Once upon a time (October 9th-13th, to be specific) in a land far far atop a mountain two hours outside of sunny Los Angeles, approximately 275 queer humans gathered for four days and four nights of revelry, carnivalia, intellectual stimulation, dance parties and deep sea bonding. They called it A-Camp 4.0, and it was beautiful! This is the second of four fantastic recaps which serve to ease our collective separation anxiety, give you a behind-the-scenes look at how your A-Camp soysage is made, enable us to wax nostalgic over times gone by and provide prospective campers with a brilliant glimpse into the A-Camp Experience.
A-Camp was the genesis of an idea Riese had at 3AM in July 2010: the concept was to take the spirit of the website into three glorious dimensions by renting a summer camp in the off-season and jam-packing a long weekend with panels, workshops, discussions, crafts, sports, entertainment, parties and so much more! We gave the idea a spin with an abbreviated, smaller edition of A-Camp in April 2012, followed by full-size full-length camps in September 2012 and May 2013, all hosted by everybody’s favorite dynamic duo, Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard. Which brings us to October 2013, the Little Camp That Could!
This fall’s camp was unforgettable and fucking awesome. Our amazing team was complemented by talented Special Guests including comedienne DeAnne Smith, new media superstar Hannah Hart, Me & My Bois collaborators Lex Kennedy and Emotions the P.O.E.T., rock star Somer Bingham and songstress and actress Haviland Stillwell. Our camp staff included Autostraddle.com team members, A-Camp Tumblr Inventress Emily Gigler and Autostraddle Calendar Girls Miss October 2014 Kai, Miss February 2014 Chloe and Miss June 2013 Dani.
WELCOME TO DAY TWO OF OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER!
A-Camp October 2013 Recamp #2: Day Two
Thursday, October 10th: Day Two of A-Camp
Robin, A-Camp Co-Director & Photographer: The morning was so incredibly beautiful. The sun beat down on tree branches weighed down by heaps of wet snow dripping steadily to the ground. By afternoon, camp was almost dry! It felt like a magical and cozy winter wonderland!
Megan, Program Support Coordinator: The first breakfast with campers is my favorite. There’s an energy and anticipation, and everyone is so excited for what’s about to happen, even if they don’t really know to expect.
Activities: Party of Ones: Introvert Feelings Atrium (Riese & Crystal) // Make a Thing: Merit Badges (Hansen) // Pure Poetry Challenge (Carmen & Kai) // Rage Against the Machine (Taylor, Bren & Cee)
But I’m a Cheerleader for Real (Kai) // Crazy/Beautiful Panel & Discussion (Riese, Taylor, Dani & Donna) // First Person Feelings: A Writing Workshop (Rachel) // Nailed It!: DIY Nail Polish & Makeup (Hansen, Mey & Kaylah) // Music Trivia (Stef, Crystal, Cara & Lane)
Crystal, Heartthrobs Counselor & HR Director/Writer: Being introverted at A-Camp is sorta my thing, so I was really excited about Party of One: Introvert Feelings Atrium.
Riese, Runaways Counselor & Editor-in-Chief/CEO: We’ve done introvert meet-ups before, but I felt like we needed to shake it up this time with an activity that talked about something I have in common with seriously like 50% of the campers – BEING A WEIRDO INTROVERT.
Crystal: So many campers showed up! More than we had anticipated. We played a game based on what kind of introverts we are, which involved stepping back and forward to indicate the accuracy of statements such as “I keep my cell on silent because the noise sends me into a hot panic.” Riese and I (mostly Riese) dealt out some advice about fears and so did a lot of new and returning campers, I learned a lot.
Hansen, Hearthrobs Counselor & DIY/Food Editor: I am always really humbled by the incredible things campers make at camp and Make A Thing: Merit Badges was no different. People are so creative! Lanie made me a Snow Camp badge that I wore the whole camp with pride. There were so many people making badges that we ran out of supplies and everyone pitched in (Anna even went and grabbed her own sewing needles for us!) and it was just delightful.
