I am here today because I am gay, and also to announce that registration is officially open for our tenth anniversary A-Camp event, taking place this May in beautiful Ojai, California!
That’s right — after four years and seven A-Camps at Alpine Meadows in the San Bernardino Mountains and two A-Camps in Wisconsin, we’re heading back to the Southern California coast, setting up shop at a gorgeous new site that we truly believe will enable our collective dreams to come true at last. We deserve a bigger, brighter tomorrow, free of rained-out pool parties (Wisconsin), dusty rocky ankle-twisting pathways (Alpine), frigid nights (Wisconsin) and stomach-churning altitude (Alpine). We deserve an accessible site, a roomy dining hall, and SO MANY FRUIT TREES.
What Is A-Camp?
A-Camp, an idea I had in the middle of the night about seven years ago, is a manifestation of this website in three entire dimensions, mixed with a dash of old-fashioned summer camp goodness and an infusion of conference-style programming. A-Camp is workshops, panels, classes, meet-ups, discussion groups, crafts, activities and performances designed to inspire, educate, entertain, build community, and make you laugh. It’s a chance to support Autostraddle, be kids again, and make new friends forever — and it’s been wildly successful, with the waitlists to prove it. We’ve held spectacular A-Camps in April 2012, September 2012, May 2013, October 2013, May 2014, June 2015, June 2016, October 2016 and May 2017.
A-Camp has created much-needed community and safe space for LGBTQ women, non-binary and other trans folks from all over the world. It is a queermonormative refuge from the burning hellfire of our current political climate. It’s a space to let go and have fun, while also strengthening our commitment to resistance and community care.
7:00 PM May 16th – 11:00 AM May 21st
On May 16th, we’ll be running shuttles from LAX to the campsite from 12:00 to 2:30 PM. Registration will open at 4pm on the 16th, dinner will run from 7-8 and opening ceremonies commence at 9pm. On May 21st, shuttles will leave camp for LAX at 10:30 AM, and we ask all campers to hit the road by 11 AM.
Just 90 minutes from Los Angeles and right outside of Ventura, Ojai is a “charmingly hip wine mom of a town” and a popular weekend escape located at the foot of the Topatopa Mountains. Our campsite is a secluded retreat nestled into the Ojai hills, offering fresh mountain air, a peaceful wooded setting, and so much more: we’ve got two swimming pools with waterslides, basketball and tennis courts, softball fields, a gorgeous chapel, two libraries, two teaching kitchens, three arts & crafts rooms, a secluded treehouse and meditation platform, an adventure course, climbing wall, outdoor amphitheaters, an orange grove, a rec lounge with pool and ping-pong, and multiple lodging options to ensure everybody is comfortable, happy, and ready to have SO MUCH FUN.
You weirdos! At past A-Camps, half our campers have been over 25 and half under 25, and they’ve come from all over the world. Usually 50% of our campers are new and 50% are returning. Although initially created as a space specifically for lesbian, bisexual and queer women (cis and trans, of course!), A-Camp now also welcomes non-binary people and trans men.
Also: Us! We are headed up by A-Camp Directors Marni Kellison & Robin Roemer, and in order to give you the broadest range of programming possible, we’ve got a staff-to-camper ratio of about 1:6, with staff members mostly drawn from Autostraddle the website. Kristin Russo, who co-directed our past three A-Camps, has to take the year off, so Robin, who co-directed our first six A-Camps, has returned for a victory lap!
In order to best serve the needs of our diverse community, we also have four leadership positions addressing specific camper populations: two QTPOC Speakeasy Leaders, one C.U.T.I.E. (Consultant/Coordinator Undertaking Trans Inclusion & Experiences), and one Accessibility Maven. The QTPOC Speakeasy, headed up by Mackenzie McDade and Yvonne Marquez and built up by all our QTPOC staff, celebrates the diversity of our group with frequent activities and community spaces specifically for QTPOC campers. We’ll also have designated go-to staffers for Sober campers and Newbies.
For a Limited Time: Only $695 Total* or $139/night!
- 3 meals/day and snacks (with options for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-frees, and so forth)
- 5 nights accommodation in cabins sleeping 12-18 people
- 100+ programming options: crafts, panels, workshops & adventures
- A dedicated staff with a staff to camper ratio of 1:6
- 5 Nights of Stellar Entertainment
- Kickass swag bag with your A-Camp tee and other cool goodies from indie and queer businesses.
