A-Camp May 2013 Recamp #2: Nothing Compares 2 U At Camp

Friday Afternoon

Block C: Nerdcraft (Whitney, Taylor, Carrie, Ali, Meredydd) // Gender Panel (Carly, Kate, Julia, Marni, Mey, Kristen, Gabby, Katrina) // Speed Dating (DeAnne Smith) // Autostrivia Jeopardy (Riese, Alex & Haviland) // Autostraddle Stock Photos (Robin, Vanessa & Medd)

Block D: Make a Thing (Hansen) // Women of Color Panel (Gabby, Whitney, Katrina, Carmen, Mey, Brittani, Daniela) // Erotica Writing (Ali & Riese) // Drama Therapy (Julia) // Mind the Generation Gap (Meredydd, Cee, Somer, Jess R)

Autostrivia board

Autostrivia board

Carrie, Community Managerette & Tiger Beat Counselor: Whitney had the wonderful (and queer as hell) idea to have campers create geeky art projects like origami bow ties, space invaders cards and pixel-inspired Perler bead sprites.

Meredydd, Business Advisor & Golden Girls Counselor: For some reason Whitney was really nervous that campers wouldn’t like the crafts at Nerdcraft. I knew that they were going to be amazing as soon as I saw the perler bead sprites. And they were amazing!

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photo by Carrie

photo by Carrie

Carrie: I now have more Perler bead art than my 12 year old self could ever dream of and it really made me rethink the notion that bow ties aren’t for me. Whitney changed hearts and minds, as always. Taylor also provided some kickass music for the occasion — Legend of Zelda remix, anyone?

Lizz, Contributing Editor & Starjammers Counselor: Nerdcraft was such a blast. I had so much fun. It had been such an up up up crazy weekend that I really needed a moment to just hang out with some other nerds, listen to the theme from Legend of Zelda and make goofy little perler bead Nintendo sprites.

nerds at work

nerds at work

Taylor, Contributor & Vipers Counselor: Props to Whitney for somehow tricking a room full of otherwise raucous queers into quietly fusing perler beads into nostalgic shapes as we listened to string quartet renditions of The Legend of Zelda theme song. None of us wanted it to end. Nerdcraft should run concurrent to 100% of A-Camp from now on. No, A-Camp should just be perler beads. I said it.

photo by Taylor

photo by Taylor

Julia, Calendar Girl/Contributor & Blackhearts Counselor: It’s not often that I get to be outside in expansive wilderness and I think it is really essential to my mental health. I did a brief hike in between workshops and was amazed by the surrounding land to the camp. We stopped at the overlook on the short loop and yelled out into the valley, which ate up the sound. On the way back toward camp, while having a great heart to heart with one of my campers a deer slowly walked across the path in front of us just to remind me that I really wasn’t in New York City anymore.

Photo by Julia

Photo by Julia

Gabby: The gender panel got off to a rough start. a bunch of us had crazy things going on and like I said, I was feverish and dizzy but the feelings had to go on.

Mey, Contributor & Slayers Counselor: The Gender Panel was my first exposure to the amazing panels at A-Camp and it started with me getting the worst bloody nose of my life. However, if you’re going to get a bloody nose, let me tell you, A-Camp is the best place on earth to do it. None of my other bloody noses ever came with compliments on my eye makeup or cute queer ladies taking care of me. But that’s all beside the point. The really good part started when the bloody nose ended.

really serious pre-panel conversation

really serious pre-panel conversation

Marni, Contributor & A-Camp Co-Director: This time around, rather than being a panelist on the gender panel, I was the moderator.

Gabby: I want to always be on everything Marni’s doing. I even want to be her Vanna White at next camp’s Butchin It Up workshop. Just throw a sparkly dress on my ass and watch me hand Marni a piece of dry wall (is that something you can hand to someone?).

Marni: The gender panel always feels a little weird because a panel format positions the panelists as “experts,” and gender is something that everybody experiences and is sort of an “expert” in, in their own way. So rather than having the panel take on the format of “us talking at you,” we decided to make it more actively participatory. We had a set of discussion topics that we’d discussed beforehand, and after each question was posed to the panelists, we gave the audience a chance to chime in and ask questions or add to the discussion. It created a really great dynamic in the room that felt less top-down and more organic. Everybody – the panelists and the audience members – had great insights to share, and it was a great experience.

