A-Camp September Recamp 4: Small Town Saturday Night


Crystal: Pulling out of the parking lot was one of my favourite moments of A-Camp — not because camp was over, but because it was the first chance I’d had to stop and actually reflect on the past few days. Right at that moment I was so content. There I was, in a car with some of the most amazing campers who I’d bonded and created memories with. I’d just spent four days leading activities that couldn’t have gone any better and I’d done things that I didn’t know I was still capable of. I mean, I talked to people. I talked a lot. I led discussion groups. I “danced.”. I even wore white. I did all of these things that I usually find so terrifying or uncomfortable, because A-Camp makes me feel like I can do anything.

Camper Quote: “My favorite part of camp was the overall experience of community, completely uninterrupted by anything else. Being on a mountain (that was not at all creepy this time), surrounded by not only queer women but the most interesting, unique, fucking wild and beautiful queer women specimens, was just the coolest.”+

Malaika: I think the lesson I ultimately got out of A-Camp is that there are so many wonderful gay, weirdo, nerds in the world. Thank the Rainbow-Unicorns up in Heaven for that!

Camper Quote: “I loved staying up into the early hours of the morning processing feelings with cabin mates and being around people who ‘get’ autostraddle. Unconditional acceptance.”

Morgan: “My idea of fun is this, and for me and many of us it is perfect: read a book, sleep, watch a great TV show, take a long walk, etc. But at A-Camp I celebrated and cut loose in a way I never do, because at camp I always felt cherished and I always felt safe. A-Camp has not flipped the extrovert switch in me to ON. Rather, camp gives me a space where I can leap over all the initial awkwardness I usually have in meeting new people because I know the people I meet at camp are, y’know, good. Solid. Like titanium or the energies that hold our little universe together, they are made of tougher, finer stuff. A-Camp puts people together who share similar visions of what a happy world looks like, and that is special and nice in ways that too few things are special and nice. A-Camp was some of the most fun I’ve had in my life, and I can say that without caveat, addendum or equivocation. Thank you, because you the reader of this paragraph are why it is.”

Camper Quote: “It was so amazing to have such a positive atmosphere for everyone to really be themselves and everyone else accepting it without question. We need more of this in the world and I only hope that we can all share some of it where ever we go. It was great when Gaela stood up and said “Thanks for making a trans girl feel so welcome here!”… There was just so much love and bonding. Everyone wanted everyone else to have the best time ever. It just felt so good.”

Camper Quote: “It felt so fucking right to be one of many gaymos and not ‘this one gay girl’. Being totally out to myself and the people around me was also a first and an amazing feeling.”

Camper Quote“My cabin rocked my A-Camp experience, literally. There was definitely a sense of Stallion Pride and we really bonded over so many different things. We were SO PROUD to have Jill as one of our counselors and honestly, she felt like one of us for the most part. Haviland was just the sweetest thing. I’m really glad that our cabin was as happy, easy going yet up for the wildest time as it got quite loud and messy every night and everyone could laugh about it in the morning.”


Camper Quote: “The best part of camp for me was the smokers circle! And being in an environment where I could talk about binding over lunch.”

+Camper Quote: “The best parts of A-Camp (because I can’t choose just one) were meeting staffers and writers that I’d known about and wanted to meet for years, and getting to be in an incredibly amazing cabin that bonded so hard.”

Camper Quote: “One of the new Golden Girls told me, “I have peers.” That’s a huge deal and hard to come by at our age. Our perspectives and places in life remain very similar. And we happen to be pretty nice people, which makes it better.”

Riese: I think camp can be life-changing in really literal ways and in emotional ways, too. I think camp is that for a lot of people. Maybe most people. But also it’s just really fun. I think a lot of campers just wanna have fun, too, and talk about smart stuff in the woods. I mean, we’re just talking about stuff we like to talk about and doing things we like to do for five days with a bunch of other cool people. Any eventual catharsis is just the icing on the cake.


Camper Quote: “The best part of camp was finding other women with my interests, seeing the all the variety in dress and bodies and style and attitude among the queers and getting confidence to talk to girls I didn’t know.”

