A-Camp September Recamp #2: Blame It On The Altitude


III. Before Night Falls

In which campers ate dinner, attended a listening party (Carmen + Crystal), speed-dated (Carly + Gabby) and played Girls Gone Wild (Marni)

Wild Stallions enjoy quality time in their cabin

Crystal: This was the first dinner that Carly and I had shared with all sixteen Thundercats and so that was pretty special. They’d only been together for 24 hours and yet everyone seemed so at ease with each other, they were all so friendly and funny and cute.

Riese: The Runaways, possessed by the incredible spirit of the intoxicating Meadows of Alpine, had already become best best best friends and also planned their shit so somebody would be at any activity Laneia and/or I were involved in and then we all had dinner as a family.

Laneia: It had been decided that counselors would spend the dinner block with their cabins each night, which was one of the best decisions ever.

(photo by Katie O’Donnell)

Crystal: I was really amped about the Listening Party because I love situations where people are forced to listen to my favourite music. The party started with some technical difficulties; I couldn’t get Marni’s iPod dock to work. On the way to the lodge she asked, “is it plugged in?” and I was like, “yes, duh”. Obviously it was not plugged in.

Hansen: I barely even noticed when everyone else got there and the room was filled with people dancing to Kanye and The Knife. Someone brought a leather canteen and filled it up with wine? That’s how classy we were.

Carmen: Crystal was one of the people I got to know more this time around and it made me super happy to be able to do so. She’s so fun! Also, hilarious. It was great watching an email turn into such a great time, and I was so happy so many people participated!

Crystal: I don’t recall too many specifics from this party but I definitely played “Phenomena” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs first. Then Carmen played some Drake? Carmen probably played some Drake. The campers took over our DJing duties and did such an amazing job that I didn’t go near the iPod dock for the rest of the night. I spent the next hour chilling on the floor with campers and getting some Thundercats ink.

serious bomb girls mixer cuddle puddle (photo by jenna pheeny)

Marni: People were very confused by the title of this event – and rightfully so – but I stand by it. Based on a game called “Wildman” that we played at the summer camp I used to work at, Girls Gone Wild! involved players from each color team trying to get to Cabin 5 – the furthest cabin from the starting point – collect a bean, and get all the way back without being caught by one of the “girls gone wild,” aka staff scattered all over the woods, faces painted, game faces on. Whichever team got the most beans back would be declared the winner (it was purple). I was really impressed with the level of committment demonstrated by both the campers and the staff. After the game Megan O’Grady said to me, “That was the most fun I have ever had.”

Megan O’Grady, Valencia Counselor: My knee is finally almost healed.

Rachel: This event has the most misleading name in history. It should be called “Girls Gone Militant” or “Girls Moving Very Fast In The Dark.” I am uncomfortable when I recall the woman I became during this game.

Carrie: Marni’s Wildman Game was a bloodbath. Especially after Rachel and I started hiding in Falcon Lodge with the lights off, jumping out at campers as they ran by. I caused casualties that I still feel bad about and owed a lot of campers drinks after that.

Rachel: Also, I’d like to take a moment to commend Carrie, who really brought her A game to this game. Four for you, Carrie. I think she had like a dozen beans, and I only had maybe five. I’d like to point out also that this was yet another competition in which the Purple team took high honors, because we are champions.

Laura: I felt most like at camp while playing this game. Probably because I turned into the ruthlessly competitive child version of myself that has a tendency to come out at swimming pools and during coquet games. The face paint didn’t hurt either.

(photo by rachel walker)

Sara Medd: I’m not big on playing active sporty games, so I wasn’t sure how much fun I would have during this, especially considering I had to paint my face….but it ended up being super fun! I was pretty impressed with the strategies happening, especially from my cabin (HUMP HUMP) so I was pretty stoked that they had a good chance at winning. Then when Drea hurt her leg, and several of the girls from the cabin stopped playing to help her and carry her back to base, I was really touched because I knew that as badly as they wanted to win, taking care of their friend was more important. BUT THEY WON ANYWAY. AMAZING!!!

Carly: Everything after dinner was a whirlwind. Gabby and I ran a speed dating event in Eagle lodge – which was SO FUN and featured ONLY Beyonce songs (except the last song, which was “The Final Countdown,” obvs).