Kate, Contributing Editor & Tiger Beat Counselor: I didn’t know what to expect with the gender panel because I think about gender pretty much 24/7 365 days a year, and I write a column about being butch, so I came to this with a 747’s worth of baggage. I also continue to feel a little weird being up in front of people with a microphone to talk about something big and nebulous and important like gender when my credentials are simply my identity and this highly personal column I write. I kept wanting to do a Mean Girls tiara-breaking gesture to indicate that we are all authorities on gender, and also to break the ice since being in front of a large group of people makes my brain feel like that vegan Jello we had for dessert one night. It’s also ridiculously hard to talk about something as huge as gender in an hour and a half, so I wasn’t sure how everything would play out.

Mey:Even though I missed the beginning of this panel, it still blew me away. I don’t have a lot of normal venues where I can talk about how society’s expectations for my gender scare me or how I use my gender for self care, so this panel was extremely therapeutic for me. I loved having other people understand what I mean when I talk about how scary it is not being able to use the right restroom or why I don’t feel safe going certain places alone. It was incredible having other people understand how selfies (and I don’t mean touching yourself, although that’s good too) can make a bad day into a good one, or how practicing new makeup techniques can calm your heart. This was something I hadn’t really ever had face-to-face before. It was awesome having other femmes and trans people talk to me about how much the gender panel resonated with them. This was a hell of a way for me to kick off my A-Camp experience.

Kate: The audience was amazing. I loved hearing everyone’s perspective, even if it sometimes made me cry. A lot of things at A Camp made me cry, but that’s okay. Crying is healthy and clears the sinuses.

Gabby: I cried at the gender panel cuz life is scary and so is sharing feelings that never get said out loud. I have to give mad love to the campers who gave me hugs and words of encouragement afterwards. Also, the Foxfire group hug that happened afterwards gave me the strength to hustle it to the next panel.

Crystal: On Friday afternoon I was technically on ‘rover’ duty however I was super jet-lagged, so I sat under some trees and put on some welcoming music in hope that people would rove on over to me. DeAnne came over to ask my expert advice on stand up comedy and then at some point Marni came over and fed us gummy vitamins. Most of my favorite moments from camp were like this, chilling out under trees with music and campers.

marni, gummy vitamins & deanne smith

marni, gummy vitamins & deanne smith

Hansen, Contributing Editor & Scissor Sisters Counselor: The campers who came to the Make A Thing workshops made the cutest things of all time. It was surprising/humbling/amazing to meet people who actually read the things I write at 9pm in my pajamas eating Cheez-Its. One camper, Bri, even gave me the most adorable mountain brooch. Seeing campers helping one another learn to sew and laugh about their merit badge illustrations (Direct quotation from camper Sonia: “This is what a cat looks like, I’m a vet, you can trust me.”) and let me sew up their torn shirt sleeves made my heart grow ten sizes, Grinch-style. Basically Autostraddle and Make A Thing readers are the best people of all time and connecting avatars with faces made all of the times I’m super frustrated with my crafts worth it.

photos by Hansen

Katrina, Writer & Foxfire Counselor: The Queer Women of Color Panel is really challenging every time, and I think it’s that challenge that makes it worth doing.

Daniela: Gabby and Carmen worked so hard to make the Queer Women of Color panel a total success. They shook up the structure and gave everyone an activity that made it easier for all of us to share in on the challenges of creating a community that is ruled by intersectionality.

Gabby: We tried something different. We looked into the 1977 National Women’s Conference and how the term WOC came out of that. We tried to tackle so many things and I think we did ok.

emily & nikki at the WOC panel

emily & nikki at the QWoC panel (photo by rachel w)

Katrina: When we talk about race, we’re talking about a lot of things, but sometimes when we’re dealing with race, we’re not talking at all. Many of our experiences as queer people of color are marked by silence, the kind of silence that we’ve all become used to. This was our third Women of Color panel, and the first one where we all really got to talk to each other. We set out to answer some questions, and I’m not quite sure if we got all the way there.

