A-Camp May 2013 Recamp #4: YUP.

Last Words

“My favorite part of A-Camp was the experience of looking around at 300 ridiculously attractive people. And then remembering that EVERYONE was queer. And then knowing that everyone was kind.”

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“I have long admired the queer community from afar, but was either closeted or felt too rejected to participate much. At A-Camp I felt like full-on me, and people liked me! They wanted to be my friends, and they wanted to kiss me and date me!”

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“Even if you don’t read Autostraddle, there is a place for you at camp. I think at its base, A-Camp is about letting everyone be themselves and have an absolute blast. For others, it’s a life changing experience of getting to be loved for who they are for the first time. That’s why I want all my queer friends to go to A-Camp.”

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“I would recommend camp because it’s one of the most positive, affirming, eye-opening, fun experiences a queer can have, if you throw as much of yourself into it as the staff and other campers do.”

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“A-Camp is something that every queer girl should experience at least once (although, let’s be honest, there’s no “just one time” with A-camp). It’s a profound experience, being surrounded by supportive people who will accept you just as you are. Until the “real world” does this, A-camp is absolutely necessary.”

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“In addition to being well-run and offering kick-ass activities all the time with awesome counselors, the other campers’ perspectives and passions and kindness and diversity are fucking inspiring.”

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“My favorite parts of A-Camp were Laneia bandaging up my cut, Marni teaching me how to open a beer bottle with a lighter, dancing with Lizz, being cross faded on the swings, pool party… everything basically.”

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“The best part of camp for me was the staff and the other campers. Everyone that works so hard on making camp happen, and all of us that attend, make it the magical place that it is… Coming back to this camp felt like coming home. For five days I felt supported and understood, which are things I never get to experience where I live or from my family. Camp is the safest space I have ever found, as well as so much more, and I never want to stop coming back.”

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“The best part of A-Camp wasn’t why I signed up to go to A-Camp. I love Autostraddle and wanted to experience it in person. What I didn’t expect was the incredible safe space I found on the mountain. Being in that environment made me realize that I wasn’t able to be 100% myself in my everyday life, and allowed me to experience what living that way felt like. In addition to that, I made genuine and amazing new friends that I’ll stay in contact with. Also, the staff were fucking amazing.”

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“The best part of camp is always the reminder that anything can happen and we can all be whoever we want and queers are beautiful beings and there are always fewer fucks to give and I don’t care, I love it, YOU DO YOU.”

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“The writing workshops, even when they brought me to things I wasn’t ready to deal with yet, were my favorite part of camp. They reminded me that I’m actually a really good writer (I forget because people don’t often get to read what I write) and that I have a lot to say through writing and should say it.”

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“I live in a pretty queer friendly city, however never in my life did I feel so welcomed and accepted. I felt I could dress how I wanted and play with my gender in multiple ways. Dappy hour was an amazing experience for me. I loved the panels and wish I could go to everything again.”

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“Each time I’ve gone, I’ve pulled out some crazy awesome learning experience and this time was no different. Last time, A-camp helped me overcome my really intense social anxiety. This time, I’m working with far deeper issues such as self-perception and self-worth. It’s something I’ve been thinking and writing about non-stop for about 4 days. Going to A-camp has been so utterly crucial to my growth as a healthy adult and as a social being.”

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“My favorite part of A-Camp programming wise was Deanne Smith, 200% amazing. Experience wise, the best part of camp was being able to come back a second time and see how much I’ve grown because of my experiences at September’s camp.”

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“I really enjoyed the interactive workshops (writing, poetry, dirty dancing, yoga, hip hop, etc.) A-camp is a fun and safe place to try new things out of your comfort zone.”

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“A-Camp was such an accepting and open environment. I loved that it was trans-friendly, bi-friendly, and empowering to people of color. Everybody was so kind and eager to learn and teach each other. I never felt ashamed for not knowing things. I felt empowered by all the new knowledge I gained.”

