A-Camp 5.0 Recamps Part Three: Can I Get A F*ck Yeah

Once upon a time (May 21-26th, to be specific) in a land far far atop a mountain two hours outside of sunny Los Angeles, approximately 300 queer humans gathered for four days and four nights of revelry, renaissance, intellectual stimulation, dance parties and deep sea bonding. They called it A-Camp 5.0, and it was beautiful! This is the third of three 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 2012May 2013 and October 2013.

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This camp was our longest camp yet, and it still wasn’t enough time to spend with you weirdos. We were pleased to provide a resplendently fresh roster of special guests for you this spring like comedian Elicia Sanchez and musician/heartthrob Mal Blum. We were also blessed by the presence of new media superstar Hannah Hart, Little Horribles creator Amy York-Rubin, femme icon Aja of Fit For a Femme and home design expert AB Chao.

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Day Four: Sunday, May 25th

Sunday Morning

Outdoors Yoga (Dani Orner) // DIY Daisy Dukes (Kaylah) // One Love: Interracial Relationships (Kai, Carmen, Whitney, Gabby, Gigler) // Poly Pocket: Non-Monogamy Discussion (Carolyn, Cee, Stef & Dani RDS) // Queer Safer Sex 102 (Lizz Rubin) // Lit Challenges (Ali & Hansen) // First Person Feelings (Rachel Kincaid) // DIYke Hardware Jewelery (Liz Castle) // Gender Spectrum (Dani RDS, Mey, Aja, Whitney, Kip) // Law and Order: Question and Answer Unit (Melinda) // Self-Defense 101 (Laura)

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(image by Marisa Tovar)

 

Ali Osworth, Foxes Counselor & Geekery Editor: I have a new favorite in terms of things I run. And that’s Lit Challenge.

Hansen, The Con Counselor & Writer: It was basically quick writing prompts to get our creative juices flowing. It was scheduled for 8am on the last day, so I expected about three people, but a bunch of you showed up! And read things!

Ali: Hansen and I came up with this thing about “maximum output of words on a page in the minimum amount of time” — because writing a story or an essay or a poem is kinda like making a vase. You’re not going to get very far if you have no material to make it out of — so, you won’t get a vase if you’ve got no clay and you won’t get a piece of writing if you’ve got no words. So start with as many words as possible that you just pour out of yourself and then go from there. Shake yourself up. Get yourself out of a creative rut. So we played a bunch of writing games to just make people explore writing that they haven’t done before. And I really enjoyed it.

Hansen: Camper Gavin Greco hit me right in the heartstrings about nine times during that challenge, and all of the other campers who bravely read their work for us inspired me so much. I left that workshop and hung out in my cabin alone and journaled so hard.

Ali: I enjoyed hearing people’s work after. It was just wonderful. There are about a million ways to crash through writer’s block like a super hero and it was so fun just doing that for an hour.

Kai, Panthers Counselor & Calendar Girl: The Interracial Relationship Panel was fantastic. It was the first time we held this particular panel, and I’m so glad we did! We talked privileges and permissions and support within our relationships. We talked meeting the family and swapping cultures and sharing languages. We talked about how unique and how brave our queer, interracial relationships are – and what it’s like to walk in these shoes.

Lizz Rubin, Mockingjays Counselor & Writer: The second Queer Safer Sex session was supposed to be just answering anonymous questions you guys had about sex! It was a blast! I love answering your sex questions and I was surprised how creative you guys are with your concerns. We had an overwhelming turn out to both session.  In fact, it was so big I ended up having too many questions to answer just in the few hours I had. I ended up doing an impromptu answer session outside of Mal’s merch sale! I can’t speak for Mal, but I’m pretty sure they were the most excited they have ever been about anything.

Stef Schwartz, Firebrands Counselor & Music Edtior: During the brilliantly-named Poly Pocket, we discussed different kinds of non-monogamous relationships and ways to keep the channels of communication flowing between us and our partner(s). We intentionally formatted this activity as a discussion instead of a traditional panel, so everyone was able to chime in and offer advice to attendees who asked questions. In the end, the important qualities we stressed for successful non-monogamous relationships are qualities that can apply to any form of relationship – communication and mutual respect.

Rachel Kincaid, Cat Power Counselor & Managing Editor: What do I regret more than not being able to attend Law & Order: Question and Answer Unit? Nothing, I don’t think. I think it’s against the rules to recap a part of camp you didn’t actually go to but I want to take this time to say publicly that I fucked up and I’m sorry.

Whitney Pow, Foxes Counselor: I did the Gender Spectrum Event with Kip, Mey, Dani and Aja, who all shared thoughts, words and ideas about gender and identity that helped me to consider my own gender and identity in my own life. I felt so lucky to be gender exploring with all of them.

Mey Rude, Ghost World Counselor & Trans Editor: First of all, I just want to say how great it was to have as many POC on this panel as we had. So often we see whiteness held up as the norm for what is femme, butch, androgynous and non binary, so this was really cool. Plus it allowed for some conversations and points of view that we otherwise would have missed out on.

