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

Welcome to the second of four fantastic recaps of our entire experience at A-Camp 2.0, which took place 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles at Alpine Meadows Camp atop a mountain in Angelus Oaks, California, from September 12th-16th, 2012.

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 and create an affordable option for queers for whom other lesbian vacations aren’t always a perfect fit. In April 2012, we did it for the first time — along with 160 campers and 35 staff members, we rented out a summer camp in its off-season and enjoyed a transformative weekend of fun, friendship, panels, workshops, classes, sports, entertainment, events and so forth. It was probably the most awesome experience of our life and we knew from there it would only get bigger and better.

So in September, 220 campers and 40 staff descended upon The Mountain for four days of much-better-organized fun, friendship, panels, workshops, classes, sports, entertainment, events and secret initiation rites.

These epically long monster-posts will do their best to explain and extrapolate upon the camp experience, from avoided-shitstorms to emotional revelations to glory/triumph. But we can’t tell you everything. We must leave some things up to the imagination.

The next Camp Autostraddle will take place May 23rd-27th, 2013 in Angelus Oaks, California, Mark your Calendars!


Thursday, September 13th


I. Hello, Morning

Block A:

GAYming w/Morgan & Jill

Queer Families Panel w/Vikki, Laneia, Carrie, Whitney & Riese

Book Club w/Carolyn, Jamie & Meredydd

Music Trivia w/Crystal & Stef

Postcard-Making w/ Carmen


Individual Style Workshop Sessions w/Sara Medd

Marni & Robin give morning announcements

Jill, Wild Stallions Counselor/VIP Camper: Gaymers was one of the first morning activities of the first day of camp so everyone was a little muted and tired. Thankfully Morgan was full of energy and got everyone stretched out with a game of “Human Pac-Man,” in which we turned Deer Lodge into a life size Pac Man course and everyone ran around eating ghosts.

Morgan, Battlestars Counselor/Calendar Girl/Contributor: It was all part of a diabolical scheme to force my fellow gamer kin to get up and move around a room and experience the awesome power of cardio.

Jill: We then discussed our favorite games, obscure games, and websites we liked. Morgan also discussed her involvement with the Trans Panel at PAX East.

Morgan: Then we moved on to the meeting’s meat: feelings. There are no feelings more fulfilling, as a geek of any stripe, than telling people about your favorite things, and then hearing about everyone else’s favorite things.

Jill: So that was the morning in which I was amazed by the greatness which is Morgan.

picking up chicks, starring morgan (photo by gabby)

Gabby, Catch-22 Counselor/Writer: I wasn’t scheduled for anything which was nice. When the schedules first landed in our inboxes, I realized that all of my feelings regarding my entire life would eventually be put out into the A-world, so a nothing block was a good block. I set out, camera in hand, ready to peer into the morning’s workshops/crafts/things.

Cee Webster, Golden Girls Counselor/Tech Director: I spent the morning roaming and helping/hindering where I could. For example: Finding supplies for Carolyn for her sewing workshop, dropping in on the introvert meetup and searching for the elusive tape.

cee & vikki

Carolyn Yates, Valencia Counselor/Contributing Editor: For Read a Fucking Book (Club), we read Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey.

Meredydd, Golden Girls Counselor/Business Advisor: Santa Olivia is a really good book and I hoped it would give us a lot to discuss. I think it was a success! Campers also enjoyed the book and we got into the themes of science-fiction world building and comparing the relationship of the queer characters with the straight characters.

Carolyn: I really wish I’d written down everyone’s recommendations.

Meredydd: It lead into a larger discussion of how far authors are allowed to go with sex scenes for queer characters in Young Adult fiction – something I hadn’t really thought about much. Also we now have a Nerd-Straddling group on Facebook where we talk about our favourite books (science fictional and otherwise)!

Stef Schwartz, Battlestars Counselor/Writer/OG Autostraddler: This was our second time leading Music Trivia, and this time around we’d decided to turned it into a Rainbow War activity. Crystal and I were a bit nervous but somehow we assembled a fairly large crowd and the competition got pretty heated, with question topics ranging from Tegan & Sara and other well-known queer artists to hip-hop, riot grrrl, film soundtracks and obvs the Spice Girls.

