A-Camp October 2013 Recamp #4: You Look Wonderful Tonight

Once upon a time (October 9th-13th, to be specific) in a land far far atop a mountain two hours outside of sunny Los Angeles, approximately 275 queer humans gathered for four days and four nights of revelry, carnivalia, intellectual stimulation, dance parties and deep sea bonding. They called it A-Camp 4.0, and it was beautiful! This is the fourth of four fantastic recaps which serve to ease our collective separation anxiety, give you a behind-the-scenes look at how your A-Camp soysage is made, enable us to wax nostalgic over times gone by and provide prospective campers with a brilliant glimpse into the A-Camp Experience.

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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 by renting a summer camp in the off-season and jam-packing a long weekend with panels, workshops, discussions, crafts, sports, entertainment, parties and so much more! We gave the idea a spin with an abbreviated, smaller edition of A-Camp in April 2012, followed by full-size full-length camps in September 2012 and May 2013, all hosted by everybody’s favorite dynamic duo, Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard. Which brings us to October 2013, the Little Camp That Could!

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This fall’s camp was unforgettable and fucking awesome. Our amazing team was complemented by talented Special Guests including comedienne DeAnne Smith, new media superstar Hannah Hart, Me & My Bois collaborators Lex Kennedy and Emotions the P.O.E.T., rock star Somer Bingham and songstress and actress Haviland Stillwell. Our camp staff included Autostraddle.com team members, A-Camp Tumblr Inventress Emily Gigler and Autostraddle Calendar Girls Miss October 2014 Kai, Miss February 2014 Chloe and Miss June 2013 Dani.

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Lez do this thing.


A-Camp October 2013 Recamp #4: Day Four

all photography by robin roemer unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, October 12th: Day Four of A-Camp

carlytron-wakes-up

Robin, A-Camp Co-Director & Photographer: Obviously the PJ Breakfast is my favorite breakfast. I was always that girl in college in my pjs at breakfast, and sometimes dinner too. Carly and I brought our onesies which feel like wearing a huge fleece blanket. Nothing is better than putting on a fleece onesie with a hood on a chilly morning. For those of you who asked, you can buy them here, or if you happen to live in NY, check out the Bryant Park holiday market where we scored these bad boys for about $30 less than the listed prices.

Sophia, Holograms Counselor: Saturday I got a cold. Like, Friday I knew it was there, saying to me in my head that I needed sleep and hot things to drink, but Saturday it was starting to kick me in the throat with all the tenderness of a young calf. I don’t remember what I did at all during the day.

Saturday Morning Activities

Yoga (Dani O) // CAMP Talks (Carly, Grace, Hannah, Lex, Megan & Campers!) // Out in the Cuntry (Bren, Kaylah & Mey) // Vanessa’s S’Mores & Straddlers (Vanessa) // Ask a Therapist (Donna & Sarah Evan) // Tinderhearts (Marni)

New Media & The Future of Entertainment: Q& A With Hannah Hart (Hannah Hart) // UCB: Upright Campers Brigade (Brittani & Lane) // Well That’s F*cking Pretty: Mooncatchers! (Laneia) // Lez Talk About Sex(ual Health) (Lizz) // Words With Friends: Limerick/Wordplay Workshop (Carolyn & Cara)

Carly, Special Programming Director & Contributor: The idea for CAMP Talks (CAMP doesn’t officially stand for anything, I just like making it all caps) sort of happened simultaneously in several different people’s brains and then it all came together. Specifically: Grace, Cee, Meredydd, Alex and me. I think we all felt like there were so many cool, talented people with interesting jobs or hobbies or passions and we wanted to know more. So we put our heads together and came up with CAMP Talks (but probably it would stand for Creating Awesome and Meaningful Presentations). Campers got to submit ideas ahead of time and then we chose our favorite proposals to come and present.

Robin: Camp Talks was such a great idea!!! It was so great seeing all the random and interesting things our campers had to share. What a bunch of cool geniuses.

