitchen and bar [Planning – layout]
If there is no risk whatsoever of rain or strong winds, the kitchen can be located in the open air, but for the convenience of the kitchen crew and the safety of the participants, the actual cooking area should be somewhat screened off from busy walkways. The kitchen needs space for storing things, for preparation (cleaning, cutting up), for the actual cooking, for serving, and for washing up.
Some form of seating needs to be available near the kitchen. If near the larger tents, the seating of these tents may do double duty and also be used for eating purposes.
A bar may be attached to the kitchen, or may be separate. The organizing team should make a decision if the bar will serve alcohol. Pros: It will make some participants happy and can provide some much needed income. Cons: Not everyone drinks responsibly and remains peaceful, so there is a risk of the rest being disturbed. The larger the number of participants, the larger this risk.
2.5.5 Chill-out tent [Planning]
It may be good to have a separate tent in a quiet spot that serves as a safe space and chill-out space for people who feel the need.
2.6 Program [Planning]
Usually, more contributions are proposed than can fit in the program. Therefore the program team may have to make a selection. Issues to be considered are the extent to which the topic of a proposed contribution fits in with the aims of the Camp, the extent to which the contribution may be expected to be of interest to the participants, and the extent to which it helps to make the program diverse – in terms of topics, in terms of the kind of program items, and in terms of the contributors.
Contributions to the program may be sollicited in an open call, as part of the early announcements of the Camp. Or they may result from targeted requests from the program team or members of other planning teams, who happen to know that someone can deliver an interesting contribution. If an important topic is absent or underrepresented, the team should make an effort to find a way to bring it in.
The final program schedule should be made available on the Camp’s website, and also in printed form, in concise form as a one-sheet leaflet and in complete form as a brochure given to arriving participants as part of the welcoming information package. The reverse of the sheet can show a map of the Camp.
2.6.1 Workshops [Planning]
The workshops form the main content of the program. Several workshops can be held in parallel, but more than three at the same time is inadvisable. Workshops with related topics should also preferably not be scheduled at the same time.
The term “workshop“ covers diverse forms. One kind of workshop is mainly informational: one or more speakers tell what they know about some topic of interest; audience participation will mainly consist of asking questions. Another kind aims at acquiring some skill and involves hands-on experience, for example a workshop tree climbing. Other workshops have the nature of an open discussion around a hot topic: one or two speakers briefly introduce the topic and the issues involved, but the gist of the workshop is the audience discussion that follows. A workshop may also be used to present a plan and discuss the potential realization. This is not meant to be a limiting enumeration; other forms of workshop are possible and welcome.
For most workshops, sessions of about 45 minutes should be enough. If more time is really necessary (and the topic is important enough) a workshop can be split into two sessions. A 15-minute break between sessions will enable participants to refresh themselves before going to a next workshop, while leaving some slack for workshops that overrun their time slots.
2.6.2 Cultural program [Planning]
The cultural program may consist of music, whether by solo artists, bands, or singing groups; of theater; of film; of stand-up comedy; of juggling or magic; or of whatever else presents itself. As with the workshop program, it is good if there is a connection with the aims of the Camp, but this consideration is of less importance for the cultural program. Diversity is more important.
Resist the urge to stuff the nights with cultural program items, leaving room for spontaneous additions to the program.
2.6.3 Kids [Planning]
The organizing team should decide early on whether the Camp will be suitable for young kids. If not, the early calls should make clear that participants should not bring their kids, so that people can take this into account in their planning.
If kids are welcome, that should also be announced clearly. In that case it is good to have a program in place, aimed at young children, with a variety of age-appropriate activities for a range of age groups. Volunteers will be needed who are used to dealing with groups of kids.
- making finger puppets
- making giant soap bubbles
- making bracelets from various natural materials
- making bird houses
- making bird feeders
- face painting
- pebble painting
- making mosaic tiles
- pétanque (jeu de boules)
2.6.4 Actions [Planning]
A Camp may hold a joint demonstrative protest action as a closing event. The focus and nature should be researched and decided on in advance, and any necessary materials should also be prepared sufficiently in advance.
Of course, individual participants may always decide to undertake actions autonomously. If so, this is basically their responsibility, but they should be advised to keep the legal crew informed.
2.7 Financial matters [Planning]
Organizing a Camp costs a good deal of money. Even if the use of the camp site is entirely free, there are probably things that need to be rented, such as large tents, or bought, such as materials for constructing sanitary facilities, making sign posts, etcetera. It is reasonable to ask the participants for a small donation to cover part of these costs, but to keep participation affordable it is good if a substantial part of the costs comes from grants or donors with deep pockets.