Carmen, Holograms Counselor & Contributing Editor: My Pure Poetry Challenge introduced me to an entirely new poetry crew, but the ending was just the same: sex, sex, sex, bears.
Emily, Rockford Peaches Counselor: I stopped by Kai’s Cheerleading Workshop because Kai’s so much fun and I dig KPop and I told her I’d swing by. If there was a superlative for least likely to be a cheerleader I’d be it. But then before I knew it my head was up in the rafters while I white-knuckled some pompoms and trusted the shit out of the campers holding me up. It was awesome. Kai’s an amazing coach, and when she tells you to put your ass up, you do it.
Robin: I don’t get to attend many activities at camp, but I was able to catch part of Kai’s workshop and was amazed at what these campers learned how to do! I took photos and video of their performance! I was so impressed by our new staff member Kai who taught these campers lifts and an A-Camp themed cheer!
Yvonne, Stormtroopers Counselor & Associate Editor: The greatest moment at A-Camp for me was definitely that workshop. Kai, Autostraddle’s October calendar girl, told me that I should come to her workshop. I’ve never had a dance or cheer lesson in my life, not even as a kid, and I’m not a peppy person so this was definitely out of my comfort zone. But I decided to go try something different. I do not regret going because it was so much fun! We learned a cheer routine, some stunting and the official A-Camp cheer. Kai was a great teacher and her pep was definitely contagious. By the end of it I was cheering and moving those pompoms so hard!
DeAnne Smith, A-Camp Talent & Writer: The Crazy/Beautiful Panel was Crazy Beautiful. It was really wonderful to hear everyone talking about their experiences, and how they’ve learned to cope with their beautifully complicated minds and body chemistries.
Riese: We’ve had lots of requests to do mental health related stuff at camp, but it’s a tall order because it’s so easy to fuck up. Taylor and I talk about mental health stuff a lot because we’re both crazy, and she had a proposal for a panel/discussion this time that sounded do-able. We recruited fellow crazies Dani RDS, Somer and Donna — it was extra-awesome to have Donna there because she has a master’s degree in therapeutic interventions. A-Camp’s Director of Feelings Sarah Evan was still on the road when we got started, but she popped in at the end!
Donna, The Gossip Counselor: Meeting Sarah Evan was a total delight. Something about her made me want to spill all my darkest secrets immediately. She rolled up to camp and jumped right in the Crazy/Beautiful panel. As soon as she opened her mouth she spewed therapeutic gems, and I thought, “I have to hang out with this human. “
DeAnne Smith, The Talent:In lesser hands, this type of panel could have gone sobbingly, uncomfortably, horribly awry, but this panel was a perfect balance of vulnerability, education, practical advice, de-stigmatization (is that a word?) and humor.
Riese: Although it wasn’t our intent, I think having Crazy/Beautiful on the first day set a tone of like, “FYI, you are totally not alone, you are amongst friends who get you, you can trust us, so take a deep breath and HAVE SOME KICKASS FUN!” Personally I feel like the sense of outsiderness I felt being crazy in a sane world overshadowed any possibility of discovering my queerness until I was fully medicated and therapized at the age of 23. So I think it’s a really important and unique discussion to have with a group of assorted crazy-ass homos.
Rachel, Girltrash! Counselor & Senior Editor: My first workshop of camp was the Mini Writing Workshop on Personal Writing that I’ve done every camp. Traditionally, this workshop has been attended by 5-8 people; this time, it was attended by TWENTY-THREE, which was insane and made me nervous that people had only attended because they thought it was something else, possibly a workshop wherein we would learn how to spin texts from our exes into gold, and that I would inevitably disappoint them.
Laneia, Runaways Counselor & Executive Editor: I was working on my piece for that night’s Staff Reading on the other side of Eagle Annex, where Rachel was holding her writing workshop. I overheard a couple of the exercises and prompts and it made me want Rachel to be my personal writing workshop teacher. It was so good and perfect.
