A-Camp 6.0 Recamps Part One: We Get By With A Little Help From Our New Friends

Pre-Camp: Friday, May 29th

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Robin: Ah, Pre-Camp. Pre-Camp is always so much fun and I wish it was longer. I think building a strong and united staff helps A-Camp feel like this safe and loving family. New staff members arrive just like new campers, sort of hesitant and excited, but nervous and it’s so nice to be able to give everyone a hug and know that in just a few days we will all be one big family working together towards this really awesome goal.

Trent: The next day came and this was my chance. I felt good, I was refreshed, I was present.

Morgan: After being sidelined from exercising for a few months following a bad jump off the back of a semi, I was ready to exercise again around the time camp started. Starting on Friday of pre-camp I got up at 5am almost every morning the following week to run around the mountain for about 45 minutes, which at 7,000ft (2,100m) above sea level ain’t no joke. But the sunlight would just then be licking the surrounding mountaintops and the air was cool and the world was quiet and I came back from it feeling safe and alive and whole and very, very smelly.

Stef: The best thing about my staff cabin was my personal discovery of #MorningKip. I always knew that Morning Kip was a thing, but encountering him in real life was a transformative experience. Dude is just the grumpiest, and it was amazing every time.

Carmen: A-Camp does something to me. It’s like the mountain air, the slightly less caffeinated coffee that enables me to drink coffee throughout the day, and being surrounded by all the people I love working with but never get to make slushies with using frozen popsicles as a foundation really wakes me the fuck up.

Rory: That morning, like every morning of camp, slutshack rose at 5am or something to the husky cackle of Carmen Rios.

Laura Wooley, Associate Editor Alum & Sea Otters Counselor (3rd A-Camp): On Friday morning, I woke up and threw open my cabin door to take in the great outdoors and was instantly bombarded with the very loud, very joyous sound of Carmen laughing.

Kai: The first moment I realized I was a lone West Coast wolf surrounded by an East Coast wolf pack was when I was shoving a pillow over my head trying to keep out Carmen’s cackles and basic sunlight.

Laura W: It was like a joke in a sitcom, except it was my real life.

Carmen: Everyone in my end of the cabin kept waking up simultaneously, just like we would fall asleep simultaneously!

Kai: This would become my morning ritual. But, like, somehow sleep is not necessary at camp? We all turn into magical, sleepless, robot unicorns and for that I am grateful.

Stef: I got stuck with the only top bunk on the whole entire mountain that didn’t have a ladder. I regularly terrified Carolyn by hoisting myself in and out of my bunk with sheer brute strength, but I probably also impressed her with my catlike grace and athleticism.Screenshot 2016-01-16 18.13.05

Maddie: I woke up pretty early and wandered around, finally seeing camp in the daylight. It was funny to see people who’d been asleep by the time I got there the night before. I spotted Bren across camp and it was sort of like seeing both a celebrity and a bear, because I knew who she was instantly, but she was also clearly having early morning quiet time, so I left her alone. We met for real later.

Kip: Woke up on the first full day of pre-camp with hair like I don’t care and decided to put it in a boi bun for the first time ever because I desperately needed a haircut. Got really positive feedback, I will say. Haven’t done it since. I’m a little too scared TBH. Being around my queers gives me more confidence that I’m looking good.


Breakfast

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Riese: So the legend of Megan O’Grady is that she carries things. She loves to carry things. She loves wearing shorts, telling Laneia how pretty she is… and carrying things. But because of a back injury, she wasn’t gonna be able to carry things at camp. And she is the only person in the entire world who felt really sad about having a legit medical excuse to not carry things.

Heather: Oh, man. The legend of Megan O’Grady is that she is one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever seen in my life and I told Laneia to tell her not to ever talk to me again after the first time she talked to me because she is too pretty and it made me feel like a middle schooler and I could never think of anything to say back to her. And then! Megan talked to me anyway! (She told me of a secret place to keep my beer.)

Laneia: Megan had this spinal injury that became super serious a few months before camp, and it was immediately clear that she wouldn’t be able to do the kind of heavy lifting she’s accustomed to, which fucked with her head on a couple of levels. I tried to assuage her sad guilty feelings by insisting that the spirit of camp/family was strong and ready to help out, but she was still feeling about as useless as a chocolate teapot. So I enlisted the help of my fellow staffers to create this fun morning activity that would help her feel supported and hopefully make her cry a little.

Bren: Before camp Laneia, being the loving wife that she is, asked all of us to bring the location-specific Trader Joe’s bags from our various home ports for Megan because she collects them. At breakfast Megan was presented with about 7 million Trader Joe’s bags and she loved it and it was amazing. This recamp brought to you by Trader Joe’s.