(photo by robin)

Stef, The Gossip Counselor & Music Editor: Camp Talks were brilliant! My little Gossip baby Anna got up and taught everyone how to make terrariums, Monique from the Blackhearts explained renegade US history (painting sex workers from the Wild West as early feminist icons), and Hannah Hart gave a really great talk about the five languages of love. I’m terrified of public speaking, personally, so I applaud everybody who got up there and shared their wisdom; I hope we do a lot more camp talks in the future.

Crystal, Hearthrobs Counselor & HR Director/Writer: Camp Talks was a real highlight. All the campers who spoke were so articulate and informed and interesting, I could have sat there listening to them for the rest of the day.

Laneia, Runaways Counselor & Executive Editor: Hey, ask me what I really wish I hadn’t missed. FCKING CAMP TALKS. I don’t even remember what I was doing during this — probably processing my feelings about glass beads or something? Can’t believe I let myself miss Camp Talks.

Carly: I have to say, it was awesome. The only complaint I had was that it should take up two blocks, not one.

(photo by robin roemer)

Vanessa, Blackhearts Counselor & Community Editor: Okay, the Powers That Be let me host an activity that was literally centered around eating s’mores and hanging out, called S’Mores and Straddlers. Do I have the best life or do I have the best life?! Last camp I set aside a few blocks where I just hung out outside Wolf Lodge and encouraged campers to stop by and fill out applications to appear in my Straddler On The Street column, but I ended up having a lot of downtime and then some made rushes of people, and some campers forgot about it and some people said they’d stop by but then never did. It was okay, and I did get a lot of submissions, but I was convinced there was a better way. I feel confident in saying I Have Found The Better Way. This time around, Adam built me a fire right after breakfast on Saturday morning, Stef dropped off her vegan s’more materials, Megan brought me the regular s’more materials, and I set out a pile of Straddler Submission Forms on a picnic table.

(photo by robin)

Vanessa: Then I waited and hoped a few people would show up. WELL GUESS WHAT, SO MANY MORE THAN A FEW PEOPLE SHOWED UP! About 40 campers came by to hang out, fill out my submission forms, meet new friends, and eat s’mores. It was amazing. I got to speak with so many campers I’d never met before, which is truly always my favorite part of camp, and I think everyone had a really lovely time. I got 40 new submission forms, which means when I combine those with the submissions I got at last camp I owe about 100 of you emails so we can set up a time to do an interview and get your face onto Autostraddle dot com. The only thing I’d do differently next camp is request even more s’more supplies, because we eventually ran out because so many people showed up. I wasn’t even mad that I smelled like fire at the end.

Marni, A-Camp Co-Director & Contributor: The Tinderhearts workshop had been postponed because of the snowfall, so I was super excited when people still turned up for it on the last morning even though there were other things scheduled. We learned how to make firestarters, talked about the different elements of a fire and different approaches to firebuilding, and even talked about starting fires in the rain. I think I’m going to keep doing it at future camps and expand it into a whole “A-Camp Survival Skills” series.

Carly: Hannah Hart & Sarah Weichel talking about New Media was awesome and fun and informative.

(photo by taylor)

(photo by taylor)

Lizz, Flashdance Counselor & Fashion Editor: My Safer-Sex Talk is always one of my favorite parts of A-Camp. It’s such a great combination of education and fun.

Stef: I showed up late for Lizz’s sexual health talk and it seemed really informative, but everybody was already participating in an activity so instead I went outside and started writing weird notes for all my campers – i.e., “Hey girl, I’m watching you learn about dildo blowjobs right now.”

Lizz: This time I had a really big showing! You guys all really wanted to talk about safe sex! We talked about the stigma around STIs, talked about the mechanism of infection transmission and went over practical (and sexy) ways to have safer sex! We also went though a big pile of sex toys and talk about which are safe and which are not. That big pile of sex toys is always a hit.

