A-Camp May 2013 Recamp #4: YUP.

Welcome to the fourth of four fantastic recaps of our experience at A-Camp 3.0, which took place 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles at Alpine Meadows Camp atop a mountain in Angelus Oaks, California, from May 23rd-27th, 2013. These recamps serve to ease our collective separation anxiety, enable us to wax nostalgic over times gone by and provide prospective campers with a brilliant glimpse into the A-Camp Experience.

A-Camp May 2013

A-Camp was the genesis of an idea Riese had at 3AM in July 2010: the concept was to take the spirit of the website into three glorious dimensions and create an affordable vacation for queers for whom other lesbian-marketed vacations aren’t a perfect fit.  In April 2012, we did it for the first time— along with 160 campers and 35 staff members, we rented out a summer camp in its off-season and enjoyed a transformative weekend of fun, friendship, panels, workshops, classes, sports, entertainment, events and so forth. It was probably the most awesome experience of our life and we knew from there it would only get bigger and better — and it did, in September 2012!

jenny2

Which brings us to May 2013, when our largest-ever group of campers arrived on the mountain, and were greeted by dedicated counselors and treated to four days of kickass programming. Swagger 101! Comedy Improv! Yoga! DIY Body Scrubs! Hop-Hop Dance! Kink Panel! Know Your Whiskey Tasting! Recess Games! Drag King Workshop! Femme Luncheon! Lilith Fair! Julie Goldman & Brandy Howard! Deanne Smith! Somer Bingham! The cast of Unicorn Plan-It! Calendar Girls! Team Autostraddle! Most importantly: EACH OTHER! And So. Much. More.

A-Camp May 20131

In the past, these recamps have been exhaustive recollections of every minute of A-Camp, but this time we’re tightening it up a bit. See, A-Camp is whatever you want it to be — and it’s something different for everybody. You all have your own stories in your hearts and brains and cameras and in the notebook paper pieces in your back pockets and this is our story of what goes on behind-the-scenes and also in the front of our brains to make this whole she-bang come together with relative grace. Are you ready? I don’t think you’re ready. (Also, we miss you!)


Sunday, May 26th: Day Four

photo-by-stephanie-c

Early Morning: Sunrise Eagle Cafe // Morning Stretch With Feelings (Mary) // PAJAMA BREAKFAST

A-Camp May 2013 Collage-Ready1

Block A: Holistic Health Workshop (Jess) // Blog Anything (Riese & Laneia) // Kink Panel (Daniela, Nic, Ali, Kay) // Make Another Thing (Hansen) // Spooning 2.0 (Stef & Katrina) // Yoga (Devyn)

Block B: DIY Lingerie For Grrrls & Bois (Lizz & Hansen) // Slam Poetry (Gabby) // Queer Representation in Media Panel (Haviland, Croce, Brittani, Somer, Julia, Carly, Deanne Smith) // Write Something (Rachel) // Coming Out Narratives (Sarah Evan) // Hip-Hop Dance (Devyn)

(photo by aki)

(photo by aki)

Vanessa, Contributing Editor & Blackhearts Counselor: Even though I attended A-Camp 1.0 last year as a camper, I didn’t manage to find any time to go on a hike and really explore the mountain. I remember feeling envious of everyone’s nature-filled photos post-camp last year, so this time around I swore to myself that I’d get some photographic evidence of myself being surrounded by trees (because obviously the number one reason to go on a hike is to take photos that will get a lot of likes on Instagram…jk…or am I?!) Anyway, I went on not one but two hikes this time! The mountain is so gorgeous! There are so many trees! Why doesn’t Brooklyn look like this?! The first hike was during pre-camp and Jill taught me all about life in the country, and the second hike was on Sunday and I went with my girlfriend, Julia, and a few other campers. I loved both hikes but the second hike was a lot longer and a lot more feelings-filled, and it was also really nice to get some time with my girlfriend (hi Rae!).

rachel & vanessa

rae & vanessa

Carrie, Community Managerette & Tiger Beat Counselor: Helping Daniela get dressed for The Kink Panel was a highlight. Vanessa and Lizz might fight me on this, but the occasion seemed to call for fishnet stockings over a floral print skirt.