Kip, A-Camp Barber: The gender panel was my first time on a panel at A-Camp. I was nervous and also honored to be on it with so many amazing queers. As a trans man relatively new to the game (I had top surgery five weeks before coming to camp. P.S. High altitude is NOT THE MOST IDEAL setting to recover from surgery.), I spoke about identifying as a twink, and about my struggle to find a place for myself in a society with narrow-minded stereotypes about trans*men, cis-men, and men in general.

Mey: I think this was my favorite gender panel I’ve ever been a part of. This year we decided to shake things up by having a quick panel intro and going over just a few topics, then splitting out into several discussion groups around the room and within the audience. This way we could have more in depth conversations about the aspects of gender that affect us personally. I was a part of a group that talked about gender and fatness. It was amazing. I don’t often get to talk to people about that intersection (which is a pretty big one in my life) and all the campers in my group had brilliant things to say. I can’t wait until we get to do this again at the next camp!

Kip: For me, the most magical moment of the panel happened after it ended. We formed breakout groups based on all kinds of topics, from femme visibility to hair, and encouraged campers to come up with their own.

Whitney:  I got to hear stories from the participants and I got to talk to you about what it means to be a gendered person in the world in all different walks of life.

Kip: Campers could pop in and join circles at their leisure, which really allowed for awesome discussion and debate. It was so great getting to hear others’ experiences with their gender. Transitioning in a society that is not quite fully on board is constantly isolating and draining for me, personally. This panel gave me hope that we’re actually all going to be just fine if we stick together and support each other. Kinda cheesy, but I DON’T CARE.

Whitney: Thanks for sharing, and thanks for listening. We couldn’t do any of this without you, and I learned so much from talking to all of you.

 


 

Sunday Afternoon

Chat with Amy Rubin: Little Horribles Creator // Whiskey: A Tasting and Education Workshop (Alex & Ali) // A-Camp Salon (Kip, Kara, Emily and Maria) // Clothing Swap 

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Ali: As always, whiskey tasting is a personal favorite. I love learning about whiskey with Alex Vega, our whiskey extraordinaire. And I love love love making up a cocktail for everyone to enjoy (this time we made a Ward Eight, a classic cocktail created in Boston). I LOVED our sponsor whiskey (Brenne Whisky) this year — it was unlike any other whiskey I’ve ever had. But mostly? I love that we do something that’s traditionally dominated by white straight cis men, but we do it in a queer space with no policing of knowledge or language — just learning, talking and fun. And tasting. Lots of tasting. You don’t have to know something special or be something specific to enjoy this wonderful drink with so much history and artistry behind it. You just have to be willing to jump headlong into the whiskey barrel.

Whitney: One of my favorite things this A-Camp, taste bud-wise, was trying the Brenne whisky that Ali had at her whiskey tasting with Alex. The Brenne Whisky is probably the most delicious whiskey I have ever had, with a lot of depth and flavor and light floral notes to it. It was amazing and my mouth did not know that whiskey could taste this good. I am currently in the process of trying to track down a bottle of Brenne for myself in Chicago – if anyone has any leads, let me know! I will also be on the lookout for a fancy whiskey snifter and a flask, probably of the You Do You variety.

Lizz R.: I missed the whiskey tasting, but I cut through on my way to run another activity and I spotted my girlfriend. It was literally the happiest I’ve ever seen her.


Sunday Evening

Wedding Ceremony // Dapper Hour // She’s All That: Femme Meet-Up

Sidenote: We actually already published an extensive recamp of the Wedding ceremony back in June, but nobody on staff was able to restrain themselves from re-camping the wedding all over again, so here we go!

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Robin Roemer, A-Camp Co-Director & Photographer: Sunday for me was all about the wedding. We spent the morning decorating at fire circle one with paper lanterns and big balloons and fresh flowers in mason jars that Alex so generously drove to Big Bear to get. Alex is the best driver, designer and whiskey instructor we could ever hope for.

Riese Bernard, Runaways Counselor & CEO/Editor-in-Chief: The morning of the wedding I took a hike with some campers so that my shoulders would be nice and sunburnt for the ceremony, which I was officiating.

Robin: The aesthetics of the wedding were simple and elegant. I was so grateful we had design and DIY expert AB Chao there to help us make everything look so beautiful. Kara, who had been cutting and styling hair with Kip all week long, did Carrie’s hair and Marla did her makeup.

Riese: Kara and Marla did my hair and makeup too, which was fun! It felt so fancy. I was really excited about my first-ever wedding officiating.

Robin: The entire camp turned it out and looked so adorable! Bow ties and cute dresses as far as the eye could see!

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Whitney: The day was lovely – it was sunny and warm, and everyone at the wedding just looked so beautiful. Absolutely handsome, beautiful, dapper queers looking their best for this wonderful occasion. I got myself dappered up and borrowed a silver tie clip and black tie from Cee, who always comes prepared when it comes to looking great.

Ali: This what happens when you put a bunch of really happy queers on a mountain to celebrate two really happy queers spending the rest of their lives together and you tell everyone to wear things that make them feel the best. IT LOOKED LIKE THE BEST QUEEREST FASHION SPREAD OF ALL TIMES EVERYONE WAS SO PRETTY OMG.