Rachel: I think it seemed generally well received, however, and I am super grateful to everyone who attended! Thanks for restoring my faith that sometimes people might be interested in talking with me about writing even when they aren’t required to by a university.
Stef, The Gossip Counselor & Music Editor: This Music Trivia was a little different – we swapped out Somer for Cara, and had the additional help of Lane and Sophia. Crystal acted as the scorekeeper, and I took over tossing candy out to teams who got the answers right.
Crystal: Everyone answered questions about Riot Grrrl and Hip-Hop and Former Disney Child Stars.
Stef: Crystal never told me, but candy-tossing turns out to be the worst job in all of music trivia, mainly because of guilt. I beamed several members of the purple and orange teams in the head with Tim Tams multiple times, and felt terrible every time. Near the end, I was just walking over to each team and solemnly handing them Toblerones.
Crystal: I didn’t tell her that it was the worst because I didn’t want to do it myself. Sorry Stef.
Stef: Despite my poor aim, the competition was pretty heated, and in the end the Orange team won – and their MVP received a pack of feminist musician playing cards, our first ever actual prize.
Sophia, Holograms Counselor: I felt a bit aimless in the morning but I knew there would be candy at Music Trivia and although Cara, Lane, Crystal and Stef seemed like they had it down I thought perhaps my help was needed and perhaps I might be rewarded for being so generous with my time.
Next: Thursday Afternoon brings love and light into our lives!
Pages: 1 2 3See entire article on one page
YAY!!!!!!! Recamps are the best!
i think this is my favorite of all the recamps we’ve ever published, and i don’t even know how that is possible to quantify because they’re all amazing, but this just feels so cohesive and like i can hear us just sitting around chatting and having a conversation about it? this mimics actual camp 4.0 in that it is sort of smooth and effortless looking, and even though i know SO MUCH WORK went into making it a thing, i’m not frazzled or dying at the end of it, i’m just really happy and having so much fun and it feels like everything is right in the world (in this metaphor we have to pretend that i didn’t come home from camp with the flu that lasted for 2 solid weeks, but we can all pretend for the sake of a metaphor, right?).
also maybe i am just vain and enjoy how prominently i am featured in this recamp. every time riese talks about me i blush really hard you guys, did you know that? it’s true. now you know.
ps i am still trulymadlydeeply in love with all of you, ESPECIALLY those of you who attended the queerituality panel and put up with my nervous moderating and ESPECIALLY jane, who let me reiterate, TOLD ME I REMIND HER OF A DISNEY PRINCESS.
okay that’s all for now. i’ll probably be back later with more feelings, duh.
good lord, i could not be prouder to be community editor of such a perfect fucking community. <3
well and this is the day we got engaged so that factors into the favoritism, I’m hoping.
Vanessa, it’s taken me the better part of an hour to digest this page and barely reach your commentary on the Staff Reading, but I just lost it when I got to what you said and when I skipped down to the comments you’re there too.
Even my feelings have grown their own feelings right now, and I’ll be back once I’ve processed them. I can’t even begin to express how grateful/loved I feel because I met you and because this site exists.
Maybe I got dehydrated from all the crying I did this day (Queerituality AND Crystal’s reading, are you kidding me?) and thaaaaat’s how I got so drunk on Jen’s honey whiskey. I’m going to go with that.
Blame it on the a,a-a-a,a-altitude
Oh, that’s what happened.
i’m not a pusher, you were just dehydrated. facts.
a pusher? like a drug pusher?
put it all in the burn book, honey
apparently now i’m on crack
The Staff Readings were one of favorite parts about camp! Liz was hilarious and Crystal had me sobbing. And Vanessa I definitely identified with your reading about having to go live with your parents in suburbia, because I am in a similar situation!
Also, strip spelling bee was amazzzzzzing.
As one of the solidarity strippers, I feel like I need to apologize to Crystal for telling her how amazing her reading was when I wasn’t wearing a shirt.
So, Crystal, your reading was perfect.
i didn't mind, really
somer’s photoshop skills are really second to none.