Laneia: Ok so, a couple of months prior to camp, we’re asked to submit workshop/activity/panel ideas. I really like to have a passion project — last camp it was Period Panel aka Bloody Hell, and this time it was Well That’s F*cking Pretty: Moon Catchers. This craft meant a lot to me because it was born 10 years ago when I was coping with my grandmother’s death, which I know is a total downer for this post so I’m just gonna say that having a lodge full of these fascinating, beautiful queers doing this craft that was actually the closest thing to sitting inside my ribcage as a person could get, craft-wise, was so much. And I didn’t tell them then but I’m telling them now: I can remember the first time I made these things — alone and crying and scared and pissed off and nothing good — and now I can sorta feel you there with me? And shit is f*cking pretty y’all. It’s real pretty. Thank you.

mooncatcher making (photo by bree)

mooncatcher making (photo by bree)

Bren, Bangles Counselor & Editorial Assistant: I walked into Falcon Lodge randomly and Carolyn asked me if I was there for The Limerick Workshop. I wasn’t, but hey, everyone loves a good limerick.

Carolyn, Amazons Counselor & NSFW Editor: In the Dirty Limerick Writing Workshop, Cara and I aimed to subvert gross dirty poetry written by straight dudes by writing awesome dirty poetry written by queers, and we absolutely succeeded.

Bren: I think Vanessa got roped in to leading the workshop as well because Cara. One camper was there and I made five. Five intrepid limerick writers. Five intrepid DIRTY limerick writers, because Carolyn does have to put her personal brand on all the things. And this may seem like a small group but it was perfect. PERFECT! Because there are 5 lines in a limerick and we could be sillier and less self-conscious than we might otherwise be in a larger group (or at least that’s how I felt). We did kind of a round robin thing where we each pulled suggestive words out of a very dapper top hat, wrote the first line of a limerick and passed it clockwise to the next person, who wrote the next line, etc. By the time we each had a turn…viola…completed limericks. And they were super funny too! They didn’t ALL turn out dirty mostly because I didn’t know “gorilla in a washing machine” was a euphemism for oral sex. I thought it was a reference to just, ya know, a gorilla in a washing machine.

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Cara, Nighthawks Counselor & Contributing Editor: Dani RDS and I kind of threw the Genderqueer Lunch together on the fly, but I was really psyched to hang out outside, eat animal crackers, and discuss genderqueer/genderfluid/alternative-gender identity and representation with a bunch of cool new friends. Oh, this is a good time to say — if you were at the meetup and wanted to talk more about anything, hit me up at cara [at] autostraddle.com. We didn’t have much time and I want to hear more from you!

Carly: I love getting to have One-on-One-Mentoring Sessions. I don’t know if anything I say is at all useful or insightful but hopefully the campers are getting as much out of this as I am!

Robin: One-on-one mentoring is always one of my favorite parts of A-Camp. The time I get to sit down and connect with just one new person makes me feel the most fulfilled. I love being able to share my knowledge of photography and talk about working as a photographer! It not only allows me to possibly help someone else, but I feel newly inspired by the experience.

(photo by evan)

(photo by evan)

Riese, Runaways Counselor & Editor-in-Chief/CEO: After lunch we took the whole camp photo, which I really enjoy because I like sitting in dirt and getting rocks up my butt. Just kidding. Usually it’s a full-circle moment: remembering when we were at the fire pit on the first night, and now here we are together again, except this time we’re not strangers, we’re in love. But even though we couldn’t do an opening campfire this time, it was amazing and so special to witness representatives from three generations of Runaways taking family photos after the group shot.

Robin: If you want to purchase a print of the group photo, you can do so here!

(photo by bree)

(photo by bree)

Liz C., Firestarters Counselor & Contributor: Walking back from the all-camp photo, I was talking with someone who had gone to my DIYke hardware jewelry workshop earlier in the week. She had made a particularly gorgeous hex-nut bracelet and was telling me about her plans to propose to her girlfriend. LIKE REALLY SOON GUYS!! AND GUESS WHAT?! Since her girlfriend isn’t super into rings, she thought she would give her this bracelet instead. I died. No really, I’m a sucker for adorable couples, and DIY creativity so this was really too much for my little brain to handle. So happy for them!!

(via Liz C)

(via Liz C)

Kaylah, Rockford Peaches Counselor & Modtern: On the last day of camp I mastered the art of pigeonholing. It’s not what you write, it’s how inappropriately you write it. Well, that and being able to pull off the doe eyed look when you come clean and/or get busted. Works with camp crushes! 100% success rate!


 

Next: Saturday afternoon, what a lovely afternoon!

