PBF Survival Guide

PBF Survival Guide

Welcome to Poly Big Fun! These are the things you need to know about the event before you arrive in order to help make the event most enjoyable to you.

Table of contents

What is Poly Big Fun?

Poly Big Fun is a retreat for non-traditional families. Our focus is on Polyamorous families (including families of one ;), but we are an inclusive community

Behavior in our community

Consent Always Matters

We are a very friendly community. This is a good thing and is usually not a problem unless it leads to non-consensual contact. We may make assumptions about what is permitted based on what we see people around us doing, but if this leads to unwanted physical contact, that is a consent violation and is unacceptable.

As such, there are some rules concerning boundaries in our community.

  • Always ask permission before touching someone or entering their personal space. This can be waived if you and that person have already negotiated the boundaries between you and another person, but understand that consent may be revoked at any time.
  • Verbalize and enforce your boundaries.
  • Be clear in stating your needed boundaries.
  • Support anyone around you who is trying to enforce their boundaries.
  • Accept the consequences of crossing a boundary.
  • “No” *always* means “no”. “Maybe later” means that you can ask again once later, but if the answer is “Maybe later” again, please treat that as a “No” until and unless the person you are asking brings it up. A “Yes” now does *not* automatically mean that “Yes” will be the answer later. Consent matters.

Why are these rules so extreme? Communities learn in part by discussion, but largely by example. When we begin touching each other without negotiating, new people in the community get the idea that they can touch anyone and that everyone will enjoy it. If only one person enforces a boundary, that person may find himself alone when he raises an objection and everyone around him stares at him strangely. If boundaries are not consistently enforced across the community, some people may conveniently “forget” that a particular person reacts violently to being touched.

Consent must *never* be taken for granted. Non-consensual contact is grounds for being removed from the event without a refund or an appeal.

Event Rules

Review “Behavior in Our Community” before coming to Poly Big Fun. Boundaries, and respecting them, are critically important to the smooth running of our community.

  • You are required to check in at the registration table to get your barracks assignment. No registration is complete without full payment in advance. If you do not pay in advance, you will not have a bed reserved for you when you arrive at the event and you will be assigned a room based on availability. It is possible no beds will be available if you arrive at the event without pre-registering.
  • If you bring children you must ensure their safety at all times. They must not disrupt the event, though they are welcome to listen to any public discussions that you feel are appropriate for them. We, the coordinating staff and by extension the site owners, do not accept any responsibility for any injuries you may incur over the course of the event.
  • For all lodges and everywhere:
    • Respect boundaries, always ask first.
    • “No” means no, do not ask again.
    • “Not now” means you can ask again later.
    • Make sure that you really mean “Yes” or “No” when you say it. You cannot ever undo something after it has happened.
    • Clothing is required in all public spaces.
    • Obey posted signs.
  • Violation of these rules may be considered grounds for removal and/or banning from the event.

Pirate Tag

Pirate Tag will be coming back this year as it has been enjoyed by many in our community since 2008. Should you choose to participate, Pirate Tag allows you to specify your boundaries on a per gender or person basis from talking, to snuggling, all the way to dating or sexual contact. It then assigns random activities to random people ensuring that everyone is comfortable with the level of activities. You always have control on what you’re willing to do. That is to say, if you have specified that you only want to (for example) exchange recipes or like activities with a given group of people, you will only be offered the opportunity to do those activities.

Register for Pirate Tag and upload your photo. (Note: this is a separate site)

You can register Pirate Tag, set your preferences and upload your profile photo all in advance on the piratetag.com site. Once you arrive on site you’ll need to login to the Pirate Tag computer so we know that you’ve arrived and can be included in the game. Starting Friday morning the game will begin to assign you random missions with random people (always respecting your boundaries). You don’t have to accept the missions, and feel free to do less if you’re uncomfortable. Once you’ve completed a mission (or anytime you’d like), you’ll have the options to change your boundaries with that person. We encourage you to set a pretty liberal set of default limits as Pirate Tag will ensures things escalate slowly. Even if you’re a reserved person, you can still have a lot of fun just talking with people. Please provide any feedback (Pirate Tag is under development) to support@piratetag.com.