I feel all my years of training & practice were just leading up to THIS ACamp.
yeah this is A+ work seriously
Deanne and Bear trying to get into the cabin with lil bub on the wall just made me snort out loud.
I had to steal it and make it my cover photo on FB! HAHAHA.
(snow camp forever!!!)
OMG this day was a lot of fun! I woke up after getting about 3 hours of sleep because due to the wild events of the night prior (snow.strugglebus.snow)Klub Deer was cancelled and my cabin started a game of spin the bottle in Deer that would eventually travel to Wolf and Eagle. (seriously I madeout in every lodge)and that lasted until maybe 5am. It was cold, we were bored and drunk, we wish you were there!also STORMCATS!!!
Dani was on the rescue mission during cabin initiation so we all got to meet them and the remaining members of our love nest at breakfast.
I have been to camp three times now and never got to make a thing. Getting to sit still in a sewing circle and focus on something pratical for probably the first time all year while giggling about maybe hoarding the scissors and sharing needles was too much fun.
I missed music trivia for feelings, but I think I came back from camp as less of an asshole. I went to see Kaylah at twerkshop and she confirmed that when I wiggle my ass something does in fact happen back there. I was really excited that Carly came to Klub Deer and if memory serves this was also the night Carmen helped “lanie lohan” back to her cabin before sunrise :) best night ever!!
I still love everything about the STMC badge you made me <3
AND because I slept through breakfast everyday, I didn't know we did a love thing, but it's okay because I feel like I have met you all now.
the reading, ropes course. so good.
Guys. I’ve been hitting refresh on the site all day waiting for Installment Two. Now I’m sad that it’s over and hitting refresh again for the 24 hours. Seriously, ACamp is the greatest thing ever. Staff Reading is the greatest-est thing ever. Club Deer / DJ Carlytron / sweaty gyrating queers / exploding beers… I can’t even.
Reliving it all is fun, too. #YAYCamp
I LOVE ACAMP AND ALL YOU PEOPLE!
Dear Somer and Donna,
I’m sorry my feelings about not being able to brush my teeth or wear my mouth guard overnight manifested in me attempting to BREAK DOWN YOUR CABIN WITH MY FISTS. In retrospect, maybe I could have journaled about it. I think the lesson here is, don’t fuck with my teeth-related anxiety.
Dear DeAnne Smith, Revered Purveyor of Laughs on Queer Mountain,
My wife and I readily accept part of the blame you so freely attribute to your dental hygiene and / or fists. After all, why did we feel the need to lock the door in the first place?! We share our feelings openly – shouldn’t we be able to share our bathroom time with you as well?
I propose an Open Bathroom Door Policy for all future ACamps. You know what Mama always said: the cabinmates that pee together, stay together.
Love and feelings,
Somer & Donna
UM UM I FOUND THE THING LIZZ READ THE NEXT DAY AT BREAKFAST!
Because Camp found me ANOTHER ALASKAN!!(THIS IS THE SECOND TIME!!) to hang out with, my contribution to the gender panel was a committee affair.
I am still so in love with how DeAnne had to remind us that we were supposed to all be hoping the campers would misspell words! We obvs still wanted them to strip, but we wanted them to beat the REAL ENGLISH WORDS also!
Your committee contribution to gender panel was one of my highlights of camp! I think about it whenever I see practical haircuts around town, which is often.
aw man vanessa was supposed to cut that up and leave it in random people’s pigeonholes!!!
Omg. That image of DeAnne. With the bear. I can’t I cannot. Even.
every camp after the staff reading i’m completely shitfaced from crying out all the fluids in my body that aren’t bourbon and i get the bright idea in my head that i need to congratulate and hug all the humans immediately, and this was finally the year that i tripped over a guitar case and fell onto a piano, splitting my chin open and probably looking very graceful. mahalo.
i was drunk and cold and put the bearsuit on over my clothes and walked around telling everybody i loved them, i think
I have you done of my bourbon and was honored that I shared that solo cup with you because you were on FIYAH that night
i thought you were beautiful splayed across the side of that piano
i love you.