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Riese is the 32-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 1745 articles for us.

84 Comments

  1. Thumb up 8

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    Thanks cos I’m now crying alone in my room–but I’m also laughing at that Blue Crush Prom photo–Grace smiles in a sea of weird/laughing faces because she told me “I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO”

    ACAMP 4.0 CHANGED MY LIFE AND I CANT EVEN COMMENT ON EVERYTHING IN THIS RECAMP BECAUSE ITS ALL PERFECT.

  2. Thumb up 5

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    that very flattering picture of me reacting to the proposal is actually me pointing at vanessa who was ACTUALLY MELTING, collapsing into a puddle of drippy gooey feelings onto the floor. i want a vanessa reacts to things tumblr almost as much as i want a carly reacts to things tumblr.

  3. Thumb up 23

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    I had no idea of the cuteness behind the planning! You sneaky, sneaky devils.

    I love all you people so much, but I especially love the blond with the killer calves.

    I’m crying at my desk right now!

  4. Thumb up 11

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    A-Camp is everything.

    There are places you visit. There are places you stay. There are places you live.
    I live at A-camp. That seems impossible considering it’s just 5 days with complete strangers. A-camp is the only place where I am my total complete self. Just breathing the mountain air made me feel…well, all the things. In comparison to where I am now I still have to remind myself that A-camp really happened.

    I hope I can make it to the next one. I need more A-camp in my life and I’ve missed the mountain since the moment I got on the bus. Goddamnit, I’m crying.

    Final note: If you think you want to go to A-camp, just do it. Go to A-camp.

  5. Thumb up 9

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    I have never loved a group of people more. I honestly don’t know what to do with myself and my feelings. Do you know how easy it is to fall in love with a person when they are being the complete authentic selves? REALLY easy. Do you know how overwhelming it is to have that happen to you over and over and OVER again in the span of half a week? REALLY overwhelming.

    I am so proud to be a part of this community. You are all flawless individuals. And you better be coming back to September camp (and you reading this, the person who hasn’t gone to A Camp yet: you come too, please).

    Also, is that picture of Hansen and Dani available in poster size?

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    Also, giving a Camp Talk was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, and that doesn’t even compare to what it was like listening to everyone else’s. I strongly believe EVERYONE should apply to give a talk next time. I KNOW you queers have some awesome things to say and I want to hear them/swoon in the front row (my ulterior motive: smart, well-spoken girls are my kryptonite)

  7. Thumb up 13

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    I’m looking over recent photos of me and my new friends from Acamp, and realizing how much more joyful my life has been since this experience.

    It was so beautiful to just be there as our true selves; shameless and brilliantly colorful. And it was so worth everything just to meet people from this fantastic community which I hope I’ll be friends with for a long time to come.

    I had a hard time last year with dating, health issues, graduating college; and I feel like choosing to go to Acamp came at a perfect time; while I’ve been in the process of switching gears into a new era of my life, camp has helped me reset back into my more solid sense of self.

    When I was up there walking to and from cabins I had only made a few moments in between to looking at the stars. Had I been alone I could have long stared up into the night sky that was no longer so dark and obscure like it is in LA. It was clear and bright. But as much as I wanted to study the constellations, I also felt like for once I didn’t have to burden myself with absorbing all of the starlight, because there was just too much there. There was so much there, and so much happening which I didn’t want to miss.
    Still, I made an agreement with myself that I could still somehow feel all of it.
    Up there I knew where I was, I had a sense I really knew, under the seemingly eternal stars and this minuscule space and time between them. 
Those cold bright nights,
    
and feeling so alive.

    Love you all.
    Thanks Autostraddle.

  8. Thumb up 11

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    Oh my goodness I developed so many crushes at CAMP talks. Um, you want to teach me how to sustain my own little ball of life and green and beauty? I’ll sit in the front row, all ears.
    But seriously, we’re all so fucking talented it’s ridiculous.
    THEN going to the sex panel.
    I tried to think of another place where I could explore sexual preferences and opinions with an adorably sweet Canadian, passing around vibrators, and revel in the promotion of safe sex…AND I COULDN’T BECAUSE A-CAMP IS MAGICALLY UNIQUE AND SO SAFE. It’s like being swaddled in butterflies made of Nutella. Yeah. I went there. I feel very strongly about this.