Daniela, Intern & Starjammers Counselor: This was the first time we had a separate, focused panel on kink at camp and I learned so much just by sitting next to Ali, Kay and Nic. Ali moderated that thing like a boss, and we all got to prove kink looks like whatever you want it to look, as long as you keep it safe, sane and consensual. Pretty awesome stuff to sit, think and chat about on a Sunday morning in a mountain full of queermos.

kink panel (photo by rachel w)

kink panel (photo by rachel w)

Stef, Contributor & Bombshells Counselor:  We weren’t exactly sure how the powers that be let us have a Spooning Workshop to begin with, nevermind a second one, and we didn’t want to rehash September camp’s curriculum if we could help it. We walked in a bit nervous, unsure of everything except our innate ability to cuddle like champions. Once we got in there though, some higher power took over, and we began answering questions, holding demonstrations, and problem-solving like the accredited snuggling gurus we always knew we could be. We can’t tell you everything that happened – as always, you need to actually attend the workshop to learn its secrets – but I can tell you that everybody walked out of there with all the tools they needed to spoon each other with affection, dignity and respect.

Image via Stef

Image via Stef

Lizz, Contributing Editor & Starjammer Counselor: I can’t believe how many campers showed up for DIY Underwear For Grrrls & Bois. We made the cutest “dyke” underwear and, much like nerdcraft, it was nice to have some downtime and just chat with people. Plus, I got to see how talented all the campers are! They made some seriously sexy stuff.

dyke-by-stephanie-c

(photo by stephanie c)

Gabby, Writer & Foxfire Counselor: Big shout outs to Ashley Catherine for co-hosting the Slam Poetry Workshop. I just want to thank everyone for giving of themselves and diving deep into their most vulnerable places and sharing their words with us. We led a workshop based on Reneé Watson’s “I Am Not” line poem that’s centered on the idea of how we are perceived versus who/how we really are. Together we created line poems and performed them. A group of campers even got together and performed their piece at the talent show. It was amazing.

Jill, Wild Things Counselor: I went to Gabby’s poetry thing thinking I would just listen to some rad poetry. But wait! It was a workshop?!?! That meant I had to get involved and participate and shit. But that worked out fine because I wrote a poem and felt some feelings. I was impressed with the poetic talents of all the campers who read the poems that they composed on the fly during the workshop. Some of those lines cut right to the bone.

making another thing (photo by aki)

making another thing (photo by aki)

Laneia, Executive Editor & Runaways Counselor: It was almost an unspoken thing that we’d do a live Blog Anything, and we both knew what it would look like: a pile of queers writing in notebooks with Fiona Apple playing softly in the background. Bliss, right? We put together some super brilliant prompts that I can’t recall now — I think one was to write about an experience on public transportation — that were totally optional. I’m not sure anyone used them.

This might sound weird, like I don’t trust y’all or something, but I was kind of shocked that it worked. No one wanted to talk or get a second opinion on a clunky sentence — they all just wrote with their little heads down, and seemed to enjoy it.

I think with each camp, Riese and I will slowly keep adding things that allow us to just sit in a room with campers and quietly listen to emotionally intense ’90s/’00s women on her computer.