Brittani: Though it was pretty easy to top my last appearance when I started things off with “Hi, my name is Brittani and I’m black” and continued to have an allergy attack that started five minutes before I had to be on stage, this panel was a lot of fun.

Gabby: I liked when the discussion, fueled especially by comments from Rachel Walker, turned to ways to make real progressive change and racial discussions happen in our every day lives.

Brittani:  I like when panels are a mix of testimonials, discussion, and advice and I think we moved towards that perfect balance this camp. Per the usual, campers and panel members continued to be thoughtful, inspiring, and supportive and I feel like I fulfilled my primary duty which was to break emotional tension with laughter.

Gabby: One other thing that was super important in regards to race discussions making people who say racist things (intentionally or unintentionally) uncomfortable was when Daniela said “You lost your right to be comfortable when you made me uncomfortable”. BAM.

emily & hannah at the WOC panel (photo by rachel w)

emily & hannah at the QWOC panel (photo by rachel w)

Daniela: Every person in that panel shone with their anecdotes and badass comebacks but I was the most blown away by the campers and just how willing they were to put themselves out there and share their stories with us.

Katrina: There’s a lot of weight and experience to weed through before you can even begin to suggest how we might fight racism in our everyday lives. But some things did happen for sure. We shared our experiences, understood each others’ frustrations and fears, shared our joys, and I think at the very least came to see that we weren’t alone.

Julia: I was really nervous to do the Drama Therapy workshop and five minutes before it started nobody showed up. I had feelings of panic develop. I would have to explain that nobody showed up and I was a huge nerd for thinking that anyone would. But slowly people showed up until we had the perfect group of amazing humans. We did some activities, learned some things about each other, created some awesome tableaux and some amusing and thoughtful theatre. I was really pleased that it happened and amazed by what we created together.

Photo by Julia

(Photo by Julia)

Riese: I was actually not nervous about Erotica Writing because Ali and I had that shit on lock. Ali had it on padlock, actually, and she was the perfect co-leader because even though I’ve been published in nine erotica anthologies and one really gross misogynistic porn magazine, it’s been five or so years since I actively wrote erotica — and very few of what I wrote was queer. But Ali is in that totally lezzed-out movin’-on-up stage of her career and is also really good at outlines. We did some writing exercises and y’all read your amazing hit out loud and it was super fun. YAY SEX

Meredydd: I was a little worried that the Mind the Generation Gap panel wouldn’t work the way I had planned – it really needed participation from campers of all age groups. After Cee and Somer and Jess and I discussed it though I knew we would have lots to talk about. As it turns out, campers from 19-over 30 came and contributed a lot to the discussion. We learned that our experiences and challenges are more similar than they are different and that we need to find ways to connect across age groups – particularly with our queer elders.

Cee: I took a lot home from the Mind the Generation Gap panel. I saw how much the internet has affected our culture, and realized that may be the reason behind some of the cultural shifts I’ve noticed in the past decade. Speaking with so many smart people and hearing opinions and thoughts really helped me solidify some of these ideas.

A-Camp May 20133

Taylor: I don’t recall camp altitude affecting me with quite the same gusto before. O altitude! This camp, altitude became my go-to excuse for everything from repeatedly falling *up* the trail between my cabin and Wolf Lodge to why I was allowed to begin enthusiastically drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes again. Altitude halved our collective alcohol tolerance and halved it again, saving us millions of dollars. Altitude found me curled in a ball in the bottom bunk for two days trying to fashion my new A-Camp sweatshirt into the shape of my childhood teddy bear. Altitude had me cramming human hair into egg cartons duct-taped to a wall while having *the best time*. Who needs substances to impair your judgment or induce mania when you are 7400 feet above sea level? Nobody!

nice

notes composed using abandoned hair from katrina’s barbershop (photo by taylor)

Next: NIGHT DESCENDS UPON US


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77 Comments

  1. I cried so hard during Whitney’s reading that my cabinmate had to give me her (polyester!) bandana. It was mostly ineffective but very much welcomed. I love you weirdoes and all your weird feelings.