Megan O’Grady, Program Support Coordinator (6th A-Camp): I was sobbing like a small lamb on the inside! I felt so elated and happy and thankful and blessed, like the King of the World. Though I was literally unable to lift the entire weight of A-Camp supplies to and from the various lodges and across the rocky, glittery terrain, I was able to carry the love of A-Camp in my heart for the next several days (and forever) thanks to all those bags. But seriously, that was ridiculous and wonderful. I love this job and I love you people!


Pre-Camp Begins

Pre-camp is split into blocks for cabin prep, activity/panel prep, opening ceremonies rehearsal and getting-to-know-you activities.

Carolyn: Pre-camp, like the first day of actual camp, always has a strange timeless quality, because on one hand a lot of us interact in some way all the time, but on the other hand a lot of that is on the internet so it doesn’t feel as real, and then we’re all there and going up the mountain and the road is (hopefully) familiar and Alpine looks exactly the same and it’s as if the last camp ended yesterday instead of a year ago.

Maddie: Even though I was a NKOTB in camp terms, everyone was extremely welcoming and nice.

Trent: During pre-camp, I was solely focused on being present where I was and only embracing all of the goodness that life and camp had to offer me.

KaeLyn: I’m so grateful for pre-camp because I actually had time to get to know other staff and contributors before the 300 (Prepare for glory!) arrived. For two days, time held its breath. I also held my breath because the altitude was way more serious than I thought it’d be.

Kip: Friday I did an open call for staff haircuts because girl/boi, you know we gotta look GOOD for you. Weirdly, only a handful of staffers wanted them, I think because everyone got a fresh cut right before coming. Again, gotta look good. So instead of being really useful at pre-camp, I gave myself a haircut. You’re welcome.

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Stef: Can we talk about how Robin got the most amazing haircut? I think it’s one of the haircuts you can give your avatar in Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood.

Bren: Possibly the best and strangest thing about pre-camp is meeting people in person that you know and have known for months/years but have never seen with your eyeballs. I mean, I knew from avatars that Nikki had great hair, but I had no idea she was such a good dresser!

Ali: I had a long talk with Hansen during pre-camp about how time works on the mountain. Hansen was like, it feels like we were here two weeks ago or maybe there is a reality in which we have never left the mountain. And I was like, no, it feels like it’s been a million years since we’ve been here but nothing’s changed, like a time warp. So basically, what I am here to tell you is I spent the majority of pre-camp looking for a Tardis. That, and putting up David Bowie posters all over the Star Runners cabin.

Cecelia: I expected this camp to be a particularly witchy experience for me (as co-counselor of the Witchblades and as co-leader of Witch/Craft with Mey) but my body was not prepared for all of the actually insane magic things that happened on the mountain. We knew that a private van was coming up the mountain with Rory’s luggage, except the van was super late. His luggage was supposed to arrive at 8:00am but then 8:00am turned into 10:00pm until the van was definitely lost forever. Rory was super bummed out about it, and bummed out Rory is The Worst. So I was like, you know what? We have one option left. Let’s try and magic our way out of this situation!

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Rory: I was getting pretty grumpz about my missing luggage but then Cecelia the witch performed an actual magic spell.

Cecelia: So I listened to the wind and I rubbed my hands together and used the force of my strongest spell to will his bag up the mountain. Except here’s the thing about this spell, y’all. It worked.

Rory: Just a sec later I saw a lost man wondering around with my bag and I ran over to him and I wanted to hug him but he looked a bit taken aback from how excited I was to have my crab on a chain back.

Cecelia: He came from out of nowhere! At 11:00pm! On a mountain! In my memory he was no man at all, but a shape shifting apparatus and Rory is probably wearing ghost clothes. Anyway, I cried.

Rory: Now I believe in magic. Also fairies! Also ghosts because Gabby told a terrifying ghost story which will shit me up for ever more.


Cabin Decorating Day Fever

Riese: So, Laneia and I always have a cabin called The Runaways, which’s 100% new campers coming to camp alone. And because Laneia and I are obnoxiously busy during camp and can’t be as attentive as other cabin captains, we also invented The Blackhearts. Returning Runaways become Blackhearts and each Blackheart has a “little sister” in the new Runaways cabin, who will pay them all the attention we ourselves cannot! This system has worked out SO well for us and annoyed everybody else SO MUCH that this year I decided to extend it to the ENTIRE camp. SISTER CABINS FOR EVERYBODY. The Outsiders were ripe for this program as they’ve already got a cult-like set of returning Outsiders, akin to The Runaways. So, I called their sister cabin “The Star Runners,” ’cause that was another book by S.E. Hinton, who wrote “The Outsiders.” See how I made them relate topically? Like how Joan Jett was in the Runaways and then the Blackhearts? UNFORTUNATELY NEITHER ALI NOR WHITNEY GOT THE REFERENCE.