(photo by rachel walker)

Stef: I didn’t attend Gabby and Carly’s Speed Dating night at the Strand in New York last month because honestly I was afraid they’d make me speed date. Oddly, I was the right mixture of drunk and curious to attend their speed dating night at camp – first as an observer, but then as my camper Marika ducked out for a haircut, an active participant. The topics they chose for us to discuss with our dates were hilarious, and I loved getting to talk one-on-one with campers I might not have met otherwise… but speed dating was bittersweet, as I never got to have my date with Intern Grace. Grace, your time will come.

Carly: Then Grace and I – with the help of Marni, Robin, Megan and a bunch of other staffers – got ready for Faggity Feud.

Riese: After dinner I’d gone to Julie and Brandy’s Cabana to assist with “last-minute prep” and attempt to temper Brandy Howard’s insecurity, which she attempted to temper with gallons of alcohol. I reminded her that she is pretty, funny, and smart, duh, and then Haviland did my makeup and I felt like A REAL GIRL! As a rule, I wear black to White Parties, but I made an exception for my own White Party and actually wore White.

Morgan: I had a conversation with Carrie about Southeast Asian politics and economics. I don’t feel like this kind of thing happens in places that are not A-Camp. Certainly not anywhere where this conversation is followed by going to a Family Feud-style wet t-shirt contest.



IV. The White Party

In which we played Faggity Feud or hit up the campfire for ghost stories.

Brandy Howard/The Talent: Disclaimer – I accidentally got too drunk earlier in the day and was blacked out for the better part of our game, so recamping it is somewhat difficult. For the record, I blame the altitude.

Alex: After moderating three panels today, I was so emotionally and mentally exhausted that I felt weird and introverted and I went on a secluded hike to clear my head. Which never happens to me. While that was good and all, I realized later that night that what I really needed was some whiskey and Julie & Brandy’s Faggity Feud.

prepping for faggity feud

Brandy: When Julie and I decided that we wanted to do a queer version of Family Feud at A-Camp, the gay gods handed us a blessing in the form of Carly Usdin. Carly was the backbone of our event. She came up with the name Faggity Feud, and (with the help of Intern Grace) she handled ALL the graphics and technical details of our show.  She juggled a million details and did it all in record time- I just wish I would’ve been there to see it;-)

Carly: It was our first time doing this and the entire production was a very ambitious undertaking – a video intro (which I edited on both the plane and the bus to camp), a Keynote-based graphic game board (complete with sound effects and theme song), music interludes, live scorekeeping – but I think it went really well and everyone had a great time.

Riese: Every now and then in this life of Autostraddle I look around and think “what is wrong with you people? you realize this is an idea i had in my underpants, right?” I usually think this when something’s happening that is beyond anything I could actually do myself, like seeing videos from the Calendar Girls shoot or, you know, witnessing a multi-media gameshow extravaganza such as Faggity Feud. Carly really outdid herself on this one.

Jill: All I have to say about Faggity Feud is that it was the event in which the Wild Stallions cabin won all of A-Camp. Forget Rainbow Wars, we won Boob Wars.

wild stallion (photo by rachel walker)

Sara Medd: We gave a lot of warnings this time to ensure everybody knew what they were getting into. White Party. WARNING: YOU MAY GET WET. Apparently this read as: If you want to show your tits, this is your night. There were all ranges of preparation happening: additional layers (one camper wore a black t-shirt under her white shirt, just in case), no layers (a couple of contestants were intentionally bra-less), and even white compression shorts happened (THANK YOU JILL). I think we all had a good time this time, at least I did.

Riese: Laneia and I confirmed and re-confirmed and confirmed again that all the Runaways knew they’d be getting blasted in the crotch with a SuperSoaker during this game and Shannon assured us she was up for the task AND SHE WAS.

Rachel: One of my Jetpackers was playing, so I was pumped like an emotionally unstable PTA mom at her kid’s soccer game.

Morgan: My campers Marika and Shannon, my ballsy bosom buddies, volunteered and took to the stage and it was like they were growing up right before my eyes. And then when their turn to get blasted came I felt like their den mother for a moment and averted my eyes. Momma wanted to protect her little butterbeans, but they were reveling in it like a Summer sprinkler and I turned back into myself and thought, gosh, they’re hot.

Carrie: Eagle was so full that the staff ended up standing against a wall and laughing our asses off the whole time. Collectively, I don’t know if A-Camp 2.0 will ever get over the whole beastiality > threesomes thing.

Rachel: Really, that many of you are anti-threesome?

