A-Camp 6.0 Recamps Part Four: Don’t Believe Me Just Watch

“There’s no other place on earth where I feel more alive or more like my best self. No place at all. Leaving camp is like saying goodbye to my home, myself, and all the hearts of everyone I’ve fallen in love with — it’s wrenching. I’m ok with it. I know I’ll be back. But damn…that feeling makes me weep hard.”
-Gabby Rivera, QTPOC Speakeasy Director and Beyhive Captain


Camp feels like coming home now, and there’s nothing like being able to party and cry and snuggle and sit quietly with the people who I feel most myself around.

(photo by Norah Smith)

(photo by Norah Smith)

“Honestly, we came to camp with “what is this going to be and why don’t we know anything about it” vibes and we left with “this shit is going down in history books and we have made life-long friends” vibes. It was so much more than just a fun time in the mountains. It was inspiring, beautiful, and full of heart. I have never felt safe. I can honestly say there has never been a place on this planet that I can walk around and feel like no one will judge me. I can’t go to the store, I can’t go to a class, I can’t go to a show, I can’t visit a friend, I can’t go back home. I can’t do anything and feel completely safe. Until A-camp. The space that has been created is unlike any other. I’m so grateful to Riese’s vision and to everyone who took part in making A-Camp possible. It is truly unique and wonderful in way that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain.”
– Dannielle Owens-Reid, The Talent

photo by Norah Smith

photo by Norah Smith

“The best part of camp was the group of people i was bunked with. I don’t know the magic potion/formula that Riese has in putting a near-perfect combination of people together, but they essentially made my experience great. I also enjoyed the the QTPOC Speakeasy… often as a QPOC you sometimes feel like you are the only one but this space turned that on its head.”
– A-Camper


(photo via Aida M)

“I was overwhelmed in all the best ways for seven days. All of the campers validated me in ways that I can’t explain. The first day there, I had a group of campers standing around me telling me that they read all my articles not only on AS but on other blogs or they follow me in social media and it was just overwhelming and weird cause to me I’m just a mofo that talks a lot. You all made me feel like what I do is valued and important in this world. I cried so many times when no one was looking. And really isn’t that what Mount Feelings is all about? I love you all every last one of y’all. And on the seventh day God said that it was good. And indeed it was.”
– Carolyn Wysinger, Firebirds Captain


(photo by Taylor)

I wish that it could become a commune. Because fuck capitalism and the patriarchy. We could do it. We FUCKING COULD. A-TOWN 2016.


photo by Norah

“This is such an incredibly special space you all work so hard to create, and I feel so honored that I got to be a part of it. I left camp with a new and unfamiliar feeling. The closest I can come to explaining it is this: for my whole life, I have felt my queerness to be something negative (at worst) or an obstacle to work around (at best). My time at A-Camp made me understand my queerness as something powerful and good, something that connects me to other (amazing!) people in a way that is unique and so very special.”
-Jenny Owen Youngs, The Talent


“Camp was the only place I’ve ever felt comfortable in showing off my body…it was such a nice break. It gave me the strength to carry on and do better in the real world. I can’t wait to come back. Feelings circles, Klub Wolf, Lip Sync Battles, The State Fair Bounce House Cuddle Sesh, Boxed Wine and String Cheese, kissing cuties, Feels Academy, Chosen Family Panel, A-Camp family band. everything all of it.”

(photo by Bree)

(photo by Bree)

“I loved feeling like my body was truly big enough for my heart for maybe the first time in my life.”
– A-Camper

(photo by Taylor)

(photo by Taylor)

“It’s hard to think of a way to say “my life was forever changed” without sounding like a total dummy, but my life was literally changed on this mountain. I spend so much of my time navigating queer and trans spaces and I am surrounded by many queer and trans friends, but I have never been in a place (let alone 8000 feet above sea level) where I knew that I was safe to be exactly myself, and where everyone around me was ABLE to be exactly themselves, 24-7. It affected me deeply, and I also saw how much it affected Jenny (which, in turn, affected me even more. CIRCLE OF LIFE). I also have never had more respect and admiration for the work that is done by all of you beautiful Autostraddle humans. Running this camp is more work than I can ever imagine, and in doing so you visibly, drastically change our lives. I hope we can come back every year forever. It’s been impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t been up there… but I think that’s part of the magic.”
– Kristin Russo, The Talent (and our new A-Camp Co-Director for A-Camp 7.0)

(photo by Norah Smith)

(photo by Norah Smith)

“Camp is my home, its my family reunion, its the one place I am surrounded with complete acceptance and love, and its the place thats helped me find my truest self. Its like Disneyland but with more booze and sex and crafting.”
– A-Camper

“I came in with a heavy heart and I left with a lifted one. Each one of you helps to create this amazing dynamic that makes A-Camp what it is. I used to think that A-Camp was this magical thing on this magic mountain with these magical people, but now I KNOW it is all of the magic I thought it was. Thank you, beautiful people.”
– Djuan Trent, Beyhive Captain


(photo by Natasha Carolan)

(photo by Natasha Carolan)

“I have never felt a lower amount of shame about my body than I have felt with my cabin mates. I was able to just be myself and not have to worry about someone attacking me (verbally or otherwise) for being trans. Just being able to change clothes in the presence of other people without feeling terrified was incredible. I also found people who were attracted to me. For the first time I honestly felt like I was accepted and included in queer women’s sexual spaces with my cabin.”

(photo by Taylor)

(photo by Taylor)

“It’s always hard to say goodbye. Until next time—my heart is always up there with you humans. You’re all so wonderful and I’m so lucky to be a part of this whole thing.”
-Whitney Pow, Star Runners Counselor

(photo by Emma P.)

