How REI Prepared Us for the Zombie Apocalypse and Built Community in the Woods at A-Camp

All photos by Taylor Hatmaker and Molly Adams

If the zombie patriarchy apocalypse happened tomorrow, would you be prepared? Before I took the REI Co-op workshop at A-Camp this past June, I might have said no to that question. Now I can confidently say… well, honestly probably still no. But I did learn a lot of outdoor survival skills that prepared me for day hikes, overnights, and worst case scenarios in the woods! And I had a lot of fun learning those skills.

As you may know, we’re huge fans or REI here at Autostraddle. The co-op sponsored our Outsiders theme issue, allowing us to pay competitive rates to a diverse array of writers and contributors we otherwise would never have been able to afford to work with. So when REI offered to send a group of queer staff members to A-Camp, the annual 400-person queer adult summer camp put on by Autostraddle, we said yes, please and thank you!

A-Camp participant Maddy Jennewein, 27, spoke to our collective feelings on having the REI team come to camp and lead programming that helped build skill sets and community bonds. “I loved having REI at A-camp,” she said.

“I learned so much at the REI activity and… I really appreciated that REI designed events that incorporated both their interests and the unique community of A-Camp. It made it feel like they really understood our community and were actively working to put the LGBTQ community first. Their staff were all so knowledgeable, and fun to have around, and part of our community, so it felt exciting to have REI there, which is not something that I would normally say about a corporation wanting to come to A-Camp.”

The activities REI led at A-Camp ranged from a chill bonfire with guitars, beer, and s’mores to a wilderness survival workshop titled Essential Skills for Surviving the Zombie Patriarchy. In the latter activity we came together to learn about the 10 essentials of wilderness survival and explore the tips, tricks, and tools every outdoor traveler (or resistance fighter of the zombie patriarchy apocalypse) needs for managing the unexpected. We participated in hands-on activities including figuring out how to build a structure, and by the end of the program we had some tangible skills as well as some new pals.

Part of what draws us at Autostraddle to REI is their authenticity. As I wrote in my feature on REI’s Force of Nature Initiative in the Outsiders issue, REI is the real deal. A-Camp participant Maura, 23, said: “I was so excited to see REI was a sponsor for A-Camp, as it confirmed for me they put their money where their mouth is, doing actual work to support and include communities we don’t often see represented in the outdoor space. I owe a lot of adventures to REI and love that they want me along for the ride on many more to come!”

If you’d like to take a skill-building class with REI, look up the availability of courses on their website and find a store near you that offers workshops! If you are looking specifically for Force of Nature workshops and events (designed by and for women, and open and welcoming to trans women, cis women, and non binary folks) you can check those out here, and if you want to specifically do the zombie apocalypse event in your area, here’s a link to the current sessions available! Some of these options are free and some require purchase, but all are guaranteed to make you feel a little bit more empowered to take on the zombies, when and if they come for us.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. I did not know they had classes! That’s so good to know because I’ve been talking to my wife about taking a wilderness survival course somewhere but now I’ll do it at REI and I’ll make sure to tell them Autostraddle sent me

  2. Really like my local REI as the are friendly. Went there to buy something Sunday and have them see what the issue with my ride was, and the guy there did the adjustment complementarily as it was a quick adjustment. Recommending the place all the time to people. Plus, in many cases, I’ve found their prices to be better than Amazon for the same item.


    Just, to emphasize to any future sponsors, your company probably has a queer or two in it who would happily discover some marketing skills

  4. this class was super fun and taught me some new skills! having REI there was so, so fun – I loved all the increased involvement from the sponsors this past year! (truly.)

  5. I have to say, I am often skeptical of branded merch, but I love the REI metal cup and Outside With Pride tote we got at A-Camp. Plus the Gentleman Jack flashlight and sleeping mask, of course

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