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“Coming back to camp felt like coming home. That’s what I said as soon as I saw my first returning A-camper at LAX. It felt so comfortable this time – even more than last time, if that’s possible. If I had to pick just one thing about camp, that’d be it. The feeling of comfort that comes from being completely understood and accepted, just where you are.”

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“I loved being able to do crafts one block, social meet-up the next, and a panel after that… the non-monogamy and the bisexual panels were feelings-city. Thank you for those teaching memories.”

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“The best part of ACamp for me was experiencing the sensation of being ‘one of the crowd’, in that I held something in common with everyone else present beyond basic humanity (which sometimes just isn’t enough to feel connected). That is not a sensation I experience very often. Or at all, really. It was a novel experience to be praised and complimented for the aspects of my character and appearance that usually draw criticism or confusion everywhere else in my life. It felt like coming home.”

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“I loved spending time with a queer community that values all types of queer expression, not solely limited to the academic sphere or the Dinah Shore crowd.”

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“The panels are so educational and the activities are so much fun. Plus, it’s such a great price for everything that’s included with camp.”

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“The workshops were great but I was really impressed with the lady campers. I was expecting an oversexualized group of women ready to go buck wild on a mountain but people really just wanted camaraderie and friends to talk to about queerness. I’m so glad it wasn’t just a hook-up fest.”

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“I loved that there were always many opportunities to engage in well-planned structured programming and that there were simultaneously opportunities for impromptu hang outs with new friends. The pool party was pretty incredible too. I usually feel a little too uncool for a space like that, but I felt totally comfortable.”

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“A-Camp is a magical place where you can finally feel the freedom to think about yourself in a positive way without the lens of the patriarchal world crushing down on you.”

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“I missed my bros, and it was amazing to see them in a setting where we could daydrink, hike, and have sleepovers.”

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“Camp gives queers insight to how straight people feel everyday! #1in10”

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“Obviously the internet is a wonderful resource, but nothing compares to meeting people in real life.”

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“Everyone deserves to be in a beautiful, safe, loving space like Camp and to have the opportunity to meet and hang out with such bright, fun, kind, open, attractive, inspirational people. And it’s just really fun!”

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“I describe it as being in a giant queer lady group hug to a friend after I got back. Expanding our inclusive community is something that we need to get better doing, and I feel like A-camp is one way to do that.”

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“A-Camp is FUN. It’s REALLY FUN. My life back home is pretty queer, my friends are queer, my job is queer, my town is queer, my school is queer. But A-Camp is something else. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s something else. It’s fun. I had fun. I laughed so much. I met queers from all over the world. I learned things. I will be back and back and back and back again. Thank you.”

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“I feel that the best part of camp was the community we were able to form within the few days we had together. I walked knowing just about no one aside from my cabin mates – whom i had only connected with via email, facebook, and a couple google hangouts. Within the the cabin and A-Camp as whole, everyone connected on some level and were able to form deep relationships (friendships, etc). Even when I attended camp as a kid, I didn’t bond with my fellow campers that quickly. And otherwise, I am slow to make true friends. I sincerely appreciate the effort everyone has gone through to develop the sense of community and connection as fast as it did. Thank you!”

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“I had no idea what I was actually looking for at camp, but I totally found it.”

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Registration for A-Camp October 2013 is open now, and you can check out our brand-spanking-new website, A-Camp.org!

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder 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 Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3197 articles for us.

114 Comments

  1. OMG YOU GUYS. I AM HAVING APPROXIMATELY 189 FEELINGS. Vanessa and Julia, your words were perfect. That last page is perfect. I have mixed feelings about my completelyandtotallyexcitedomg Fort Feelings photo, but I think it embodies how ecstatic camp made me feel, how joyful and included and loved so I will take it! <3

  2. TIGER BEAT STOP MAKING ME CRY

    p.s. those pictures of cait and i are literally the spin doctors’ song “two princes”

    ONE TWO PRINCES KNEEL BEFORE YOU NOW
    THAT’S WHAT I SAID NOW
    also
    I KNOW WHAT A PRINCE AND LOVER OUGHT TO BEEEEE

        • sara texted to tell me pictures from the strip dance were in the last re-camp post and you have never seen anyone move toward a computer as quickly as i moved that day.

          my ass and i are honored to have this fame bestowed upon us.