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Liz Castle, The Craft Counselor: I even changed out of my flying squirrel onesie for the occasion, which was kind of a big deal.

Gabby Rivera, Mockingjays Counselor & QTPOC Editor: I got to be Usher and help people find their seats and their bottles of bubbles. I also had the joy of watching everyone stroll down the rocky hill in their wedding best, looking so fresh and so clean.

Carmen Rios, Gladiators Counselor & Feminism/Straddleverse Editor: The day of the wedding, all I did was think about the wedding. I got decked out in a peach dress, white strappy sandals, and white shades. The #SlutShack showed up in full force to the ceremony, where we shined bright like a million diamonds. Cabin 8 forever, y’all.

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Stef: As everyone started arriving for the wedding ceremony, I was blinded by how DAMN GOOD everybody looked. “Jeez, I wish we had Joan Rivers here to do red carpet coverage,” I told Cara.

Cara Giaimo, Ghost World Counselor & Writer: Stef and I were so floored by how great everyone looked at the wedding that we decided we needed red carpet coverage, so Stef grabbed a stick-microphone and we set to filming.

Stef: I wandered up and down the fire circle, interviewing campers and staff alike about their wardrobe choices. I used a stick as a microphone, which lent itself to terrible audio but gave my interviews a really rugged, rustic quality. I’m starting to think mountaintop red carpet interviews might be my actual calling.

Cara: Everyone we found was willing and able to explain their fashion choices to us in great and hilarious detail, confirming even further that A-Camp attendees are uniformly fashionable, clever, quick on their feet, and cameragenic.

Marni Kellison, A-Camp Co-Director: So my mom is a commissioner of marriages in Ontario, Canada. Back before gay marriage was legal in California, she wrote a letter – a LETTER – to Ellen DeGeneres offering to marry her and Portia in Ontario if they wanted. You guys, a letter. Anyway, when we were prepping for Bren and Carrie’s wedding before camp I asked my mom to weigh in on the ceremony and she provided the templates for several same-sex ceremonies she had performed in the past. It was so sweet, you guys. We ended up using one of her scripts almost to the letter, with some personalization from Carrie and Bren, and Riese – as the officiant – modifying some parts to make everything a little more badass and Autostraddle in the delivery. It was so beautiful and perfect and I cried and tried to hide it but I couldn’t and it didn’t even matter.

Riese: Robin, Carrie and I were running late to the wedding and they started without us! THEY STARTED WITHOUT THE BRIDE AND THE OFFICIANT AND THE PHOTOGRAPHER. Robin went into BO$$ mode and radio’ed to Carly to stop the music and start over, because Robin needed to photograph them walking down the aisle, obviously.

Bren Christolear, Editorial Assistant & Merch Girl: The best, the absolute BEST thing that made our wedding day perfect for me was walking down the aisle with all the energy and love of the campers and then get to do it AGAIN!

Mary Tully, Panthers Counselor: Bren walked down the aisle and then Grace came with Tinkerbell and then our flower girl, Vanessa, sprinkled flower petals — only to have to do it all again. Vanessa had to re-gather her petals she had sprinkled – everyone went back up the aisle – and we had a do-over. That was a wedding first for me.

Riese: I’d also decided it would be the cutest if Vanessa was a flower girl and Grace was the Ring Bearer. Bren and Carrie agreed. I was right. IT WAS THE CUTEST.

Robin: Grace and Vanessa were the most adorable ring bearer and flower girl I have ever seen.

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Robin: Riese conducted a perfectly balanced and eloquent ceremony. Her words were touching and sentimental, but somehow also hilarious as only Riese can manage.

Riese: I also held the paper with my wedding words on it right in front of my face throughout the entire ceremony, thus blocking my face, as all our photographs demonstrate. #rookiemistake.

Carolyn Yates, Bloody Valentines Counselor & NSFW Editor: This was the single most adorable wedding I have ever been to.

Chelsey Petty, Blackhearts Counselor & Editorial Assistant: Bren is one of the kindest, most giving and amazing humans I know, and I was so happy to see her marry her person on that beautiful mountain. I think everyone could agree that there was something pure magic in the air that day.

Mey: Now, I’m a Catholic from a very large family, so I’ve been to more than my fair share of weddings, but I can tell you without any doubt that Bren and Carrie’s wedding was my favorite wedding I’ve ever been to.

Laneia, Executive Editor & Runaways Counselor: I was so grateful that Bren and Carrie shared this with all of us! They were both just glowing and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to get to witness their wedding. I wish we could go back in time 19 years and tell them they’d eventually get legally married on a mountain in California, surrounded by adoring, super well-dressed queers from around the world! Life is so wild, you guys.

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Mey: The brides walked down to Joan Jett’s “Crimson and Clover” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” which was a masterful move. Just brilliant.

Whitney: Before the wedding my heart felt like it was beating outside of my chest. I knew, then, that I would cry 40 times because of the beauty of everything. And lo and behold I did cry 40 times during the course of the wedding – the whole thing was just so beautiful and heartfelt and lovely – and seeing the happy couple just made me feel like my heart was jumping on the world’s largest, queerest trampoline.

