OPEN THREAD: Let’s Talk About How A-Camp Was Pretty Much The Best Thing Of All Time

This is the part where I tell you how wiped/wired I am and how exhausted we all are but even though I know that’s supposed to be true, I actually don’t feel that way at all. I feel energized and excited, really, because we just had the best time. All of us. We all just had the best time! I miss all your beautiful faces and songs and thoughts and notes and necklaces and merit badges and cheers and pranks and power-points and ideas and feelings and snowballs and bears and t-shirts and instagrams and butt plugs and stories and jokes and bear sightings and canoe paddles and hot sauces and heart-throbs and heart-stars.

Thus this Open Thread, which will enable us to live firmly in the present by speaking extensively of the very recent past in a manner which is completely 100% necessary because we should really still be at A-Camp!


lizz clearly wants to still be at a-camp

Remember that time we lived through all four seasons in just five days? Or through 5-11 intense emotions in just one Reading? When the A-Camp Family Band brought down the house/lodge with a setlist including Whitney Houston, TLC, Le Tigre and The Spice Girls? The magical carnival puppet theater that hosted an advice booth, two muppets performing scenes from Orange is The New Black, and a Hannah Hart kissing booth? REMEMBER WHEN CARRIE DROVE EIGHT HOURS TO ANGELUS OAKS TO PROPOSE TO BREN BEFORE THE PROM? Remember when Deanne Smith combined spelling and stripping in the most amazing way and then made you laugh so hard your face hurt the very next day? Remember how f*cking cute you looked at prom? Remember the poem you wrote or the dance you learned or the hike you hiked or the songs you danced to or how it looked all snowy the fist day? Also… did you forget your hummus?


This is a space for feelings related to the fact that for some reason, camp is actually over. Tell me your favorite part. Tell me when your heart exploded. Tell me what you brought home with you. The humans you love. (Also, if you’re one of those campers who said you always read but never comment, THIS IS YOUR BIG MOMENT, DO IT!)

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of 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 3228 articles for us.



  2. i am in love with all of you and absolutely all i am doing today is watching the a-campalooza videos on repeat and wondering why the heck we can’t live on the mountain year round. my lips might be chapped, my voice might be gone, and my email inbox might be overflowing, but per usual it was so. fucking. worth. it. more than that. words can’t explain how good it was. now i’m just really excited to watch this comment thread blow up with love…

  3. I nearly had a panic attack driving down the mountain to go home because I kept on thinking about how I was driving in the WRONG DIRECTION

    • I so love this comment, if not the feeling. Someone summed it up so well (I don’t remember who-Sorry) when they said sarcastically “Huh, and down there is what they call civilization.”

  4. Oh my goodness. The real world is a jolt indeed. Camp made it clear that there is a community for me. Ordinarily I walk through the world encumbered by the weight of shame. After these last five days I feel lighter and freer. Thank you.

    (This is my first Autostraddle comment. Whoa. Total lurker until now.)

  5. A camp is the place to be who you really are, even if you didn’t know who that was before you got there.

    • To evangelize the rest of us who could not be on the mountain. Come down and share your enlightenment! BRING US WITH YOU DAMMIT T___T

  6. I have two favorite moments. One was when I was getting my hair cut during the carnival (thank you Kip you are the best) and my cabin-mate Lisa was singing and playing her guitar and the sky was so blue and there were queers everywhere laughing and hula-hooping and being amazing and I was wearing a garbage bag over my clothes and I wanted to cry I was so happy.

    The second was at the very end of prom when I was skipping and dancing around the room and everyone around me was so happy and we were draping shiny silver streamers on people and I then I actually did cry because I thought my heart might explode from how alive I felt.

    Runner up is seeing Carly and Grace high-five after Grace successfully got the projector screen all the way up in one pull.

    Oh wait but also there was the “coming out later in life” panel where I cried the whole time and everyone was amazing and brave (including me).

    Also A-Camp is magic I got home at 2am and after I woke up I came out on Facebook and then I sat on the floor crying because people I haven’t talked to since high school are being supportive and oh my god. My late 30s are definitely my favorite time of my life so far.