  3. My favorite part about this recamp was reading it while facebook chatting with some other Runaways who were also reading it and having ALL THE FEELINGS together and pretending like we were back in our cabin having a feelings circle. Because that is what camp is about.

  4. Somer was A-Camp’s dark horse… she just quietly did weird hilarious shit in the background and executed it perfectly and would just walk away like “what, you’ve never seen human hair attached to tiny cone-shaped paper cups before?” and no, for the record, i had not

    *i promise that i don’t just love her because she made the day 2 & 3 schedules that i was too busy to make though that is also a reason i like her but not the main one

    • can you tell that i was only on page 1 when i commented because NOW I SEE THE SALMON MOMENT <3 <3 <3

      • the balloon tails point to people’s ears and not their mouth! sorry, pet peeve of mine. #critic

    • My favorite Intern Somer moment was when I needed a screw for Klub Deer (an actual screw you guys — get your heads out of gutter) and she immediately said, “Don’t worry Jill, I’ll find you one!” and she lunges head first into the woodsy darkness in search of a screw. In less than five minutes she returns with one, and after I install it she takes a picture of it for her intern resume.

      I hereby request that Deanne and Somer come to any and all camp situatuons from this day forward.

    • Best New Intern Somer was my favourite joke that I didn’t get at all during camp.

    • My fondest memory is just seeing her rooting around in the hair around the phresh cutz station to make those little people.

  5. Seriously, how did I miss the photobooth? Kiyomi, Jess, Zeller? How did that happen? How did we all miss this?

    Im super sad panda now.

    • Me too. Totally missed the photobooth, which gives me sad feels, but it’s okay. I kinda avoided taking photos and finding photo sessions this camp, cause I wanted to #berightthere/beherenow. It worked. I was so fucking present all weekend, which felt great. I was able to detox from the universe in the best possible way by consuming all of you. xo

      • I’m with you on that one. And I also avoided photos at the dance because I was sweating from dancing so hard. Though the outlaws photobooth photo makes me smile so hard even though I’m not in it. I might print it out in wallet size and carry it with me. Is that weird?

  6. OMG I JUST realized the photobooth pic of Hilly and I was up there. SO many FEELS. SQUEE+YIKES+YAY+LURVE+Everything!

    I love my five dollar thrift Red Dress!!!

    All the feels edition: Part Two.

    • Just finished reading the final page. Sad to finish it really, the conversations and the people were like something I hoped for but never managed to get. The mountain is amazing.

    • # babes. Such babes.

      Also, you are a super duper shopping rockstar, with the five dollar fucking gorgeous dress that looked like a fancy new dress.

    • Your prom-posed photos were seriously the cutest. (And red is so so so your colour) You just needed the hat.

  7. This is where I dole out my thank yous. I just finished watching the Stanley Cup and am PRETTY EMOTIONAL right now, so I apologize if I get pathetic.

    Country Straddlers- This made camp for me. Everyone at camp was amazingly kind, but this was the one time I felt 100% normal. People got it, the love for the land and the struggle to stay when every queer narrative you ever hear is telling you that you HAVE to go. I really loved this. This will make me come back.

    Lex- Thank you for letting me/making me cry the last night. It’d been 2.5 years since I had cried in front of another human being. I’m not always good at being compassionate with myself, and you sort of forced me to let myself be human and have feelings instead of responding to feelings with a quip and a shot. I still SORT of hate myself on the daily for the thing we discussed, but I’m trying to be kind to myself.

    Lindsey- Thank you for forcing me to go to camp. I knew literally nothing of Autostraddle before I went, and now I feel like I have all these new friends that share a life experience most of my friends here do not.

    Toros- You guys are amazing, and made me feel so welcome and wonderful. I love you guys, and I can’t wait til next May.

    I love all of you so much.

    • Ahahah, however I love that I look like a predatory bird with a drink in that picture. THE CORSET IS STEEL BONED I CAN’T BEND AT THE WAIST OKAY??