The financial team should be responsible for
- making a budget with estimates for incoming money and expenses;
- seeking grants;
- keeping an eye on the actual expenses;
- making a final account when the Camp is over.
An example budget is contained in an appendix.
2.8 Legal matters [Planning]
Friendly lawyers can help to figure out what the local rules and regulations are in relation to the form of camp chosen. We are not fond of asking authorities for permits, but if this will prevent unpleasantries that detract from the aims of the Camp, it may sometimes be better to give in a little. On the other hand, it may be better not to poke the sleeping beast. A legal team can help to choose the best approach. And, in any case, it is good to know the legal situation and your rights if confronted by authorities.
2.9 Publicity [Planning]
As information becomes available, it should be made known, so that potential participants can start to make plans.
Flyers and posters calling for participation should be designed, printed and distributed to community centres, community kitchens, and migrant and other potentially interested groups, preferably in the local language as well as in English and French. You can ask No Border groups in other countries if they are able to take care of translation and distribution in their respective countries.
When the program is finalized, it should be placed on the Camp’s website and be available in printed form for participants during the Camp, preferably in several languages.
A week or so before the Camp starts, a press release can go out. In writing it, keep in mind that the regular press is probably not terribly interested in publishing an ideological treatise. The best form is a text that you can imagine could appear just like that in news sources. So write it like a reporter would write it, like a real news article, with a good and short headline, such as “No Border Camp to be held in Kehl near Strasbourg”. Start with the important facts that are also new, and present any further info also in the form of “objective” facts (e.g., “The camp is organized as a protest against the European migration policies”, and not, ”With this camp we protest the horrible European migration policies”).
2.10 Website & social media [Planning]
The Camp should have its own website with information of all sorts. The website team should use a format that can also easily be read on a smartphone. Much as we hate facebook and twitter and prefer Friendica and Mastodon, the reality is that many potential participants are used to getting their info from facebook, so it is worth also setting up a facebook account for the Camp. The same goes for instagram and twitter. You should also set up automatic posts to the various social media accounts on the website.
2.11 Information for participants [Planning]
The website should contain practical information for the participants, so that they know what to bring and not to bring, what to expect and not to expect, and also what is expected from the participants: participation, also in practical matters. They should know that everyone at the Camp is a volunteer and that the Camp can only run with their participation in various duties related to keeping the Camp tidy, healthy and secure. Inform them in advance about the rosters that will be needed to be filled by participants signing up for them, including night shifts in the 24-hour security roster. Also mention the need for whisper interpreters.
When the Camp starts, there should be a sufficient number of information packages ready to hand one to all participants. It should contain an information brochure with, among other things, the complete program and important camp rules. It is good also to include one sheet with a short version of the program, so that participants can easily put it in their pockets.
The program should identify the tents for each meeting session.
(Conversely, each meeting tent should display the schedule for that tent, so that it is easy to verify for workshop attendants that they are at the right tent.)
Renting material from commercial companies tends to be excessively expensive. To keep costs low, a vigorous attempt should be made to borrow any necessary material, or to use second-hand stuff. Some things can be collected from dumps, or constructed from dump materials. In some cases it may be possible to buy items together with other activist groups who can put the material to good use after the Camp is over. For material that is used up during the Camp, it may be best to shop locally.
There should be an umbrella materials team whose main task is to check that all necessary material will indeed be available when it is needed, maintaining a check list of the status of the various items, in contact with the teams involved.
The first step will be that the various teams each make a list of what they need, with an indication of how it (likely) can be obtained: borrowed, rented or bought; in the latter cases with a cost estimate. These lists are also passed on to the financial team.
3.1 Tools and general materials [Material]
- various scissors of varying sizes
- pruning shears
- wrenches (spanners)
- a variety of screwdrivers
- long measuring tapes
- coils of rope of a variety of thicknesses
- lots of strong duck tape
3.2 Large tents [Material]
These tents should all be at least standing height.
- 1 large tent for the General Assembly meetings and also workshops, large enough to hold most participants at about 1 square metre per participant, such as a small circus tent
- 1 large tent half the size of the largest tent, for workshops
- 1 large tent at least one third the size of the largest tent, for workshops
- 2 or 3 medium-size tents (Info Stand, Chill-out Tent, …)
- seating at one seat per participant
Some of the seating can be standard conference-room or outdoor folding chairs, but borrowing and transporting some 200 chairs may not be possible. Benches can be constructed instead on-site from planks or boards laid and fastened over a pair of sturdy crates, tree sections, small folding (or stackable) sawhorses (trestles), discarded chairs, or suchlike.