Vanessa: My favorite thing in the world is meeting you guys. I’m not exaggerating. It’s why I write Stradder On The Street. It’s why I joke that I want to interview every single queer women in the world but it’s not really a joke because I actually do. It’s why I was the most excited to run Straddler On The Mountain and have people submit to the column in person. Admittedly, things could have gone a bit smoother. I’m not sure that every camper knew that I was just trying to garner submissions, and I think some people avoided the activity because they thought I might put them on the spot and try to interview them right away. What happened in actuality was that I made a bunch of shy yet enthusiastic announcements in the dining hall letting campers know that I’d be outside Wolf during certain times and asked/begged for submissions, and then I sat outside Wolf and waited for y’all to come to me. While I did not reach my goal of 100+ submissions, I did get 53, which means we’re all set through summer 2014! And that’s not counting the cuties who have emailed me since coming home saying, “I meant to submit on the mountain but I forgot/got lost/was making out with a hot girl at the pool party and just couldn’t leave, but anyway can I do it now!” But the numbers actually don’t matter. All I want when I do Straddler interviews is to connect with our readers, and I got to do that SO MUCH during my Straddler On The Mountain sessions at camp. So thank you to everyone who submitted. And, uh, if you still want to submit…no pressure, obviously…but if you want to…email me at vanessa [at] auto straddle [dot] com! Thanks!

Brooklyn Jaye, Straddler on the  Mountain

Brooklyn Jaye, Straddler on the Mountain

Cara, Contributing Editor & Bombshells Counselor: The Bombshells Birthday/General Celebration Dance was amazing. My cabin earned their name like woah. Plus they made each other tiny birthday cakes and smuggled them into camp. My love knows no bounds.

Image via Stef

Image via Stef

Rachel, Senior Editor & Slayers Counselor: It’s incredibly difficult to describe, but Somer’s campaign for Best New Intern of 2013 was one of my favorite parts of camp and also my life in general. I hope someone videotaped her campaign speech at Sunday’s dinner, because I want to treasure it in my heart forever.

Photo by Cee Webster

Photo by Cee Webster

Robin, Photographer & A-Camp Co-Director : Intern Somer is one of my favorite moments of camp. Mostly the moment I saw the hair creations she was making. What a treasure.

Photo by Cee Webster

Photo by Cee Webster

Riese, CEO/Editor-in-Chief & Runaways Counselor: I had no idea what was going on with the Intern Somer campaign until she got up at lunch and delivered a dead-serious campaign speech that would’ve probably given Kerry a leg up in ’04 regarding her achievements thus far as a self-appointed intern at A-Camp.

somer & mani (photo by stef)

somer & mani (photo by stef)

Marni, Contributor & A-Camp Co-Director: Our new talent this camp was beyond. Deanne Smith was finally able to join us after my efforts for the previous two camps were squashed by her exhaustive, globe-trotting comedy schedule, and she killed. Just KILLED. Her set was the hardest I’ve laughed in forever. And Somer Bingham, whom I’d only met once before camp, brought such an amazing, enthusiastic energy to everything she did. When she wasn’t on a panel or jamming at Lilith, she was making weirdo sculptures out of Katrina’s barbershop hair refuse, and campaigning to be Autostraddle’s new intern (complete with a vote and concession speech). They weren’t just “talent,” they were real team members, and it was an honour to have them.

Mary, Calendar Girl & Little Rascals Counselor: Sharing a bathroom with DeAnne Smith was really special. She used my hairspray, you guys!

Lizz: It was such a pleasure to hang out with our new intern, Somer. Intern Somer started helping out right from the start, but I think she really came into her own when she started making all the schedules. I just don’t know how I will survive without her to write out my day.

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Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1795 articles for us.

114 Comments

  1. Thumb up 8

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    OMG YOU GUYS. I AM HAVING APPROXIMATELY 189 FEELINGS. Vanessa and Julia, your words were perfect. That last page is perfect. I have mixed feelings about my completelyandtotallyexcitedomg Fort Feelings photo, but I think it embodies how ecstatic camp made me feel, how joyful and included and loved so I will take it! <3

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    TIGER BEAT STOP MAKING ME CRY

    p.s. those pictures of cait and i are literally the spin doctors’ song “two princes”

    ONE TWO PRINCES KNEEL BEFORE YOU NOW
    THAT’S WHAT I SAID NOW
    also
    I KNOW WHAT A PRINCE AND LOVER OUGHT TO BEEEEE

  3. Thumb up 5

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    My favorite part about this recamp was reading it while facebook chatting with some other Runaways who were also reading it and having ALL THE FEELINGS together and pretending like we were back in our cabin having a feelings circle. Because that is what camp is about.