Riese: This was further reassurance that I need to get my NSFW Sunday Guide to Successful Threesomes together ASAP.

Hansen: What has been seen cannot be unseen. Apparently people answered “None of them” for the question “Who on the US Women’s Soccer team would you most want to have sex with?” and I thought people were going to riot.

Daniela: Carrie was totally fascinated by the power point presentation and Grace’s use of the mouse. Every time an answer was announced, Carrie said ‘Grace is just so good at this’ so I can’t remember any of the answers, but I have a clear memory of everyone disagreeing with half of them and all of the participants being really excited about getting their shirts wet.

Carmen: I have no idea how to best summarize how amazing Faggity Feud was. I don’t know who was laughing harder – Cee or me. But one of the C’s definitely was laughing the hardest at this game.

Alex: Seriously, the night felt like such a release for me and possibly this was the case for other people too because it got rowdy! Like, in a good way!

Riese: (That’s what she said)

sarah croce, alex and mary enjoy the show (photo by katie o’donnell)

Crystal: The two tributes from the Red team were Thundercats. Carly and I were so proud.

Carly: Shoutout to the mighty, mighty Thundercats!

(photo by robin roemer)

Cee: I thought it would be a good idea to tweet at Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach and tell them that they won hottest members of the USWNT at camp:

Alex: It was an epic success. I loved this night and all I remember is smiling and laughing til my face hurt.

Laneia: The graphics and the sound effects and the consent — it was enough to melt at least a hundred hearts.

Rachel: Brandy is the prettiest game show host in the history of game show hosts.

Riese: I appreciated Brandy and Julie’s decision to don menswear for this event. It was hot.

Gabby: I love Brandy Howard. The End.

Camper Quote: “Faggity Feud was everything I hoped it would be, as were the Wild Stallion boobs.”

(photo by rachel walker)



VI. The After-Party

In which all hell broke loose

Morgan: I got my very favorite of all my calendar girl compliments this night, and one of the very best compliments I have experienced in my quarter century of air intake and exhalation. It was this: a pretty girl I was talking to was very excited about my calendar photos. Her cute compatriot said she would definitely check them out, to which she replied “Oh my God, you should totally check out Morgan’s photos. But…don’t expect to get any work done after.” We giggled wildly, because A-Camp.

Riese: The highlight of the evening was when Marni and Robin were attempting to conduct the staff meeting and Gabby had an announcement about sneakers and Carmen kept talking and Gabby whipped out Brandy’s super-soaker, yelled “keep it pro!” and pelted Carmen in the face.

carmen & erika (photo by sophia bonde)

Daniela: I remember all of us wanting to have a dance party, and then Carrie becoming fully invested in making that happen.

Carrie: After the Thursday night meeting, Cee, Meredydd and I coaxed Stef into turning karaoke in Deer Lodge into a dance party. This would be sign of things to come.

Daniela: Quiet Time was never the same after that.

Meredydd:  Carrie wanted to get something going in Deer and pretty much single handedly convinced everyone at Wolf that they should come to the party. I contributed my bag of mini-glowsticks which really brought me back to my raving roots.

Riese: How do y’all have enough energy to have dance parties!? After night-time activities my number one feeling was usually “time to lie on my bed and/or lie on the floor in The Runaways Cabin.” If you’re reading this and you’re the kind of person who prefers to spend their late nights in bed, never fear, there are plenty of A-Campers who feel the same way! But the stories about dancing are more interesting, so ONWARD.

(photo by rachel walker)

Stef: So after evening activities, I was supposed to be covering karaoke in Deer Lodge. As a fairly shy person who rarely sings karaoke unless blackout drunk, I was afraid it would be awkward and boring. I poured myself a stiff drink and took a seat, ready to sigh my way through a lot of heartfelt renditions of Tegan and Sara songs I didn’t know. Suddenly, Carolyn burst in to tell me that one of my campers was sick and I ought to check on her. I asked Carolyn to keep an eye on Deer for me while I took a look.

Riese: I was in Wolf talking to people when somebody came to tell me that a Battlestar had a sinus infection and she’d been moved from her cabin to a lodge to get well, and so obviously I felt like I personally had caused the sinus infection because this is how I feel about everything sad that ever happens at A-Camp, so I hopped over and visited her and thought HOW CAN I MAKE THIS BETTER and then I REMEMBERED THE TARGET LINENS ALEX BOUGHT ON WEDNESDAY! (See, I told you it would come back around!) and left Stef to supervise as I set off in search of Alexandra.