3.3 Electricity [Material]
Electricity will be needed for lighting, and possibly for a sound installation and/or a projection system. If possible at all, electricity should be brought in from existing connections to the power grid, making sure that the maximum amperage is not exceeded.
If no such connection is possible, it may be necessary to use a generator. Unfortunately, they are noisy, produce noxious fumes, and tend to be expensive (also when rented).
There have to be enough extension cables of sufficient length to bring power to all spots where it is needed. These extension cables have to be suitable for outdoor use; often these have a sturdy orange-colored cable jacket, but dark gray is also common. It is absolutely necessary to make sure that the connections are securely grounded (connected to earth). Where cables cross walkways in the camp, measures have to be taken so that people can’t trip over the cables. Either they have to be strung between poles, more than two metres high, or, if left lying on the ground, they have to be protected by using cable guards. In that case, areas where puddles can form should be avoided.
A number of power strips with multiple sockets is also needed. They should also be of a type that takes grounded plugs only. They should be installed in such a way that they are shielded from rain or dripping water.
- fuel (gasoline), sufficient for about 10 kWh per day
- cable guards
- power strips
3.4 Lighting [Material]
At night the major walkways need to be lit sufficiently so that participants won’t trip over guy wires or walk into poles.
Larger tents that are used after sundown, for example for the cultural program, need internal lighting.
Some lighting to show the path to the sanitary facilities is likely also very welcome.
- bulbs or other lamps of the right voltage and luminosity
- lamp sockets or lampholders and cords with plugs
- all suitable for outdoor use if not used covered
- strings and/or hooks for attaching and hanging the lighting from
3.5 WiFi [Material]
3.6 Water [Material]
To estimate the pipe lengths needed, the layout design of the Camp can be used, provided it is accurate, sufficiently detailed, and to scale.
- pipes or hoses
3.7 Kitchen [Material]
If the core of the kitchen crew is a collective who regularly cook for activist events, they can probably bring their own cooking equipment and a sufficient number of plates, utensils and mugs. Otherwise, an inventory should be made of what is needed, and the kitchen planning team should make sure it is available when needed, by borrowing it or acquiring it second-hand at bargaining prizes. Community kitchens may be a source for borrowing.
Tables will be needed for food preparation, cooking, serving, and dishwashing. If they cannot be brought in, sturdy raised platforms need to be constructed on site. There also needs to be a spot for a donations box.
If there is any risk of rain, a protective superstructure is needed.
Assuming 200 participants taking meals:
- 8 largish tables, or material for constructing platforms
- donations box
- material for constructing a superstructure
- large range top (stove top), or several smaller ones
- if a gas stove, sufficiently large gas bottles
- 4 large capacity stove pots (think 50 liter), preferably stainless steel
- 4 huge stirring spoons
- 2 large ladles
- set of chef knives
- 10 paring knives
- knife sharpener
- 200 reusable plates (preferably unbreakable)
- 200 reusable tableware sets (fork, knife, spoon)
- 1 bottle of dishwashing detergent per day, plus some extra
- 10 scrubbing sponges
- a good bottle of cleaning vinegar and a large jar of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for cleaning burnt pans
- 20 dish towels
- half a kg of kitchen salt per day
- plenty of seasoning (herbs and spices)
- 1 liter of olive oil per day
- about 3 liters of fruit jam, peanut butter and various vegan spreads per day
- about 2.5 kg of a variety of teas (black & herbal) per day
- about 5 kg of coffee per day
- about 100 kg of fresh veggies for the first day
- 20 loaves of bread for breakfast on the first morning
If not everyone is fed at the same time, and an efficient dishwashing crew can be organized, 100 plates and sets of tableware may suffice.
The kitchen will need fresh food each day. Try to find local farmers from whom the produce can be bought – where we prefer sustainable farming.
Some other stuff that is consumed also does not need to be all brought in at the start. For a five-day camp, start with 3 liters of olive oil and 15 kg of coffee. After two days the kitchen crew will be able to make a good estimate how much more will be needed.
3.8 Bar [Material]
A bar may be attached to the kitchen, or may be separate. It can have the form of just a simple table on which drinks are served (plus a donations box). The bar needs a sufficient number of mugs or cups, as well as tea- and coffee-making equipment.
- donations box
- for tea and coffee: see Kitchen above
- various drinks
3.9 Poles [Material]
If cables are strung high, tall poles are needed. The pole should extend about 1/4 to 1/3 of its height deep in the ground. So think of poles that are in total at least some 2.75 metres long. The poles must also be thick enough that they won’t break if someone stumbles and falls against one.