    (I think this is like my 3rd comment ever and the other 2 were on the A-Camp registration announcement post. Hi. I was in the Rockford Peaches cabin and gave a talk on Mindfulness Meditation and wore a blue dress with an orange belt at prom and otherwise walked around trying to not be awkward and usually failing.)

    • Ahhh, the Tardy for the Party panel. Also known as, “TISSUES, STAT.” Definitely one of the highlights. You are not alooooone, I am here with yooouuuuu…

      • Yes! People keep asking me what my favorite activity was and I want to sound cool and talk about stuff I made, but I really just want to talk about how utterly comforting and validating being in the room for that panel was.

        And the magic that I wasn’t the only one who took till 38!

      • Tardy for the Party/ Tissues, STAT/ Fashionably Late was the best panel. It was my first time breaking down in tears at camp even though I had been two previous times. That panel validated so many of my feelings and made me feel less alone.

        I love you all and have absolutely no effing clue what I would have done had I not found Autostraddle.

    • Your talk on mindful meditation was so great, and I’m glad to see A Camp is showing you more ways to live a life filled with ease and grace. Congratulations on coming out of the closet, that is HUGE!! We so appreciate your voice and your feelings so keep commenting!!

    • OMG the “coming out later in life” panel ! Sooooo amazing
      I needed 5 tissues during that one

    • Hands up if you cried at Tardy for the Party! Thank you to everyone who shared and made me feel like less of a weirdo / validating all of my feelings. I would have talked, but I was too busy trying not to cry (it didn’t work).

      • y’all seriously, tardy for the party panel was the dark horse of camp for me. you were all so AMAZING and HONEST and BRAVE. we had no idea how it would go, and then suddenly it had a life of its own, and that life was YOU. it was your life. i’m crying just thinking about it. all your faces and all the honesty underneath them. did you know they considered asking us if we wanted to relocate, since we were still talking after lunch had started??

        for anyone who thinks they’re alone, remember that panel — remember that it happened and that you made it and we were all there together. we still are.

        • If Camp was just that one panel it would have been worth it for me, That was unforgettable
          Thank you all again

        • Tardy for the party was a highlight for me. You’re all amazing and I’m so happy to have been a part of that panel. Laneia thanks so much for remembering the tissues!!!

        • I almost did not go to that panel. I had no idea I needed it that much. I knew I was grateful for Autostraddle but the emotions that came along with acknowledging just how key y’all were for me finding a community later in life was a total surprise.

      • Massive hand up! (A trembly, shaky, nervous hand belonging to someone who was barely able to make eye contact with any non-cabin-mates until that panel happened and made me so weepy and glad.)

    • OMG you mindfullness talk was wonderful.
      I am working through a lot of stuff and mindfullness has been a literal* lifesaver.

      *Literal here is literally literal. :)

      • Thank you! Yeah meditation got me out of a pretty low place about 10 months ago, I am pretty passionate about it, but it’s kinda something you have to experience/practice for yourself so get.

    • It is really nice to hear that there are other baby gays that came out in her thirties. It’s nice to know I’m not the only “late bloomer”. I’m 32 and I just came out in February.
      I haven’t been able to go yet but next A-camp for sure!!

    • omg I was there for your mindful meditation talk. I was the person who gave the How to Actually Enjoy Your Life talk and your talk seriously saved me that day. I was feeling terrible because I am terrified of public speaking and was feeling so overwhelmingly critical of myself after my talk. I literally was doing those mindful meditation practices while I was sitting there listening to you and it helped me get to a place of just slight uncomfortableness instead of unbearable self-criticism. I was also there at the coming out later in life discussion and I totally agree with you, the 30s are looking to be the best decade of my life. Congratulations on coming out and I’m so glad you found support where you least expected it. Life’s funny that way huh.

  7. i keep forgetting to drink water because no one is reminding me to hydrate and katie millar isn’t next to me with a water bottle.