Liz Castle: I was really glad to be sitting next to Kip who seemed to be handling all the wedding feelings similarly. By the time the vows were over, I’m pretty sure our combined tears could have filled an Olympic size pool, which is definitely not the kind of crying that turns Mickey on.

Whitney: I forgot to bring tissues, but Liz did think ahead and brought one tissue to the wedding, which she divided up into small squares for everyone on our log.

Rachel: I really thought there was a chance that I was not going to cry at Carrie and Bren’s wedding. I mean, I had cried at the proposal, but that was different because it was a SURPRISE. Obviously I was lying to myself and to God.

Ali: Of course I cried out of my face so hard because Carrie and Bren you guys. Carrie and Bren. CARRIE AND BREN. Ugh, I cannot even. I am crying again right now.

Carmen: Also, I totally cried. I know you all know this, but I totally cried. But only a little. And B cried first!

Brittani Nichols, Firebrands Counselor & Sports/Comedy Editor: This is the only wedding I’ve been to as an adult and now there is precedent on whether or not I cry at weddings. During this momentous occasion, Taylor asked me for my crying shades so at some point, someone coined the term “crying shades” for which we should all be grateful. Also, everyone looked unbelievably good which is a thing you think every day of camp but this day I think we collectively ran the risk of falling off the mountain because of staring/general optical distraction.

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Gabby: Can we also talk about the exchange of the second set of rings? Because when it was announced that Bren & Carrie were exchanging rings they’d given to each other at Wal-Mart when they were 19, every tear inside of my being released itself onto the mountain. I legit couldn’t hold it together.

Rachel: I was doing a low-grade teary eye pretty much ever since I saw the tiny bubble wand containers. When the sale at Wal-Mart came up, I LOST MY SHIT. I was not alone.

Laneia: NO OH GOD the second set of rings nearly killed me! I was sobbing and trying to keep it together but it wasn’t possible.

Mey: I started crying pretty early on, but then when Bren and Carrie exchanged their second set of rings, the ones they first exchanged 18 years ago I really started to lose it (again, I’m crying as I write about it now). This was all so perfect.

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Gabby: That admission of love, like we’ve been together since we were gaybies kinda of love, was so powerful and gave me such a deep surge of hope and faith. I wept for the love I have now, for the loves I’ve lost, for the loves I never thought I’d be allowed to have. I wept for their love, for Bren and Carrie’s pain and struggle. I wept for every single beautiful soul on that mountain.

Rachel: The crying was unreal. Which is a way of saying that while I can be cynical about weddings and the emphasis we often place on them, this wedding was truly and simply a really special way for Bren and Carrie to honor their love for each other and for all of us to show our support and happiness for them. God it was so perfect I have to stop thinking about it it’s upsetting me.

Soph, Cat Power Counselor: Everyone looked too lovely and fantastic even through the tears. (my tears, their tears! Happy tears!)

Lizz: Bren and Carrie had the cutest wedding vows. I would tell you what they are are specifically but I was actually crying so my memory is a bit blurry.

Bren: It is super hard to pick my favorite thing about our wedding day. I mean it was all so so great and memorable, but I’ll try…

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graphic by Intern Raquel

Robin: The ceremony was so special. Carrie and Bren have been together for 19 years and Bren works so hard for A-Camp and Autostraddle that there could not have been a more perfect couple to share their special day with us.

Whitney: This is hands down one of the most beautiful, most heartfelt, most wonderful weddings I’ve ever been to. And it was so lovely to be able to share the event with Bren and Carrie and 300 queers on a mountain.

Gabby: Literally, Carrie & Bren’s wedding is in my Top Three most beautiful moments of my entire life.

Liz Castle: It was just as magical and queer and amazing as everyone thought it would be.

Gabby: Bren and Carrie, I’m eternally thankful you shared your moment and your love with all of us.

Carrie: “I do.”

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Dapper Hour & Femme Meet-Up

Carmen: After the wedding, B and I had a senior class-style photoshoot. She got a pine cone stuck to her ass, though, which was a lot funnier. As we were laughing about that, I asked her to do what she does best: pantomime laugh. Kaylah is quite a competitor, though, so they faced off.

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LOLOLOLOLOLOL

Mey: This year’s Femme Meetup had more femmes than ever before, and a wider variety of types of femmes. It was right after Bren and Carries wedding, so everyone was already dressed to the nines, expressing their own personal take on what Femme means to them. I’ve said this before, but being in one place with so many femmes who are affirming each other and showing love to each other and just being together and celebrating their shared femmeness is always a highlight of my A-Camp experience. I always make new friends, have amazing conversations and get some great femmespiration for the future. I mean look at this picture, you can just see the power, strength and beauty radiating out of it.

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Riese: So bowties are a thing for the Dapper types, eh?

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The Banquet:

Riese: The wedding also gave us an excuse to close out camp with a fancy dinner and dance like we did with “Prom” at Fall Camp!

Robin: We had a lovely dinner prepared by the Alpine Staff.

