Rainbow Gathering Ends And Some Campers Stay To Clean

Jul 8, 2015

Brad Jensen poses as he dries his clothes to pack and leave the Black Hills after the Rainbow Family Gathering. The final day was July 7th.
Credit Chynna Lockett

 The Rainbow Family gathering brought over 1,500 campers to the Black Hills. The gathering officially ended July 7th. Now some campers are staying behind to ensure the forest is clean.

The once full parking lot of the Rainbow Family Gathering is now nearly empty.  Over 1,000 members of the group had been camping in the national forest for a week. Some locals are worried about the mess that was left behind. Rainbow member Katrina Wilson says the group has protocols for clean-up.  

 “Clean-up is usually just whenever the kitchens, the main crews are deciding it’s time to start packing up. And they’ll generally do the process for a few days at least, but it generally takes about a week. And all of the kitchens will pack up their stuff and begin leaving. And then whoever is left, the smaller camps who are just basically feeding themselves and just like getting smaller and smaller and smaller, they’ll stay and clean up. Of course everything’s voluntary, so mostly the people that stay behind are doing it because they love the environment and they want to make sure the forest is better than we left it,” Wilson explains.

Devta Khalsa poses with his bicycle as he packs to leave the Black Hills.
Credit Chynna Lockett

Since the work is voluntary, not everyone stays to clean. Devta Khalsa, or O-see-love Is Real, is a seasoned Rainbow member. He has been attending gatherings since 1978. Khalsa says he plans on cleaning up after some campers when he goes to gatherings.

 “There’s going to be someone who’s going to police this, they’ll have waves of people, I’ve been on clean up. And eventually it will go in a big pile. We will recycle everything we can, we have the magic hat and we will pay to dump what we can dump,” says Khalsa.

The magic hat is used to anonymously collect money to help fund the gathering. Khalsa says the clean-up will end when the government says the forest is clean.