Whitney Pow, Contributing Editor Alum and Star Runners Counselor (5th A-Camp): In our email thread with our cabin people, we ended up deciding that “Star Runners” basically meant David Bowie running on the Rainbow Road from the Mario Kart video games.

Riese: ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH

Whitney: This resulted in a ridiculous and wonderful amount of David Bowie and Mario Kart Photoshops made that Ali and I made into giant posters and printed out in full color. We spent much of pre-camp cutting out pieces of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Labyrinth face and taping them up onto the cabin wall.

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Marni and Robin do important pre-camp things

Bren: I’m not the best decorator. I struggled with what to do with the Fried Green Tomatoes cabin for an excruciating 15 mins before finally deciding to cover every possible square inch with green things. I worried that it wasn’t enough and then Cee arrived with a poster she hand-drew with tomatoes on it. It was perfect and not ONLY because the two tomatoes looked like perfect breasts. I mean, it helped, but it wasn’t the only reason.

Mey: Heather and I were really excited to be the co-leaders of Hogwarts cabin. We’re both pretty big nerds, and really big HP fans, and so it was really the perfect fit. We kept on coming up with cool Harry Potter themed decorations and activities we could do with our cabin.

Heather: Y’all. Mey taped a Moaning Myrtle INSIDE the toilet seat on our cabin. One of my favorite days of camp was this day because it was just me and Mey, doing crafts, and talking to each other about our lives and how we became who we are and all the things we love and don’t love about queer TV and our favorite comic books. Looking back, I really treasure that time, in large part because I don’t know if we’ll be co-leaders again, and if not, where will we find time like that at the next camp? (I’ll steal her away.)

Mey: Also, my mom is pretty amazing so she handmade these lavender scented owls for each person in our cabin, so each camper got a little mini Hedwig or Errol or Pigwidgeon.  I put all the owls that my mom made in the campers’ bags and hid Moaning Myrtles in the cabin bathrooms while Heather climbed onto the top bunks and hung candles from the ceiling to make it look like the Great Hall. We also talked about comic books, our love/hate relationships with Glee, my epilepsy and why I became a writer. Then Hansen and Chelsey came in and we talked Harry Potter ships and Evanna Lynch.

Abby can't get into Hogwarts!

Abby can’t get into Hogwarts!

Maddie: Carolyn and Nurse Vivian and I decorated the FIREBIRDS cabin, and we made them very special Firebird tokens from feathers and golden pipecleaners.

Carolyn W: We determined that Maddie was the creative force that came up with our cabin creative plan and I was the communicator. Halfway though decorating, I realized I was gonna need more tortilla chips. What followed was a series of messages in our cabin Facebook group pleading with our campers to bring random items… chips… binder paper… alcohol… cough drops… Claritin… and yes, in the end I got all of them.

Maddie: I also discovered the swings of Alpine Meadows, which I think are the greatest swings I’ve ever swang on in my life.

Carolyn W: I joined our sister cabin while they setup and fretted over my DJ setlist for Speakeasy Klub Deer which would become yet another recurring theme in my camp experience.

Gabby: Friday was my first real day getting to know Djuan Trent of Miss Kentucky and Instagram fame. And I don’t think there was a better person for me to be partnered with, honestly.

Trent: I extended an apology to Gabby for my lackluster efforts. She was totally understanding and forgiving, and I appreciated that. Things were looking up and I was glad about it.

Gabby: Trent and I made our cabin gift bags. She drew the bee on our Beehive sign. We worked together, rapped to Nicki Minaj, and just got to know each other.

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Gabby and Trent outside The Beyhive

Elicia: The first day of prep Rachel and I spent making the cabin look as spooky as possible. After hanging some mini-ghosts with our campers’ names, Rachel thought to grab some tea lights, balloons and streamers and tossed them over the wood beams on the ceiling of our cabin. I’m not sure what prompted this idea other than we thought hanging ghosts made sense at the time. We both grossly underestimated the skill, determination and lung capacity this task would take and by “we,” I mean, me, because Rachel kept mentioning it would be really hard to blow up a bunch of balloons with the thin atmosphere and also that maybe I should stop punching the balloons over the beams and try tossing them instead. I still felt like the cabin needed something else… something special that would stand out: so I lay down on the floor in Wolf and made an oversized Slimer drawing from memory.

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Rachel, Slimer??? and Elicia

Rachel: I will never be able to decorate my cabin to the degree which I would find pleasing — I don’t have the aesthetic gifts of some of my co-staff. But thanks to Elicia’s Slimer and, bless them, the tampon ghosts, I hope that our campers were able to feel both thoroughly spooked and our abiding love for them as they laid down for the night.