A table for two

A table for two

Here come the brides...

Here come the brides…

Hello Bren and Carieeeee

Hello Bren and Carrrrrieeeee

Robin: The Alpine Staff even bought Carrie and Bren a special present in honor of the occasion!

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Ballers

Melinda Gonzalez, Thunderbirds Counselor: Like the end of everybody’s wedding, after Bren and Carrie’s you feel elated for the friends you love, and everything is right with the world. My girlfriend had brought up a bottle of Thunderbird wine with her up the mountain, which is notoriously bad booze. It was in the cabin as a decoration, but when I walked in after the wedding the Thunderbirds were cheering, laughing, were chugging this stuff that when my girlfriend googled it there were warnings it could turn your tongue blue. I joined in; it was my favorite moment of camp, it was sweetness and light and fun, we were celebrating the day and camp itself, and no matter what lay ahead on that day we were happy. There was no better end to it all.

THUNDERBIRDS!

THUNDERBIRDS!

Laura Mandanas, Outsiders Counselor & Contributing Editor: After the banquet dinner, the Outsiders gathered in our cabin to play “rose, thorn, bud” before the reception. We each named one thing that was good at camp, one thing that wasn’t, and one thing that we were hopeful for.  My campers were all so sweet and honest and real and amazing, I felt like I was going to explode. There was just so much love in that room.

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Photo by Kel Caz

Kaylah Wilson, Rhythm Nation Counselor & Modtern: The Rhythm Nation cabin is obviously the best in the land. I had some deep talks, drank some deep drinks and exchanged some deep side eyes with my cabin.

Chelsey: My campers, The Blackhearts, are made of pure sunshine and light. Everyone just stepped up and took care of each other when needed and they were everything I could have hoped for in my first cabin. I’m really lucky I got to be their counselor and that they let me be so overenthusiastic and new at things at them the whole camp. I love you guys!

Riese: The Runaways were so smart and inspiring and so supportive and also hilarious and delightful to be around. I enjoyed eating meals with them, seeing their faces at activities and hearing what they thought afterwards and hanging on their every word in general (including the pigeon-hole notes and post-camp emails I’ve since re-read a billion times) Also me and a bunch of Blackhearts saved a gang of Runaways from being lost in the woods for life, just saying.

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Runaways!

Rory Midhani, Gladiators Counselor & Illustrator: THE REAL HIGHLIGHT of camp though is the general lovely atmosphere of people being lovely and supporting and respecting each other and giving each other lovely compliments! It was just lovely. Lovely lovely lovely.

Chelsea Steiner, My Bloody Valentines Counselor: My Bloody Valentines were the cutest cabin on earth. You are all lovely and amazing people. But if you climb any more trees, you’re all grounded.


The Wedding Reception

Because the A-Camp Family Band was always destined to be a wedding band.

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Robin: The family band, consisting of Marni, Mal, Stef, Cara, Alex, Dani and Gabby, got everyone dancing.

Marni: The best part of every camp for me is playing music with my friends. This time, the A-Camp Family Band was reincarnated as Bren and Carrie’s wedding reception band, and it was the most fun ever forever amen.

Stef: I’m not sure anybody is ever aware of how much practice and energy we put into piecing together the A-Camp shows, but this one felt especially important because it was for Bren and Carrie’s wedding, you know? We were all over the place in a lot of ways, but I had an amazing time.

Marni: True to form, we’d rehearsed only minimally beforehand, and gifted drummer Alex Vega and clutch bassist Stef were on point as the greatest rhythm section a Butch Beyonce could ever ask for.

Mey: I had started losing my voice a little and getting a sore throat that afternoon, so I was afraid that by the time the reception came along, I wouldn’t be able to have much fun. However, the Magical Power of the Lesbian Wedding ran through me and I ended up having more fun that night than I did any other night of dancing. The band was amazing.

Stef: We opened up with Tegan and Sara’s “Closer,” which showcased my awesome 30-year-old analog synthesizer (which I geeked about, and Carly told me “sounds like an insane spaceship”) and got the room dancing. We brought Mal Blum up to play tambourine and dance around on Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” which is the most incredibly fun song to play with your friends; we could have played that on a loop all night and I would be been perfectly content. Then Dani Orner joined us for a cover of “Follow Your Arrow.”

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Stef: Gabby performed her own lyrics to “Started From The Bottom”…

Gabby: I rapped a version of Drake’s “Started from the Bottom.” Made up my own lyrics and changed the chorus to “Started from the Bottom Now We’re Queer.” All the funs.

Stef: That brought us into “Drunk In Love,” the new standard for classy wedding receptions everywhere. At some point, I sang a jubilant cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me,” featuring kick-ass guitar solos from Cara.

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Mey: Their setlist was spot on and Bren and Carrie’s first dance was adorable.

Stef: Ali had gotten engaged a couple of weeks before camp, so we called her up to the stage and sat her in a chair so we could serenade her for “Like A Virgin.”

