III. Before Night Falls
Cabin Initiation, followed by Rainbow War Games
Sophia:Our campers arrived in threes and fours and sometimes stragglers came later but we sat in a circle in our cabin and dove into each other’s personalities and bonded over consent and our favourite article of clothing. The Infernos won my heart and now there is a fire there that pulses with y’alls names.
Crystal: For cabin initiation Carly and I we asked our campers, the Toros, to send us a song that meant something special to them. We sat around for an hour after dinner playing everyone’s selections. It was so amazing to hear campers yell, “whoever chose this song, I love you!” only moments after meeting each other. I feel like only music can create such a rapid love fest.
Rachel: Mey and I were running around all over the place and didn’t catch all of my beautiful/perfect as they came in, but our cabin initiation made up for that. We played a version of “Celebrity,” which Liz informs me is a game that actually already exists and that I did not invent for camp, although I thought I had. Our cabin had so many Xenas, all of whom were hilarious. The Slayer cabin’s love for strong, independent and ass-kicking women is undying. We also made Buffy-themed feelings notebooks for camp. Mine was full of feelings almost immediately.
Riese: Our initiation ceremony involved The Runaways and The Blackhearts, the latter of which contained many Runaways September 2012 Alums. The details are secretive, but the message is: BE RIGHT HERE. Leave everything else at the bottom of the mountain and be here. Welcome to our cultish ’90s-themed grrrlzine faux-slumber-party, we command you to have some fucking fun.
Gabby: The Foxfire Cabin initiation was redubbed “The Familiation” because we wanted to build family and not like claim any part of weirdo fratty pressure type things (obvs that’s not what initiation at A-camp is ever about. Also, Katrina and I like being fancy). We wanted our campers to feel like they were already part of a family and that we were doing something to solidify that bond. AnyMcwayz, instead of Katrina and I coming to Foxfire with every slogan and chant planned out, we came to the familiation with some unfinished marching/protest chants and asked our Foxes to fill in the blanks and/or create something new. We gave them five minutes and when we came back, they had some good good stuff. Elizabeth “Make it Rains” Rains read the new chants outloud and together we found our cabin voice. Also, we talked about how important it was to treat each other with the utmost respect and love and all that good shit. The Familiation was a complete success.
Ali: As I met each Outlaw individually, I knew I was going to like my cabin. But nothing could have prepared me for the cohesive camp machine I was about to co-counsel. During the Color Wars station games, the Outlaws won Balloon Tag and Tug O’ War. By the time we walked into the photo booth with Robin, my cabin had its very own tagline: “How can we win this?” So they set about trying to win photos. They built a human pyramid. I actually have no idea how that photo turned out, but darn it if my cabin didn’t try to win photos. Over the next few days, they went on to win several unannounced games, such as “Making Ali Cry On the First Night” by giving me a birthday card (the first day of camp was my birthday), supporting the fuck out of their cabin mates, impromptu spray painting and “Making Ali Cry on the Last Night.” Outlaws, you may not have gotten color war points for any of those things, but you win in my heart.
Jill: On the first night of camp when we were doing the inter-cabin competitions, I could tell that the Wild Things were going to fall on the “Team Polite” side of scale when it came to competitiveness. They were full of apprehension when I told them the last competition of the evening consisted of a trial of “speed and dexterity.” When they reached Eagle lodge and saw that they had to do a balloon stomp, their faces filled with horror. And it wasn’t just Team A vs. Team B balloon stomping – no it was a four rainbow war color teams free-for-all. As they nervously tied on their little green balloons I advised them on war strategies so they would not be balloon popped right out of the gate. But to my surprise in that moment a great change came over the Wild Things. They became fierce balloon hunters and won the balloon stomp free for all!!!!! Never have I known a prouder moment.
Gabby: Tug of war. Tug of war. Holy shit, Robin thank you for making me the boss of something. Sick as a dog and losing my voice, I jumped on that tug of war as if my weirdo little life depended on it. I have to give a huge shout out to every cabin for being such good sports every time I shouted “don’t touch my rope!”. The Golden Girls killed it even though they only had like 5.5 people on their team. Also, mad love to my Foxfire babes for winning the tug of war and shouting “Foxfire, Don’t stop!” like a million times afterwards and forever.
Riese: We were so good at “being right here” that we missed all the Color Wars games? But I wasn’t about to miss the motherfucking photo booth action.
IV. Those Girls Are ON FIAR
Marni: At the first two camps we took time during the first night campfire to introduce all the staff one-by-one, and it dragged on forever and we knew that we had to find a way to do it that was less static and more fun for everyone. We had this crazy idea to change around all the lyrics to “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid and make it about the staff, and Riese pounded out the lyrics in one night at home. Carly, because she is magical, had downloaded a karaoke version of the song and spent part of pre-camp painstakingly splicing it to match our much-longer version, which we then scrapped in favour of doing it a cappella (thanks Carly!). All the staff were troopers about it and it was a really fun way to kick off camp.