  9. Thumb up 3

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    1) the picture of me quietly wiping away a tear at the proposal is the most accurate thing ever
    2) i’m in love with hansen, guys. seriously.
    3) alice motes
    4) the MST3 gay movie thing was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me; i still can’t get over how hilarious i thought you all were. especially carly. i want carly to talk over ALL OF MY MOVIES from now on.
    5) my cabin is so cute i can’t handle anything; also i would like to request that people stop letting drunk jen be in the front of everything with my mouth wide open all of the time.
    6) FEELINGS

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    I don’t know any of you. I found this website through a discussion of bad movies (specifically Lost and Delirious… I know) I have never seen pictures of people so happy before. Everyone looks so freakin’ beautiful. Really. The story of the proposal made me cry…tears down face…I don’t even like marriage. And then did I mention that I don’t know any of you? Then reading the comments and someone mentioned vomiting rainbows…I almost dropped my phone. I wish Bren and Carrie congrats….(OMG the comment about the prom…really people you should write scripts) and all the best….to everyone else you all sound like the best camp mates EVER. I don’t even know why I am writing this maybe to say its important to show a place where there is obviously so much love and safety and gooey rainbow vomit goodness.

  11. Thumb up 4

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    A Camp is magic! If anyone else agrees that Autostraddle is magical in the way it can predict articles you need in your life, then A Camp is 100x more magical in that it puts people and activities in your life that you needed. Even if you didn’t know it.

  12. Thumb up 2

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    + somehow this is the day I felt I did the most things despite not leaving my cabin until 11am?
    + noone mentioned this yet but Hannah’s CAMP talk is on youtube in its entirety! Here.
    + I FINALLY WENT ON A HIKE sorry hiking buddy who I almost let get eaten by bears
    + i’m actually in multiple pictures in this post, not sure how that happened
    + i was really confused/frightened during the proposal because I couldn’t see anything as a small person in a claustrophobic sea of mostly normal-sized persons, so i’m thankful for video
    + i did not attend prom so to speak, but i did walk through it to get to the other side of eagle. that counts, i’m sure.

  13. Thumb up 1

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    Inspiring queers one camp and re camp at a time. Cant believe this post topped the previous one by a whole page! Lol. Sorry sometimes i think i have OCD that kicms in which is why i think i notice these things. Did i mention how hard this is to read on a mobile device. Lol!!!

  14. Thumb up 2

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    What Laneia said about the moon catchers was so sweet, I died a little. Thank you for letting us symbolically climb inside your rib cage. Now I have a moon catcher hanging in my room and you know what, it’s f*cking pretty.

    This whole day was perfect. I miss everyone so much!

  15. Thumb up 4

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    I’m pretty sure I’ve said this a million times, but I will say it a million more; camp is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. It is the only time I have felt completely comfortable being me, and love myself for it, and have all these other weirdos that I have fallen in love with love me for it. Basically camp is one big ball of love feelings and pure fucking joy and a whole lot of hilarity. And I will never not go back. Runagayhearts forever(maybe that should be my tattoo!)

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    I was using my mobile earlier I couldn’t put in all the feels i had especially for the proposal OMG!!!!!!!!!! I was practically on the floor squealing at how cute they are OMG!!!!!!. I felt like crying from giddiness at AWWWWWWWWWWWW all at the same time. That was so sweet and I especially salute the staff for helping some magic happen in someone’s life. ♥

    God I love this website.

  17. Thumb up 4

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    Thank you to everyone for the sweet comments on the proposal, those who said such sweet words to us that night, and to those of you who were just there sharing the moment. I love each and every one of you for making this so special for Bren & I. We could feel the love in the room and it meant so much to us. I met so many people that night that it was all just a big blur, but every one of your comments meant so much to me. You guys are the best! Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was an honor to be in the same room with all you wonderful weirdos.

    P.S. You guys already know this, but Riese & Marni & Robin & Carly are awesome humans, and helped me pull this off so perfectly. You guys are amazing.

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