Ali: Okay, Stef did not tell me what was going to happen. She just said if they called me up on stage, would I come up on stage? And I said as long as no one made me do anything that required any kind of skill, that I was down. But I also didn’t know when that was going to be. So I went to use the bathroom and then someone came in and was like, they’re looking for you, so I left the bathroom and I didn’t really think Stef was going to do anything and I walked back into Eagle and people just sort of started pushing me toward the stage and Stef told me to sit and I was SO CONFUSED YOU GUYS.

Stef: She had no idea what we were about to do to her and made a series of completely adorable faces the whole time – especially when Kip climbed onstage and gave her an extremely erotic lapdance.

Ali: I had no proper idea of what was going on or really why it was happening and then KIP GAVE ME SOME SURPRISE SUSPENDERS ON SUSPENDERS ACTION.

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Ali: Then we devolved into laughter and I was trying to find the proper facial expression to say, THIS IS NOT ABJECT TERROR, I CONSENT, I AM JUST SO CONFUSED RIGHT NOW but I don’t think I did that, I think the face I came up with was just a cross between aforementioned abject terror and possibly a scared chipmunk caught in a flashlight beam with the vague notion that she is being seen.

Mey: Ali’s completely confused face during her “Like a Virgin” serenade/lapdance made for one of my favorite camp memories.

Ali: Between that and the birthday twerk (delivered lovingly by Kai, Kayla and Gigler), I got a lot of butt-wiggling-related-action this camp.

Riese: The reception was a blast and a great way to wrap up the celebrations. The A-Camp Family Band is my favorite band of all time.

Stef: The highlight of the whole night for me was playing “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors with Cara, whose “shoobadoo-bop-bop” reverberated around Eagle Lodge and made everything in the universe feel pretty OK.

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Riese: Then it was time for the last night dance, which, per always, I attended in order to be in a few photobooth shots, and then dashed.

Robin: DJ Carlytron, as always, killed her last night of camp set.

Mary: Call me predictable and mushy – but when DJ Carlytron played all of the Robin and Lady Gaga songs and Alex Vega got on stage and did the “Bad Romance”, and “Call Your Girlfriend” dances. That was pretty much it for me – I could’t really function after that.


Day Five: Sunday, May 26th

Riese: I think “the last day of camp” is the only day of the year when I don’t shower first thing in the morning — and it’s ’cause I always oversleep, but don’t wanna miss my chance to say goodbye to everybody before they disappear into the fog on a shuttle bus.

Robin: The last day of A-Camp is always bittersweet. I’m usually very sleepy so I’m excited about passing out for a week in my own bed and seeing our dog, who by this point thinks we have abandoned him forever. I’m also very sad to be leaving the mountain and this experience that means so much to all of us and especially to be leaving my friends, old and new. And since camp is only once a year now, Marni and I were especially sentimental as we stood up at the bus turnaround and watched you all leave.

Laneia: There’s a feeling on the last day of like, “well, that was this A-Camp! Good or bad or weird or beautiful, that will forever be our A-Camp, and now it’s over.” It’s just so much! You know? You go into it knowing it’ll come to an end duh, but when you close the book on the last day, it feels very large and exhausting. And you know you’ll have 92834798 things to process on the way down the mountain. That’s also when I read my pigeon hole messages and cry and cry and talk some more. I don’t think I take a break from processing until we get to the Chipotle in Palm Springs.

Kaylah: Adding an extra day to camp was so much fun, but it also kicked my ass. I think at one point I was no longer Kaylah and I became Cupcake the twerking zombie.

Hansen: When the shuttles were late, I realized I’d never get off the mountain. We lived there now, it was our home, and AB Chao was going to have to make us some adorable log cabins in the woods, I was sure of it. You see, when Lizz’s girlfriend Chrissy gets on a bus, it breaks down. Struggle Bus One AND Two from camp 4.0 involved Chrissy’s presence, so she’s cursed. When our shuttle got to LAX, I was excited that it was relatively struggle-free (minus the part where the other bus turned a corner and all of its lug nuts fall off?) but it was fine, it was totally fine.

strugglebus3

Hansen: We got to the intersection where you can see the LAX sign, and suddenly, the shuttle turned off and wouldn’t start again. I damn near burst into tears. We convinced the shuttle driver to coast it through a tunnel to safety, no joke, and the other shuttle had to come back and fix our shuttle and after we finally got there, my campers bought me beer to soothe my tired nerves because they were the best campers ever. It was the perfect end to camp, just hanging out in the airport, drinking beer and eating pizza with The Con cabin.

Never Ride With Chrissy

Never Ride With Chrissy

Carmen: Before leaving LA, I did one last time what I’d wanted before I came: In-N-Out. And it was glorious.

Riese: As per ritual, we stayed at Crystal’s hotel in LA that night and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. A special twist this time was that I apparently picked up the A-Camp Plague that exact day and was sneezing for my supper. Food was delicious, though!

Stef: After we gathered all our googly eyes, guitar pedals and sex toys back into our trusty SUV, Lizz, Meredydd, Cara and I booked it to Chipotle. I wrote many romantic verses about sofritos. Later, Shannon and Carolyn joined us for an evening of ten thousand pizzas and deep decompression.


