VI. The Campers Arrive!
Campers started showing up around noon to register and move in to their cabins. We had some activities, like High Tea and Alternative Lifestyle Barbershop and T-Shirt Cutting/Stenciling to entertain the people before programming started at dinner.
Robin: Day One was about 1000 times less stressful for me than it was in April. In fact, it wasn't stressful at all, it was really really fun!
Morgan: I've never felt so good to be so well-endowed in the upper body strength department. I was always kinda embarrassed for being a tiny chica with guns, but from camp day one I became a popular people-squeezing-destination. My muscles have a use other than scaring people whose hands I shake!
Katrina: We internalize a lot of things in this life and forget about them for a long time. A lot of those things are overwhelmingly difficult and sometimes scary, but once in a great while they’re not. There was something great dormant in me that I had long, long forgotten about. And that was my love of camp.
Robin: This time around we put Riese and Laneia at registration along with some other key staff members so they could greet campers they came in.
Laneia: I was so excited to be signing everyone in! We interacted with almost all of the campers before we'd even had dinner.
Riese: Last year, Laneia and I spent the first day at the airport and in a van. But working registration with Morgan and Carolyn meant we got to greet all the faces with our own faces! It was like my birthday except with human sacrifices instead of presents.
Laneia: I want to do sign-in duties from now on. Write that down.
Robin: I love that they did this because these are the rockstars of Autostraddle.com and I'm not sure we can tell them enough what their work means to all of us! Not being on registration allowed me to station myself outside Wolf to watch the campers coming down from the parking lot, lugging their suitcases over the gravel, looks of excitement and sheer terror on their faces. I couldn't stop smiling.
Sara Medd, 21 Hump Street Counselor/Calendar Stylist: I stood proudly behind the gift bag table passing out swag and name tags. I loved getting to see everyone coming in and learning names from the get-go. I loved seeing familiar faces mixed in with brand new ones. I felt like the proud hostess of the party that was about to be A-Camp 2.0, greeting her guests and welcoming each one in to our utopia.
Megan: I was ushering campers to their cabins and trying my best not to grab them and scream WE'RE SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE WE LOVE YOU. Instead I just carried their luggage.
Morgan: One of my Battlestars, who'd only existed as an avatar and a slew of kind words, ran up to me and was real! REAL. I often wonder if you are all fig newtons of my imagination, but you're not, you're fun and smile a lot.
Riese: At some point the "release forms" station was being manned by Sarah Croce, Haviland and Mollie and I was like, "aw it's all our eye candy at one table!" and they gave me a weird look. Luckily I had Tinkerbell with me this time and she gets me.
Sara Medd: My excitement was so much greater during this registration than last, to be honest. I wasn’t distracted by work or obligation, and I knew what these campers were about to experience during the following few days: a life-changing weekend that would send them out into the world standing a little prouder and more confident than before.
Rachel: Alice Motes got there early in the day with a trunk full of snacks and booze. Round of applause for Alice, everybody.
Carrie: She later gave me a Coke Zero when I was in a pinch. Isn't Alice is just the very best?
Riese: Also whiskey!
Laneia: ALICE MOTES!
Carly: Most of the Thundercats (HOOO!) arrived in the afternoon, so Crystal and I got to hang out with them before dinner.
Crystal: Our campers got to work decorating their cabin -- they had brought along posters of cats and balloons to make storm clouds and it was genius. Meredith even brought everyone Thundercats buttons.
Carmen: T-Shirt Cutting & Stenciling ended up being a great ongoing activity because so many people showed up! I met faces! I also saw faces passing me all of the time. Jill came by and made the first-ever Badass Bear shirt, and it looked badass. Also, the smokers' circle was nearby.
Crystal: Carly and I hit it up and spray-painted the Thundercats logo onto our t-shirts in solidarity.
Whitney: I volunteered for Friendship Bracelet duty, which involved hanging out in Deer Lodge with a giant bag of gimp lanyard and embroidery floss and macramé cord and beads and feathers. We made bracelets, keychains and key fobs and I felt like I was my plucky, keychain-making middle school self again. Meredydd and Malaika were on bracelet duty with me, so we sat in a circle of friendship with all of the campers and braided and talked about friendship and generally felt it — the friendship, I mean.