Camper Quote: “Camp = the world I used to dream about in my room as a kid…I can’t thank you all enough for that. I have the confidence I’ve been missing and wanting for so long.”

Camper Quote: “I’m realizing more and more that ACamp isn’t just about making friends and having fun but finding people to build things with and grow with and having a space to push you to “do you” and be yourself in a bolder way. I wouldn’t let my boobs be water gunned and sing Justin Bieber in front of ANY OTHER audience.”


Camper Quote: “Much like last camp, my favorite part was waking up early and having coffee with Grace and whoever wandered by. Just the goddamn best. Also also, I really loved zine-making. I’m coming to both sessions next camp. Most especially, though, my favorite new situation this year was the staff readings. Are there words? It seems so far away and deep inside now. Utterly unforgettable.”

Vikki: Before going, I assumed that participating in the Queer Families panel would be the highlight of my time there. While I enjoyed the panel and the discussion, it turns out that my favorite thing about A-Camp was being a camp counselor. I was assigned as co-counselor for the Avengers’ cabin and the campers were simply the best. It was my job to make them feel comfortable and welcome but, really, that’s what they did for me. They let me eat every meal with them and they hung out with me all the time and I seriously loved every minute of our time together. They also kept me from eating a bad burrito when I was immune to its rotting aroma due to hunger. So thank you Avengers! For everything…not just the burrito thing.

Camper Quote: “My favourite part of A-Camp started about 2pm on Wednesday and finished about 1pm on Sunday. Oh wait, I guess that’s all of it.”

Camper Quote: “I can’t choose just one favorite thing. I HAVE TOO MANY FEELINGS. Favorite things included: Swagger 101, speed dating with Gabby, the coming out, family, and sex panels, getting my hair cut by Katrina, the staff readings (especially Morgan!) and the talent show.”

Camper Quote: “You get to meet incredible people, and learn so much. Everyone is so sweet and supportive of one another. The whole time you would hear people asking preferred pronouns and saying they wanted to make the people around them as comfortable as possible. It was amazing. Plus, it’s a great deal! Food and lodging and all those great activities for that price is great.”

Camper Quote: “I liked how well suited my whole cabin was to one another and to our councillors! Whatever magic you guys used to put us all together is amazing and you should probably market that to everyone and make a lot of money off of it because WOW. Also just every single staff member was incredible! Like you guys are the most amazing group of people ever. You all walked around smiling and laughing and being insanely nice to everyone!”

 Camper Quote: “It was absolutely incredible. At the end of camp, I was trying to figure out why I hadn’t spent the whole time in a kind of euphoria, and I realized it was because the whole experience seemed normal – like what the world should be like all the time. Now that I’m back, I’m missing it so much – no one has an undercut, there are far fewer bowties, and no one is making sexual innuendos. I don’t think it really would have been possible for me to imagine, before I went, the extent to which I felt at home.”

Camper Quote: “I liked learning how to make friendship bracelets and staring at Alex Vega.”

Brittani: Everyone should know what camp is. Even if they don’t think it’s for them, they should at least understand what it is. But I don’t think you really can unless you’re there. Amazing gets thrown around way too much for it to properly describe camp because nothing else like camp exists.

Camper Quote: “My favorite part was the panels. Last camp I didn’t go to many of them. It completely changed my experience this time. I felt like I was having really intense conversations with people all of the time. It also helped me meet people with similar interests.”

Camper Quote: “The community support that was found there, the bravery of everyone willing to share their stories. The cabin assignments, I cannot even express how well my cabin got along. Honestly I don’t even think I can think of my favorite moment because I have so many.”

Camper Quote: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt and it was a super supportive wonderful group of humans who constantly affirmed and complimented each other.”


Camper Quote: “I loved returning to camp and seeing so many familiar faces, particularly the staff. I loved that generally the staff seemed to have more time to talk to us. The beautiful weather and location were great too.”



Camper Quotes: “I liked  being in a place where I felt totally safe and affirmed, and the staff reading. If camp were just those two things, it still would have been entirely worth it.”