Final Thoughts

A-Camp 535

“It was an amazing experience. I was probably too shy and too scared, but I’ve rarely felt as at home as I did surrounded by 300 other queer women.”

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“I was honestly worried at A-Camp was going to be only a giant sexboozepartydramafest. But it wasn’t. It was a life changing, educational, friendship starting, FEELINGS FESTIVAL (with lots of booze and sex and dancing). I never expected to feel so at home in a community of people. I pushed my boundaries further than I knew I could, I learned so many new things, and met incredible people from all over the country and world. To say A-Camp was a safe space is an understatement. I can’t wait for next summer.”

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“The best part of A-Camp is the people: the community that exists among my cabin mates (new and old), the staff, all the campers, and the larger Autostraddle community. You can feel all of that the whole time you’re at camp, and it’s such an overwhelmingly positive feeling – welcoming, accepting, caring, conscientious.”

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“Both camps that I’ve attended have changed my outlook on life and what I believe is possible in radical ways. I know I will continue to learn and grow an enormous amount, not to mention have my heart soothed in a way that’s impossible anywhere else.”

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“Camp was probably like the best 5 days of my life?”

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“I spent a lot of time alone… and nobody judged me or made me feel weird for spending so much time alone! It was the greatest.”

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“Y’all are turning into some of my best friends. I wouldn’t miss it. I feel like A-Camp is home.”

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“It seemed like almost everyone let their guards down and approached others genuinely and with so much kindness.”

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“The staff was VERY cute — hello Ali, Cee, Dani and Marni!”

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“My favorite part of A-Camp is the other campers. They are consistently the most awesome people I’ve ever met.”

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“It was an amazing, life changing, totally affirming experience!”

“The best part of A-Camp was experiencing a community where the bar for “socially acceptable” was set very low.”

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“Everybody assumed the best of everybody else right off the bat. That’s magic.”

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“I loved making new friends, laughing and dancing all night, making crafts for the wedding, the A-Camp Family Band, and singing “Follow Your Arrow” in a group of 300 queers.”

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“Being up Mt. Feelings takes a weight off my chest that threatens to crush me at times. A-Camp gives me a break from that. The community at camp and the friendships that I’ve developed are the support that makes me strong and brave and authentic in the real world.”

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“My favorite part was stargazing at night with The Foxes.”

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“Ugh. My cabinmates are amazing. I got so lucky with them. We all still talk every day.”

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“It is consistently the best thing that ever happened to me every time I go.”

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“I loved getting to meet people from all over that have continued to be my friends after camp, being in a queernormative space for such an extended period of time, and how everyone is really, really, ridiculously good-looking.”

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“I’m an awkward person and even after three camps it’s still AWKWARD and UNCOMFORTABLE. This is definitely an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. So I’ll probably be back to torture myself some more because A-Camp is a special place for all kinds of queers, even the hopelessly awkward ones.”

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“I truly feel that Camp is where I can be myself and meet people who I have so much in common with. Some of my best friends have come out of attending. I think being in those kinds of safe, supportive queer settings is so important to my mental health. Plus meeting the amazing people that make Autostraddle exist is so phenomenal!”

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“My favorite part was being completely immersed in the grandiosity of a mountaintop and the silence of wilderness.”

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“The sense of community was so real. I loved the breadth of stuff from silly to serious.”

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“It’s like a family reunion with nice haircuts.”

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“I loved spending time with my cabinmates. The sessions and the staff reading were pretty great, too!”

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“Camp was the first time I not only felt accepted but also loved just for being the weirdo I am. The staff are really the most amazing people I’ve ever met and my cabin is my new family. Everyone was beautiful and interesting and intelligent. The panels ranged from hilarious and educational to fucking intense and super helpful. I think I’m a better person from my experiences at camp.”

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“I loved meeting new folks who I really related to, all of the amazing workshops, dancing forever and ever, leaving the mountain and feeling so much more empowered, confident, and fabulous!”

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“All the people who I knew theoretically were really smart and funny and cool and whose writing I just want to immerse myself in always were there in real life being smart and funny and cool while I was also there!”

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“I would rate myself as “very shy” but I was surprised I could just talk to someone while I was on the swings. Camp felt 110% safe. I was totally at home. I didn’t even give a shit about the way I looked or that I changed so many times on Sunday.”

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“I love watching connections between people and how we come from different backgrounds but share so much. The people that come to A-Camp always seem to be amazing.”

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“Its a safe space to be whoever I am without needing to be like every other queer to feel validated!”

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“I liked being away from real life for a few days, canoeing, hiking, and being in California nature.”

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“It was so nice to not even have to think about whether anyone could tell I was gay, or which pronouns I used to refer to exes. I finally got to talk about people I found attractive for the first time ever in a group setting without being the odd one out or lying!”

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“Grace Ellis is always the best part of camp. Also, this one time, Hannah Hart rubbed gentle circles on my back, seemingly without realizing she was doing it? It was very soothing. Oh, and archery! I got to shoot a bow! And I only hit the ground once! KATNISS EVERDEEN EAT YOUR HEART OUT.”

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“I have a massive crush on all of you!”