* Early Bird Pricing — tuition goes up to $735 after February 14th.
This site is significantly more expensive than our previous sites —if we adjusted the cost proportionately, this camp would cost $1,404 per person. But we’re not doing that, ’cause we want to make this accessible to as many campers as possible (NOW MORE THAN EVER!), even if it cuts into the profit we need so desperately to keep this website afloat. So we have a different plan to try to make up what we’re losing on basic tuition, and if you’d like to read more about that, then you can do so here. (Part of the plan is our premium housing, which we’re about to discuss!)
If you’re able to pay a little more, then please donate to our campership fund.
We have two options for accommodations at our new site:
The standard camp experience! Cabins sleep 12-20 people each, with 2-4 private bathrooms and showers inside each cabin, and are all within walking distance of a freshly renovated bathhouse with extra showers should you require them. There’s lots of storage and all cabins are located near each other and the main camp area.
The Dolphin Inn or The Hotel California: The Dolphin Inn has 14 hotel-style rooms on two floors, and The Hotel California has 16 hotel-style rooms on two floors. Each furnished room sleeps one or two people each and has a large private bathroom with tub/shower. Hotel/Inn guests can also enjoy a shared common area with couches and tables, as well as refrigerators for the exclusive use of guests. We’re still sorting out if it’s possible to also provide microwaves and toasters. Also, some special amenities/goodies TBD.
Your “cabin group” will be the residents of your inn/hotel, and you’ll have assigned counselors just like they’ve got in the bunks!
A shared room (with one roommate) is $850 + $75 registration fee per person, and a private room is $950 + $75 registration fee per person. Rooms with twin beds can be combined into a queen by request.
You’ll have full access to a variety of activities, workshops, panels, sports, discussion groups, classes and arts & crafts, offering a variety of tones to set for your week.
Activities offered at previous A-Camps include…
Arts & Crafts: Itty-Bitty Avocado Jewelry * Leather Fobs * Dapper Collar Pins * Kinky Cross-Stitch * Coptic Bookbinding * DIY Oracle Decks * Chingona Chats and Crafts: Sacred Queer Heart Shrines * Look After Yourself: Self-Portraits * Nerdcraft * Make A Thing: Merit Badges * Finger Knittin’ Good * Pit Stop: DIY Deodorant
Workshops: Learn to Magish Shibari Rope Bondage * Erotica Writing * We’ve Got Your Back: Community Care * YO! A-Camp Raps! * Slam Poetry * Queer Astrology 101 * Lez Talk About Sex(ual Health) * Swagger 101 * String Cheese & Boxed Wine Tasting * Casual Sext * Feminist Improv Troupe Gay Your Makeup * Great Grilled Cheese Bake-Off
Sports, Games, Etc: Masculine-of-Center Stage * A-Campella * Basketball Wives * Chair-Dancing * Self Defense 101 * Queerleading * Rock Yoga * Beyonce’s Dance Grooves * Canoeing * Pop Science Trivia * Mindfulness & Meditation * Haus of Vogue * Hogwarts Trivia
Discussion Groups, Panels & Presentations: Gender Panel * Ally Ally Oxen Free: Making Queer Spaces Better for Trans Women * Changing the Narrative: The Importance of QTPOC Fiction * Gaming, Identity and Community * Queer People of Color Politicking & Zine-Making * Mixed-Race/Biracial/Multi-racial Discussion Group * Profesh Pantsuit Power Hour * Mommy Queerest: Queer Parenting Panel * Tardy for the Party: A Coming Out Later In Life Discussion Group * Mountaintop Bisexual Discussion Group and Hummus Appreciation Society * Real Talk: Your Relationship Doesn’t Have To Suck
Autostraddle After Dark is where our Special Guests shine most brightly, and where you get a chance to dance your ass of in a ridiculous costume. Past A-Camp After Dark activities have included stand-up comedy from Cameron Esposito, Deanne Smith, Brittani Nichols, Gaby Dunn, El Sanchez and Rhea Butcher; sexy game shows hosted by Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard; the legendary Staff Reading; Talent Shows; Variety Nights hosted by Hannah Hart and Jasika Nicole and concerts featuring musicians including Julia Nunes, Jenny Owen Youngs, Be Steadwell, Mal Blum, Bell’s Roar, Haviland Stillwell and Somer Bingham.