      • I can’t really explain the effect the Country panel had on me, except like Doc said, it completely changed the conflicted feelings I have about living the in country. It was 100% exactly what I needed at camp and I wish it had been longer.

    • And the Toros, they LOVE you too. I am having so many feelings right now. Doc, you are extremely rad and you made me laugh and smile so many times at camp. xo xo xo

  8. god i miss all of the slayers x 1000. how do i even live without camp. i haven’t seen anyone make a human hair sculpture for WEEKS

  9. So I didn’t get to go and I won’t get to go for awhile.
    I think once I’m out to EVERYONE A-Camp will be a gift I give myself. But until that time I am here for the pictures and to read about the fun I missed.

    P.S.-I hope A-Camp is going to be a thing forever because it looks like the best.

  10. Um… I didn’t realize I could be anymore excited about actually having registered for camp FINALLY. Is this even real, can a person even be this excited? :D

    • you might arrive at camp and immediately be offered a temporary tattoo of a potato dressed as a pirate by people you’ve never met in real life before. It’s really exciting.

  11. Cee, I want to let you know that one of the NOPE Grumpy Cat posters is on my fridge right now, and I’ll treasure it forever along with 2 drawings my friends from A Camp 1.0 made.

    ALSO THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN TO ROBIN FOR BRINGING OUT HER CAMERA FOR THE DANCE BECAUSE THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I WANTED AT CAMP <3 <3 <3

  12. yes I totally managed to sneak in a kiss with my girlfriend in that big ass group photo!! WINNING

  13. i have a serious love/hate relationship with these recamps.they really pressure me in making camp4.0 happen but life, responsibilities, flight rates and a fucking ocean make it so hard. but ugh, so much cuteness. i guess it’s happening!

  14. MORE FEELINGS

    The pool party was the best. I especially loved our impromptu synchronized swimming lesson.

    For those of you who are uncomfortable in traditional swimwear – that makes me at least eighteen different kinds of sad, because I FUCKING LOVE SWIMMING AND THINK EVERYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT! One suggestion – rash guards! They’re basically t-shirts (or long sleeved shirts) that are made to be worn in the water. You’ll need a tight one if you want to go fast, but if you don’t care about that, loose fit ones are great too! As an added bonus, they also help protect your skin against UV.

  15. OMG, OUTLAWS, YOU ALL ARE THE CUTEST IN EVERY PHOTO YOU’RE IN/EVERYONE IS THE CUTEST IN ALL THE PHOTOS THEY’RE IN/EVERYONE LOOK AT NATE AND TAYLOR IN THAT PHOTO I LOVE IT FOREVER.

    I LOVE YOU ALL FOREVER TOO.

    • thank you for mentioning nate and taylor’s photo, so i don’t have to.

      also, excellent use of all caps.

      • *ahem* Sorry.

        I just couldn’t contain the feelings in any sort of normal capitalization/punctuation situation.

  16. I’m so bummed I missed the Slayers photo op at the dance! But this reminded me of Gaela’s amazing red lipstick (she kissed me on the cheek and I walked around with a lipstick print for a while).

    but that photo of Potter and me. BROS BROS BROS.

  17. i’m having a rough day and looking at those photobooth pictures at the end, and how happy everyone was, and how happy i am….totally crying about it right now. i love camp so much.

  18. Oh my goodness, I didn’t know until this recap that Julie and Brandy and Alex’s talent show song was an actual song.

  19. This was the day Mary Tully had the entire cafeteria sing happy birthday to me at breakfast. I was blushing and sinking as deep as I could into my seat, but it was probably one of the best moments of my life.

    • Also, Robin, my photo booth picture is my absolute favorite thing right now. I want to give you soooo so many hugs to thank you for being there to capture that moment <3

  20. I.miss.everything. All of it, all of you. everything.

    October is so soon but feels so far away.