Camper Quote: “I liked being in a space where I fit in, where I was normal — where people liked me and got my jokes and thought I was cute/funny/smart. Belonging.”+

Marni: There’s something that’s just so magical about camp. About being in this little world full of little people who are all living by the same little laws, in a secluded, secret world in the woods. Priorities shift. Suddenly the most crucial questions are things that would seem ludicrous on the outside, when compared with our usual life stresses – where is the glitter for the pigeonholes, do we put pole dancing before stratego or during, do we have time to run and get flashlights before the ghost story campfire. Camp, at its best, lets you let go of everything that holds you captive in your regular life and give yourself over to a collective consciousness that exists exactly in its own moment and can never be re-created, only re-imagined in new and better ways each time; it’s a place where you can be yourself – your best self – and be loved for it. And A-Camp is all of that, and more. It’s everything amazing about camp combined with everything amazing about Autostraddle’s incredible community and sense of family. It’s this tiny world on a mountain ruled by weirdos and writers and freaks and crazies, and we’re all in it together. Just being able to be a part of it is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my life. So thanks, A-Camp. It’s only going to keep getting better.


Camper Quote: “My favorite part of camp was how absolutely no judgement was cast for how we all looked/behaved/believed – by the A-Camp staff, campers & the Alpine Meadows staff.”

Camper Quote: “A-Camp was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life and I loved every second of it. I loved meeting all the campers and all the staff, everyone at camp were just such amazing humans. Everything about camp was the best. I am having the hardest time articulating my feelings… A-Camp changed my life. I have never felt more myself or more at home. Thank you!”

Gabby: Leaving camp, I held in the tears that were choking my breath and the angst that squeezed my ribs. Leaving A-camp is leaving my family. You must think I’m being over dramatic or making my connection to this place sound bigger than it is. But, this shit is for real, I love everyone that works for Autostraddle and have so much love for the people that keep us alive and that come to A-camp. You queers make me feel like a real person, like I have a right to exist in this world as I am. It’s hard to say goodbye to that.

Registration for May A-Camp (May 23rd-27th, 2013) will begin on November 12th, 2012. If you’re one of the 50 people who purchased the “priority registration” perk during our fundraising campaign, we’ll get in touch with you before that date to ensure you get a spot.

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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 3223 articles for us.


    • *Hunger Salute*

      And so it was that Purple team won the Recap War after already winning the Rainbow War. Unfortunately we’re losing the Gay Pet War(for now).

      Purple for life!!!

    • Thanks, Mer!

      *Hunger salute*

      I will properly respond to this final recamp after I finish processing all those feelings…

  1. Okay. After going through all the pictures, reading campers quotes, reading what the staff had to say, all of these feelings are coming back.

    I want to thank everybody soooooo much for being the amazing people that you are and teaching me so much in a span of 4-5 days. A-Camp was one of the best experiences in my life, and I can’t wait to see everyone again in May.

    Somebody’s chopping onions in the office, yo.


    If you don’t absolutely have to, for heaven’s sake don’t take the first bus out of camp on the last day. It is rather isolating and you end up with WAY TOO MANY FEELINGS and no one or no where to process them.

    I’m considering roadtripping it next time.

    • Word. I woke up still, um… “tipsy” at 8 AM for my 8 AM shuttle, I had gone to bed at 5:30 AM.

      You WILL have loads of fun, don’t do the early shuttle.

    • FACT! It is so hard to say goodbye, but I think it is probably important and if you can’t miss the 8am shuttle try to remember to say goodbye the night before preferably before Klub Deer.

      I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone other than the other 8am kids (but a few of them were former nooners and I think I even did the *cough*hungersalute*cough)and Stef who gave me my morning feelings farewell hug and I feel like my heart is still on the mountain in a lot of ways because goodbye and or breakfast might have helped stop the Gin Nalgene induced cryfest that happened alone at LAX and for 3 of 6 hours in Dallas.