Laneia: Megan was on top of the OTC drug distribution, so that in combination with the rest of Team Linens, I felt really confident that this sick little camper was in really good hands.

Stef: Within minutes, Riese, Marni, Laneia, Megan, Alex and Mary all arrived with armloads of new, comfy pillows, linens and fleece blankets! They tucked her in and made her comfortable like the birds and mice in Cinderella, which was easily one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.

Riese: Mary Tully fluffing the brand-new pillows was something truly special.

Stef: I stayed until I was assured that Jules was taken care of, and then wandered back to my post at karaoke, where I discovered that Deer had been transformed in ten short minutes into a MAKEOUT RAVE. The lights were off and a headlamp flickered in a corner as Alice manned the iPod DJ station and girls made out everywhere as though they needed each others’ faces to breathe. At first I was floored and terrified by the drastic change in atmosphere, but I quickly warmed up to the idea and stuck around, dancing with my friends and watching girls drunkenly stick their tongues down each others’ throats. There are certainly worse ways to spend an evening, and I felt guilty when I had to finally call last call and kick all the drunk chicks out.

(photo by kacey & dina)


NEXT TIME: Thank Goddess it’s Friday and time for the Staff Reading, the Spooning Workshop, Lesbian Jeopardy and HAVILAND STILLWELL’S 100% NATURAL GOOD TIME FAMILY BAND SOLUTION!

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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 3178 articles for us.


  1. God damn this makes me wish I knew some queer people. I’m glad y’all had such a good time, though!

  2. Is it just me or does anyone else feel so incredibly happy yet sad when they look at these A-CAMP pages?

    So incredibly happy that such a thing even exists, yet sad for myself because I missed out on a wonderful opportunity.

    Definitely going next year!

  3. remember how on Thursday night the Runaways had a feelings circle that NEVER ENDED.

  4. There is nary a mention of Jetpack in this recap, with the one exception of Rachel speaking about Chelsea, so! An explanation.

    The title of this post, Blame it on the Altitude, comes from the genius creation of Jetpackers Chelsea and Kathleen, our resident lyrical geniuses. It’s an epic song that was performed by much of Jetpack during the talent show(video). Our resident badass Judyna turned this into AN ACTUAL SONG which you can listen to here.

  5. that’s so fun! we just went to gay family camp (campitup.org) this summer for the first time and it was great, but generally an older crowd. would love to find something for younger queer families, though i imagine A camp isn’t for kids…

  6. So that is what I missed on Thursday night! I had solo ipod listening time because I had too many cookies at High Tea and then took a nature walk before dinner…so the “altitude” made it impossible for me to function after a while. I did go give moral support to my Thundercats at all events. I’m really sad I missed Klub Makeout though.

  7. You guys, I had NO IDEA about this makeout rave thing until this very moment. I just knew a lot of my cabinmates got super drunk this night and I couldn’t figure out where the hell they were getting drunk and taking tequila shots. Kait, I see you.

    I was in bed by around 11pm every night. I am an old woman.

  8. btw I am EPICLY PROUD of JILL STROMBERG and her white shorts repping the snatches!! Jill wins all the things!

  9. I remember wishing and hoping I might get the amazing opportunity of having a picture in even ONE recap…. so far I’ve been in both! So happy! You guys even included my overuse of commas in my love for Sara Medd!

  10. Aaah, I got recapped! I remember saying that “I didn’t know any Persian queers” not that there weren’t any (I’m no Ahamdinejad), so I was so excited to meet Minna! I was hella nervous about getting up and sharing my experience, I almost didn’t do it. Glad I did.

    Every time I see camp photos, my heartstrings tug a little bit and then I curse my mother’s need to see me walk at graduation because it falls smack in the middle of mAy-Camp. :(

    • Also, every time I have tea (which is many times a day) I think of High Tea and Megan making use of coffee filters so everyone could have something to drink, and Laneia teaching T-Pain and I to make spinners, and Mel being as super duper excited as me about the Jazzercise bears, and everyone sitting at the picnic table making friendship bracelets. It makes my heart feel warm and glowy.

  11. Everytime I read a recamp and look at pictures from camp my heart just melts away because of feelings and because I want to come back and don’t know if I can and also I miss everyone and just want to hug all of you.