The last night always brings a kickass themed dance party and a performance from the legendary A-Camp Family Band, with lots of special guests (last camp, we had Mara Wilson doing “Dancing On My Own” and it was EPIC.)
Mary Lambert, Musician
As a singer/songwriter and spoken word artist, Mary Lambert is most known for her heart-wrenching vocals in the 2012 global anthem, “Same Love”. Writing and singing the hook led to two Grammy nominations for “Song Of The Year” and “Album Of The Year”, as well as the iconic performance alongside pop legend Madonna at the 2014 Grammys. Mary Lambert isn’t your typical pop artist. Inspired by confessional folk singers as well as spoken-word performers, she is a brutally candid writer who deals directly in her art with her past traumas and lived experience. Lambert was raised in an abusive home, attempted suicide at 17, turned to drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and survived multiple sexual assaults throughout her childhood. With a list of horrors, you wouldn’t expect Mary to be disarmingly joyful, but she charms effortlessly, and the effect on her audience is bewitching. She describes her performances as “safe spaces where crying is encouraged; My entire prerogative is about connection, about being present, and facilitating true and genuine catharsis. Also, fart jokes.
Jen Richards, Writer / Actresss
Jen Richards is a writer & actress, as well as a consultant & advocate. She is the Co-Writer/Star/Producer of the series Her Story, which was nominated for an Emmy and won Gotham and Peabody awards; Co-Producer of the documentary More Than T (Showtime) and Writer of its accompanying Trans 102 series (Refinery 29); a 2016 Outfest Screenwriting Fellow for her feature script Any Given Week; and can be seen in CBS’s Doubt, CMT’s Nashville, FX’s Better Things, Seeso’s Take My Wife, the film Easy Living, and Two Sentence Horror Stories (Stage 13). Jen was a series regular on E!’s I Am Cait, featured in Logo’s Beautiful As I Want To Be and AOL’s True Trans with Laura Jane Grace, covered live events for Logo, has appeared in several videos for BuzzFeed, OWN, and After Ellen, and countless podcasts and YouTube shows. She is a columnist for NewNowNext, has published essays on multiple platforms, and wrote the 2015 Sep/Oct cover story “What Trans Movement?” for The Advocate. She was previously the Co-Founder and Director of The Trans 100, creator of We Happy Trans, a website dedicated to celebrating positive transgender experiences.
Be Steadwell, Musician
Be Steadwell is a singer songwriter from Washington DC. Be believes that all people deserve cheesy pop songs-so she writes supergay music and calls it queerpop. In her live performances, she utilizes looping, vocal layering and beat boxing to compose her songs on stage.
In 2017, Be sang in The Women’s March behind Maxwell and Janelle Monae. The Astraea Global Arts Fund awarded Be a grant to produce her new album, Queer Love Songs. In September, Be had the opportunity to open for Big Freedia at DC’s Honeygroove Festival. The DC Commission in the Arts awarded Be with the 2018 Artist Fellowship. Be is currently touring her music and screening her film Vow of Silence internationally.
Gaby Dunn, Writer / Actress / Comedian
Gaby Dunn is a bisexual writer, actress, YouTuber, and podcaster based in Los Angeles. Her book I Hate Everyone But You was a NYT Best Seller in 2017 and her new book Bad With Money comes out from Simon and Schuster this year.
Liza Dye, Comedian
Liza Dye is a standup comedian, writer, actress and occasional disc jokey based in Los Angeles, California. You may have heard her on Call Chelsea Peretti Podcast or seen her do standup at Ilana Glazer’s Snowbird Series or you may follow her on Twitter where she is very active in the Celesbian Gossip™ world. Previously living in NYC, Liza is mostly known for her insane subway accident story from 2014, which garnered a lot of attention from the elite comedy community. Liza attempts to use the pain from her traumatic injury and transform it into humor for her standup sets, which you can catch around Los Angeles.