Elicia: HUGE SHOUT OUT to Gigler who gave me the idea of making ghosts out of the leftover free tampons. This was a goddamn stroke of genius.

Cecelia: Did you know that Witchblade is a comic series? I did not know this and I was co-counselor of the Witchblades cabin. Also, I bought a bunch of decorations that didn’t ship on time for me to bring them to camp. So I got crafty and decorated by drawing some witch things (cauldrons, pentagrams) and some blade things (knives, I don’t know). This was my first time at camp and I was very intimidated by how really good everyone’s cabin decorations were. During my decoration stress fest, there was definitely a moment when one bead of sweat and a single tear drop both rolled onto my crafts at the same time. Which, wouldn’t you know it, works very nicely as glitter adhesive.

Brittani, The Talent & Tower of Terror Counselor (6th A-Camp): Pre-camp involved a lot of doing what Liz Castle told me to regarding decorating our cabin but it worked out because later I got to take more of the credit than I should have. I put a lot of effort into the fake spider webs that I think no one cared about.

Rory: We made a Labrador-sized unicorn mascot for our cabin Rodeo Disco and blew magic life into it by the power of glitter!

Carmen: We also made smaller unicorns — drawn by him, of course — to give to our campers. Somehow, with cardboard and glitter and glue and a bunch of crazy fucking ants on the benches, we made it work. I was so proud to be Rory’s assistant that day.

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Kai: The Beach cabin got pretty beachy pretty fast, much thanks to Gigler being nimble and quick.

Gigler: I beebopped around helping with cabin decorations and assembling gift bags.

Kaylah: I was putting up some scenic wallpaper outside — or doing something else really useful — when I walked inside The Beach to see that Kaylah had blown up the 24 mini beach balls we’d gotten all by herself. I was really impressed because there’s a serious lack of oxygen on that mountain.

KaeLyn: Yvonne and I got this idea for our cabin from some soccer mom’s pinterest of making our door into an actual shark face/mouth and I think it didn’t totally suck how it came out. We discussed how both of us have parents who are teachers and how they would have been really impressed with our “classroom decorating” skills as we sat on the floor, cutting shark teeth out of white copy paper.

Yvonne: I totally forgot the blue wrapping paper I bought at the Dollar Store to decorate our shark door. But luckily when we stopped at Von’s I found shiny blue wrapping paper and thought it was even better. Our Shark Door was pretty effing amazing, if you ask me

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KaeLyn: Robin brought us plastic sharks leftover from a photoshoot, which we in turn gave to our campers. We had such a random assortment of shark things and way too much streamer paper and we went to town and I have no regrets. I have a lot of extra shark tooth necklaces still living in my camp suitcase, though.

Stef: I feel in my heart that I’ve been waiting my entire life to have Taylor as my co-counselor, and now that it’s happened I never want it to end. Our cabin was initially named the Flashdanciators because they were a bunch of former Flashdance/Gladiators people, but we didn’t love that name and crowdsourced a new one. Our campers came up with Buffy the Vampire Gayers, which inspired the name we ended up going with for most of camp – Campires. I know it sounds like it has something to do with camp but it actually stands for Casual Vampires; it’s no big deal.

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Stef: My entire suitcase was filled with 16 pairs of plastic vampire fangs and a pair of vampire capes I’d bought at Halloween Adventure. Taylor and I took our capes for a test run and I was delighted to realize that my cape was the warmest, most comfortable item of clothing I’d brought to the mountain. I have never felt more natural in my entire life. I knew Taylor would be the perfect co-conspirator when I walked into our staff cabin and found her determinedly gluing googly eyes to a paper lantern.

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Morgan: Laura Wooley and I were cabinmates at 2.0 and have traded postcards and soaps since then but I hadn’t had the distinct pleasure of extended hang time with her. Before camp even started we were recording long chat videos for our sea otters and just riffing with each other like buddies and the real life experience was much the same.

Laura W: Morgan and I spent the afternoon realizing that while sea otters are really cute animals, they’re really hard to base a decorating scheme around. Luckily, we found a bunch of silver balloons and some water-colored streamers and turned our cabin into a little otter cove.

Morgan: We’re both earnest goofy people and had a lot of fun taking care of campy things together and talking about life and love and dreams and sex. I could scarcely have asked for a better partner in crime to be excitedly anxious and anxiously excited with.