This is the night I lost my voice because Crystal made me sob and then I spent a solid hour screaming during the strip spelling bee. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.
Someone please take me back to camp immediately.
The first day of camp was beginning of the best thing in my life! I am so thankful for camp existing!
What I should have said is: As Tiny Pineapple said “this is the best day ever” and “I feel okay telling you this I’ve never been so happy in my life”.
The first day of every camp is always the beginning of the best thing in my life, every.single.time.
Yes, the Yellow Team indeed stripped in solidarity, thus winning the Rainbow Wars once again.
And I seriously loved the readings. Is there a way to listen to them again? So much love! So many tears! Happy tears! All the tears!
IMPUNITY IS TOTALLY A WORD. It’s just not the same as “impugn”
Whew. I’ve been carrying that around for a while. Also, I agree with Donna.
Reading this made me feel like I was *almost* right back at camp and so I’m back to thinking everyone around me is queer and just absolutely totally appreciating other people’s awesome
I’m still sooo upset that I missed the majority of the staff readings! Esp Ali, Anal Rubin, and Crystals readings. Besides the butt plug review, will any of the other stories be posted on the site?
I really loved the introvert panel. My favorite was the game where we had to step forward and backward to go along with our answers. It’s incredible to see so many other people who feel exactly like you do.
Also, I’m really glad a fellow camper talked me into going to the kink workshop. I was too shy to actually participate in the hands on fun, but I learned a lot and you guys are all so amazing.
Is it time to go back on the mountain yet?
That picture of all the pretty rope gave me a lady boner.
The Staff Reading was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. Sure, we all read what they write through a computer screen each and every week, but to actually get to see and hear them read/spill their guts was an incredible experience. Thank you!
marni as a bear might be my favorite thing that has ever happened.
crystal’s reading, too – god, where do i even start? out of all of the magical and amazing things that camp has brought into my life, getting to have crystal be my real life friend might be the best thing of them all. and hearing her open up and read that story just completely gutted me. she’s the best.
I might have been waiting my whole life to go to Nerdcraft. Like ever since Nerdcraft was a thing.
Also, whichever human decided to put Nerdcraft in the same room that the BDSM workshop was in so that no one would have to move is a very brilliant human.
This was a magical day at camp. I learned so much all of the panels, and just loved hearing everyone’s (campers’ and staff’s) stories.
The readings were the perfect combination of hilarious and heart-wrenching.
Strip spelling bee and vocabulary bear, OMG. So much fun. (Also, for anyone in Toronto/Montreal/sometimes other Canadian cities, an events production company thingy called Chat Perdu Productions hosts them monthly and they are quite delightful.)
Also I would just like to say that the red team was very much also stripping in solidarity!!
Just when I think Somer & Donna cannot get any more awesome and adorable…
ACAMP IS PERFECT
Just a request: next time, could we have more actual trans people on the Gender Panel? I kind of felt like Mey was a token amidst a bunch of cis women and one or two A.F.A.B. genderqueers. The gender panel was actually the only time I felt uncomfortable as a trans woman at camp, when one of the (cis) panelists used the T-word (she later apologized, but it was still triggering to have that happen at the gender panel of all places).
I agree, I also wished there was more varied trans* representation.
Noted! And YES! And I’m sorry you felt that way. Truly.
We have used mostly Autostraddle staff writers and editors in the past as our A-Camp staff, but we are doing MORE to open up staff positions, special guests positions and camper contributions (which we always encourage) in order to fix problems like this. We want everyone to feel represented and safe. I appreciate you being candid about your experience.
I’d be open to speaking on the gender panel. I also had an idea for a workshop specifically focusing on healing the divide between trans and cis women.
Hi, I’m not sure if you meant it this way, but the phrase “actual trans* people” was a bit upsetting to me, especially in reference to those who identify as genderqueer. Many people who identify “genderqueer” also identify with the term trans*, and those trans* identified individuals who choose not to/are unable to/simply don’t identify with or present as either of the two binary genders are often left out of trans* narratives and spaces… And, in general, made to feel like they are not “actually” anything.