3.10 Fencing [Material]
Fencing may be desirable around the kitchen, around the sanitary facilities, and to keep participants from wandering off to spots with hidden dangers (such as pitfalls). As this mainly serves a signalling function, such fencing need not be super sturdy. Strips of weather-resistant fence fabric between fence posts of about 1 metre high will probably do.
- fence posts
- fence fabric
- staples, staple gun
3.11 Signposts [Material]
Signposts inside the Camp can direct participants to the various tents, functions, and areas. The simplest version is a pole to which arrow-shaped slats (strips) are nailed or screwed that point in the various relevant directions while indicating the destinations in readable lettering (letter height say 6 cm, for which you can use slats with a width of 10 cm). If poles are used for electricity or lighting, they can also serve for this function.
Once the camp layout is fixed, the signpost team can make the necessary arrow-shaped slats in advance at leisure. The slats should be able to survive a week of wind and rain; pointed slats of three-layer plywood painted with water-resistant primer, with water-resistant ink or paint lettering on each side, will be fine.
Signs identifying the functions of the various tents, which can be in the form of banners, can also be made in advance, as well as signs for placing along the route(s) to the camp to direct arriving participants towards the camp site, and a large welcome banner or similar sign at the entrance.
- wooden slats
- paints in contrasting colors
- brushes, also a fine one
3.12 Notice boards [Material]
One or two notice boards for pinning up general announcements, the day’s schedule, last-minute program changes, requests, whatever. They should be centrally located.
Participants should also have an opportunity to post material.
A board can be formed by two square posts with a piece of low-density fiberboard in between. Depending on how boards are positioned, one side or both sides can be used. A small shelter roof installed on top should be able to protect the board somewhat against rain.
Material (for two notice boards):
- 4 square posts (4 x 4 cm, 2 metres high)
- 2 slabs of fiberboard, 80 cm x 150 cm.
- 2 thin planks of 150 cm x 30 cm for the shelter roofs
- drill, screws and screwdriver; nails & hammer
Material (for posting):
- lots of push pins in a bright color (such as yellow) – not those with a flat head, but rather a head like a little rook chess piece
- 10 permanent (waterproof) markers, several colors (black, red, …) and several thicknesses (tips of 2 mm to 6 mm)
- 20 sheets of thick paper (A3 format)
- 10 sheets of thick paper (A2 format)
- for permanent rain-resistant notices: some ready-made stretched blank canvases (available from arts materials and hobby shops)
3.13 Sanitary facilities [Material]
3.13.1 Showers [Material]
Participants need to be able to wash themselves daily. If the site does not already have the necessary facilities, they will need to be installed. Putting up showers is likely the easiest.
The most challenging part may be to bring enough running water from an available outlet to the shower area. Most household connections have a limited capacity. But if the water is cold, most people will spend only a few minutes taking a shower. A total of five stalls may be enough.
Water can flow through simple plastic tubes as are standardly used for plumbing. Flexible hoses can connect the pipes to the shower heads, with on-off handles in between. Some shower heads already have an on-off switch.
The run-off water must be able to run away quickly away from the camp site, or disappear quickly into the ground. Well-placed ditches may expedite this.
Many participants will appreciate some privacy while showering. This can be ensured by making stalls of about 1.5 metre wide, of which the sides are covered with a non-see-through material from about 0.5 metres to about 1.5 metres above the ground. The floor of each stall should be formed by some kind of grating through which the run-off water can disappear. There should also be some hooks for hanging clothes.
The following list is not very specific; it needs to be adjusted on the basis of the type of shower that will be built.
- shower heads
- wood and other materials for building the stalls
- tools for building the showers
- hooks for hanging clothes
- shampoo bottle holders
- 10 bottles of shampoo
3.13.2 Latrines [Material]
If no toilets are already available at the camp site and renting portable toilets is not possible within the budget, latrines will have to be made on site. For an overview of different types, see:
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latrine
- WikiWater: https://wikiwater.fr/a5-latrines-general-points-how-to
Which type is best for your camp depends on the local situation and the skills of the latrine team. The latrines should (obviously) be usable and remain in good shape with the expected use during the camp, but try to keep it simple and cheap. Pits or trenches can be dug well in advance, but this may engender the risk of the work being wiped out by a rainstorm if no protective superstructure has been constructed.
How-to guides on latrine construction:
As for the showers, most participants will appreciate their privacy while using the latrines, so some form of shielding off the partitions is desirable. Also consider having a separate women’s section.