  3. “Crystal: At the end Carly ran up to me saying, “OMG did you see our campers perform? We have the BEST cabin!” and we high-fived in agreement. We were just so proud of everyone.”

    this just makes me want to cry and hug carly and crystal forever. i seriously think the best thing that maybe happened to me this camp was how amazing my counselors were. i feel so lucky.

    also, that photobomb picture with carly and robin in the background had me laughing forever.

    i should be packing to move to chicago in 10 days but I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS RIGHT NOW I CAN’T.

    • Yes to everything Jen said (except I’m not moving). I really go to know my cabin really well this time and can’t wait to see everyone again. Also, I have a question about May camp. Who should I e mail?

  4. OMG. I am wearing my camp shirt today and now I am crying. Miss you all! Especially my gay bopsie twin plaid wearing entourage. I LOVE the photo booth pics. I am counting down the days til next A-camp. Love you all!!! A girl couldn’t dream up a better group of people to call her friends and family. Seriously.

  5. BANGARANG. THIS. “It’s not about trying to being a “man.” For me (maybe even us) dapperness is where queerness connects to my instincts to be chivalrous, old school, gentle, well-dressed and dignified.” <<< all the words I never knew how to use to describe myself! I love it, thank you for that Gabby Darling (get it? peter pan reference? ..anybody?) ;)

    • This was my favourite comment so far. Of all the comments. It hit me right in the heart. I am femme/androgynous/tomgirl identified, I guess… but for all my dapper friends, lovers/partners, and most of all my current flame/boyfriend/girlfriend – truth.

      Also, well-played on the peter pan comment, yo.

    • aww sweet. you just made my night. now i’m having all these feelings and can’t find the words! so much love, darling, so much dapper love.

  6. I wanted to make all these wonderfully insightful comments after each page, but then promptly forgot everything I wanted to say because #FEELINGS.

    Also, that is super soon for May registration. I’m going to have to go into overdrive convincing my girlfriend that Camp is for her, too.

  7. so much SNATCH LOVE in this post! <3 between the drunken dance photos, and the fact that I got like, 3 shout outs in this recap I think I will have this big goofy smile plastered on my face the whole rest of the day :D

    NOVEMBER 12TH YOU GUYS. I don't care how broke I am.

  8. I’m not entirely sure where Crystal was, but I distinctly remember playing soccer on Saturday… 3v3 IIRC, through my altitude-magnified alcohol-hazed memories.

    • I was probably waiting out front of Wolf Lodge to see if anyone wanted to play soccer. I can’t believe I missed my own activity, what a champ.

  9. Aww! A few of my pictures were posted! And of course the video I took of Marni’s “Do It Like A Dude”, and Ali posted a link to her blog where she embedded the video I took of her telling her fisting story :)

    Also, I miss camp and can’t wait for November 12th so I can reserve a spot for May!

  10. You guys, I miss you all so much! Maybe road trip next year so more time together? Hansen, Torre, I’m looking at you. We can take detours and pick up the rest of the Avengers on the way!!!

  11. Reading all the recamps has convinced me more than ever, even though I felt deeply last April that I wanted to come this fall, but just couldn’t swing it, that I need to attend A-Camp next May. Though I am a grad student and though I live in Vancouver, I simply cannot think of one reason why I cannot make that shit happen. Not only did I work at summer camp for 6 years growing up, so camp is already heavenly, but queer camp where magic happens in all shapes and forms?!?!

    See you at A-Camp 2013!!

  12. “I cannot listen to both the True Blood theme song and “Feeling Good” without thinking about that performance.”

    Mission accomplished.

    Also, huge, amazing thanks to the two campers brave enough to learn and perform an exotic dance after *one* lesson! Best “recital” ever!

    Also also, Saturday will always live in my mind as the day I taught a whole routine to five amazing girls (and a whole second routine to Mollie, who seriously picks up choreography like a champ) we caught Julie and Brandy peeping and ended up bringing then into Deer for a private performance. Also Brandy told me Launa is a very sexual name and I haven’t been able to think of my name the same way since.

    Basically camp was inspiring and perfect again and if I can raise the money to go in May I promise another talent show striptease and I’ll get more naked (pro tip: if you’re shy and don’t want to appear in a ton of photos, dance next to Mollie when she decides to strip down to her underwear. It’ll be magical for you and you can be fairly certain no one is looking at you, LOL!)