I just wanted to throw that out there. Okay. Sorry. Carry on.
SO MUCH happened in day one. AND OH GOD THE READINGS. I was a puddle of mess by the end. So many feelings in like 90 minutes. I reallllllly miss camp oh my god please can it be may?? I need mount feels again.
Also,a camp is so perfect. Literally the most perfect thing on the planet.
AND THE SPELLING BEE!! I STILL HAVE DAYDRAMS ABOUT IT (no, but I’ll literally randomly remember someone step ping in the middle of my shift at work and it makes me really happy)
THE STAFF READINGS.
I don’t know how to find words other than those. But yeah. If I could fill a jar with my tears…
But also, watching all of the staff react to the readings. Ali’s snort laugh is actually the cutest.
PS Recamps are my favourite because I can hear all of your voices as I read them!
YES aside from feelings THIS IS THE BEST PART ABOUT RECAMPS
Gah, I loved everything about camp, but I think this was my favorite day (I might take that back later when I read more recamps, don’t judge me.) I went to the introvert discussion and it was nice to see so many people who just UNDERSTAND. I was so inspired, I spent the second half of the morning alone in my cabin, eating jelly beans (thanks Andrea!) and playing my guitar.
Oh, then Queertuality panel! And I got to hug Hansen and then built courage to say words in front of people (gasp!) and shared my feelings. Of course, that meant I missed the kink panel, which caused a bunch of inner turmoil but I lived I guess. (So according to that venn diagram, I am Vanessa? In that case, I love me…I mean you…is that weird? yeah, probably.)
Staff readings. OMG. I went through phases of laughing, crying, smiling, nodding furiously in agreement, and clapping my hands till they were numb. All those things. And it never felt more natural.
I did so much screaming at the strip spelling bee, I’m surprised I didn’t lose my voice. I need more strip spelling bees in my life, for the new vocabulary words of course.
This was definitely the most intense (the good kind of intense) day for me, with the introvert meet-up, the mental illness panel, the gender panel, and the staff reading. So this recamp, just… wow. So many refeelings all at once.
REFEELINGS. MAKE IT A THING.
I’m going back home for Thanksgiving break in a week and a half, but going to A-Camp was a whole lot more like going home than going back to my parents’ houses ever will.
Omg, the readings were everything I wanted to get out of camp. I was so affected by everyone’s stories (particularly Crystal and Riese) that I skipped out on the strip spelling bee to process my feelings by the campfire and later to journal in my bunk. But with all the recapping, I feel like I got to experience it anyways, yay recaps! Getting all my feelings out that first night was totally worth it though because after that I was just ready to have some fun and enjoy the rest of camp.
Cheesecake and my feelings will never be the same again.
Ali and Lizz back to back readings are in my top ten funniest moments of all time.
Hi. Just stopping in to say I love you guys. And A-Camp. I love your comments!
omfg, that silent g.
But i had to go ahead and ruin it all with the “e” at the end. What was I thinking? Impugne. That’s not even a thing.
omg. Cheesecake Factory. Crystal. Hansen. Dani. Liz shooting red wine into my mouth. All so good. so so so good.
I know this is supposed to make me happy but I’ve ended up feeling quite sad that I’ve missed out on all the feelings and love.
Old life goal: make out with Tucky Williams
New life goal: attend a-camp…with Tucky Williams ;)
“It’s nice to have a chance to bring people together, and then to keep them together with bondage rope.”
Thanks for all the photos of my adjusting the mic, Taylor really needs to get that Tumblr up and running already.
Also I love everyone. <3
Thank you for the Queerituality panel. Vanessa you were a fantastic host. It helped a lot to see so many others’ experience with religion and family. It made me feel understood.
Thank you Riese. Thank you for everything, for having the vision of camp, for the introvert friendliness, and most of all for the most understanding hug I’ve ever gotten from anyone.
Just Thank You.