    • i seriously stopped at a drugstore on the way back from airport duty to buy some men’s underwear to have campers throw at marni during her solo song but THEY FUCKED IT UP and threw all the underwear during the opening number so… i have big dreams for october. i can’t say anything more.

  2. OMG bloody hell! I absolutely loved that panel. It led me to finally choose to get an IUD with all the stupid hormonal problems I get, my appointment to get it put in is really soon. There was also some really great medical info there so help explain why shit goes down during the menses.
    Also, here’s Rachel “shutting it down” in bloody hell:
    http://dreaminsanity.tumblr.com/post/52916800257/rachel-shutting-it-down-in-bloody-hell-also-half

  3. Somer, you overheard the flogging with a mop bit when Kristen was drawing pictures for the sex Q and A outside of wolf lodge.

    I wrote down one quote from the entire trip. It was this:

    “Once you make out with a girl the road is wide open. Once you make out with a girl you could be an astronaut!”
    – Laneia, Family Panel

  4. My favorite part of day one was at Jill’s Car Thing when Anna asked Jill how to tell whether it was diesel or unleaded you needed to put in the car, and then Jill looked at Anna for a good 5 seconds, trying to figure out whether or not Anna was fucking with her, and then when it became evident that Anna was SO FUCKING SERIOUS, she very kindly explained it ever so patiently.

    Also, she taught me that I’ve been trying to explode my car while jumping it for YEARS.

    And then my amazing plant that made me feel SO ACCOMPLISHED

    Day 2 was the day I started to feel like I actually belonged there, admittedly, and it was so amazing. I love y’all. *WARM FEELINGS*

      • HUGE difference. Unleaded is the cheapest, here, at least, and it’s what the vast majority of cars use. The only cars what use diesel are mostly dualie trucks and some fancy cars do too now I guess? But the only ones I know of around here are trucks.

      • Diesel should only be used with diesel engines. The main difference is when fuel is injected into the engine. Diesel is injected into already compressed air, while regular gas is injected in to the air and the whole mixture is compressed.
        The main structural difference is that diesel engines don’t have spark plugs because the fuel air mixture ignites because of compression.

    • Haha funny, I don’t remember what scientific words I used to describe the difference to Anna, I just remember doing an improv impression of what a gas engine vs a Diesel engine sounds and feels like. It was probably a delightful sensory experience for all campers.

  5. I was feeling kind of homesick and overwhelmed on the first full day but I went to bed happy that night because of Lilith Flair. DeAnne’s riff on how it was in the ’90s was spot on and the music was Totally. Fucking. Amazing. and exactly what I needed after a day of so many intense feelings. I actually went to Lilith Fair in 1998 and 99 and holy shit you guys! Well done.

    Also, We Belong might have come up on my iPod in the car a couple of days ago, and I might have sung it at the top of my lungs all the way down the interstate. Like 5 times in a row. I’m just sayin’.

  6. i loved all the panels, hearing everyone’s experiences and stories is super interesting and important and affirming (also pretty intense). god there were so many great activities that day, it was hard to choose, i’m still sad i missed bloody hell and nerdcraft – so these just will have to happen again next camp!

    also, this was maybe my favourite evening program! the staff reading is like the website come alive, and more. everyone is so talented, and it was a good mix of funny and personal, really touching pieces. and then the staff music performance, that was amazing, too. especially stef’s “not an addict” (guys, stef is really talented!), and marni’s “nothing compares”, and somer and ok did i mention how much i loved this evening?!

    <3

  7. You guys, I’m going to say it…

    The staff reading ALONE is worth the price of camp.

    That shit is a game changer.

    I really didn’t expect it to be my thing, but it was the most beautiful, eye-opening, heart-warming mixture of love and joy and pain and triumph that I have possibly ever experienced.

    So, to everyone who bravely got up and read your stories so that we may laugh and cry and feel… thank you! <3

  8. I cannot wait until the day I can finally make it to camp. It’s like everything I could ever dream of. Also, does anyone else think these recamps make it like impossible to not have a crush on at least one AS staff member or all of them?