Hansen: Carolyn Yates made our Fun Home door look so glorious with TONS of comics and I am still in awe of pictures of it. Cabin decorating is always one of my favorite things, because you get a chance to sit with your co-counselor and plan out cabin initiation and try to figure out if your campers are going to get along (I stress about this so much?) based on their intro emails and Facebook activity. I also like to check out other people’s cabins and fall entirely in love with all of their fun ideas. Like the Hogwarts cabin? The stuff of my dreams.

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Laura M: Cameron and I didn’t have a ton of decorations in the Outsiders’ cabin, but that’s because we spent our decorating time making pins and writing haikus about our campers instead. Jean vests are kind of our cabin’s thing (carrying over from last camp), so we wanted to do a pinning ceremony for initiation. I brought some jeans and a bunch of dinosaur figurines that had previously been decorating my bathroom. Cameron contributed pins and glue, and the two of us crafted in silence between the bunks, cutting out tiny jean vests for the dinosaurs and thinking deeply about how to distill our feelings for our campers into 17 syllables.


Robin: We played a few rounds of friend speed-dating and got to know each other a bit better. What an amazing staff we had this session!

Stef: During pre-camp, Robin and Marni had us gather in Deer for a round of friend speed dating, so the staff could get to know each other better and function as more of a team.

Riese: We really wanted TEAM UNITY hardcore this camp, which meant getting to know each other. Real talk I found staff speed-dating terrifying.

Kip: It was not as awkward as it sounds, promise. Though kind of awkward. Mostly because Robin used an air horn INSIDE in Deer to mark time. So loud.

Stef: The #1 highlight of pre-camp was Hansen sneering around the room and announcing, “I’m not here to make friends – I’m here to win!”

Kip: I got to meet Trent for the first time! And I tried to convince her to move to LA but failed pretty hard. Also I got to get Gabby to finally notice me. I’m pretty sure she’s convinced that it’s the first time we’ve ever spoken. It’s not, but I’m happy to finally be on Gabby’s radar. I’ve been friend crushing from afar for pretty long now.

Stef: At some point in the afternoon, Mal texted to talk pre-production for the family band show and I told them to hurry up and get here because camp was full of DOGS this year. I sent them a picture of Arrow the husky and also mentioned that there was a Weimaraner. Mal wrote back, “What the heck is that? Is that part of the kink workshop?” Bless.

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New camp mascot

KaeLyn: We had lasagna for lunch, ya’ll, and it was the best meal of the week. #teamlasagna I still could not fucking breathe. I just kept on drinking water and hoping I would be able to walk more than 10 feet without panting before the campers arrived the next day.

Robin: Pre-camp this session was a great reflection of the rest of camp. It was organized and chill. It felt really nice. Everyone helped each other prep their cabins and activities.

Carmen: This was also the first of many days when Brittani and I would attempt to make #CampGods happen. Did it happen? Tell me in the comments.

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The Talent Train Is Coming Up The Mountain, Population Four

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Kristin Russo, The Talent (1st A-Camp): We were SO SCARED when Jenny, Julia, Dannielle and I arrived at Pre-Camp. We had no idea what to expect because it was A-Camp number one for the whole carload of us and driving up the mountain was also VERY terrifying for the human in the car who’s always most afraid of dying (*points to self*).

Jenny Owen Youngs, The Talent (1st A-Camp): I was feeling some deeeeep uncertainty/looming dread about what exactly was about to happen to us. Meeting new people is scary and we were about to meet a whole ton of them.

Dannielle Owens-Reid, The Talent (1st A-Camp): Once we got there everyone was so fucking cool and tried to help as much as possible. We got into the swing of things pretty quickly, figured out who had access to the nurse for Julia’s knee, who had walkies and who was in charge.

KaeLyn: I majorly geeked out when I met Julia Nunes. Because she is from where I live, ya’ll. And she is queer. And lovely. And I once listened to her play her set list live for a local radio station. And then she came out. And can you tell I fangirled like a weirdo? Julia was so nice and didn’t seem weirded out that I was freaking out about her existence. OK, she seemed a little weirded out.

Dannielle:  As soon as people knew we didn’t know anything, they were so excited to help. That was cool, we didn’t feel weird about asking a million questions.

Carly Usdin, Special Programming Director (6th A-Camp): Most of my camp prep time was spent with Grace setting up Eagle lodge and acquainting ourselves with our new gear. We really tried to up the ante this time, with a variety of lights, better sound equipment, and enough batteries (finally!). Hopefully someday we’ll have enough extension cords. I used up so much printer toner printing those A-Camp A/V Club signs. They did look really cool though, right? Right?

Riese: You know what looked really cool was the A-Camp A/V Club Signs.

Jenny: Once we got settled in our cabin, we spent the day shaking hands and everyone was SOOOOOO nice and SOOOO cool and SOOOO well-dressed. I also got a facefull of Ali’s extreme hula hoop skills.

