A-Camp 5.0 Recamps Part One: Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Queer

Pre-Camp: Tuesday, May 20th

Look Mom we made a whole flag!

Look Mom we made a whole flag!

Welcome to Camp

Crystal: I’d passed out as soon as we got to the mountain, so when I walked into Wolf lodge the next morning I was greeted by the remainder of what someone explained was boob cake. In any other environment I might have had questions.

Kai Keller, Calendar Girl & Panthers Counselor: Pre-camp is the time when I personally feel like a hamster in a maze bumping into lots of walls and also lots of other hamsters who are bumping into walls. I’m always pleasantly surprised when we find our way out the other side which isn’t until about an hour after the campers arrive.

Robin: We worked on gift bags, Renaissance decorations and workshop/panel prep all day.

Melinda Gonzalez, Thunderbirds Counselor: Oh, cabin decorations. I spent the week prior to camp scouring the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire for a model Thunderbird: like, either the car or airplane. I barely succeeded the day before driving up the mountain. I also got the bright idea of buying balloons, despite the fact that Cee and I are both asthmatic and didn’t have the breath to inflate them. But it ended well, because that was how we made friends with Chelsea and Carolyn.

Cee: We made a cabin alliance with Chelsea & Carolyn during cabin prep. We helped each other decorate both cabins and listened to music together. It helped unite our two cabins for the color wars to come.

Mey Rude, Trans Editor & Ghost World Counselor: I think my favorite part of pre-camp is just getting to see all my friends on staff who I otherwise don’t get to see very often. Since I live in the middle of Idaho, most of my interactions with them are online, so I’m always super happy to see them in person. Plus, it’s super fun meeting new people, like Elicia Sanchez and Aja from Fit for a Femme. Elicia is one of the funniest, most fun-to-talk-to people I’ve ever met and Aja is pretty much the embodiment of everything I love about femmes. Y’all really should have seen the look on her face when she heard that we were supposed to wear our staff t-shirts as much as we could, messing up her well thought-out outfit schedule.

Rory Midhani, Illustrator & Gladiators Counselor: I was excited to be meeting all the people from the internet and find that people actually talk the way they email. This was cool.

Cara Giaimo, Contributor & Ghost World Counselor: Being assigned to the Ghost World cabin was a great excuse to tap into the secret part of myself that is a haunted house decorator. Mey, Rachel Rice and I spent many happy hours making several species of ghost (silk-and-cotton-ball, paper-and-sharpie, combinations thereof). But the crowning moment occurred when we first inflated the GIANT INFLATABLE PUMPKIN GHOST TRIO that Mey had borrowed from her neighbor in Idaho. It was the most beautiful giant inflatable pumpkin ghost trio I had ever seen, and it quickly set our cabin apart.


Actual picture of a threesome happening at A-Camp

Kaylah: I turn everything into a competition even when no one else cares, so I took cabin decorations very seriously. I remember walking to the Rhythm Nation cabin so stoked to put up my cute little music notes until I looked over and saw Mey inflating those ghosts for the Ghost World cabin. My heart was broken, but it looked perfect. You win, Mey! I give up!

Ali: Decorating the cabin is always a favorite moment. Especially when I get to be co-staff with Whitney Pow. Whitney Pow is a magic human and also she is a genius with the cabin decorations. We were cabin staff for The Foxes (RED TEAM!) and Whitney came up with these amazing origami foxes and we got to customize their faces with sharpie and it was just so fun.

Soph: Rachel and I got super distracted with decorating cat power and consolidating our supplies. I’d never bonded over stickers so much with someone before, especially magical cat ones.

Carmen: Working on setting up my cabin with Rory pushed us into a bromance which would last throughout camp and will hopefully last throughout my life. Seriously, how could I not love him? The kid brought vials of glitter with him to the mountain and was just as driven as I was to create massive, greek columns for our cabin – The Gladiators.

2014-05-20 20.03.43

Riese named this cabin The Gladiators b/c of “Scandal” but they had no idea

Carmen: Side note: Rory is a Woodland Nymph. A sweet, masculine, bold woodland nymph.

2014-05-25 21.47.36

Please sir, may I have some more cuteness? ACTUALLY NOPE MAXED OUT

Rory: Making decorations with Carmen for our Gladiator’s cabin palace was a great warm-up that got me excited about camp starting and getting to welcome our campers.

Stef: Pre-Camp always makes me feel sort of like one of Santa’s elves, or at least how this Jewish kid imagines it would feel to be one of Santa’s elves. I don’t think we ever really feel prepared for camp until it’s actually underway, but we arm ourselves with tons of Sharpies and make a lot of outlines and pack a big pile of gift bags and hope for the best.