The following list is not very specific; it needs to be adjusted on the basis of the type that will be built.
- wood and other materials for building the latrines and superstructures
- tools for building the latrines
- hooks for hanging clothes
- toilet roll holders
- small garbage disposal buckets
- 120 rolls of toilet paper
- washing basin
- a table to carry the washing basin
- faucet (tap)
- soap holders
- 10 soap bars
- 20 small towels
- 2 hooks for hanging towels
3.14 Projection [Material]
If films are shown, a projector is needed, as well as a projection screen. It may also be useful for other presentations.
3.15 Sound [Material]
In a large camp a sound system for public announcements is useful. (In a small camp, a “camp crier”, like the town criers of the olden days, can perform that function.)
If a sound film is shown in the cultural program, an amplifier and boxes may also be needed. Performers may additionally need one or more mikes.
- audio cables for the public announcement system
- loudspeakers, which can be attached to electricity poles
- more audio cables
- 2 megaphones
3.16 Cleaning materials [Material]
- garbage bins, in a sufficient number to spread them around the camp
- garbage bags for lining the garbage bins
- soap, detergent, sponges, mops, buckets
- towels, dish towels
3.17 Hygienic and camping supplies [Material]
Items participants may need but did not bring. The quantities below are for an estimated 200 participants.
- large bottle of sunscreen (SPF 100)
- mosquito/tick spray
- 10 small tubes of toothpaste
- 10 toothbrushes
- 50 aspirin (325 mg)
- 50 ibuprofen (200 mg)
- 100 paracetamol (acetaminophen) (500 mg)
- various hygienic napkins and tampons
- 20 condoms
- 10 morning-after pills
- 40 tent pegs (stakes)
- a roll of tent rope
- 10 blankets
3.18 First-aid supplies [Material]
The quantities below are for an estimated 200 participants.
- sturdy box to serve as the first-aid kit, clearly marked as such; the standard is a white cross on a green background
- 50 adhesive bandages in various sizes
- medium-size bottle (about 250 mL) of 4% chlorhexidine gluconate (antiseptic fluid)
- package of medical cotton wool balls
- 5 gauze bandage rolls
- 10 absorbent compresses (dressings)
- a roll of surgical tape (Elastoplast/Leukoplast/Hansaplast)
- emergency tourniquet
- tick remover
3.19 Fire fighting [Material]
Bring a few fire extinguishers that are in good condition; one for the kitchen, and one or more for in or near the central tents.
- at least 3 (preferably more) fire extinguishers
3.20 Transport of material [Material]
Material necessary for setting up the camp should be transported on time to the site. Larger items may need a truck.
- cars, truck (with drivers)
4 Setting-up the camp
The camp site should be prepared before the bulk of the participants arrive. The final touches may take a day or two, depending on the situation – assuming that much of the preparatory work has already been done. Many things can and should be prepared earlier. The setting-up team should bring a variety of practical skills together, such as carpentry, electricity, and sanitation.
Setting up the site includes bringing the sanitary facilities in order, setting up the larger tents, installing electricity including lighting, water and sound systems, and erecting poles and fencing. The team should bring all the necessary tools.
If the location of the camp is not overly clear, the setting-up also involves placing signs along the route(s) to the camp to direct participants towards the camp site. A large welcome banner or other sign at the entrance will make clear that participants have arrived at the right site.
It is good to decide in advance which crew members are particularly responsible for each of the following tasks, ensuring that no member gets overtasked and no task gets understaffed.
4.1 Pre-preparation: staking out the layout [Setting-up]
When the design of the camp layout is ready, it may be good to stake out the designed layout on the actual camp site. Here “stake out” is meant literally: by putting stakes in the ground around the locations of the various camp components and marking them with labels identifying the intended use. Cordoning off each set of stakes with a bright ribbon will help with visual identification.
This can serve a twofold function. The first is that by walking around and inspecting the mock camp, some problems can be identified early. For example, measurements may have been off and things will not actually fit as envisaged with the layout as designed. The second is that it is useful for the setting-up crew if they can rely on the layout as staked out.
4.2 Large tents [Setting-up]
If enough people are available, the large tents can be set up independently at the same time. Otherwise, start with the largest tents and work down from there. Setting up the tents is best done on the last day before the Camp begins. Doing this earlier brings the risk that they need to be taken down again because of stormy winds.
4.3 Electricity and lighting [Setting-up]
Electric cables should be laid out, lightpoles erected and lamps attached, and power strips should be safely installed.
