The largest music festivals in the world are typically characterized by the massive creations of elaborate stages, complex lighting and large sound systems that amplify bass to your inner soul. However, one of the most important elements is the human element. The true reason why you attend these festivals is to enjoy the companionship of people. At Nocturnal Wonderland 2012, we enjoyed the festival experience with a group that wants everyone to, “Stay Happy, Healthy & Hydrated!” and strives to keep attendees safe at Insomniac festivals. This is behind the scenes with: Ground Control.
In a nutshell, “Ground Control is a grassroots movement of proactive and approachable young adults, who help attendees at music and art festivals. Brittany Meckelborg and Laura Newton developed the idea of a volunteer-based buddy system for music and art festivals after Electric Daisy Carnival, Los Angeles (EDC LA) in June 2010.”
“Our volunteers are typically very compassionate, charismatic and eager to participate. By caring for their peers and helping everyone ‘Stay Happy, Healthy & Hydrated,’ the volunteers set positive examples for other event-goers,” said Newton.
On Friday, Sept. 21, we picked up our credentials at press check-in and then headed out to the venue to see what Ground Control was up to. Ground Control is a very well organized team. In typical fashion, the staff had a base camp set up as a central meeting point for the volunteers. The volunteers were assigned specific shifts by a supervisor and given designated areas to patrol at certain times throughout the night.
During the volunteer orientation, we learned that training is the key to beginning any day with Ground Control. We first took a tour of the festival grounds in order to gain a thorough understanding of the venue layout. We also learned the proper search and rescue procedure if you encounter a dangerous situation during the event. Last but not least, the team finally met with Maren Steiner, Insomniac Medical Director. The knowledge she shared with the Ground Control volunteers will never leave me... Steiner spoke about the reasons why Ground Control is so important for Insomniac and what the volunteers do for people at these festivals.
“You are our eyes and ears on the ground. Each and every one of you is a guardian angel and tonight you will make a difference in someone’s life,” said Steiner. I was moved by this because if defines Ground Control’s motto and gives you a perspective on the impact that Ground Control makes at Insomniac festivals.
At the end of Nocturnal Wonderland 2012, we spoke with Brittany and Laura and asked them what Ground Control means to them. Brittany said, “Ground Control is all about eliminating the bystander effect. A crowd of thousands of people can stand by while a young woman is lost and crying, but a Ground Controller will approach this girl and let her know she is among friends. In this sense, anyone can be a Ground Controller if we all make the effort. Laura followed up with, "Ground Control is much more than a group of volunteers... it is a family of compassionate individuals. We all care about partying responsibly, making sure everyone is having a great time and ensuring the longevity of Electronic Dance Music festivals."
To learn more about Ground Control or to apply to be a part of this amazing group, visit their Facebook Page at the link below. We thank Ground Control for letting us spend the weekend with them and looking forward to upcoming experiences. Keep an eye out for the Ground Control team at Beyond Wonderland!