  13. Everything I have heard about A-Camp makes me positive that this is something I need to do very much.
    How easy/hard is it to save a spot for yourself? As in, do I need to camp out by my computer to register the minute it opens?

    • spaces usually fill up within a few days — you can reserve one by putting down a non-refundable $50 deposit. however a lot of people end up canceling, in April there was a long waitlist of people who never got in, but in September everybody who wanted in, got a spot… in April we only had room for 165 campers though, in September we had room for 250. also september’s dates were like the worst dates of the year to do camp because of school, so that could contribute to why everyone got in. so,w e’ll see! i’d recommend camping out by the computer. it’ll get you in good practice for camping in general.

  14. Jetpack/Purple team recamp domination!! The fucking best of times, you guys. The best of all the times.

    • the thing about the golden girls is that no matter who “wins” the “rainbow wars,” they’ve always got gold

  15. I don’t even know what to say anymore you guys a camp put my heart together and then everyone left and where are those pieces that felt so glued?

    I love everyone in all of the photobooth pictures that was such a genius idea!! Everyone seems to be having such a wonderful and silly time.

    I especially love that picture of Tiana, Ju and me so much I want it big also

    MISFITS you guys what am I doing with my hands but our pictures are beautiful I mean really beautiful even the one I’m not in. Misfits succeed in beauty.

  16. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    this post was too much for me.

    carly and alex, i love you. everyone, those whom i’ve met already and those who i’ve yet to meet, i love you.

    so much.


  17. These recamps always result in me wandering around campus with my face glued to my phone and then realizing I’ve stopped moving and because I’m so caught up reliving the emotions and experiences!!

    Also, Saturday was the longest day of my life! In such a good way, but seriously somehow 24 hours has never been so filled with activities and love <3

    • yes, me too. standing in the middle of the path, being that obnoxious person who just stops in the middle of pedestrian traffic.

  18. re: Autostraddle Trivia. First of all, I can always count on Carrie to come up with flattering AS-related nicknames for me, such as “Autostraddle’s Official Historian,” “Autostraddle’s encyclopedic magician,” and now “Autostraddle factoid machine.” <3 you.

    re: the lightning round: Alice definitely named 100% more team members than I did. Even if she was sweating it a little bit. Just thought I’d defend her honor.

    Also also also, where did all of those pictures even come from? I mean I saw people taking pictures but this is my first time seeing any of them. My #1 feeling is that I need a haircut.

  19. holy shit those photo booth pics made me cry. i’ve never cried at a recap. WHEN IS CAMP AGAIN CAN IT BE NOW

  20. My comments weren’t put in the recamp so Imma just post them right here:

    The tattoo/body art discussion was a bunch of us sitting around a picnic table, showing off our tattoos. Everyone had incredible, elaborate, beautiful pieces and I only have a few smallish ones, so I tried not to say anything until Crystal made me. Thanks, Crystal. Thanks for that. Actually, everyone was really nice and the discussion turned to workplace acceptance and that we like female tattoo artists best. Also, I want about two thousand more tattoos because of this little talk so my wallet thanks you all.

    Autostraddle trivia actually just surprised me. Some of you really, really love Autostraddle. I had no idea how deep your love runs but I’m so grateful for it.

    THE TALENT SHOW. Are there words? Sooo much Andrea Gibson, which I’m totally fine with. So. Many. Feelings. The skit about lesbian Jesus was hilarious, thank you guys for that. Zeller now sings, “Blame it on the altitude” because she doesn’t know the real words to that song and I consider this a success.

    After the talent show, Julie and Brandy introduced all of the Autostraddle team and I got to be in it! I went through camp in relative anonymity because I wasn’t a staff member. I didn’t know this was happening and I was sitting in the back and couldn’t get to the front and everyone was so kind and parted their chairs for me. I actually don’t remember anything about it except Brandy getting me confused with someone else, saying I was going to fix the site. Whatever! I’m fine with it! I tried to hide behind Morgan, telling her that her hair was too pretty to be in the back row. It is, just so you know.