Whitney: While I was running around on Friday we passed by two people who were hula hooping near Falcon. And I realized these two people were vaguely Jenny Owen Youngs- and Kristin Russo-shaped! We chatted a bit, and Kristin showed Jenny my nametag, which had an adorable fuzzy platypus sticker stuck to it. I fan-girled a little, since I listened to Jenny when I was a baby queer and it is surreal meeting a queer role model face to face—her music meant so much to me when I was coming out. BRB, gonna listen to Jenny’s song “Pirates” on repeat now.

Dannielle: Everybody was the fucking best, so nice, so easy to talk to, so ready to be a family.

Riese: Campers had been asking for Dannielle and Kristin to come to A-Camp pretty much since Day One. I was so pleased to finally make this dream a reality.

Lizz Rubin: Driving up alone also took me a million billion hours and I got lost a million times because I’m a chaos muppet. But then I showed up at camp, totally late, and everyone was just like “Hey Lizz good to see you!” Totally unphased by muppeting lateness.

Dannielle: Food before the campers got there was SO SUPERIOR. RIP ORANGE CAKE.


Stef: Since we had the time and the space, the family band decided to run through a couple of songs for our first official practice. We had asked Djuan Trent to sing on a couple of songs, although none of us were really particularly familiar with her singing. She told us which songs on our potential setlist she was comfortable with and we just sorta went from there. The minute she picked up the mic, it became very clear that we were dealing with a different caliber of musicians this time around.

Trent: Family band rehearsed for the first time and it was sooo fuckin’ awesome! Man, it was so great! So much talent and such cool people, I could not ask for more.

Stef: Trent’s voice is incredible, and her stage presence absolutely blew us away. The talent really stepped it up this camp. Marni, Alex and I just kind of blinked and stared at each other like, “you guys, this one’s gonna be special.”

Gigler: We frantically practiced our 7-11 dance for the opening campfire pre-show, it was all happening.

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Before Night Falls

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Whitney: So, true facts: My wife and I listen to the podcast Welcome to Nightvale and it was amazing to meet Jasika Nicole at camp—Intern (now Mayor?) Dana in the flesh. Jasika is one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people ever, and we ended up chatting over the course of camp, at times about sewing clothes and other times about gender presentation and about the idea of “dapper” and the many shades of dapper that you see at Camp. (And there are so many shades of dapper—oh man you all look so good. I’m totally taking fashion notes from y’all.)

Rachel: Hey, if anyone asks, I was definitely extremely normal and chill when meeting Jasika, and did not list off all of my favorite roles of hers and how much I loved them. Lizz gracefully debriefed me afterwards and said “That went great! From here on out never mention her characters again or it will be weird.” Seriously, if I had had to go home that very day, getting to meet Jasika and her wife Claire and have Jasika offhandedly mention that carrot seed oil is naturally sun-protective would have been worth the trip.

Mey: That night, when I was walking out of Eagle lodge, I fell down (because I’m totally clumsy off the mountain, and even more when I have to navigate a mountainside covered in rocks) and totally tore up my leg. It looked a lot worse than it was, but it did mess up my outfit plans for the next few days as I couldn’t wear tights. Luckily, Megan was right behind me when I fell and then Vivian dressed my wound, so it was alright. I just had a giant wound on my leg for the rest of camp. Jasika Nicole thought it was a tattoo, though, so that’s cool.

Carolyn W: Before I came to camp I was fitted by Sharpe Suiting for a custom suit and became great friends with the owner Leon Wu. I took a snapshot of their awesome A-Camp shot glasses and sent it to Leon who was thrilled and wished us a great camp!

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Alex: The camp staff fire was the best way to cap off a busy day like this. I gave everyone my homemade fig-infused bourbon, everyone loved it, we proceeded to bond and just have a generally splendid time. I ripped up and dirtied my pants that were supposed to last all of camp and got dirt/soot all over my face and it was the best. Also sidenote, homemade fig-infused bourbon cures my altitude sickness?

Gigler: I sampled Vega’s fancy ass fig whiskey around the campfire.

Carmen: I remember wandering around looking for a staff campfire and it not happening and then getting sucked into a conversation in which Brittani Nichols told me she’d never love a dog like she loves this one particular dog and then I took my drunk ass to wolf to emotionally ask people if they appreciated his presence. Also, was this the night a bunch of people in #SlutShack tried to carry me around and hand me off to each other? Probably.

Screenshot 2016-01-16 10.21.23

Lizz: Meeting Heather IRL was super amazing. I was like “Heather I feel like I know you. You look just like your picture!” And she was like “You’re even more beautiful in person than your picture!” It was very sweet and I was happy.