Lodge and Room Designations

Barracks assignments will be made based on preference selected when you register. Remaining spaces will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis upon arrival at the site, but there is no guarantee that there will be a bed available if you have not pre-registered. Check in at the registration table to get your barracks assignment, so that we know that you have arrived and so that you get the latest announcements, then find your room and unload your gear.

We have a limited number of “private rooms” in each cabin. These have Double beds. Because we need to maximize the number of people who can participate in Poly Big Fun, these will be allocated randomly to groups of two or more that request them by lottery. We cannot guarantee that you will receive a private room even if you request it as there are a limited number. If you choose to participate in the lottery, we’ll attempt to assign you to a room in the barracks that you request. If you do not make the lottery we’ll assign you to bunks in that barracks. We’ll perform the lottery at least 45 days in advance so that you’ll know before your arrival and can bring the correct bedding.

  • Barracks 1 — G-rated, for both families and adults with no children. Lights out at 10:00pm
    • Children must be accompanied by their parent or other responsible adult while they are in the barracks.
    • ADA accessible ramp
  • Barracks 2 — Adults only
    • ADA accessible ramp
  • Barracks 3 — Adults only
    • Not ADA accessible, stairs in front
  • Barracks 4 — Adults only
    • Not ADA accessible, stairs in front

Things to Bring

  • Bedding: sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows – Twin size fits one bunk. – King size if you want to push two beds together. – The bunk rooms beds cannot always be fully pushed together because of the dividers, and there is not much free space in the rooms to take beds out.  Barracks have A/C.
  • Bath Stuff : towels, shampoo, soap, other toiletries – You might want to bring flip flops to wear in the shower areas.
  • Medications: There is space in the fridge for meds that need to be kept cold. Our camp space is covered by a canopy of trees. If you’re allergic to trees, grass, or anything outdoorsy you might want some allergy meds. In wet years there have been Chiggers around the fire pit. Take proper preparations so that you don’t spend your PBF itching.
  • Lawn / camping chairs – Group discussions are held outside. It’s good to bring your own chair.
  • Comfortable shoes – The ground is grassy and rocky, so wear something that’s good for light hiking (e.g., tennis shoes, etc.).
  • Sunscreen, bug repellent, hats, fire ant sting reliever – It’s Texas, what else do I need to say?
  • Dress super casual : shorts, t-shirts, jeans, jacket – Don’t forget something to wear while dancing around the fire.
  • Alcohol – State park rules prohibit alcohol in public.  The dining hall and the barracks are not public spaces.  Drink responsibly.
  • Flashlights – The area away from the lodges is not well lit. Have a flashlight for safety!
  • Snacks – All meals are included however they are not your midnight chocolate stash or your specific fiber yogurt for breakfast. There is a snack table if you would like to share.
  • Drinks – PBF provides water, lemonade, coffee, and occasionally some tea bags. If you’re a soda drinker be prepared to bring your own. There is a normal size fridge in the kitchen that accommodates campers food but not really enough space for everyone. If you have a small cooler for your drinks that is best. Ice can be purchased at the ranger station during posted hours.

Fire safety, rhythm drumming, and belly dancing

Whether or not we’ll have a fire circle is uncertain, as Bastrop County sometimes experiences a burn ban. The presence of a burn ban will be determined by the Park Rangers when we arrive. Whether there is a fire or not, we will set lights around the fire circle, and that should provide us with some good ambient lighting for discussions, drumming, and dancing. If there is a fire, the fire must be always tended. When the fire gathering is dying down, the fire must be doused by the last few people who are there before they go to bed.

Everyone is invited to participate in the drumming and the dancing. You are also invited to bring instruments, and they do not necessarily have to be drums, but there will be no power for electric instruments. Note: Outdoor “quiet time” at the camp begins at 10pm. If you want to enjoy drumming around the fire you should plan on being there before 10 (and must finish by 10PM).