Larger tents that are used after sundown, for example for a cultural program, need internal lighting.
4.4 Internet [Setting-up]
4.5 Water [Setting-up]
Pipes must be laid out as planned, connected to the water supply, and buried and protected at walkway crossings. Faucets (taps) must be installed near the kitchen, possibly the bar, and near the toilets. Pipes must be connected to the shower hoses.
4.6 Kitchen and bar [Setting-up]
Placing tables or constructing raised platforms for food preparation, cooking, serving, and dishwashing. Constructing a protective superstructure.
Placing tables or constructing raised platform for the bar.
4.7 Poles [Setting-up]
Tall poles should be erected as indicated on the detailed camp layout map. The poles should extend about 1/3 of their height deep in the ground. (75% above ground and 25% in the ground.)
4.8 Fencing [Setting-up]
Fencing should be constructed as indicated on the detailed camp layout map.
4.9 Signposts and other signs [Setting-up]
Erecting poles as necessary. Attaching pointed slats to the poles, making sure they point in the right directions.
Putting up signs identifying the various tents.
Putting up signs along the route(s) to the camp to direct arriving participants towards the camp site, and a large welcome banner at the entrance.
4.10 Notice boards [Setting-up]
Nailing or screwing the boards to the posts. Putting the posts securely in the ground.
4.11 Sanitary facilities [Setting-up]
4.11.1 Showers [Setting-up]
Constructing the stalls. Installing the shower heads with attached hoses and valves, connected to the water supply. Fixing hooks to the structure and hanging up the shampoo bottle holders.
4.11.2 Latrines [Setting-up]
Digging pits or trenches. Constructing the seating and stalls. Placing the small garbage disposal bins. Setting up hand-washing facility. Installing faucets, soap holders and hooks for towels.
4.12 Projection [Setting-up]
Setting up the screen. Setting up and testing the projector and sound.
4.13 Sound [Setting-up]
Setting up things according to the decisions of the planning phase,
4.14 Cleaning materials [Setting-up]
Lining the garbage bins and spreading them around the camp.
4.15 Fire extinguishers [Setting-up]
Placing the fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in or near the central tents.
4.16 Transport of material [Setting-up]
Material necessary for setting up the camp should be transported on time to the site. At all times there should be someone present to guard against theft or vandalism of valuable material.
5 During the Camp
5.1 Crews [During the Camp]
Being a crew member should not mean you will miss out on all the content. Crews should set up rotating-duty rosters, so that crew members can attend most of the program items they find interesting.
For many chores (e.g. dishwashing and cleaning) sign-up lists can be put up daily on the central notice board, so that participants willing to volunteer for these tasks can sign up. The lists for each task should make clear how many volunteers are needed, and explain the how and what of their duties.
5.1.1 Welcoming crew [During the Camp]
Except during sleeping hours, there should always be one or two volunteers from the welcoming crew present in the Information Stand, using a rotating roster. They should give all arriving participants info packages, containing a leaflet with a concise version of the program and the camp layout, and a brochure with the complete program and the most important camp rules. The welcoming crew should be able to answer most questions, and else know whom to contact or refer to.
5.1.2 Security crew [During the Camp]
The possibility exists that alt-right groups will try to disrupt the camp. The security crew should be the first line of defense in dissuading any would-be attackers from attempting such silliness. It may help if the crew members have a sturdy appearance that makes clear they are not to be fucked with.
This crew also organizes night shifts and ensures that there are always people present at the camp, also during actions.
The security crew should know the positions of the fire extinguishers and familiarize themselves with their use. They should also be prepared to quickly evacuate and take down the large tents in case of sudden stormy winds.
One or two spokespersons should be agreed upon in advance for contact with authorities should the police show up. They should discuss in advance how to defuse any tricky situations as well as possible. Everyone else should simply refer to the spokespersons and refuse to get engaged in a discussion.
5.1.3 Infrastructure crew [During the Camp]
As for the setting-up team, the infrastructure crew should have a variety of practical skills. This crew can in fact be a continuation of the team that initially set up the Camp. While the Camp is running they will be needed mainly to deal with things that go kaputt or otherwise stop functioning; ideally, they can just relax and participate in the main program. After the Camp they have a task in helping dismantle it, making sure that tents and other objects of value get properly handled and that reusable material is salvaged as much as possible.
5.1.4 Kitchen crew [During the Camp]
Ideally, the core of the kitchen crew will be formed by a collective who regularly cook for activist events. Cooking for a large number of participants is a skill apart from cooking for a small group. Fancy menus are out of the question.