  8. also i never want to watch a movie ever again without carly, deanne, brittani, hannah, and lane commenting along.

    • aww. i would be in that living room any time!!!

      and if you thought i was good at mocking movies when i sounded like a ghost whose voice was stolen by a vengeful witch, it only gets better from there.

      • And here I just thought you had a sexy raspy voice.

        (honestly, that’s what I thought: damn, she’s hot-ohgoddeepvoicemustn’thyperventilate)

        • well, in the pro-column, everyone dubbed me Emma Stone, which can never be a bad thing.

          but trust, it’s always that deep. (hands you a paper bag)

    • Yesterday my cabinmates and I were discussing what the interviews with Liz are going to be like after she makes her first medical discovery.

      Katie Couric: Here with us today we have Doctor Liz Rubin, the nobel prize winner who discovered how one woman can impregnate another woman. Tell us, Dr. Rubin, how does that feel?
      Liz: Thanks Katie, but you can call me Anal. So, you want to hear about my FEELINGS?

    • “It was Christmas for my asshole.”

      I swear I thought I was going to injure something laughing.

  9. super embarrassed by how clearly labeled a large number of those hummus containers are. they are all mine. i had big dreams.


  11. First comment!!

    I had so much fun! Thank you Kai for getting this band nerd to cheerlead, & actually enjoy it!
    Also I hope there’s another occasion in life where I need to rush from canoeing to hot sauce tasting to prom. Or practice flogging in an owl hat…
    Also I have a dozen new crushes– thank you to all the dapper queers for the swoons!

  12. Sitting in LAX wearing my purple bandana and A-Camp shirt and sweatshirt and having a feelings circle of one. I miss all of your validating hugs and snaps and smiles. I miss my moms and my Jewish grandmother and making things and hearing beautiful writing and sex talks and day drinking and holding hands and everyone being so fucking attractive and just everything. I miss the mountain.

  13. Best.Camp.Ever.

    I can’t even deal with all these emotions.

    I feel so lucky to have every single one of you weirdo humans in my life.

  14. I just found a note in my phone that says:

    Christmas for my asshole
    Cheesecake shop
    Vulva slap

    I think this sums things up quite well really

    • “And then she SLAPPED MY VULVA!”

      That keeps popping into my head at random, inappropriate moments and making me laugh out loud…

      • For me, it’s the visual image of a starfish whistling through the air and slapping an uncooked ham. I want to tell people about it but they just shut down at the mention of “vulva”

  15. remember the time at acampapalooza when everyone forgot the rap to lauren hill and anne marie jumped on stage and finished it?

  16. Camp was amazing, I was so happy up in that mountain that I can’t even put it into words. So many emotions and feeling and tears of joy and the “coming out later in life” panel that made me cry my eyes out, and the canoeing and my very first prom
    I love all of you. From the bottom of my heart

  17. I’m sitting at my desk at work in my A Camp sweatshirt and refusing to do any work because I am inundated by feelings. At last camp I found my community and my voice, and the few months in between 3.0 and 4.0 were the most transformative of my entire life. This camp felt like a celebration of being me. Thank you for creating such a safe, loving space for me to be myself.

    To all of you A Campers (and those who were there is heart and spirit), I love you. I love you for everything you are AND everything you are not. You are whole and beautiful to me, and I am so thankful for the ways in which you have exposed yourself to me, whether during a feelings-laden share at a panel or just via a passing smile in Eagle. I have seen myself in all of you, and my overwhelming love for you has been the gateway to loving myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you. <3

  18. For so long A Camp seemed like a not real thing. I mean I knew it happened but it would never be something that I did, i would never actually make it. Well, I can’t describe how happy I am that I actually got to that mountain and had one of the best weeks!

    Runaways, Blackhearts, everyone at camp, thanks for making this such an amazing experience! I can’t even begin to describe the feelings I’m feeling at my desk all the way back in New York City.


    Also – side note, I’ve talked to maybe 5 people about Responsive Web Design and other CAMP Talk topics. I learned so much!