Heather: That’s true. Lizz is even more beautiful in person.

Rachel: Can confirm. And since it was Lizz’s girlfriend Chrissie’s birthday, we had a party! With cake and all!

Riese: The cake was good.

Screenshot 2016-01-16 11.43.06

Kaylah: I had a discussion with Cee about mass extinction. I didn’t sleep that night. I haven’t been that terrified since I saw Armageddon. I still can’t listen to Aerosmith…

Lizz: As usual I was cabinmates with Whit, Mey, Ali and Hansen. As usual it was lovely.

Carolyn W: At some point I remember going to my cabin and sitting on my bed. I was exhausted! And like they say in the book of Genesis “the evening and the morning was the first day.”

Jenny: Things felt a little less scary by the time my cabin was crawling into bed (hella early – at 8000 feet, just existing is pretty sleepy work).

Kristin: That night the four of us giggled like we were in 6th grade at a sleepover and Dannielle jumped so high off of her bed that she was able to grab the rafter that held the whole cabin together… so it basically immediately became clear that this was going to be the best thing of all time, ever.

Jenny: Kristin took the top bunk, “in case the bunk bed collapses in the middle of the night.” That left the bottom bunk for me. Thanks, Kristin.

Dannielle: Also, Kristin and Jenny had a tickle fight.


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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO 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 and then headed West. 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 2855 articles for us.

82 Comments

  1. Rie

    CAMP CAMP CAMP CAMP.

    This was objectively my favorite camp. (Subjectively, my first, 3.0, holds a very special place in my heart.)

    My advice:

    1. If you’re kinda delicate stomach-wise or brain-wise, limit or eliminate drinking and keep dairy to a minimum
    2. Have one friend you’re campdependent with and split travel medicine cabinets with
    3. Go directly to a Queer Hotspot after to ease back into real life. (For me, San Francisco.)

  2. This makes me even more hyped for my first camp this year! I really hope I get a spot.

  3. Oh man camp sounds great. I hope to be able to make it some year, though it’s been a while since I’ve been on the camper side of a camp exprience

  4. I’m gonna be honest – I had an AWFUL camp last year (which was not at all Autostraddle’s fault. Just one bad luck after another and me not knowing how to deal with it.)

    But I still couldn’t help but smile while reading this and remembering all the small moments where staff and campers went out of their way to help me or make me feel welcome. Camp is a magical place, truly.

  5. GUYS. This year is going to be my FIRST A-CAMP and I’m so excited that my stomach is in knots and this article just makes me all the more pumped for it!! I’m just also simultaneously nervous/scared because I’m not gonna know anybody there. But reading things like this makes me feel like wow maybe it’ll be okay and maybe I’ll be able to make friends there (hopefully, fingers crossed.) Ya’ll are just making me all the more excited for my first A-Camp AND my first trip to the West coast! So yeah, I guess I’ll see ya’ll there!

    • That’s totally cool! I think you will be surprised at how completely easygoing and cool everyone is. Its intimidating at first because there are SO MANY ATTRACTIVE HUMANS I DONT EVEN KNOW but then theyre all shy and friendly too and then there are hugs and deep discussions and after a week you don’t know what life was without any of them

    • Yay! Last year was my first A-Camp and I am super shy and scared of people but it was beautiful and everyone was wonderful.

  6. Mey

    Wait, @heatherannehogan i don’t think you ever texted me about pokemon cards! i want to know what that was about! Also, getting texts from you always makes my day, so don’t ever feel like you can’t ask me about agent carter, white canary, steven universe, wonder woman, pokemon or anything else!

  7. Camp made me realise I’m not as outgoing as I think I am? Either that or Americans are just SO much more out there than Brits that I pale in comparison. Or it was the jetlag. I’m blaming that. Yep.

    ANYWAYS- I’m still glad y’all do what you do- and am raising a glass to many more years of Autostraddle and A-Camp.

    • Gah Ali, I had flashbacks the other day of you coming to check on the poorly Starrunners in your unicorn onesie and it just brought so much joy to my heart. <3

  8. And then me and some newly friend StarSiders spent over an hour drunkenly trying to hoist the blue flag into a tree without climbing it, but making it high and secure enough to stay put. We were so damn PROUD of ourselves. I heard later the next day it had taken mere seconds to take down. WE TRIED SO HARD.

  9. I probably can’t get to camp this year and it makes me so sad in my heart! I’ll miss all you beautiful weirdos! Especially my Shark alum!

    A-Camp 7.0 first-timers, do not worry. It will be overwhelming in the best way and you will make friends and have the time of your damn life. It is even more than you can even imagine. It will change you!