  21. 1.)I made it to the photobooth!
    2.)I think we all had fun at the talent show (if ever again I will secure the uke before somebody straddles a wall and I become willfully incompetent)
    3.) I will forever remember when the feelings happened on Geneva’s shoulder and how Ariella and Croce brought the smile back to my face.
    4.) What we are doing here is magic…I mean nowhere else could you find over a hundred people so determined to keep the party going that they create the music when sound fails
    5.) The morning I left camp, like a stranger on the early shuttle my last hug was from Marni, and while I forgot to ask if she consented, it was the best last hug I could have hoped for.
    6.) I have now missed the ice cream social twice
    7.) I can’t wait to do this again!!

    • Lanie, I’m like a confused Sim when I’m not at camp. I think you know what I mean.

      • I am so glad that when words failed I could use that metaphor and you were right there. right there!

      • sooo I feel like this “ice cream social” is like the mythical shark at the bottom of the pool when I went to summer camp as a kid because twice now somebody has said it is happening and when I get there nobody appears to be consuming ice cream at all. There is literally no proof it ever existed.

        • i ate some ice cream but i ate it at the smoker’s circle, i’m not sure what that counts as.

    • I have so many talent show feelings! And that is all thanks to you Lanie. My favorite parts were that time on-stage before we started and you tried to acquire a uke, and when Stef was caught extremely off-guard by rapping.

      • I am just so happy that on Friday you and Willis joined “the project.” I appreciate you needing a project because so did I. Also thanks to Christie for fixing Alpine’s printer and supplying us with every single moody diva change I made. If I ever start a band I want all of you in it!

  22. This day was so full of… feelings, camp, love, fatigue that stemmed from processing, being comfortable and happy and joyful and having learned so much over the last few days… that I couldn’t even attend that many sessions. Guys – I attended 4 panels on the first day. FOUR. So I was recovering for days after that.

    So I sat in the sun, chatted with beautiful humans, made a thing (or two or three… the camp patches were the absolute best, and my homo and queermo patches are getting good use), sat in the sun some more, went to the POOL PARTY…

    Oh my fucking god. Dancing with sexy beautiful people, jumping in the pool, dancing and smiling and talking to so many wonderful people… EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU IN BATHING ATTIRE AND CLOTHES AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS MADE OF CLOTH THAT MADE YOU FEEL OKAY – You are handsome, sexy, hot, powerful, beautiful and attractive. You inspire me.

    This was one of my favourite parts of camp.

    So was the impromptu spray painting of shirts, my favourite being gentle queer on the back of my camp shirt, and my new a-camp bag that now says “Don’t stop be fab.”

    And then there was talent, ice cream social, and a dance. And my head and heart and body and soul exploded.

    It has taken me days to be able to create an recamp response of any kind because I am still so filled up, emotional, and lovingly precious about the whole experience. Just wait until I get started on the gender, sexual fluidity, WOC/QPOC, family, and non-monogamy panels. FEELINGS.

  23. Remember that one time when…

    there were like 300 queers on a mountain and all of them were so attractive that it made my knees shake?

    the bathroom in Falcon became the best place on the mountain?

    for vegan breakfast there was only scary looking tofu scramble doused in ketchup?

    DeAnne Smith made me laugh so hard I was crying?

    the Autostraddle staff told *real* stories and I was crying for real?

    the swingset became a place to look at the stars and contemplate life while drunk?

    the swingset became a place where bears would hang around?

    Klub Deer turned into a contest of who could make out with most people on the dance floor?

    the kink panel made me uncomfortable in the best way possible?

    I met the best people and formed my most meaningful friendships?

    we all had feelings?

  24. Shout-out to all the crazy talented people who performed at the Talent Show, and for keeping it super classy.
    * Listening to people’s stories and slam poetry (especially the 5 person one) gives me shivers in ways that I didn’t know were possible.
    * Ranger’s smutty story was brilliantly hilarious. You really have an excellent storytelling ability.
    * Ginuwine’s Pony makes me smile stupidly large every time I hear it now, and my gf and I exchange knowing grins. Best. Association. Ever.
    * Evie’s violin serenade makes me want to pick up the violin again. (And I know, I know, it’ll be like riding a bicycle =) )
    * And Leslie’s comedy bit was seriously too short. Seriously.
    * I love everyone and everyone is family <3

  25. My cabin missed the picture the first night so we did a redo at the all camp photo and its not here. Wahh, feeling bombshells left out. <3

  26. i just love all you guys a lot and miss you too much to write real feelings.

    tiger beat you’re the best <3

  27. Post-camp (yes, even a month post-camp) I find myself just full of feelings I can’t articulate.

    Tiger Beat, I love you all (and can’t wait to see a handful of you this weekend!)
    Smoker’s Circle, I love you all as well, you were basically my second cabin.