  19. Soooooo many moments with FEELINGS. Like, I couldn’t handle it. When EVERYONE looked good at prom, snow, Deanne Smith making us laugh forever and a day, THE SMOKERS CIRCLE (s/o what’s up guys?!?), then my birthday happened and I lost the words for how amazing the whole experience was. Can we all just stay up there forever? Seriously, why do we even leave?

  20. Camp to me will be the experience that opened my eyes to maybe finally finding the real me. The one who has been hiding for so long that I thought she might be lost forever. Not true, just open up, everything will be okay, let love in because once I
    can actually accomplish this it will get better. I mustjust need to let it happen, just let go. Camp is the happiest place on earth.

    I spent the first day and a half wondering if I belonged. I apparently have the weirdo idea that the whole everyone is accepted applied to everyone but me. I know, it is a problem I’m dealing with and I will accept the ridiculousness of it. Merit badge earned.

    I even made a list of challenges I had to complete during A-Camp because I feared all the love, feelings and acceptance would have me hiding in my bunk under the covers dealing with emotions that I haven’t let surface. I did not complete the challenge: Open up emotionally to a group of 5 or more people. I’m counting it now. This counts..I’m being really honest right now and brave.

    I love my cabin: The Gossip, the mixed bag of weirdos in that cabin makes my heart sing, the drinking at random parts of the day, laughing at just ridiculousness: bearnicorn.

    The panel tardy to the party made me feel better. I’m not the only one?

    Even if I didn’t complete all my goals I should be so proud of myself and that I’m actually writing in the comments section. I had the courage to go to A-Camp in the first place.

    I love everyone so much right now, all you beautiful humanbeings. I deserve is somewhere out there…no matter what the end result no one will ever be able to take camp away from me and the feelings that went along with it. Those are real feelings, that is what life is about and I need to open myself up to those experiences more..this is your life. Take a jump in the deep end. Others will be there to save you if you’ll let them.

    ALL OF THE FEELS. Okay, now that I’m bawling my eyes out I think this is where I say. Thank you to everyone involved in this magical place that will hold a very special place in my heart.

    • nikki you and the whole gossip cabin are so wonderful and i am blessed to have had you drunk lunatics for so many days in a row <3

      • Stef I think it was a match made in heaven, we all belonged together. Plus you’re quite fantastic yourself.

    • So I am now crying at school just a little because all of this is so true. (Things i probably shouldn’t be doing at school, being on autostraddle… oh well, the kids areat recess.) You are brave and strong and a wonderful human who is so loved just as you are!

    • Nikki! I feel you on all of those things! I am a socially awkward introvert, and camp did not change that, but I still felt accepted and validated, despite this and my tardy to the party-ness. I was also definitely worried about wanting to hide under the covers as well, because I haven’t been able to process all of the feelings with real live humans until camp (and there is still a lot of processing to be done). I am proud of you and myself for just having the courage to go in the first place – this is just the first step in creating a community and building a better life! We will keep this going online. Love you Nikki and Katie and Stef!

      • Seconding everything you just said: even after getting sick on prom day and hiding alone in my cabin coughing my lungs out while everybody else partied, this was still the best experience of its kind I’ve ever had, better than I could have ever imagined! Camp really is magic.

    • Nikki you are so brave and awesome in every way! I am so happy to meet you and get to know you!

  21. Crystal and I were standing outside in the smoker’s circle and this HUGE chunk of snow fell off of the roof and directly into my coffee and launched it’s contents ALL OVER HER. in her hair, on her sweatshirt, on her face. I felt really bad but Jen Green gave me a chocolate peanutbutter pop tart to give to Crystal as an apology for drenching her in mediocre coffee.

    • omg i dropped an entire gin + tonic on crystal’s foot and she just smiled and told me it was ok and then i made her an apology valentine just to make sure she wasn’t mad and then she smiled *again* and everything was ok.

      in the whole world, i mean. everything was ok.

  22. Remember the camp-wide slow dance facilitated by DeAnne Smith.

    I was in an Ali and Daniela sandwich during that moment and it was just as magical as you’d think.