  10. Fucking amazing! I still love how my teammate and i took the pie eating contest WAY to seriously ;)

    • everybody’s behavior during the pie-eating contest was glorious truly

  11. – I CANT WAIT for registration
    – nurse Vivian is the best
    – Shark week and Hogwarts doors were amazing
    – the grey shirts were very flattering

    • One evening I hadn’t yet checked Autostraddle and was like wait, I had better check because a-camp registration! So thanks, Riese, for giving a time frame for registration!

  12. This makes me so sad about having to cancel on going. I really want to come backkkkk

  13. I have been looking forward to the recamps. Except now I’m just bummed that I can’t come back this year.

  14. I AM SO EXCITED! I’ve asked for the days off work. I just filed my taxes and am getting enough of a refund to afford camp. A-CAMP IS HAPPENING!!!

  15. Reading these pre-pre-camp recaps is new, unexpected, and easily the best thing about my day today. Exceptional considering I just got asked to go out out drinks with my former principal and the first lesbian I ever knew, which is also a big deal for me. BUT THESE PRECAMPS THO

  16. I flew from Ohio to NYC, painted a weird cow on a bed sheet, and packed up my Brooklyn apartment while also packing for Camp. This was my pre-pre-pre-camp. There was very little sleep. Somehow @alioh managed to be human, dapper, AND cheerful at 4 AM whereas I was a tired, limping potato in a sweatshirt. Upon landing at LAX, I drank 3 very large coffees to evolve into a human who could speak in sentences.

  17. This gave me so many feelings and reminded me how much camp means to me and how it feels like HOME. I cannot wait to be back on the mountain in 127 days!! (I am the countdown queen in case you didn’t know)

  18. Also (OUTSIDERS FOR LYFE) you have no idea how long it took the starsiders to figure out if our cabin names were related. We tried everything. Google. Amazon. Wikipedia. No one could solve what StarSiders was from.

    Until one day someone checked the name of the author. Glory.

      • Y’all, I am ashamed. I don’t watch movies, I don’t listen to music, I read books. I’m in an MFA program. It could be said that the one thing I do know is books. AND I DIDN’T GET THIS OH GOD.

        • I dunno. I always thought of Mario Kart and rainbow road with a star activated. I thought it was great that way.

  19. I miss EVERYONE, but especially the Firebirds and ESPECIALLY the SWINGS.

    • Whenever I see you playing I remember when your guitar strap (?) fell apart (?) and I think I caught it on video but don’t remember which song. LOL

      • it was “cool party” and it was 100% because i was trying to make eyes at gabby and got distracted.

    • Lex

      This sent me on youtube spiral to watch all the A Camp Family Band stuff which lead further places and then I got back here to read the context as the spiral got to Goodbye Earl just at the “Ain’t it dark? Wrapped up in that tarrrrp, Eaaaaarl!”

      SO DARK VINZZ AND STEF SO DARK.

      • Lex

        It gets brighter like the venue lights.
        They live happily ever after selling ham and jam at a roadside stand, whether or not they’re gal paling or gal paling happily ever is up to the listener.
        No body goes to jail.
        Trust me it’s all good.

  20. I was the person who awkwardly and quite conspicuously confirmed for Mal Blum that it was indeed Sinbad they were seeing.

  21. Jay

    I couldn’t make it to camp last year, but you best believe I’ll be there in May! Gosh oh my! Reading this every cell in my body is telling me to be there. The last camp I was at was emotionally a lot, in mixed ways, I wasn’t present. But I’m ready, I’m ready deep down in my soul to be back on the mountain, and I am soo excited!!! <3 <3 <3 (like it may be the week before finals but oh well, I'm doing it, I'm ready to book my flight any day now)

  22. Lex

    I can’t stop giggling about the shuttles actually being great white sharks that ate all the campers. It’s gunna be one of those things that’ll randomly pop into my brain and make me giggle seemingly out of the blue.

    Y’all did pretty fantastic with decorating for people who use glue sticks instead of the bestest paper adhesive evar; rubber cement.
    But I’m not judging normal people for not knowing secret hardware store type knowledge.
    Just trying (badly) to prosthelytize about one of my favourite things that is not food.
    Rubber cement, brush in cap.
    It will change your life.
    Much like A-Camp probably does, not that I would know because stalking instagram and tumblr like a creepy little creeper is not the same as being in the light of Mount Feelings.

    But yes, rubber cement it’s great.

  23. I delayed reading this because I knew it would give me FEELINGS and I WAS RIGHT, I SHOULD NEVER HAVE READ IT, I MISS CAMP SO MUCH. I was so scared and freaked out for the first day but every single day I text my camp friends so WHATEVER I GUESS IT WORKED.

    FEELINGS.

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