Rachel: We had over a dozen types of tea for an Inaugural High Tea with varying levels of caffeination and herbs/flowers/etc. Last camp we had I'll Show You Mine, which was a book full of vaginas, to look at while drinking tea. This time we had that book and several more! It feels good to be able to offer someone tea and books and vaginas when they've just gotten off a shuttle coming all the way up a scary mountain.
Sarah Hansen, camper/Autostraddle Contributing Editor: After we got settled into our cabin, Zeller got a haircut from Katrina's Alternative Lifestyle Barbershop! You'd be surprised how many people want to just stand around and watch a person get a hair cut, but the duo drew quite the crowd and we met so many awesome people this way.
Katrina: How beautiful and slightly terrifying to meet you all at once. I hope you liked your bags. I hope you took a cookie. You deserve it.
Laura: With the exception of a few little bumps in the road on the way home, getting 100 people to and from the airport this time went swimmingly!
VII. Cabin Initiation
Riese: After dinner, Laneia and I kicked the Runaways out of the cabin to prepare for the secret ritual ceremony and then we ushered them in and all the peanuts sat in a circle and then Meredith, sporting probably the cutest facial expression in the history of the human face, goes: "I've never been more excited for something in my whole life!" I think someone was like, "Really?" and she was like, "Yes!" Ever since camp, whenever I get sad, I think about that moment and feel happy again, seriously.
Carmen: We had our campers sit in a little circle that turned into a big circle and asked them questions about their lives. They demanded that they hear me rap by the end of camp and then told us how long they'd been reading Autostraddle. And dood, some of these people really fucking knew their shit! It's amazing to meet a camper who's been around in the community longer than me, you know?
Rachel: Initiation was a life-changing event that none of us will ever forget. We all have matching tattoos now. That's not true, but we did realize immediately how awesome our cabin was and how lucky we were to be Jetpack together. Also, the cabin still sort of smelled like water damage. SORRY, JETPACK.
Katrina: Meeting my campers was great, even though I’m stupid shy and don’t always know what to talk about or how to introduce myself or say hi. I feel like there’s this thing that’s imagined where YOU’RE awkward, and everyone else is totally fine and socially ept and like the silence is your fault. But it’s not, or maybe it is, but we’re all working through it together. I think that’s what was cool about having the entire Snatch cabin be my age. I met my campers and looked at all their cute faces and saw this huge range of what it could mean to be queer at this age and and this time. It was like this quiet reassurance, the fact that we could all be up there together.
Crystal: Carly and I both really love music and so of course Thundercats initiation was music themed. We asked each camper to name a song that they really relate to and then sat around in the cabin listening to everyone's selections. At the end we gave them all a Thundercats mix tape with the songs on it.
Carly: Mix tape listening party!
Alex: The Avengers initiation was less "initiation" and more "cawfee tawk" without the coffee. Because if it were up to me to actually initiate someone into something, there would be wedgies involved and nobody wants that. Vikki (my co-counselor) and I just asked my campers a bunch of possibly intrusive questions in order to better get to know their beautiful souls. I loved it.
Sara Medd: I loved the unity that almost instantly formed within the cabin. Obviously, one of the first orders of business was to figure out a cabin chant for the rainbow war games. We were green team and losing was not an option. After an intense couple of “never have I ever” ice breaking rounds, the cabin set out for rainbow war station games. HUMP HUMP!!!!
Morgan: Will my campers like me? I totally confess to fretting re: this. I mean, there's a lot of redhead prejudice these days keeping my polka dotted people down. Don't judge my ginger identity! Really though, Stef and I's puppy pile of sweetness, the Battlestars, were like ambassadors from the planet of All The Best Things. I thought my happiness had hit its ceiling, but then it sank in: all A-Camperlings, all Autostraddle supplicants, are really fucking nifty people! Plus you smell fab.
Riese: I can't actually tell you what the Runaways initiation consisted of because it is top secret. It involved a pledge and dim lighting and emotional exercises and Mazzy Star and facepaint. That's all I can say.
Laneia: I painted their cheeks with love paint, and we were one.
NEXT: THE WAR BEGINS.