Hansen: Crystal and I tried to decorate The Con cabin but I really showed that as the DIY editor, I cannot make poofy hanging balls to save my life. Crystal made fun of me a lot and then we realized that decorating The Con with all black made it look like an Over the Hill party or something really depressing, so in the end it kind of fit the whole theme of The Con album, too!

Crystal: I am not crafty like our DIY editor / my co-counsellor Hansen but I am tall enough to hang stuff from the ceiling, so we work well as a cabin decorating team.

Calm down, I'm calling back to say I'm home now

Calm down, I’m calling back to say I’m home now

Meredydd, Outsiders Counselor: Staff bring so many craft supplies that it’s hard to believe they are able to fit any clothes in their luggage. I love seeing the progress throughout the day as the doors of each cabin are decorated. Everyone is so creative and every year the decorations get more complicated. It is really just a matter of time before someone brings a fully developed animatronic display with accompanying laser light show.

Riese: Historically, Laneia and I have spent every free hour of pre-camp in our cabins, ripping pages out of magazines and making mini-collages to plaster on the wall, but this time we did the ‘zine-making and the collaging at home so that we’d have more time at pre-camp to hang out with everyone else — I stuffed gift bags with Chelsea, planned panels with the panelists and (just guessing here, can’t remember exactly) listened to Lizz talk about her vagina.

Runaways Swag

Runaways Swag

Robin: I had planned to take everyone on a short hike to the famous A-Camp overlook, but those plans were thwarted due to a wildfire up in the woods a few weeks back. Instead, we sat in Deer Lodge and passed around a pinecone and each talked about what we were most excited about.

Chelsea: At some point, Carmen and Riese asked me to go to LAX and help coordinate shuttles. When I agreed, Riese looked at both of us like an exasperated mom and said, “guys, try not to do too many drugs tonight.” Carmen and I would later debate what “too many” was.

Riese: I wanted to empower them to take their fate into their own hands. That’s what we do here, we empower women.



Kai: I spent most of pre-camp getting used to my lungs collapsing from the hìgh altitude and practicing my moves to Bey.

Rory: There was a bear.

Cee: It was neat.

a bear! a bear!


Riese: We also had to practice for our opening night skit. I had fantasies of an extravagant dance number with choreography, but as always nobody wanted to indulge me. Ever. In general, “figuring out how to wow them on night one” has been a consistent challenge. BUT BOI DO WE TRY. Seriously next time I want to hire a professional Opening Night Dance Number Leader so that we can all BRING IT.

Having an important meeting

Having an important meeting

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  1. excuse me, chelsey, but your dresses for the “once more with feeling” sing-a-long were perfect and adorable. you CAN make that! also, I can’t wait for the recap of the “once more with feeling” sing-a-long! xoxo

    I was so anxious this first day, since I knew approximately NO ONE! I quickly learned that being a social inept weirdo at camp is the best. mockingjays forever!!

  2. Aaahhh, showing up so early from my crosscountry train trip to see that noone was at the buss meetup yet was a minor disapointment, but watching everyone show up and a large mob of queers emerge was truley amazing (not to mention the looks of the other people around us).

    Also, I have a feeling this comment section is about to get out of hand, the club deer of comment sections if you will.

  3. I got so many feelings from reading this! I am so homesick for camp right now. A Campers give the best hugs in the world and I need about 5 billion of those hugs at the moment. I am so so sad that the next camp is the week before finals and I can’t go. But remembering camp and all you lovely people made my week, and I coincidentally wore my a camp hoodie today. <3 <3 <3 so many feelings, so much crying

  4. Feelings explosion: commence.

    Wowowowowww I miss everyone so much! All of the sharing and crafting and love fests and getting high and going on exquisite nature walks. I need to start putting away money for next camp immediately. I actually like that this recamp was delayed. It is making me look forward to next camp a little bit more than I’m missing last camp. Though I’m definitely experiencing both emotions. Among others. Many others.

    By the way, major props to all of our camp counselors and our camp directors. I am always stunned to see the ending of work that goes into making a camp happen. You are our fairy godgays, and we are #blessed

    Also, i can’t help but geek out every time it happens, but OMG! look! It’s my face on Autostraddle dot com!!!!

  5. OMG I WANT IN. I can’t wait to meet you all and other first-timers. I know you’re lurking out there, fellow first-timers, thinking that you are not cool enough, but you are!

    Also, is everyone just ridiculously beautiful at A-Camp? Everyone is so perfect!!! How do you all survive it?!

    this was so worth waiting for. It’s the perfect reminder that camp REALLY HAPPENED and will really happen again; that in just a few months, I’ll have access to this magic and this beautiful cuddly kinky loving community of humans where I can just be me.
    also, the introvert meetup really was a big turning point in my campsperience. SO GOOD.