Mara Wilson, Author/Actress
Mara Wilson is a recovering child actor perhaps best known for playing the title role in the movie Matilda. She now works as a writer, voice-over actor, and storyteller. Her voice can be heard on BoJack Horseman and Welcome to Night Vale, and her writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, McSweeney’s, The Toast, and many other places. She is the creator and host of the storytelling show What Are You Afraid Of?, and in 2016, her first book, Where Am I Now? was published by Penguin Books.
Brittani Nichols, Actress / Comedian
Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Prior to her career in television and film, Brittani’s writing could be found in various places on the internet including Autostraddle, Jezebel, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the webseries of the same name) which she created and starred, was produced as part of Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival in 2014. Brittani was a recurring character on Season 2 of Transparent and guest starred on the IFC series, Boxed In. She currently co-hosts Brand New Podcast with her neighbor and friend, Ariana Lenarsky.
Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred is currently available SVOD after winning the Audience Award at both Outfest and Newfest amongst other festival awards. Some of Brittani’s most recent television writing credits include Take My Wife and Drop the Mic. She just finished writing for the second season of Strangers which will be available on Facebook later this year.
Camperships & Tuition Discounts
- Your generosity has sent over 50 deserving humans to A-Camp over the past five years and you’ll have the chance to make dreams come true again this year by donating to the campership fund! We take donations of all sizes, and to keep things simple, we’re pricing full camperships at $800 each. This covers tuition, shuttles, and linens. If the recipient doesn’t need tuition/shuttles/linens, they’ll get $80 in credit for fee-workshops or A-Camp canteen purchases. We’ll have a post up soon sharing the stories from some of last camp’s campership recipients.
You can apply for camperships here. All campership applications must be in by February 20th, but we’ll be assessing applications on a rolling basis up until the 20th, so get yours in as soon as possible and you may hear back from us about an opportunity sooner!
We also recognize that as A-Camp becomes more expensive it becomes harder to maintain the diversity we require for a truly successful A-Camp. We encourage campership applicants who are POC and/or trans women, and will have some offers for those groups specifically.
+ If you cannot attend camp without a full Campership, do not register for camp! We reserve spaces for Campershippers so you don’t need to snag one in case you become a Campershipper — that’s been taken care of. If you sign up and then end up getting a full campership, you will not be refunded the $75 registration fee.
+ If you have a business who’d like to sponsor a campership, get in touch with sarah [at] autostraddle.com. Previous sponsors have included Catalyst Wedding Co, Tomboy Toes, OUT Play, Sharpe Suiting, Kipper Clothiers, Scout’s Honor, Kreuzbach10, OK Cupid and Hannah Hart.
+ If you’re a person who’d like to sponsor a campership for a specific demographic, get in touch with cool [at] autostraddle [dot] com. In the past, we’ve had individuals donate camperships specifically for groups including trans women, queer people of color who need help with travel costs, Mexican/Mexican-Americans, people from small towns, and campers from overseas who need help with travel costs.
Okay, I’m in. What now?
If you wanna get on the saddle and trot on over to A-Camp with us this fall, just head over to the registration form where, for the low low price of a $75 non-refundable non-transferable deposit, you can snag your spot. Please read the instructions at the top of the interface page if anything seems complicated or confusing. Please read the instructions even if nothing seems confusing. Just read them for fun!
You’ll also have to add tuition to your cart during the registration process, but you’re not required to pay in full until April 1st. You can make partial payments up until that point. Tuition will go up on February 14th, so we highly advise putting tuition in your cart prior to that date.
For more information about airport shuttles, refund policies and other money-or-travel related questions, please read our FAQ here.
If you need to cancel, you can just log back in to the registration interface and cancel! QUESTIONS ABOUT REGISTRATION OR TRAVEL GO TO firstname.lastname@example.org. (“COOL” stands for “Coordinator of Logistics”)
For More Information
On our A-Camp website, you’ll find our FAQ, the staff we’ve got on board so far and a link to register the hell out of your unit. For more information about what goes on at A-Camp, you can check out our recaps from past camps and testimonies from campers about the joy of the experience. (We had to stop doing Recamps in 2016 because of the time it took, but previous camps should still give you a good idea!) Ultimately, A-Camp is whatever you make of it: every camper writes their own story. Come with your heart wide open and do whatever you want.
What are you waiting for?
Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?