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“I loved the people I met and the connections I made. My new steeze is to have a queer lady posse. That is something that has been severely lacking in my life.”

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“The best part was making friends with writers and campers in a queer-friendly environment where being my weird self is exactly what people wanted of me.”

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“I loved that this camp was longer. That was the best part. Just one more day of magic.”

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A-Camp 6.0 will take place May 30th through June 4th at Alpine Meadows in Angelus Oaks, CA. Registration will open on January 27th, 2015.

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38 Comments

  1. Ooohhhh my godddddd the quotes with the photobooth pictures

    Are you guys trying to kill me or something?!?!

    • Also, the part with the Wal-Mart rings in Bren and Carrie’s ceremony is where I totally lost my shit too. WATERWORKS FOR DAYS

  2. I Think I’m gonna cry, that photobooth photo. I had a rough weekend, and this is totally what i needed right now. A-Camp really changed my life, I cant wait to be back on Mt Feelings!

  3. I haven’t been to A-Camp before because of the Atlantic Ocean but I’ve been living vicariously through recamps since 2012. Pretty sure that’s gonna change this summer though!

  4. I made it all the way through the wedding rerecamp without choking up but then outsiders and THAT PHOTO THAT I TOOK which has also been the greatest desktop background for an entire year and WITH MY NAME ON IT I cant

    It was awesome. The photo booth with quotes was perfect. My terrified and confused face was pretty accurate. Camp this year- Can. Not. Wait.

  5. I think i went to self defense because it helped with my hangover? Yep. I spent probs a good hour or two or more lying on the picnic bench behind eagle staring at the sky. Every time I looked at the trees or ground, they swayed. Lol.

    I loved the wedding. You guys…i havent experienced another moment than the wedding where I wanted my wife to be next to me to hold hands with.

    You guys, we started crying then did the whole thing over only to cry again!! Lolz.

  6. You guys the only way to pre game for a wedding is Whiskey Tasting where I enjoyed th3 Brenne Whiskey. THANKS GUYS. And also learning about barrel proof whiskey that will always kick my butt. It smells your fear.

  7. Also also also this was the first camp that I managed to wake up and go to every yoga session. Love Dani O’s class. The outdoors one was beautiful.

  8. While I was reading the other recamps last week I was so sad knowing I won’t be able to go to A Camp 6.0. But the magic of camp still exists off the mountain! All these people who make camp feel so powerful and welcoming don’t stop existing when camp ends. So even though I will miss being there, A Camp is in my heart forever.

  9. i feel like i need to mention again that carrie’s wedding bouquet was made out of tiny strips of paper from love notes that bren had given her over the years.

  10. I have never been to camp but I always enjoy reading these recamps anyway. A mountain full of queer folks is, like, the dream. I feel so isolated from other queer people in my day to day life so I reaaaaally hope I can go next year.

  11. All these gorgeous humans…. I can’t – I need to get to Mt. Feelings so bad – being at uni sucks – exams are always at the same time as camp :(
    Until I can get there (also known as the right side of the Atlantic) – I hope everyone has even half as much fun as it seems to be from the recamps – safe in the knowledge that queers everywhere are soooo jealous.

  12. oh jeez, that last time I shaved my head was the week before these photobooths were taken

    I have no idea what I’m doing.

    Please send help.

  13. the picture of me biting magda’s face is my favourite thing oh god
    i can’t wait to get back to this mountain

  14. “I have a massive crush on all of you!”
    ^^ very accurate

    my bank account says no, but my heart says “you need this”, so i’ll see all your wonderful faces on the mountain!!

  15. I cannot wait for the next one. I’m on a mission to get over my fear of dancing in public, and feeling awkward about being in photos. I danced to one Robyn song at the wedding reception, so I’m already on the road to recovery.

  16. So much cuteness! Watching the red carpet video was so fantastic. Everyone looked AMAZING. I was really impressed.

  17. Is it weird that I’m tearing up looking at these when I didn’t even go

    And also that I’m registering next week but I’m terrified I won’t make friends

    /sob

    /goesanywaybecausefuckfear

    • Not as weird as me spending a whole day refreshing the page waiting for the recamp to be uploaded when I didn’t even go! I mean, to my credit I am ill right now but it’s still kind of tragic.

    • Haha. Being afraid of not making friends is the last thing to be worried about, trust me. Especially if you take a shuttle from the airport. Jetlag plus camp excitement plus a terminal full of queers who love a majority of things you do on the internet?

      Yeah, I think you’ll be just fine :)

    • I’m with you here. I’ve decided I’m going, and seeing everyone look so ridiculously happy is both affirmation for the positive experience A-Camp must be, but also terrifying to think, ” What if I don’t make any friends?! What if no one likes me?!”

      I’m with you. We won’t make friends, if we don’t go!

  18. That picture from the photo booth is awesome. The wedding was my favorite thing ever. Also I am going to be the officiant for my friends wedding this July and I’d love to see the resources Marni’s mother provided!

  19. Yassssss!!! Can’t wait to get back to Mt Feelings! Who is that handsome boy with the Spike Lee shirt and the shades tho?! She is fine!!! ;) lmao

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