      • yes yes. this week-end could already be planned out, but yes, soon please.
        I don’t know what happened last night, I wasn’t even drunk but I was feeling all the feelings. maybe it was because thursday night was Cuddle Puddle Night heeeyo.

  12. I really hope I get to go to one of these in my lifetime, but I doubt it because of the Atlantic ocean and theyre always on during term time :(

  13. (Ha, ani difranco is playing in riteaid as I write this …)

    The camper quote after the non-monogamy panel (which was mine) seems especially bittersweet after the events of the last couple of weeks :/

  14. This whole post is giving me Muppet arms! I remember it fondly as the day I dominated all of the things (music trivia/faggity feud), the day Brandy Howard groped my ass, and the glory of the Wild Stallions amazing rack(s). I had a front row seat to all that shizz and I regret nothing!


    • Orange + Purple = LOVE

      This was one of the best days of my life. Thanks for the boob shout out. They loved you too.

      Also, I still can’t get over your amazing “Blame it on the Altitude” song. You rocked Acamp.

  15. I’m pretty sure that green team won girls gone wild, even though we were annoyingly competitive we definitely took points on that one (and little else).

  16. I wanna give a shoutout to the campfire event with Vicki that happened at the same time as the Julie and Brandy event because it was a huge highlight of my camp experience. We never told ghost stories, instead we spent the whole night talking about herstory and lesbian activism (Vicki is so cool, you guys. Seriously.) our duty to spread the word to younger generations. We also talked about kink, sex positivity and erotica (Ali is bomb. :D) and we did it all while getting blasted in the face with smoke.

    Basically it was epic and amazing.

  17. As I recall it was the ghosts that ate the pac person at GAYmers, and we all learned a lesson about the importance of balance in game design.

  18. I was not prepared for the amount of feelings these recamps would cause. I would like for it to be May right now thanks.

  19. So I had to walk through that makeout rave in my pajamas to get a library book to read in my bunk while I was sick and dying, which made me very sad. But then ALICE MOTES offered me some tea (seriously, I was hyped over the constant presence of tea at camp… and Alice’s one person black market) and then Marika/Christina/Morgan moved my bed and like seven staff came to Mary Poppins all over me, which was sort of disturbing but also incredibly rad and helpful. Meghan definitely deserves credit as the camp nurse.

  20. Dear Carrie, Cee, Meredydd, Stef, Croce, and Lil’ C,

    Thank you for Klub Deer.

    That is all.

  21. So Jill told me I was all over this recap, and now I feel special.

    I would like to say that I was fed at all points! I didn’t even finish all my snacks! Although the first night my protein source was Morgan fetching me a cup of eggs from the salad bar and looking at me in a concerned fashion, while I demolished ALL OF THE MASHED POTATOES after a 14 hour trip.

    Morgan is the sweetest.

  22. And thanks Malaika, now I know how Carmen had her spirit animal bear vision/hallucination.

  23. The sense of community within A-Camp and the queers really sunk in for me on Day 2. I gained newfound confidence, love, respect for myself as a gay woman and for my fellow queers.

    The Queer WOC panel really helped me open up to the rest of A-Camp. Although I was too timid and in awe of the panel and participants to speak up, I caught myself constantly smiling, nodding, cheering and clutching my poor queer heart and for the entire duration (lost it with everyone with the Persian queer outburst). I mustered up the courage to approach Katrina afterwards, the only other queer Filipino woman I met at A-Camp, thanking her for being the strong, articulate voice I could relate to (RICE). Yep, I fangirled a bit too.

    I dappered it up with Ann for the first Speed Dating session and consequently High Tea after. Just because a date lasts only 2-3 minutes doesn’t mean you can’t dress up at 7500 feet! I couldn’t believe how many compliments we received from all the cute women, even after at Barbershop! I regret not joining the dapper luncheon on Saturday :-(

    I can’t remember much else because ALL THE FEELINGS hashed out this night too, but ugh, Day 2 was amazing!

  24. “Then Hannah arrived and jumped in on the dates, so a few campers got to go on a 3 minute date with her. Robin and I made sure to ask her the most awkward sex-related question from the list.”

    Thank you, Robin and Sara, for one of my favorite moments from camp. I was the one lucky enough to be sitting across from Hannah when suggested question #1 was asked.

  25. One of my favourite moments from A Camp was when Dena found the other Persian queer woman at the QWOC panel and just. It was so powerful that I’m crying just thinking about it again.

    Thank you, Autostraddle, for making these moments a reality.

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