The kitchen crew must be knowledgeable about food safety measures and how to apply them. We do not need a campful of activists suffering from food poisoning.
Many activists are vegan or vegetarian, while many migrants eat solely halal food. A simple way to make sure that everyone can be accommodated is to run a vegan kitchen. This also simplifies food safety somewhat. Delicious vegan recipes, for example for vegetable stews, are easily found on the web, in sufficient variety that the menu can also be varied. Plan the menus such that any large leftover quantities can be reused the next day.
Some parts of food that are usually discarded can in fact be used. For example, carrot leaves can be used in the way you would use parsley to spruce up a carrot salad. Cauliflower leaves are edible, nutritious and tasty; they can be used in stews. (Not all leaves of edible vegetables are also edible; rhubarb leaves are poisonous.)
Soups are easy to make, but they tend to be impractical for serving to a large number in a camping context. A typical meal can consist of a serving from the main course consisting of veggies and a helping of some starchy food (potatoes, pasta, rice), together with a side salad. This can be served together on one plate – but make sure that neither the main course nor the salad are watery.
Courgette (zucchini) becomes very watery when cooked and should be avoided for use in a stew if the meal is to be served with a salad. The same holds for tomatos, unless deseeded or really meaty. Tip: if a stew is too watery, add finely ground oat bran. Almost tasteless, it has a slight and pleasant nutty flavor and absorbs a good deal of water. It is also healthy: almost no calories and lots of fiber. Oat bran can also be cooked as a breakfast cereal, and be sprinkled over salads.
Fresh food supplies need to be brought in each day. Try to find local farmers from whom the produce can be bought – where we prefer sustainable farming. For other ingredients, it should go without saying that we support Fair Trade and ecologically responsible production.
As a rule of thumb, for the main meal of the day about half a kilogram of food is needed per participant; 100 kg for 200 participants. That is, the weight after cooking. Veggies and potatoes will lose about 5 to 10 percent in weight by cleaining and peeling but otherwise weigh the same before and after cooking. Dry pasta and rice will absorb water during cooking and so come out weighing more. Brown rice will double in weight while white rice will even triple in weight. Pasta will more than double; 10 kg of dry pasta will give you about 22 kg of cooked pasta – and more if it is overcooked.
Various kitchen chores (peeling potatoes, cleaning and chopping veggies, doing the dishes) can be assigned to ad-hoc volunteers from among the participants.
There may be separate crews for preparing the main hot meals and taking care of other meals such as breakfast.
5.1.5 Bar crew [During the Camp]
The bar crew should make sure that tea and coffee are available at least in the morning and during breaks in the program, for a small (voluntary) donation. Other drinks can be made available at cost. Plain water should always be free. By using the honour system, participants can help themselves to drinks; it is not necessary to permanently have a crew member attend the bar.
5.1.6 Cleaning crew [During the Camp]
All participants should help to keep the place tidy and to deposit any litter in the garbage bins. The cleaning crew should make sure that the garbage bins get emptied and lined with new bags before they get overfull. They should also have a plan for disposing of the full bags.
Garbage that will naturally decompose, such as most kitchen offal, may be buried in pits on-site. All plastic, glass, metal, ceramic and other materials that do not easily decompose must be collected and transported to off-site disposal facilities. The crew should know where these facilities are and have access to transport.
The chore of emptying the bins can also be assigned to ad-hoc volunteers using a sign-up roster.
The cleaning crew should also inspect the sanitary facilities at least twice a day and make sure they are kept usable. Dirty towels should be replaced twice a day, and soap bars and toilet rolls replenished as needed.
When the camp is over and dismantled, a crew should go over the area and pick up any litter or garbage left behind. Pits and trenches that were dug must be filled up, closing off anything dumped there. The camp site should be restored (as much as possible) to the state it was in before the camp.
5.1.7 Crisis crew [During the Camp]
The task of the crisis crew is to deal with any interpersonal conflicts that may create a difficult situation for one or more participants and potentially threaten to become disruptive to the whole camp. The crew members should be volunteers who have some experience in dealing with conflict situations and remain calm when others become emotional, while not lacking in empathy and social intelligence. They should avoid picking sides, judging the issues as impartially as possible, which means that all sides that wish to be heard should also be heard. The crew members should operate as a tight collective, never openly arguing among each other, or openly making suggestions for resolving any issues that have not been discussed and agreed upon by the crisis crew collectively.
Any issues that are raised should always be taken seriously. Sexist, racist, homophobic or transphobic behaviour or utterances are not acceptable and should not be tolerated; unfortunately, experience has shown that this can occur even during a No Border Camp and that it can hurt people deeply, especially there.