  9. i was doing so well not crying as i read this recap and then i got to the part where riese talked about workshopping my essay with me back in april 2012 when i was a teeny tiny baby camper and not even writing for autostraddle yet and i just started feeling all these feelings and GREAT NOW I’M WEEPING IN MY BEDROOM ALONE AT 2:40AM IT’S FINE NO REALLY I AM FINE.

    sigh. i just love you all SO much. do i say it enough? i love you all so much.

    …is it october yet??

  10. i wrote down exactly one overheard at camp, which i think might have been pj and mareika but i’m not sure:

    “we’ll just have a pack of ten dogs and live in the woods.”
    “and one cow.”
    “why a cow? i don’t eat dairy.”
    “TO PET IT.”

  11. * Just learned what the fuck a perler bead is and am assuming they stick together by the power of lesbian magic

    *I love QWOC as an acronym, partially because QWOCs are awesome, and partially because I say it in my head like “guac” (as in “-amole”) and it sounds cool.

    *I propose the following activities for next camp:

    — Belted High A’s Make My Panties Drop: Lesbians with Musical Theatre Feelings panel
    — I Can’t Believe I Left My Cat at Home kitty cuddle session
    — Let’s All Check Our Tumblrs in the Same Room
    — Artisan Sandwich Making
    — What the Fuck is a Perler Bead?: Absolutely Necessary Queer Crafting Vocabulary
    — Trim That Shit: The Care and Keeping of Your Bangs
    — Who Killed Jenny? Mock Trial
    — Sneakers: A Retrospective

  12. 1) the staff reading makes me fall in love with everyone over and over. it’s one of my favorite parts of camp
    2) i had been to every single actual lillith fair, so i was really excited about the performances. guys, they were better than actual lillith fair. also, the fact that i had been to every lilith fair is one of those big “HEY YOU GAY” red flags of my past.
    3) i’m pretty sure that i was the one that said the “overheard at camp” comment about daniela. heeeyyy girl.

  13. Friday night basically turned me into a big gooey mess of love, admiration, and fan kid, for the AS Staff and Co. I mean, seriously. If you could see the rubble of my heart after falling in love with everyone….

  14. When do we start talking about the real magic of A-camp: Kadeanne?

    But really, the fister spit was better than I could have ever imagined. SO MANY FEELINGS. And Lilith Flair was way better than I expected and I am so happy I went and got to sit right in front with the rest of the Blackhearts and Runaways and sing along to every song.

  15. I am legitimately planning on coming to A Camp to celebrate passing my comp exams next spring with a friend who is also taking her comps and has never been to the West Coast (she’s originally from China). Which is to say: please tell me there will be a camp next late spring/early summer?

  16. These posts just make me so excited for next year when I’m finally old enough to attend (and hopefully not completely broke). There’s just something about seeing such a happy welcoming environment that can warm any baby lesbian’s heart.

  17. Fister Spit remains one of my favorite aspects of camp because it was the moment when I stopped being an occasional Autostraddle lurker and became a full-fledged community member. I’ve been checking in on Autostraddle for the last couple years, but never followed it that closely because I always felt really out of the loop and like maybe everyone already knew each other and there were always references to other posts I hadn’t read and I just wasn’t part of the club and didn’t even know whether I wanted to be or not because maybe I wasn’t cool enough.

    But the staff readings totally changed that and now I can put faces and voices to authors of posts/columns and I feel like I can actually be part of the club and even though the reading in general caused so many feelings I had to leave and sit on the other side of Eagle because I don’t cry in public and Riese’s piece really, really got me, I’m really glad I went.

    And then I’m really glad Lilith Flair was afterward and it was wayyyyyy better than the Lilith Fair I attended in 2010, and also the night could not have wrapped up in a better way. Indigo Girls 5ever.

    p.s. that was totally my jar of nutella.

  18. I knew Lilith Flair would be good in the same way you know a chocolate chip cookie will be good — like how could this possibly go wrong — but then Lilith Flair was motherfucking amazing? In the same way that a chocolate chip cookie wrapped in a pot brownie that’s being hand-delivered by Bjork while she’s singing “Hyperballad” from the inside of a technicolor bubble just before she sucks you into that bubble and you both float into outerspace on your way to a planet where raindrops are glittery and unicorns tell you the secrets of the universe is amazing? Like that? Just like that.

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