    • I loved the introverts meet up. Instant conversation starter for the rest of camp: “Hey, remember how we were both at that thing where we were talking about being afraid that we wouldn’t meet people?” Also, I loved that like 75% of the camp was there. :D

  7. ugh ugh I want to go to camp SOOOOOOOOO BAAAAAAAAAD but I can’t because 1. I’ll still be a couple months shy of 17 for this Year’s camp which seems rather outrageously young and 2. I have a different (also gay) camp I hope to attend this summer so I’ve been saving all my money for that and 3. “oh hey parents I want to fly halfway across the country to spend a weekend on a mountain with a bunch of adults I’ve never met before, I’ll be seeing you”

    Most of the time I’m like “I never wanna grow up ever I’ll just be Peter Pan pls kthx” and then there’s stuff like this and I’m like “all I want is a job and my independence”

    • No.3 is how i first felt when my friend told me about Acamp. I said ‘a gay camp in LA i dont know about??? Clearly ive been living under a rock’ then i was like what do i even tell my parents…’im off to go into the mountains for the weekend with queer people from tbe internet i dont know in real life yet bye’

      Yup. But I still think the words ‘we do what we have to do to get there’ ring true.

  8. During the first three camps I was in a similar situation, I was too young and there is no way I could go. But then I was old enough and I was in college away from my parents and I went to a camp 4 and 5 and ill go to every camp I possibly can for the rest of forever. I remember wishing I didn’t have to wait, but it is worth it and you’ll time will happen.

  9. Ah yes, first day of camp, AKA the only day of camp I managed to get up for yoga. I went to the Mal Blum songwriting workshop mostly to stare at their handsomeness and thought I could get away with not participating but NOPE. Luckily the rest of my group was super talented at song writing.

    Also walking around, feeling not gay enough, the Bisexual panel being on the first day was great. I had been hiding my past dude stuff, and hearing the affirmation that I was DEFINITELY gay enough almost made me cry. I also spotted one of my cabin babes at it, which relieved me a lot at the time.

    Introvert panel was also great, cause there were SO MANY OF US. Also one of the questions they answered I wrote, which made me feel warm and fuzzy. And Hana is best human, I aspire to be more like her.

    Oh man, first day was so nerve wracking and awesome! I’d re-live it in a heartbeat.

  10. I can’t even IMAGINE how amazing it would be to go to A-Camp. Like making up for all the shitty childhood bible camp memories. This one would be full of rainbows and butterflies and queers. So.many.queer.ladies.

  11. My greatest regret in life/camp was not attending the speakeasy. I love the online version, and I’m sure in person would have been 100x more amazing. I didn’t go because I didn’t know anything about zine making! Then later on I found out that that wasn’t a big deal. Fie upon me. D:

    Anyway, the recamp is bringing back so many awesome memories. Camp 5.0 was so wonderful, so transformative, so healing. I had never really been in an all queer space before. To spend four days surrounded by queer people was amazing. I spent most of camp skulking around in the shadows and didn’t meet a huge number of people, but it was still such a turning point in my life. I’m actually a little nervous for 6.0, because 5.0 made such a huge difference in my life that I know the next one won’t be able to compare. Regardless, bring it on. :D

  12. The comment about having the Bi Feelings Summit on the first day of camp so people could get over any lingering feelings of inadequacy = ON POINT. That was my greatest worry when getting into any queer spaces pre-camp, and it was my greatest worry when applying to A-Camp, and it was my greatest worry once I got there.

    And then we got all those fears out of the way on the first day, and I spent the entire week thereafter not giving a rat’s ass because we were all happily, merrily queer and could feel united without having to size one another up or make each other explain ourselves.

    And then I came home and have been waving my big ol’ attracted-to-everybody flag all over the place for the last eight months, because camp helped me understand that anyone who has a problem with my pansexuality can suck it.


  13. It’s funny – the day before this was posted, I was thinking to myself “I wonder when camp is. Wouldn’t that be cool? That sounds like such an amazing experience!” And then this post came. I want to go so badly! This is such a wonderful community on internet and I suspect that you humans would be even cooler in real life. :D (Of course, there are a couple hurdles. Like money. And also still being in the closet to the people I’m close to.)

  14. Oh gosh. this has just pumped me right back up. I am so excited for camp this year. It seems like it has been FOREVER since I have seen y’all.

    Also, I had soooo much fun helping with the bow tie workshop. I am glad y’all liked it!

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