Crystal, Thundercats Counselor/Music Editor: 50 campers started buzzing and shouting out answers all at once at it was pure madness. The Yellow team were the only ones who played by the rules and I suspect that this was their downfall.

Stef: Crystal threw delicious Australian candies to whoever answered correctly.

Gabby: Watching Stef doing anything in her Captain’s hat is probably on my top ten list of favorite things to watch. She is a master and knows her music shit.

Crystal tossing candy (photo by Rachel Walker)

Crystal: Just like when we played this game at the April A-Camp, I kept hitting Keisha with stray Toblerone missiles. I’M SO SORRY KEISHA.

Gabby: Crystal was throwing out candy to the crowd but like Australian candy so it was all weird and amazing looking. I love how A-camp competitions aren’t ever overly aggressive or mean spirited. It’s really just a hoard of queer chicks knowing that they’re smart and flying with it.

Crystal: The Purple team won, which I felt really good about despite my allegiance to the Red team because Chelsea sung all of her answers and deserved all of the points.

music trivia (photo by rachel walker)

Carrie, Forever 21 Counselor/Community Managarette: Everyone came to the Queer Families Panel with really different stories and perspectives which was great. I felt tiny and inexperienced hearing Whitney talk about marriage and Laneia and Vikki talk about their kids because those are worlds I don’t know anything about. But it mostly just made me excited and hopeful for a future that will involve those things.

Laneia Jones, Runaways Counselor/Executive Editor: I was really honored to be part of it. Everyone’s perspectives were so unique and important, and the audience had great questions and comments.

Gabby: I don’t think I’ve ever heard Laneia speak irl so much. It was awesome.

(photo by katie o’donnell)

Alex Vega, Avengers Counselor/Design Director: I could listen to Laneia and Vikki tell stories about their children all day. Especially stories that involve important/deep topics like how to tell your kids that your family is a little different than the other kids at school, as an example. It was the first time I had even thought about that stuff… like maybe possibly having my own family some day and how that situation might go. (i.e. terrifying)

Riese Bernard, Runaways Counselor/Editor-in-Chief: The Queer Families panel was my idea and I was so pumped to rep my gay self and my gay Mom, but then I got altitude sickness and couldn’t sleep Wednesday night or move Thursday morning (I also have fibro, which basically doubles the pain of anything that ever happens to me ever) and Marni had to have a Real Talk Moment with me where I had to face the fact that I wasn’t gonna be on the panel after all. Intern Grace brought me water pitchers and Cheerios in a styrofoam bowl and listened to me writhe and told me stories. I didn’t have pants on and I determined that I’m officially a “sickly” person in general. Alas.

Laneia: I talked with a camper afterward and she showed me a whole new side of being the child of a queer divorced mother — one that I hadn’t really considered before — which I’ve definitely kept with me. Maybe the best part of A-Camp is how easy it is to learn something new, about yourself or the world. Like if you just stop and listen long enough, someone will show you something amazing and necessary.

Camper Quote“As a person who works in education, I am absolutely fascinated by the relationship between children/their gay parents, and gay parents/the educational system. Please talk about that forever.”

laneia and vikki at the queer families panel (photo by katie o’donnell)

Sara Medd: I love having the opportunity to meet individually with campers to chat style for Individual Style Consultations!! Not only is it more helpful to give advice that is individualized, but I get to know campers who are not in my cabin who I may not have been able to meet otherwise.

Camper Quote: I had a style workshop with Sara, and she really helped me. I LOVE HER.

this is a picture of sara medd from the last day of camp but it seemed like it would fit real nice into this part of the recamp

Carmen Rios, Misfits Counselor/Contributing Editor: I always think nobody will be interested in my lame nostalgic crafts but so many people came to postcard-making! We demolished a lot of paper inside of Falcon lodge and created a series of beautiful postcards ranging from practical to modern art.

Gabby: They were so damn cute surrounded by construction paper, scissors and the incurable virus of crafts: glitter.


NEXT: The Queer Women of Color Panel, Speed-Dating With Hannah Hart and MOAR!