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    Somer was A-Camp’s dark horse… she just quietly did weird hilarious shit in the background and executed it perfectly and would just walk away like “what, you’ve never seen human hair attached to tiny cone-shaped paper cups before?” and no, for the record, i had not

    *i promise that i don’t just love her because she made the day 2 & 3 schedules that i was too busy to make though that is also a reason i like her but not the main one

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      Me too. Totally missed the photobooth, which gives me sad feels, but it’s okay. I kinda avoided taking photos and finding photo sessions this camp, cause I wanted to #berightthere/beherenow. It worked. I was so fucking present all weekend, which felt great. I was able to detox from the universe in the best possible way by consuming all of you. xo

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        I’m with you on that one. And I also avoided photos at the dance because I was sweating from dancing so hard. Though the outlaws photobooth photo makes me smile so hard even though I’m not in it. I might print it out in wallet size and carry it with me. Is that weird?

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    This is where I dole out my thank yous. I just finished watching the Stanley Cup and am PRETTY EMOTIONAL right now, so I apologize if I get pathetic.

    Country Straddlers- This made camp for me. Everyone at camp was amazingly kind, but this was the one time I felt 100% normal. People got it, the love for the land and the struggle to stay when every queer narrative you ever hear is telling you that you HAVE to go. I really loved this. This will make me come back.

    Lex- Thank you for letting me/making me cry the last night. It’d been 2.5 years since I had cried in front of another human being. I’m not always good at being compassionate with myself, and you sort of forced me to let myself be human and have feelings instead of responding to feelings with a quip and a shot. I still SORT of hate myself on the daily for the thing we discussed, but I’m trying to be kind to myself.

    Lindsey- Thank you for forcing me to go to camp. I knew literally nothing of Autostraddle before I went, and now I feel like I have all these new friends that share a life experience most of my friends here do not.

    Toros- You guys are amazing, and made me feel so welcome and wonderful. I love you guys, and I can’t wait til next May.

    I love all of you so much.

  6. Thumb up 7

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    So I didn’t get to go and I won’t get to go for awhile.
    I think once I’m out to EVERYONE A-Camp will be a gift I give myself. But until that time I am here for the pictures and to read about the fun I missed.

    P.S.-I hope A-Camp is going to be a thing forever because it looks like the best.

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    Cee, I want to let you know that one of the NOPE Grumpy Cat posters is on my fridge right now, and I’ll treasure it forever along with 2 drawings my friends from A Camp 1.0 made.

    ALSO THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN TO ROBIN FOR BRINGING OUT HER CAMERA FOR THE DANCE BECAUSE THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I WANTED AT CAMP <3 <3 <3

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    i have a serious love/hate relationship with these recamps.they really pressure me in making camp4.0 happen but life, responsibilities, flight rates and a fucking ocean make it so hard. but ugh, so much cuteness. i guess it’s happening!

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    MORE FEELINGS

    The pool party was the best. I especially loved our impromptu synchronized swimming lesson.

    For those of you who are uncomfortable in traditional swimwear – that makes me at least eighteen different kinds of sad, because I FUCKING LOVE SWIMMING AND THINK EVERYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT! One suggestion – rash guards! They’re basically t-shirts (or long sleeved shirts) that are made to be worn in the water. You’ll need a tight one if you want to go fast, but if you don’t care about that, loose fit ones are great too! As an added bonus, they also help protect your skin against UV.