    Just in general, I love everyone and the fact that this exists, and hope to see your faces in October.

  28. omg that girl in the background of the picture of the Phresh Cutz with the sunglasses….you are the Girl On Fire.
    Did you shoot any apples with arrows lately? Or ya know, overthrow any oppressive governments?

    • (I mean…that’s just my really nerdy way of saying I think you look like a total badass)

  29. I normally wouldn’t admit this, but I feel this is a “safe space” so I will share.

    One morning I headed to the kitchen post-breakfast time to hunt down some coffee. On the front door was a “sign” that simply said “Nope” with a sad cat on it. At this point I was unfamiliar with the internet meme “grumpy cat”… so to me it appeared that the cafeteria was closed until lunch.

    I turned around, sighed, and walked away from the cafeteria, sans coffee, and sadder than the grumpiest cat, thinking that I had to wait until lunch for coffee.

    CEE’S GRUMPY CAT NOPE POSTERS TOTALLY PRANKED ME.

    • OMG i saw a grumpy cat poster on one of the cabins up on the hill on the smaller side of the campsite and despite the fact that i’ve been to this camp three times and therefore should be familiar with the layout and where different cabins are, i thought for THE ENTIRETY OF CAMP that that cabin was where the Alpine staff lived and that they’d put up that sign to make sure none of us went in there looking for other A-Campers. i was like ‘that is the cutest KEEP OUT sign i’ve ever seen!”

      i didn’t know that grumpy cat was a thing, let alone a meme, until we were driving down the mountain and i think marni mentioned it or we discussed it in some way

      • These stories are hilarious/cute! Since this is a safe space, can I fess up to some of my weirdo pop culture ignorance from former camps?

        At the first camp, I had no idea what YOLO meant. YOLO was everywhere. YOLO was spray painted on things. It came out of mouths. YOLO! Yolo. Looked it up when I got home. Shameful.

        At the second camp, I had *no clue* what it was that the Runaways were doing when they were saluting. And then my cabin started doing it because purple team, duh, and I still didn’t know why we were doing it. And then after camp I saw everyone refer to this as the “hunger salute” and fuck that made even less sense. It didn’t click in my brain until that GIF was posted as the first comment in a recap. AND I HAD READ THE HUNGER GAMES. I had seen the movie too!

        I am dumb.

  30. some highlights/feelings vomit/i still can’t be coherent about what those four days meant to me, so here’s a small sample:

    – I will never be able to listen to “I Love It” the same way again. The dance and Klub Deer were amazing and the perfect way to end the weekend.

    -I actually screamed aloud during the fashion show when Julie came out in her CUNTY hat and then I cried when she walked past me. there were real tears.

    – two words: smoker’s circle

    -and then this one time at the pool party Carmen introduced me to Julie and Brandy, who were basically the final straw that made me decide to come to A-Camp and I think I died. Except I couldn’t have died, because later that evening, fueled by vodka (and I’m not naming names, but that vodka might have come from my favorite aforementioned celesbians), I ended up throwing my clothing at Riese and Brandy and dancing onstage in Straddle This boxers. I think THAT’S when I officially died. It’s cool. My entire life is complete now. There will never be a better thing, and I’m completely at peace with that.

  31. So many pictures of my dancers! I’m so freakin’ proud of all you ladies who decided after a two hour workshop you wanted to choreograph and perform with me. You all ROCKED MAJOR SOCKS and worked so hard and were so beautiful I just… Ugh. All the stripper mama feelings.

    Camp is amazing, you guys. But the campers are SPECTACULAR.

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