Block B

Sewing Square w/Carolyn

Introvert Meet-Up w/Crystal + Laura

Basketball w/Carly

Women of Color Panel w/Katrina, Carmen, Whitney, Gabby & Malaika

dena (photo by rachel walker)

Daniela, Unicorns Counselor/Intern: By the time I was fully awake, Block B had started, my knees were covered in glitter and I had emptied the staple gun. Rachel, Geneva, and I were really proud of our product after using any and all of the tape available in that mountain.

Carly Usdin, Thundercats Counselor/Contributor/OG Autostraddler:  I wound up sending future WNBA draft pick Mary Tully to basketball in my stead so I could use the entire morning to work on Faggity Feud with Brandy, Julie and Grace.

Jill: We had a really great crowd show up for basketball, but in reality we needed EVEN MORE PEOPLE ’cause the altitude kicked our collective behinds and we had to sub people in constantly. Things got competitive. I cheated a little.

(photo by rachel walker)

Carmen: The amount of times in which I exclaimed “drop the mic, walk off the stage, that was amazing” during the Queer Women Of Color Panel is astounding.

Alex: I always think I know what I can expect from this panel, but those expectations are always blown out of the water by both the panel people and the audience.

Malaika, Misfits Counselor/Contributing Editor:  It was a little scary, to be honest. But I realized, sitting there up stage, that this was the first time I’d been around so many queer women of colour. I felt a sense of community I didn’t know was possible. Listening to the stories of the other panelists and of the people in the audience made me feel less like a weirdo, and more like a part of something big and incredible.

Gabby: Jeezus, that panel is such a thing. A good thing but a very intense and how to navigate thing. Being a WOC means so many things to everyone or nothing at all and so to find some middle ground in which to hold a panel is challenging. Even telling you my favorite moment is going to be weird.

(photo by rachel walker)

Hansen: That panel was my favorite thing that I attended. Hearing Katrina, Gabby, Malaika and Whitney talking about their experiences as queer women of color was incredibly moving. At one point, an audience member was making a statement that there are no gay Persian women —

Gabby:  — she was all like pouring her heart out and then in the row down from her some other lovely kitten behbeh says “I’m a Persian Queer!” Everyone cheered. It was fucking amazing. A-CAMP!

Hansen: It was such a defining moment for A-Camp — you are connected to so many wonderful, similar people just through this little website you read.

Carmen: Afterward people wanted to talk to me more or touch my hair and that was surreal. I hope I helped someone! No really, anyone.

Camper Quote: “The panelists at the Queer Women of Color Panel were great at responding to questions and stories from the larger group. It felt like such a supportive space. The conversations could have lasted all day, and many of us talked about it well into the afternoon.”

(photo by rachel walker)

Crystal: The Introvert Meet-Up was super close to my heart. As an introvert I knew how overwhelming camp could be if you didn’t have some like-mannered people to chill out with, and that’s why this activity got born. The Meet-Up was officially scheduled to start at 10:45am, however introverts tend to be very punctual people and so everyone was ready to start by 10:30am. It was impressive. I was the last person to show up and I am NEVER the last person to show up.

Laura: Crystal and I had a surprisingly chatty group of introverts. They were smart and sweet and there wasn’t a moment of awkward silence in the room. Only good silence.

Crystal: At the beginning of this activity all of the campers were sitting in complete silence. By the time we were halfway through, there was so much chatter happening that Laura had to shout to get anyone’s attention. So I’d say it was a success. I appreciated the camper who said “I can’t decide whether to go to the Introvert Meet-Up or just stay in my cabin and read a book.”

Laura: I think introvertedness gets a bad name, like it’s something we should all try to overcome. But the truth is, it’s just how some of us are and it’s a thing we should — it feels corny to say this but — honor more often.

Camper Quote: “I liked the introvert meet-up because it made space for and acknowledged the introverted people in the group, and I think that made me feel better about taking breaks to chill out by myself/do other introvert things during the rest of camp…the questions were great, and fun to talk about, and I felt like I got the chance to meet some super cool people and talk about more than just small talk!”

crystal (photo by gabby)

Carolyn: I was a little frazzled for Sewing Square because Laneia bought so much fabric and I couldn’t find the scissors and I was worried everyone would find out that I mostly sew buttons and hemlines and that when I made the thing we were supposed to be sewing (which was bean bag Autostraddle “A”s or triangles with pockets or hearts, depending on your pattern) at home, it ended up looking like a felt hairball from the most ill cat ever. But instead a lot of people came and brought their own embroidery supplies or sewed following the pattern or made friendship bracelets and sat around picnic tables and almost forgot to leave for lunch.