  10. Thumb up 7

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    OMG, OUTLAWS, YOU ALL ARE THE CUTEST IN EVERY PHOTO YOU’RE IN/EVERYONE IS THE CUTEST IN ALL THE PHOTOS THEY’RE IN/EVERYONE LOOK AT NATE AND TAYLOR IN THAT PHOTO I LOVE IT FOREVER.

    I LOVE YOU ALL FOREVER TOO.

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    I’m so bummed I missed the Slayers photo op at the dance! But this reminded me of Gaela’s amazing red lipstick (she kissed me on the cheek and I walked around with a lipstick print for a while).

    but that photo of Potter and me. BROS BROS BROS.

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    This was the day Mary Tully had the entire cafeteria sing happy birthday to me at breakfast. I was blushing and sinking as deep as I could into my seat, but it was probably one of the best moments of my life.

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    1.)I made it to the photobooth!
    2.)I think we all had fun at the talent show (if ever again I will secure the uke before somebody straddles a wall and I become willfully incompetent)
    3.) I will forever remember when the feelings happened on Geneva’s shoulder and how Ariella and Croce brought the smile back to my face.
    4.) What we are doing here is magic…I mean nowhere else could you find over a hundred people so determined to keep the party going that they create the music when sound fails
    5.) The morning I left camp, like a stranger on the early shuttle my last hug was from Marni, and while I forgot to ask if she consented, it was the best last hug I could have hoped for.
    6.) I have now missed the ice cream social twice
    7.) I can’t wait to do this again!!

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    This day was so full of… feelings, camp, love, fatigue that stemmed from processing, being comfortable and happy and joyful and having learned so much over the last few days… that I couldn’t even attend that many sessions. Guys – I attended 4 panels on the first day. FOUR. So I was recovering for days after that.

    So I sat in the sun, chatted with beautiful humans, made a thing (or two or three… the camp patches were the absolute best, and my homo and queermo patches are getting good use), sat in the sun some more, went to the POOL PARTY…

    Oh my fucking god. Dancing with sexy beautiful people, jumping in the pool, dancing and smiling and talking to so many wonderful people… EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU IN BATHING ATTIRE AND CLOTHES AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS MADE OF CLOTH THAT MADE YOU FEEL OKAY – You are handsome, sexy, hot, powerful, beautiful and attractive. You inspire me.

    This was one of my favourite parts of camp.

    So was the impromptu spray painting of shirts, my favourite being gentle queer on the back of my camp shirt, and my new a-camp bag that now says “Don’t stop be fab.”

    And then there was talent, ice cream social, and a dance. And my head and heart and body and soul exploded.

    It has taken me days to be able to create an recamp response of any kind because I am still so filled up, emotional, and lovingly precious about the whole experience. Just wait until I get started on the gender, sexual fluidity, WOC/QPOC, family, and non-monogamy panels. FEELINGS.

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    Remember that one time when…

    there were like 300 queers on a mountain and all of them were so attractive that it made my knees shake?

    the bathroom in Falcon became the best place on the mountain?

    for vegan breakfast there was only scary looking tofu scramble doused in ketchup?

    DeAnne Smith made me laugh so hard I was crying?

    the Autostraddle staff told *real* stories and I was crying for real?

    the swingset became a place to look at the stars and contemplate life while drunk?

    the swingset became a place where bears would hang around?

    Klub Deer turned into a contest of who could make out with most people on the dance floor?

    the kink panel made me uncomfortable in the best way possible?

    I met the best people and formed my most meaningful friendships?

    we all had feelings?

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    Shout-out to all the crazy talented people who performed at the Talent Show, and for keeping it super classy.
    * Listening to people’s stories and slam poetry (especially the 5 person one) gives me shivers in ways that I didn’t know were possible.
    * Ranger’s smutty story was brilliantly hilarious. You really have an excellent storytelling ability.
    * Ginuwine’s Pony makes me smile stupidly large every time I hear it now, and my gf and I exchange knowing grins. Best. Association. Ever.
    * Evie’s violin serenade makes me want to pick up the violin again. (And I know, I know, it’ll be like riding a bicycle =) )
    * And Leslie’s comedy bit was seriously too short. Seriously.
    * I love everyone and everyone is family <3

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    Post-camp (yes, even a month post-camp) I find myself just full of feelings I can’t articulate.

