Friday Afternoon: Renigayssance Fair
Robin, Photographer & A-Camp Co-Director: Friday was our Rengayssance Faire! I wanted to bring back what worked about our A-Camp Carnival from the last session and bring in new elements! An event like this for all 300 people at camp is hard to set up in a few hours, but I was so grateful for our amazing staff members for pulling it together.
Kai, Calendar Girl & Panthers Counselor: Even more than the Rengayssance Faire was prepping for the Rengayssance Faire. Carmen and I walked around forever trying to hang those great stringy decorations around the trees that people may or may not remember. Then I’m pretty sure Carmen ditched me, so Gigler stepped in to help me avoid touching the tree ants. I’m not an interior (in this case, exterior?) designer, but we did our best.
Crystal, HR Director & The Con Counselor: Some campers from The Con made a DIY costume from materials found in their cabin and spent the afternoon trotting around the campsite, with a rider on top. Their commitment to that costume was really special. Hansen and I had tears of pride in our eyes.
Robin: Some campers dressed up, even making their own homemade costumes for the event. Marni built actual wooden stocks so naturally I dressed like a horse and she dressed like a knight and we patrolled the faire, randomly choosing campers and staffers (who consented) to put in the stocks!
Marni: Far and away the most special part for me was dressing up as a knight in shining armor and having my trusty steed – Robin Romer the horse – help me round up campers and take them to the stocks. Taylor in her red underpants was a pretty big highlight as well.
Stef: Only at A-Camp can I attend a bondage workshop, build a massive white balloon arch and then while away the afternoon hours teaching ukulele lessons. Truly, this is the place dreams are made of.
Riese: As aforementioned, I’m a big RenFair geek and was therefore SO PUMPED about the event that I planned an actual outfit, like with a cape and everything. Luckily Laneia also had assembled an outfit so we could be dorks together at our Fairy Goddessmother Advice Booth.
Laneia: Giving advice is one of my favorite pastimes! I especially like telling people that they’re already doing the right thing — like when people just need to hear it from someone else? That’s the best. Everyone who came to our booth for advice was just the tenderest little light! I wanted to squeeze them up to my face and tell them how amazing and Right On they were, because they were. The world is full of so many beautiful souls just trying their best, you know?
Riese: A somewhat surprising situation began developing which was that we were COLD AS FUCK. So when it seemed like nobody else was gonna come up for advice, Laneia & I gathered our things and went inside to work on some things that needed to get done for the site. But in the camp surveys some people said they were waiting in line to talk to us when we got up and left and both of us are SO CONFUSED about this situation! We are so incredibly sorry, we had no idea that people were still waiting or that there had ever been a line at all. Was the line just narrowly out of our line of vision? Whatever happened, we’re sorry, please send me your advice questions, youneedhelp [at] autostraddle [dot] com.
Rachel, Managing Editor & Cat Power Counselor: It is probably incredibly obvious when you first meet me that I LIVED FOR Ren fairs as a child. Also a teen, and young adult. Every gay woman I know and somehow especially all the bisexual women I know were Ren Fair obsessives. Going to a Ren Fair between the ages of like 9 and 18 increases your probability of being bisexual by like 200%. Anyhow it should be clear, then, that A-Camp’s Rengayssance Fair was everything I never knew I wanted in life, and now I can die in peace.
Rachel: Highlights included but were not limited to the stocks, the multiple makeshift horses roaming the fair, the D&D table, and the full-on Maid Marian dress that Liz packed from home. In my heart, I will always be at the Rengayssance Fair. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
Laura: My favorite part was the costumes. Seven staffers (myself included) dressed in animal onesies for the scavenger hunt. There were at least two campers dressed up like Link (amazing). Marni had freaking chain mail, and Aja looked like a beautiful fairy princess (per ushe — that may not have been a costume). And a couple strange geniuses from The Con (*cough* Katie G and Partytown *cough*) created an impromptu horse costume out of a sheet and some things they had lying around their weird and wonderful cabin.
Mey: For the Rengayssance Faire, I was mostly in Falcon leading crafts, but it was still a ton of fun. I loved everyone’s costumes, and how committed everyone was. For the first half, I lead my first ever craft, the Custom Queer and Feminist Pendant Necklaces. As Ghost World knows, I’m not very crafty (I sliced my finger open using scissors to make decorations for the cabin), so it was a bit of an adventure leading crafts. But I think it worked out really well. People were making sweet necklaces with people like Ellen Page, Tegan and Sara and Kate Moennig on them. After that, I helped out Hansen with the House Crest Banners craft. Although this is a pretty simple craft, the campers blew me away with their creativity. We had felt for them the put the crest on, so they could make banners to hang, but a ton of them came in with their shirts, or strips of fabric to make patches for their denim vests, or their color wars bandanas or even their underwear to show their house pride.