(photo by carolyn)


II. Let’s Spend The Afternoon Together

runaways cabin (photo by katie o’donnell)


Block C

‘Zine-Making w/Riese & Laneia & Rachel

Speed-Dating w/Hannah Hart & Sara Medd

Gender Panel w/Whitney, Annika, Carly, Marni, Gabby, Laura & Morgan

Volleyball w/Robin

Nutrition & Exercise w/Sarah Croce, Mollie, Meredydd & Haviland


Robin Romer, Camp Co-Director/Photographer: There were so many adorable single ladies at A-Camp!!! Hannah was running a bit late so Sara Medd and I lead the first part of Speed Dating!

Sara Medd: We asked campers to submit the questions they wanted to ask on the speed dates, and then we added a few of our own too. There was such a good turnout! I hope a few love connections were made, but at the very least I think everyone made a new friend. 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.

Robin: Then she graciously signed some boobs and it was great!

Daniela: Somewhere between lunch and Block C Robin had to cover Speed Dating and I ended up in charge of the Volleyball activity. Even though I have little to no volleyball knowledge or skills, I was really excited to have a whistle! Turnout was minimal so after a while we all decided to go to the Gender Panel -I remember hearing Evey playing the violin somewhere in the mountain as we walked towards Eagle and getting really excited about it, it sounded amazing.

Annika Penelope, Unicorns Counselor/Writer: We were so much more prepared for the Gender Panel than we were in April, and this time I knew what to expect when I took my seat on the stage in front of a room packed with 200 people.

Morgan:  Family Guy once chucklelishly said “There’s a shortage of chairs… yeah.” Gender Panel attendance was this quote. We ran out of chairs at camp. Camp had no more chairs to give.

Marni: Morgan made some observations about gender being about trust that really blew me away.

Carly: Despite combining two of my favorite things (public speaking and talking about myself), I was nervous and shaky the entire time. I don’t know what happened to me there. It was an honor getting to speak on the same panel as Annika, Gabby, Laura, Marni, Whitney and Morgan, who are all so smart and well-spoken. But then I described my gender identity as both “drag queen” and “dandy” and a bunch of campers applauded, so I felt much better.

gender panelists (photo by stef)

Stef: I just want to say that I want Carly on every panel we ever have for everything.

Laura: The thing I hate about the gender panel is that we never get to all the questions. Which isn’t to say that the time slot is too short, but that you are all so insightful that I think most of us could spend all camp in the room and never run out of things to say. Every time I hear Marni talk, I think “That’s BCW! And she’s even radder than I thought she would be.” Because, honestly, have you met this woman?

Annika: We tried to include a lot more audience interaction this time around and it was nice to have Alex helping me moderate and keep the discussion going. Like last time, I pretty much just wanted to hear Gabby talk about her feelings for hours.

Morgan: Thank you everyone who attended and tested the limits of our fire code. Your questions were badass, because you were likewise. Also, I spend so much time thinking about gender in terms of being trans, it was a big treat to hear about other experiences like being butch, hard fem, etc.

Camper Quote: “The gender panel helped me feel more confident/comfortable in who I am and got me in the right direction to figuring things out. Things don’t feel as confusing anymore.”


(photo by Diana Pruett)

Haviland, Wild Stallions Counselor/The Talent: For the Nutrition/Exercise Discussion, we circled up and talked about our individual nutrition and fitness plans, histories and challenges.

Sarah Croce, Forever 21 Counselor/The Talent: A great group of women who came from all sorts of backgrounds with nutrition and exercise showed up to this panel.

Mereydd: This is the panel I was most nervous for because fitness and healthy eating are kind of new things for me. I wanted to make the experience good for campers but was worried I wouldn’t have as much to contribute.