    Tiger Beat, I love you all (and can’t wait to see a handful of you this weekend!)
    Smoker’s Circle, I love you all as well, you were basically my second cabin.

    Just in general, I love everyone and the fact that this exists, and hope to see your faces in October.

  18. Thumb up 7

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    I normally wouldn’t admit this, but I feel this is a “safe space” so I will share.

    One morning I headed to the kitchen post-breakfast time to hunt down some coffee. On the front door was a “sign” that simply said “Nope” with a sad cat on it. At this point I was unfamiliar with the internet meme “grumpy cat”… so to me it appeared that the cafeteria was closed until lunch.

    I turned around, sighed, and walked away from the cafeteria, sans coffee, and sadder than the grumpiest cat, thinking that I had to wait until lunch for coffee.

    CEE’S GRUMPY CAT NOPE POSTERS TOTALLY PRANKED ME.

    • Thumb up 4

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      OMG i saw a grumpy cat poster on one of the cabins up on the hill on the smaller side of the campsite and despite the fact that i’ve been to this camp three times and therefore should be familiar with the layout and where different cabins are, i thought for THE ENTIRETY OF CAMP that that cabin was where the Alpine staff lived and that they’d put up that sign to make sure none of us went in there looking for other A-Campers. i was like ‘that is the cutest KEEP OUT sign i’ve ever seen!”

      i didn’t know that grumpy cat was a thing, let alone a meme, until we were driving down the mountain and i think marni mentioned it or we discussed it in some way

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        These stories are hilarious/cute! Since this is a safe space, can I fess up to some of my weirdo pop culture ignorance from former camps?

        At the first camp, I had no idea what YOLO meant. YOLO was everywhere. YOLO was spray painted on things. It came out of mouths. YOLO! Yolo. Looked it up when I got home. Shameful.

        At the second camp, I had *no clue* what it was that the Runaways were doing when they were saluting. And then my cabin started doing it because purple team, duh, and I still didn’t know why we were doing it. And then after camp I saw everyone refer to this as the “hunger salute” and fuck that made even less sense. It didn’t click in my brain until that GIF was posted as the first comment in a recap. AND I HAD READ THE HUNGER GAMES. I had seen the movie too!

        I am dumb.

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    some highlights/feelings vomit/i still can’t be coherent about what those four days meant to me, so here’s a small sample:

    – I will never be able to listen to “I Love It” the same way again. The dance and Klub Deer were amazing and the perfect way to end the weekend.

    -I actually screamed aloud during the fashion show when Julie came out in her CUNTY hat and then I cried when she walked past me. there were real tears.

    – two words: smoker’s circle

    -and then this one time at the pool party Carmen introduced me to Julie and Brandy, who were basically the final straw that made me decide to come to A-Camp and I think I died. Except I couldn’t have died, because later that evening, fueled by vodka (and I’m not naming names, but that vodka might have come from my favorite aforementioned celesbians), I ended up throwing my clothing at Riese and Brandy and dancing onstage in Straddle This boxers. I think THAT’S when I officially died. It’s cool. My entire life is complete now. There will never be a better thing, and I’m completely at peace with that.

  20. Thumb up 2

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    So many pictures of my dancers! I’m so freakin’ proud of all you ladies who decided after a two hour workshop you wanted to choreograph and perform with me. You all ROCKED MAJOR SOCKS and worked so hard and were so beautiful I just… Ugh. All the stripper mama feelings.

    Camp is amazing, you guys. But the campers are SPECTACULAR.

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