Carolyn: When Robin and Marni told me they wanted me to run a Sex Dungeon at the Ren Faire, I was excited and also concerned. Instead, I combined two of my favorite things — drinking tea and talking about kink — into a low-stakes discussion group, live You Need Help session and hands-on practice area that really fulfilled the A-Camp kink workshop mandate to bring people together, and keep them there with bondage rope.
Gabby: I’m not the Renaissance Faire type, you know? But I do love a good party, esp with a bunch of queers, so I had to do something. Marni gave me table. I brought along my love of dominoes and we had ourselves a tournament. You know it’s going to be a good game when Gilles Stromberg shows up dressed as Zelda but you think they’re Tinkerbell and either way it’s awesome. I really love that everyone brought their house/ethnic rules for the game.
Soph: The fair was fantastic! The many activities were super.
Bren: I mean it had an “Alice Moat” for crying out loud! And Marni, dressed as Prince Valiant, got into a sword fight with every balloon in sight. It was just brilliant.
Carmen: T-Shirt Cutting and Stenciling, as usual, was a good ol’ time. My cabin even made Gladiator shirts thanks to Rory’s amazing artistic abilities.
Vanessa: Meredydd loaned me her unicorn onesie for the animal onesie hunt and then when she saw how attached I became to it she decided to gift it to me. It cannot be stated enough how happy I am when wearing a unicorn onesie.
Hansen: Ali and I did a craft beer tasting! We got some amazing beer from Hillcrest Brewing Company, who were so great and helpful and they gave us TASTY beer. Ali is so smart when it comes to alcohol and I learned a lot, but oh goodness, I think one of my favorite things about Ali is her alcohol tolerance. I think she was feeling it after half a tasting glass. I loved finishing up the talking portion and getting to the drinking portion, where I met a bunch of campers who also love beer like I love beer and is anything better than drinking beer with new friends? Nope.
Whitney: For this A-Camp I had a great idea: Nerdy booze! Booze-y nerds! Nerdbooze! Final working title: Gamer Grog and Battle Booze. So basically the aim of the drink-mixing workshop was to make a ton of videogame-themed mixed drinks and to have nerdy chats with all who would like to come join us.
A not-at-all-secret secret: I am a super lightweight drinker. Basically I can have a beer and I’m done for the night. I have a few sips of stout and I turn bright red and have the uncontrollable desire to give people hugs (or, in the case of Ali when she came to visit me once – lots of nose boops and “You’re the best”s). So with this knowledge in tow, with me mixing and sipping four drinks at Gamer Grog and Battle Booze? Me, bright red like a Christmas ornament, loving the hell out of everyone.
Elicia Sanchez was my co-conspirator throughout nerdy video game drink mixing, and she came up with the best nerdy toasts we would all cheer together before we took the first sip of our mixed drinks: “Victory or Valhalla!” (a Thor reference), “Do a barrel roll!” (said by Peppy Hare in Star Fox 64) and “The cake is a lie!” (from the Portal series).
My favorites of the drinks we mixed: A Mario Kart Rainbow Road Cocktail (which was a rainbow-gradient drink with orange juice, blue curacao and grenadine for color) and the Metroid Cocktail (with was bright-green coconut rum-flavored drink with floating red strawberries on top). Elicia and I stopped by the Advice Booth during the Renn Faire to give Riese and Laneia these. I think these drinks got the Riese and Laneia seal of approval.
Bren: What made it even better was just how into it the campers were. There were costumes and jousting and archery. Gilles Stromberg was even locked in the stockade for a time. There was some kind of float fashioned out of the shark that kept creeping past the Ye Olde Merch Table. To be clear it was a blow up shark, not Marni in a onesie.
Chelsea: Tarot Card Reading at the Rengayssance Faire was ridiculously fun. I got to meet so many campers and talk about all their feelings and futures. I predicted hangovers and multiple orgasms for everyone, and I think they all came true!
Aja, Contributor and A-Camp Special Guest: When I think back to this entire day, it’s just one magical, truly fantastical blur. I got to sleep in a spell, spend the morning in one-on-one style sessions with campers and organizing supplies for flower crowns. Somewhere in my brain I imagined a small but dreamy group of campers who wanted to spend a good chunk of time lovingly hand-assembling something pretty with which to adorn themselves, but campers came in droves a half-hour ahead of schedule and didn’t stop for hours. I had to create a waiting list – a waiting list! At A-Camp! It was bananas, I got hand cramps from working quickly dulled wire-cutters over lengths of twine and floral wire, snapping buds off brightly colored faux flower vines like a banshee as campers of all kinds squished onto picnic tables, perched on huge boulders and scrambled up rock walls to find places to sit and create gorgeously unique crowns. I frantically tenderly looked on as they helped one another, rushed to those who’d gotten stuck, and pointed to the step-by-step inspiration collages I’d smartly taped down to the tables for reference. We were quiet and numerous and startlingly intense, and very different from one another, yet the same. It melted my heart.