Fire Safety
  • Sweep the fire circle area free of ignitable debris within a 4 foot circle around the fire ring. (This is also used for dancers to move around the fire)
  • Be sure before the fire is lit that there are no roots near enough to the surface to ignite. Roots can smolder for days underground, eventually coming up to kill or ignite trees or sometimes even entire groves.
  • Be sure no rocks go into the fire that have been anywhere near water. While it’s unlikely, water sometimes seeps into small chambers in rocks. If this heats to steam too quickly, the rock can burst, sending sharp bits of flying rock everywhere, which is likely to spoil the ambiance quickly and thoroughly.
  • Make sure the fire is not flaring high enough to endanger nearby trees that may overhang the fire area.
  • Try to use hardwood as much as possible. It doesn’t flare as nicely as softwood, but it is also less likely to spit sparks all over the place. Sparks can ignite nearby materials, and can hurt you badly if they land on you (or vice versa).
  • Know where the materials for fire extinguishing are kept.
Fire Extinguishing
  • Don’t use an extinguisher! Unless it’s an emergency, don’t use a fire extinguisher to put out the bonfire; it’s an unconscionable waste of something you may later wish really badly that you still had.
  • To extinguish the fire, pour water on it. That’s the main thing. The more water, the better. You cannot pour too much water on the fire.
  • When you’re convinced it’s out, stir the ashes. Add more water, because I guarantee you will have turned up coals or flammable materials that may re-ignite. Repeat as necessary.
  • You may safely walk away from the fire when you can sift through the ashes with your bare fingers. If you don’t feel confident doing this, you have not doused the fire sufficiently.

Meals & Food Service

All meals are prepared by volunteers. Everyone is expected to help. All food will be served in the dining hall at designated mealtimes Everyone is expected to wash their own plates, bowls, cups, and flatware at the end of each meal. Do not throw these away. No plates or eating utensils are disposable as we attempt to keep the event Green. Please bring cups back to the kitchen and wash them when you are done with them so they can be reused throughout the event.

The menu for the weekend will be made available beforehand. It is your responsibility to check the menu ahead of time to ensure that your dietary needs will be met and to make alternate arrangements IN ADVANCE if you feel the menu does not meet your needs. We attempt to cater to meat-eaters, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, quasi-kosher, and gluten free folks. We attempt to make reasonable accommodations for folks with significant food allergies as well. These food restrictions can be marked on your registration page, the earlier you register the more time we have to take your restrictions into consideration. Since we prepare a large portion of the food in advance of the event any late registration food restrictions may not be taken into consideration due to time restrictions. Should you have additional questions please contact the appropriate staff members to make arrangements. Otherwise, please be aware of any special desires or needs you may have and plan ahead.

The kitchen staff will not provide snacks. A table will be set aside for non-perishable snacks that people bring, but we cannot feasibly provide snacks that will satisfy everyone. So bring what you would want to enjoy between meals.

Volunteer Shifts

This event is run by volunteers and depends on all participants for its success. By the time the event starts, several of us will have spent many evenings and weekends planning and preparing for this event. During registration, each participant was asked to choose 2 volunteer shifts and a final cleanup activity. We ask each adult participant to wash and dry their own dishes and utensils after each meal in addition to your volunteer shift. Children’s dishes and utensils are the responsibility of their parents.

Please show up for your assigned shifts on time to keep the event running smoothly. Schedules of volunteer shifts will be posted during the event in the dining hall if you are unsure of what you registered for.

Descriptions of volunteer shifts:

Event Setup Volunteers:
  • Pre-prep volunteers: These volunteers attend meal preparation events hosted in Austin before the event and work toward cooking and preparing food to be served the event.
  • PBF gear un-loaders: These volunteers unload our pbf gear from the transport trailer and bring it into the site for setup on Thursday afternoon at the event.
  • Kitchen unpacking & setup: These volunteers unpack the PBF gear from storage boxes, wash and put away the kitchen equipment for the event on Thursday afternoon onsite.
Kitchen Volunteers:
  • Meal/Shift Leader: This person is responsible for the meal. It take a lot of time and so will count for three shifts.  They are required to meet with the kitchen lead to go over the food plan prior to the meal. They will show up before the meal to organize folks for food prep ensure the meal is prepared, monitor the food during the meal to ensure everthing looks good, store the leftover and ensure everything is cleaned up. This volunteer is responsible for, directs, and assists the kitchen crew with meal preparation for the meal they selected. The meal leader is given a complete list of the food and all components for the meal. Meal leaders ensure all tasks related to meal preparation are completed and are responsible for setting out all parts of the meal including plates, napkins, utensils, condiments, and ensuring the water/tea/lemonade pitchers are full, etc.
  • Food preparation team: These shifts begin 45 – 60 minutes prior to the start of the meal. Most of the cooking will be done prior to the event. However, help is needed in last minute preparation, reheating, chopping veggies for salad, gathering silverware/plates/cups/etc, and placing the food out for consumption.
  • Kitchen cleanup team:  We will need two kinds of volunteers for kitchen cleanup.
    • The first of these will be responsible for monitoring the dish washing station during the meal, keeping the water hot, sudsy and clean for the people who are washing their own dishes.
    • The second type of kitchen cleanup will begin when the meal ends.
      • Tasks involved will be clearing away and storage of leftovers, washing and drying pots, pans and prep tools, general cleanup of the kitchen surfaces, sweeping the dining hall and taking out the trash.
      • Cleanup crew is provided with and envelope of tasks that are necessary for cleanup after each meal. Please take a task from the envelope and complete that task. Cleanup is complete when all tasks in the envelope have been finished.
Fire tasks:
  • Fire Building : These volunteers are responsible for building and ensuring the fire gets started.
  • Fire Tending : These volunteers tend the fire while it is burning, add wood as needed, and are prepared to stamp out any off cast from the fire that might ignite the surrounding area.  
  • Fire Extinguishing : These volunteers are prepared and responsible for extinguishing the fire at the end of the evening and ensuring the embers will not reignite after we leave the area.

Descriptions of Final Cleanup tasks

Each person is responsible for packing up their bedding and personal belongings. All personal items should be removed from the barracks no later than 11am Sunday morning.


  • Barracks cleanup: Remove all trash, sweep the lodge and re-arrange the bunks back to a normal configuration.
  • Final Kitchen cleanup: Clean out refrigerators, dispose of leftovers (send home with people), wash/dry remaining dishes, pack up everything, clean kitchen surfaces, dispose of trash, sweep and mop floors.
  • Dining Hall cleanup: Take down and pack decorations, sweep floors, rearrange tables, dispose of final trash bags.
  • Grounds: Pick up and dispose of trash. (gloves provided)
  • Load out Kitchen to Trailer: This is the last task of PBF clean up. All the storage boxes that have been repacked must be loaded on to the trailer for return to long-term storage.

Payment Instructions

The primary payment method is paypal from the registration page.

If you need to pay via cash or check please give your registration fees to David( or That years PBF coordinator) at 1st Wednesday (Central Market) or 2nd Thursday (Whole Foods).  Please make checks payable to “David Wheeler” and include your “Family Name” on the Memo line. You will receive email confirmation when your payment is received.

You may also mail your payment to:  

Poly Big Fun

Attn: David

12320 Split Rail Pkwy

Austin, TX 78750

Leads and Contacts

The PBF coordinator serves as leadership and is ultimately responsible for the event at large, from site reservation to pack out after the event. The PBF coordinator encourages and supports the team of co-coordinators in all their efforts to make this event as meaningful as possible to all attendees.

The gear coordinator is responsible for ensuring that: all PBF gear arrives on site for the event, gear is inventoried post event, and gear is properly returned to storage after the event and safely kept during non-usage periods.

Financial services serves as the treasury for PBF and maintains all financial records.

The workshop coordinator is responsible for the PBF event schedule onsite. The workshop coordinator determines the placement of all workshops, meals, and entertainment during the event. The workshop coordinator is responsible for the solicitation and communication of and with those who would like to participate as workshop facilitators or discussion mediators.

The kitchen coordinator is responsible for menu planning for the event as well as pre-event meal purchasing, preparation, and onsite coordination of meals. The kitchen coordinator supervises kitchen crew volunteers in pre and post meal preparations. The kitchen coordinator is often a thankless job that is absolutely one of the most critical for PBF. We have great respect for those who have gone before us as kitchen coordinators.

Tech services and registration is responsible for PBF’s web presence and also registration services. These kind people donate their time year round to continually build and enhance our abilities to efficiently utilize technology. Any questions regarding your registration for an event should be forwarded to Tech services.

The onsite volunteer coordinator is the individual who ensures that volunteer like things are getting done. If attendees need to rearrange their volunteer schedules onsite this is the person to see. The volunteer coordinator is responsible for rounding up more help should it be necessary.