    At the dance, I mostly just took awesome pictures at the photobooth. I think the highlight of the dance for me was a Misfits camper refilling a couple’s cup for them while they were making out and they were really, really grateful. This wouldn’t have happened anywhere else.

  21. I would like to say something very meaningful and smart but I can´t get over the pictures of MARNI doing things. Her butching up is like foreplay or something, so I just go back to page 1, stare and objectify the shit out of her. And I´m not gonna feel guilty about it.

    ldfehowighrpl …

  22. Okay, so I know that there were a few campers who also played violin so I figure I should let you all know what my solo song was. It was Grazyna Bacewicz’s Polish Caprice. It’s actually way easier than you might think and it’s super fun to play.

    Also, I highly recommend looking her up on Wikipedia because, not only is her life and accomplishments pretty awesome, she has the most don’t-give-any-fucks picture.

  23. looking at those pictures I can only repeat what I said/thought at camp ALL the time: EVERYONE IS SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.

    a friend of mine texted me last night because she started to cry when she saw pictures of me at camp.

    girlfriend on the other hand makes fun of me because she says that a) I obviously look like I am praying in the healthy luncheon picture and b) she’s very amused by the “hey I got a shiny thing on my head”-expression I make in the cabin picture. “It looks like they photoshopped you into that picture, everyone is goofing around and you’re just like ‘look at me I’m pretty'”

    reading all the recamps, I feel like I should have talked to a lot more people and done things I wouldn’t necessarily have done. next time…

    • what I really wanted to say is that I didn’t get to say goodbye to ca. 100 important people and itfelt really bad. Daniela kept running away because she didn’t want to cry and that was really cute but heartbreaking too…

  24. So I didn’t even go but reading all these recaps has made me cry so I’m sat here crying at my laptop and my mum just walked in and asked what’s wrong and I don’t know how to explain that I’m crying that all these queermos I’ve never even met are just so HAPPY. I think you broke me goddammit.

  25. Saturday was the day I decided I was done have feelings, and I am consequently having too many feelings now.

  26. These recaps make me really sad that I won’t be able to make it to A-Camp for the forseeable future but also really happy that something like this even exists. For all the queers but especially for the younger queers, or the ones who don’t have a support system in real life. I’m 32 and have been out for many years and am lucky to have a totally supportive family. But when I think about what A-Camp would’ve meant to me and done for me when I was 18 and just coming out and scared and confused and all of those things, I could cry.

    So please keep having A-Camp for years and years, so all of the people who may need it or who simply just want it can experience it. If it’s still going a few years from now, when my wife and I will perhaps be able to travel without kids, we’ll be there with bells on.

  27. I’m so happy that more pictures of me were taken on Sunday — when I was unshowered and sad — than on any other day.

  28. Instead of reading “OH, REAL LIFE and your humans”, I read it as “OH, REAL LIFE and your hummus.” The laughter that ensued helped relieve some of feelings I had built up while reading this recap.

  29. to the lovely queermo that had feelings with me on the swings after the gender panel, you’re on my mind and totally in my heart. i hope you’re well and finding that good groove between where you are and where you’re going. mad love. you are bold, strong and badass.

    swing set feelings forever.

  30. These posts have made me fall halfway in love with Carly – dem curlzz, dat bowtie y’all. Just sayin’.
    I want to go to the next a camp and drool over all the cute queers and their sidecuts!

  31. I have over 200 photos from A-Camp that are part of a slide show on my desktop. When my day is super bad, or I can’t deal with the conservative heteroness of my office I close everything down and just stare at my desktop. Thanks everyone for all the awesome memories and making office life just a little easier.

  32. Aw I feel like crying now because I just found out my family is planning on having a big reunion during the May camp. I would really rather go to camp. Poop.

  33. I am seriously almost crying because I desperately miss a place I have never been. Even though I’m flat broke and crazily trying to figure out how the hell i’m going to afford to go in september, simply the knowledge that such a thing even exists is just, phenomenal and makes me feel less alone in this world. Strange how simply knowing OF a thing makes you feel safer and more ok with being the queer person you are.

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