Haviland: We heard from women who had added fitness into their lives in a major way, women who used to be high school athletes who were now trying to find the time/discipline as adults, and one woman who made a radical change in the past year, through changing her diet, adding daily exercise, and generally taking a lot better care of herself. The main word that came up again and again was balance. How to really “find the time” to care for yourself when you’re working crazy hours, traveling, dealing in some cases with family or people for whom you’re the caretaker. We encouraged each other to find balance by really making sure you’re taking care of yourself. Women are so often in the position to take care of everyone and everything around them first, but in this case, we said – hey! YOU DO YOU. You’ll feel better, and then you’ll be better in every way. And look at what a good example you are to everyone around you when you’re celebrating yourself by nourishing yourself with delicious, healthy food and celebrating that gorgeous body by keeping it moving and full of breath!

Sarah Croce: We spoke about a range of sports, things to get you motivated, goals, nutritional objectives, and weaknesses. The stories we heard were compelling and beautiful. It was definitely a moving little panel of strong, driven women.

Meredydd: As always though, ACamp has surprises in store. A few of my Golden Girls were in the panel and I was so moved by some of their stories and experiences that I forgot about my own worries.

haviland with mary (photo by mary bresnihan)

Riese: I got myself together and rallied for ZINE-MAKING. About six people showed up because we were competing against the Gender Panel AND Speed-Dating. It’s okay though ’cause we were doing a second ‘zine-making block on Friday so everybody still had a chance to make Laneia feel better about herself by showing up for the next one.

Rachel: The ‘zine-making workshop is what I feel most like I was born to do in the world.

Laneia: It’s basically just ‘hanging out with glue and a purpose,’ and it’s always perfectly mellow and great.

Rachel: We spread out dozens of old magazines and catalogs and paper and other already-existent zines all over the floor with scissors and glue and exacto knives and plain paper and I played The Blow from my phone while a bunch of queers cut and pasted beautiful things onto paper.

zine-making things

Riese: Last time we put together a Camp ‘Zine with one page from every camper (this will be available soon!), this time we decided to have every camper make their own ‘zines and circulate addresses so that we can mail all our ‘zines to each other in a few months, just like we did in the ’90s!

Laneia: One was about ‘fall fuckery,’ one was someone’s account of their weekend on the mountain, another was a blackout poetry collection. Riese, Rachel and I decided to work on our Behind The Scenes zine, but actually mine just ended up being about me and what it felt like to be plucked from the world and then tucked into Autostraddle.

Rachel: Riese made fun of my inability to focus or create a complete page but I found a really good picture of Katy Perry and also the cast of Mean Girls for my “I kissed a mean girl and I liked it” page, so ultimately I think I won out.

‘zine-makers w/incidental photo bomb (photo by riese bernard)

Carmen: I went to my cabin to nap, but instead our fire alarm wouldn’t stop beeping so some dudes came to look at it. Then, when he opened the door to leave, a bear ran past the cabin. I described the incident all week long as “ambling,” only I found out “amble” means the opposite of run. Hopefully I can blame that misunderstanding on the altitude and you all will eventually forgive me.

Fonseca, 21 Hump Street Counselor/Contributing Editor: I missed the bear outside of cabin #18, which is kind of a shame since I may or may not have been the cause of the bear. My travel cooler still had cured salmon and roast beef in it from the journey from Georgia. I didn’t tell anyone this until I was certain that they bear had not consumed any of the campers.+

photo by katie o’donnell


Next: Geeking Out, High Tea, Non-Monogamy, etc.

Block D

Non-Monogamy Mini-Panel w/Carrie, Daniela & Annika

Creating a Webseries Q&A w/Haviland, Hannah Hart & Sarah Croce

Meet + Geek w/Cee, Morgan, Carly, Carolyn, Carrie, Geneva & Jill

High Tea w/Laneia, Rachel & Riese

Free Swim

Friendship Bracelets w/Meredydd and Laura

Ashi & Anna (photo by Anna Storti)

Laura: Don’t let the fact that I was “leading” friendship bracelets fool you. Campers had to teach me how to make Friendship Bracelets. I’m the queen of crafts, but I never learned how because when I was little, friendship bracelets were like the candy canes in Mean Girls. The more popular you were, the more you got. I was always afraid I wouldn’t get any, so I never made any so I wouldn’t feel bad if I came out empty-wristed. In retrospect, that’s a shit way to live and so this time I jumped in. I made bracelets and I got bracelets and there were so many smiles.