Hopefully, though, there will be no issues ore incidents that require the crisis crew to come into action.
5.1.8 Program crew [During the Camp]
The program crew can be the continuation of the program team from the planning phase. They should make sure that each day, for each meeting tent, the schedule for that day for that tent is posted at the tent. It is also useful to post the day’s schedule on a central noticeboard.
As long as everything goes smoothly, they have little else to do. But usually there are some disruptions. Participants who, according to the published program, would lead a workshop or do an item in the cultural program may not show up or be unexpectedly unable to come. Or equipment that is essential for a program item (like a projector for showing a film) may fail and cannot be timely fixed or replaced. In such cases the program crew needs to spring in action and quickly reach a decision on the best ad-hoc adjustment to the program. They should also make sure that the program change is made known to the participants, announcing the change using the PA system (if available) and on the noticeboard with the day’s program, and adjusting the schedule posted at the tents.
5.1.9 Interpreting crew [During the Camp]
Simultaneous “whisper translations” can make more program content available to participants who do not speak the language being used. Both through the calls for participation and on arrival, participants should be asked:
- if they can help interpreting, and for which combinations of languages;
- if they expect to need interpreting assistance.
5.1.10 Media crew [During the Camp]
The task of the media crew is to maintain contact with (regular) press and other media, in case they show interest in the Camp. If at all, this will most likely be local media. The crew should be prepared to be interviewed and know what to say then.
5.1.11 Medical-assistance crew [During the Camp]
The medical-assistance crew should be formed by volunteers who have at least a basic knowledge of first aid, such as by having taken a first-aid course. It is good to also have a doctor on board.
The crew must know the location of the first-aid kit, and discuss in advance how to transport participants to a medical facility in a reasonable amount of time in case of a medical emergency.
The medical-assistance crew should make sure that mobile phone numbers for reaching the crew are posted clearly in the Info tent.
5.1.12 Legal crew [During the Camp]
It is possible that during the action camp participants are arrested.
The legal crew should be formed by lawyers who have standing in the jurisdiction where the camp is located. They need not be present at the camp site, but they must be contactable. Ideally, there should be a civil lawyer, a criminal lawyer, and a lawyer for aliens’ law. They should be sympathetic to activism and the aims of the camp.
5.1.13 Dismantling crew [During the Camp]
Trucks may be needed to transport materials. Also make sure there will be enough volunteers.
Garbage disposal needs to be organized in advance, otherwise it may suddenly be a major issue.
5.1.14 Information Stand [During the Camp]
If the Info Stand is housed in a tent, it can remain operational during rainfall. The Info Stand contains one or two tables on which information leaflets and a donations box are placed. There are also a couple of chairs.
The Info Stand has lists of mobile phone numbers of various crews posted.
Hygienic supplies for participants who need them can be made available via the Info Stand.
5.2 Program [During the Camp]
5.2.1 General Assembly meetings [During the Camp]
The General Assembly (GA) meetings are intended for discussing organizational and household issues regarding the Camp and any proposals of general interest to the participants. One hour should suffice.
5.2.2 Workshops [During the Camp]
Each workshop will have its own organizers who are responsible for conducting it and keeping to the time schedule.
5.2.3 Cultural program [During the Camp]
The cultural-program crew should be prepared to cope with last-minute changes.
5.2.4 Actions [During the Camp]
If the Camp closes with a joint demonstrative protest action, the participants should be properly informed about the nature and target of the action. Undocumented people (sans-papiers) who participate should be aware of the risks if they are arrested.
During the Camp, individual participants may decide to undertake actions autonomously. It is then good to keep the legal crew informed.
6.1 Example budget [Appendices]
6.2 Examples of camp layouts [Appendices]
<two examples needed>
6.3 Example daily schedule [Appendices]
- 08:00 – 10:00 breakfast
- 10:00 – 11:00 GA meeting
- 11:15 – 12:00 workshops
- 12:30 – 13:30 lunch
- 14:00 – 14:45 workshops
- 15:00 – 15:45 workshops
- 16:00 – 15:45 workshops
- 17:00 – 17:45 workshops
- 18:30 – 19:45 dinner
- 20:30 – 22:30 cultural program
On the first day of the Camp, assuming most participants arrive in the morning, the morning program should be moved to the afternoon:
- 14:00 – 14:45 GA meeting
- 15:00 – 15:45 workshops
- 16:00 – 15:45 workshops
- 17:00 – 17:45 workshops