(photo by Emma P.)

“The people I was in closest contact with made me feel more human and more accepted than anyone else in any other environment I’ve ever been with.”


Camp has such VELOCITY. We plan and plan and plan and I sit on my couch thinking “oh gosh before long it’s gonna be that moment we turn up that mountain road that we’ve driven again and again,” yes, it’s here, we’re all really here, it’s all really happening, it’s all twisting and turning! We’re prepping and oh, all of a sudden the campers are there and we’re hugging and checking names of a list and it’s almost time for dinner and can we do the campfire and it just goes so fast — the whole time, you’re starving (for the food you’re used to eating, for the sleep you’re used to having) while also SO FULL of so much love and in awe of so much talent. I think the greatest feeling I have at A-Camp is knowing I brought people together who inspire each other. I love those cabins that looked perfect as a stack of index cards and turn out even better in real life. Nothing feels better than seeing those groups of campers connect, knowing I nailed a cabin assignment… or to see certain staff members connect, to see the talent meet the staff and go home to make more art together. Not everybody who comes to A-Camp is affirmed or inspired. Some people don’t like it at all, in fact, and it’s taken me a while to come to terms with the inevitability of that. But that other inevitability? The one where people do leave transformed, do finally feel like who they are is okay, and maybe even beautiful, and definitely important? I don’t think I’ll ever take that inevitability for granted. But damn, you are exhilarating.
– Riese, A-Camp Founder

(photo by Bree)

(photo by Bree)

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Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. 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 Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3036 articles for us.


  1. Reading this and all I can ask is what did I even do that day?!? Because I remember getting a (adorable!) tattoo from Rory but then, ?????? No idea?
    Goal for this camp: attend everything.


    2. Yes. I took one bite of the rice burger and ate a hot dog for the first time in maybe 15 years.

    3. Sadly I did not participate in a Harry Potter debate but I am proud to throw my hat in Heather's ring: Snape is the worst! (Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall are the best.)

    4. That picture of the Beehive is in my wallpaper rotation, and every time it comes up I close all my tabs and gaze at it with starry cartoon eyes and sigh wistfully and happily.

  3. TENDERGANG. Somebody remind me to make that a patch.

    I am marginally disappointed that nobody mentioned the inevitability of the Singled Out part where Casey was onstage and answered the question and everybody else walked off and ONLY FELLOW OUTSIDERS WERE LEFT STANDING because obviously our love and friendship is as inevitable as The Stars aligning a camp return next/this year.

      • Can there be a portion where it is duly noted that he loved a woman he pushed away, couldn’t have, loved from afar that married a jerk then spent life and how as queer lady loving folks we may or may not sorta relate to that?

        If so fan-art away some wail-crying

      • He was kinda put in the hate group by a magic hat? Because his abusive father was in the hate group? And the only person who seemed to like him even though he was in the hate group dumped him for his own school bully. Snape just really wasn’t a fun person to be, is what I’m saying

      • INCORRECT!

        Because you still have to be a friend in order to be friendzoned. :D

        Also empathy =/= sympathy

        I do not give much sympathy because he had choices, just as I had choices. But some people need the approval of others, they have a need to belong and that is how people are recruited for terrible things. How people end up and stay abusive relationships too. That fundamental human need for pack and approval.
        It is a great strength of hominids, but also a very exploitable weakness.

        • Yeah I meant Death Eaters

          Altho in retrospect I can’t really remember if he was in that or not

          I can empathize with p much everybody but shit circumstances are NO EXCUSE for being MEAN and generally just rude to children

          I don’t think house slytherin is evil but I do think it’s underground situation would bum me out a lot

          IDK, I stopped at book five because of that opening dream sequence / everyone in my life telling me I’m Luna Love good when I’m a snarky asshat and Luna Love good is too pure for this world

          and only finished the series a few years ago just because I felt like I ought to?

          And I was p disillusioned about every adult in Harrys life by the end

          But esp Snape and Dumbledore

  4. Omg you guys I always get so many feeling about Camp when I see the re camps.

    I always have this feeling of wanting to come home. Of just wanting to be at home and knowing the people you’re with there ARE your family. Like Ive only seen these people what like 2x in my whole life and I consider them to be my lesbros and seesters and just my family.

    I remember my first A Camp..my first thought when I got on the mountain was IM HOME.

  5. Just re-read everything. Got teary eyed especially with camper words at the end. YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. CAMP. OMG.

    I remember the State Fair. I remember Robin getting really concerned about me in the bounce house with @kadryd and those huge ass boxing gloves. I mean if the nurse gets injured then what.. LOL Also I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT @heatherannehogan has footage of kadry and I duking it out in that bounce house! YOU GUYS IT WAS ALL THAT AND MORE.

    OMG. CAMP. The first thing I did when I got home was unpack and download all the songs from A Camp Family Band night. I’ve listened to wagon wheel so much in the past year you guys. All the vids I have from that night are on my youtube page just FYI. And I THINK I have the vid of the pie eating contest. =p

  6. The whole creation and experience of camp sounds so damn beautiful and it’s just amazing that ‘Straddle have made the initial vision into a reality. No luck in going as of yet but my teeny queer heart knows I’ll get to come annoy you guys in person someday. Thank you for existing!!!

  7. “As it turned out, I was pretty impressed by the lengths campers were willing to go to, particularly Mo Ucros, who dove directly into the tub and pretty much swam to the bottom before emerging triumphantly with a nectarine in their teeth.”


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