(photo by crystal silvester)

Carolyn: Geneva showed up for Meet & Geek with tons of themed name tags so everyone could flag their areas of geekiness was really great. I came up with Geek Bingo at exactly the last minute (sample categories: someone who uses Linux, wants to talk about DSLRs, can identify this typeface).

Morgan: We operated on one very simple rule: you will play human bingo and gab about all the things because we know you really want to, and we did so there. I recommended Babylon 5 to everyone, because it is my favorite sci-fi thang and by reading this sentence I have completed my sworn geeking duty. Also, it turns out Alphas and His Dark Materials are totally rad, neither of which I knew to be true pre-the meeting and general geeking. What a gift, to be surrounded by people who want to give my life more good shows and things.

Carly: Rachel Walker told me point blank that she loves robots more than I do, which was a lot to deal with but in the end, I think she was right. Topics discussed include, but are not limited to: The Hunger Games, iPhone vs Android, favorite Buffy episodes, Scully (the FBI agent, not Stef’s cat), programming and video codecs.

Cee: There were some seriously smart people at camp and I’m so glad I got to meet everyone.

meeting & geeking

Haviland: On the very enjoyable/humorous Creating a Webseries panel were webstars Hannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen), Sarah Croce (Unicorn Plan-It, Word With Girls) and m’self (Unicorn Plan-It, www.havilandstillwell.com). The room was packed, and everyone had lots of comments and questions. We discussed differences in creating content online vs. on television, how youtube works,  and general tips about self-producing. We were very happy to have many Unicorn Plan-It lovers there, who wanted to know behind the scenes gossip and spoilers, of which we gave loads. (totally, you should have been there. srsly.) The point was, “don’t dream it, BE it.” (Rocky Horror reference)

Sarah Croce: Hannah had a lot of very insightful information about youtube, hits, making money from your ventures, and how to deal with being a queer woman in a straight market. Haviland offered a lot of her creative knowledge both from working on Unicorn Plan-It and from working on television and movies and how the mediums differ. We had a lot of brilliant questions from audience members and a few attendees who had web series of their own already!

Haviland: Also, in this panel, Hannah named my A-Camp band, who would perform the following night – “Hav and the Hav-Nots.”

three women you want to bang talking about creating a web-series

Laneia: Rachel and Megan had already established a synchronicity surrounding the set-up of High Tea — hot water, clean mugs, smelling tins. We use the same mugs each time (to cut down on waste) and I think the exercising bears mugs were especially adored this time.

Riese: Before I got pulled away from this activity to handle final accounting stuff with the Alpine guy before he left for the weekend (YES THIS IS A PATTERN), I was finally able to sit down with Marika and find out what the hell is up with her 567 allergies, which I’ve been wondering about ever since this comment on a post about April camp.

high tea (photo by katie o’donnell)

Daniela: Annika, Carrie, and I were part of the mini Non-Monogamy Panel. There were way more people than we expected so we changed the location like three times, and I made a bunch of really bad puns as a means of handling everything that was happening then.

Annika: This was a small panel (me, Daniela, and Carrie) discussing our experiences of being in poly/non-monogamous relationships. I was pretty nervous about talking with any sort of authority on this subject since my girlfriend and I don’t really have a lot of actual experience with being poly, but it went really well! The discussion quickly turned into group therapy time on how to resolve trust issues and deal with jealousy, which is something everyone could relate to.

Daniela: I really enjoyed hearing about and discussing the multitude of ways people can or want to include non-monogamy in their lives. My favorite part was by far the fact that the questions didn’t stop after the panel had ended and I continued to discuss and geek out about non-monogamy throughout the rest of camp -the amount of different opinions and perspectives never ceases to amaze me. Also, now I have like ten different ideas for organizing the panel next time.

Camper Quote: “My personal Magical A-Camp Moment: Hearing Daniela’s story about her relationship dynamic during the Non-Monogamy panel… for ages I had felt like a *freak* because of [my relationship status], like I was doing relationships wrong or something. I talked to Daniela about it, with all these pent-up feelings I never got to really share properly with anyone, and she *gets it*.”


NEXT: Girls Get Wild… and Faggity!


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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