Riese: Katrina Dangermouse Casino was like ten minutes late and we couldn’t start the song without her so I tried really hard to convince them to use Mel, a camper in The Blackhearts, as a stand-in ’cause she’d just gotten a Katrina haircut from Katrina and so maybe she could just cover her face, Riese-style, while crossing the stage, and nobody would know the difference! But then Katrina showed up and anyhow nobody thought it would be funny to swap in Mel besides me.
Robin: There aren’t many moments in one’s adult life when you can stand up in front of a crowd of other adults and sing a ridiculous version of a Disney song and receive a standing ovation. I am so grateful for the staff so being able to introduce them with Marni was an honor.
Riese: Not gonna lie, our song was fucking awesome. Highlight includes “Up where we walk / up where we run / up where we fuck Liz with a strap-on / You’re gluten-free / now you will be / part of A-Camp.”
Robin: I loved looking out on all the smiling faces of the campers who remain my top reason for coming back to work on camp every session and feeling their support and love.
Brandy Howard, The Talent: The opening campfire is always a huge highlight for me. The air was freezing, but the atmosphere was hot, hot, hot. I guess that’s what happens when hundreds of gorgeous girls gather around a huge burning fire pit. Plus, It’s always white hot when Julie always sings her camp anthem, Gay Baby Army (Now Available on iTunes!). This year there was no mic stand so I held the microphone for her, and my right shoulder got so hot I thought all the cartilage was going to melt into my collarbone. See how I did that?
Riese:I’ve started taking “Gay Baby Army” really seriously. Like I hope you’re all on board with having a Gay Baby Army for real, because when we all sing “Gay Baby Army” together with Julie Goldman I kinda feel like we could win a war of some kind.
Crystal:The Toros and the Bombshells (the other Orange cabin) had to perform a song on the opening night and within literally ten minutes of meeting they had formed a cheer troupe called the Toro-Bombs and wrote a cheer inspired by Bring It On. It was so damn impressive, Stef, Cara and I were so proud.
Riese: I think this was the camp where I realized once and for all that what makes camp special isn’t 50% us and 50% you, it’s definitely 15% us and 85% you. Like how do you guys manage to write a cute song/cheer with 30 other people in about ten minutes and then perform said cheer/song for 300 other weirdos on your first night atop a mountain? Because you BURN BURN BURN LIKE FABULOUS YELLOW ROMAN CANDLES EXPLODING LIKE SPIDERS ACROSS THE STARS. That’s why.
V. BEWARE THE BEARS
Crystal: I’d been checking out the nitelyfe in Klub Deer with camper Katie Millar when we heard a loud clashing sounds coming from near the swing-set. I assumed it was an intoxicated camper stumbling around in the dark, running into trash cans, and moved closer to help out. It was not a drunk camper. It was a 70 foot devil bear. I’m an Australian, I don’t do bears. So I did what I believe most people would do in a life-threatening situation: I called Marni to come and save us.
Hansen: Kristen and I were leaving Wolf around 3am through the side doors, and Crystal and a camper were standing there. Crystal was on the phone, and when she saw us, she very calmly held her hand over the receiver and said, “Oh, there’s a bear down by the swings.” So calm. I panicked. I clutched people. I hyperventilated.
Stef: So I was having a drink in Wolf Lodge when Marni walked in looking very fucking serious. “There’s a bear down by the swings,” she gravely announced, “but I can’t tell everybody in Klub Deer because they’re all going to want to run out and Instagram the bear.” Obviously that was all the encouragement I needed to run outside to try to catch a glimpse of that which we would later dub Lilith Bear.
Crystal: While waiting I got to work securing the scene, by which I mean I advised Hansen and Kristen to watch out for the bear.
Hansen: Marni showed up, talking about cap guns or bear blasters or whatever Canadians have, and we all watched this black bear steal trash near the swings with our flashlights. I was honestly way too terrified to do anything but whimper.
Stef: Lo and behold, there was indeed a huge black bear rooting through the vegan marshmallow leftovers in the trash, though I’m told it was just a cub. I’d never seen a bear in the wild before, and when Marni shone a flashlight on it, the cub looked at us like a guilty dog caught drinking out of the toilet and shuffled off back to the woods. Carmen, in case you were wondering, THIS is what ambling looks like.
Hansen: Then the bear tried to attack us and Crystal wrestled it to the ground. No, that’s the truth.
Crystal: I’m not crazy about the word “hero” but I think we can all agree that I saved lives that night.
Hansen: The next night, two of my campers and I walked past the swings and thought we saw a bear but it was just two people hooking up. Way less terrifying.
In our Next Recamp, we experience our first day of Camp and we just might be quoting YOU!
A-Camp 4.0 will take place October 9th-13th and registration will open soon!