Aja: By the end of the workshop, I had no idea how the rest of the afternoon had gone elsewhere on Mt. Feelings, but nearly everyone who’d wanted to had their crown and I’d given away a few I made to campers who didn’t quite make it in time rather than send them away empty-handed. The rest of camp – breakfast, lunches, dinners, dance parties, workshops, more dance parties, cuddle huddles, the wedding – everywhere I turned a flower crown brightened the woods alongside deep and lovely smiles, my darling royals.
Cee: Every other camp I’ve walked by the archery range filled with nostalgia from summer camps as a kid, so I was really glad we got to use it this time. I was impressed by how natural everyone was at archery. It’s a hobby I’ve taken up as an adult and really enjoy, and I was glad to see others share that enjoyment.
Gabby: Kaylah, queen of the mini-dresses, challenged me to a water fight or maybe i just splashed her with a handful of agua. Either way, we sprayed each other with water and it all ended with me diving into the baby pool formerly known as Alice Moats.
Kaylah: Towards the end of the ren fair, Gabby challenged me to a splashing duel around the kiddie pool. We were so wet (HA!!!) and the pool ended up almost empty. I totally won though, and then she stole my heart shaped sunglasses.
Rory: I loved the rengayssance faire and walking around seeing all these cool people doin’ their thing.
Singalong Campfire // Black & White Ball
Rachel: I think the nighttime singalong around the fire was probably exactly what people who have never been to A-Camp imagine when I try to explain it to them, and it was really perfect in that respect. I mean also in every other respect, but I’m especially tickled by the sheer campiness of it. Serenade me forever, dreamy guitar babes of A-Camp!
Riese: The Singalong Campfire was so cute! I sang along to Taylor Swift! I have a heart!
Robin: It was a peaceful and uniting singalong campfire followed by a rousing dance!
Black & White Ball
Chelsey: Before the Black and White Ball, the staff was tasked with blowing up a shit ton of balloons. Suffering from severe lack of oxygen from blowing up a million and a half balloons, I lay down on the floor and created a balloon angel while wearing a flower crown my camper Amy made me. It was one of the most blissful moments of my life.
Stef: Cabin 16 arrived to the Black and White Ball decked out almost entirely in black, feeling like a million bucks and/or the hallway scene in Jawbreaker. Full disclosure, we actually played that song in our cabin while we got ready to psych ourselves up.
Brittani: I’m not sure how it happened but a lot of riff raff was showing up to the Black and White Ball. Good thing I had a foot long foam glowstick that doubled as a security wand. I was able to ensure the safety of everyone there by holding up suspicious individuals at the door before they were allowed entry AND I was only accused of racial profiling once.
Gigler: Everyone was fresh faced, high energy, and lookin real fine. There was supposed to be a meteor shower but I’m pretty sure it was no match for the energy emanating from the first big party of A-Camp. DJing in Eagle felt boss as hell, and opening for Carlytron was an honor and a privilege.
Stef: My favourite moment of the Black and White Ball was early in the evening, when Aja was DJing and she played “Common People” by Pulp. I guess a lot of the younger campers didn’t know it, but Carly, Alex, Meredydd, Torre and I LOST OUR DAMN MINDS and held court in our own dance circle. Mad pogo-ing ensued.
Rory: I don’t have words for this but I liked it a lot.
Carmen: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I apologize to everyone for this night. I wore a black bellbottom jumpsuit, forgot I wasn’t Madonna, and ended up doing coordinated dances with pretty much only myself on stage all night.
Soph: I do remember at some point sitting outside falcon sewing Carmen’s hole in her black jumpsuit by hand next to who was Rory painting and folks were spray painting and doing all this joyous stuff like this is the fucking gayest thing if only I had a cigarette, please.
Chelsea: I think there was a point during camp when I stopped dancing like Rihanna as a joke and STARTED DANCING LIKE RIHANNA FOR REAL.
Liz: Since I had the misfortune of proposing my dissertation the week after camp, I had to spend most of my free (read: sleep) time working. So by the time the black and white ball rolled around, I was wandering around in a sleep deprived haze, but it wasn’t so bad because everyone at camp is so incredible and supportive it really reminded me how special camp community is which was a highlight for me. Plus I got to do most of my work in my flying squirrel onesiewhich made everything less painful!
Meredydd: A-Camp can be kind of intense. The days are so packed with so many activities and the evenings are just as busy. As soon as I heard about the meteor shower I knew it was something I wanted to see. I live in Toronto and we can’t really see stars too often but I know that the stars on the mountain are always stunning. After the dance we tried watching from the swings but couldn’t see much. Then someone had the bright idea of heading up to the basketball courts and watching from there. It was quiet and dark (and freezing) but after a few misses I am pretty sure I saw a meteor. It was totally worth the bronchitis that plagued me when I came down the mountain.