  23. Good. Lord. I miss being at camp a whole lot right now. Gossip, you are all jewels and treasures and I love and miss you.

    Amanda and I took the red eye back to NC last night, and after getting home, there was just enough time to shower and do some laundry before work. I’ve been sitting in meetings all day wishing I could craft some shit or something. :(

    • Hahah YES! Before we were so confused why you singled her out and asked to borrow her pants. But as a grateful camper I can say I would also give you most any item you wanted from me without question

      • Riese warned me beforehand so I knew it wasn’t for anything too weird, elsewise I wouldn’t have let her mess with my campers.

  24. I don’t even know how to be a person in the real world any more. I still have all these camp-y feelings consuming me, and I am expected to interact with all these people who did not share the most incredible experience of my life, and they just don’t get it.

    Thank you to all you wonderful, beautiful, perfect human beings for making camp so safe, and educational, and fun. Thank you for creating a space in which we all belong, and we can all get exactly what we need, where “you do you” is the only rule.

    Gahhh, I am bawling my eyes out now.

    You are all the best. Forever and ever amen.

  25. What monster would create the best happy space with the most wonderful people in the world and then rip us apart once we all start falling in love with each other? I’ve never felt this much love mixed with ache from missing everyone.

  26. This was my first time at camp and I feel like it filled something in me I didn’t even know I was missing. I really don’t know how to do real life anymore, it’s not the same. I can’t wait to go back. The biggest thing for me was that I actually danced in front of people and had fun doing it. I’ve never done that before. Prom was so amazing, everyone looked great. I’m having a lot of feeling right now.




      And winning was just the perfect added detail.


      First off–I had never seen snow falling from the sky and it was kind of currently one of the things I really really really wanted and I convinced myself that when I saw it snow it would be magical and important and A SIGN….. and then driving up the mountain after being a nervous WRECK the week leading up to camp IT STARTED SNOWING. and then we got to camp AND IT WAS SNOWING. and basically thats when I knew I was in for something amazing.

      ACamp was LITERALLY the best consecutive 5 days of my life thus far. No exaggeration.
      Never in my life have I felt so safe and validated (ON ALL FRONTS), and good and alive with zero anxiety and bad thoughts.

      I cannot tell you all how much I loved my cabin and how perfect we were for each other. (started from the bottom now the underage cabin is here and drunk) #toomuchsassfor1cabin
      AND MY COUNSELORS INTERN GRACE AND CHLOE (you two are perfect and wonderful and funny and just all the hearts for you).

      And like Blue Crush’s tagline was actually perfect for me
      I don’t know how I managed to apply for a campership knowing the state I was in at the time. I don’t know how I talked myself into trying to get to a place where I would be with a bunch of strangers on a mountain. I didn’t know that the strangers and the mountain would be the best thing to ever happen to me.

      and now I’m feeling the feels.
      I learned a ton about myself, and others at the panes and I am SO GRATEFUL FOR ALL THE STAFF.I made so many crafts (SO MANY), and friends, and had some EXCELLENT conversations, Prom was the best (like can we PLEASE get that playlist on 8tracks???) and I laughed harder than I have in months about pranks and during comedy night and can’t we all just go back to queer mountain???? The default world isn’t as much fun..

  27. I have too many feelings that I haven’t fully processed now, so all I have to say about camp for the moment without losing my shit is everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

  28. snowcamp twerkcamp mudcamp bestcamp
    This was by far the most hilarious and ambitious camp. The carnival was the friggin best new thing! Most of my aches are from laughing or dancing, and of course running at unsafe speeds over rocky uneven ground.

  29. I thought my drunk habit of texting people my secrets would be controlled since I didn’t have much service on the mountain, but I may or may not have sent the A-camp equivalent which is a drunken pigeonhole note. I went to intercept when I remembered in the morning, but it wasn’t there. Hi, camp crush. If you got a sloppily written drunk note in your pigeonhole, I’m sorry! If you didn’t, I want to apologize anyway for creepily staring at your face all the time, it’s just so nice.

    • Grace <3 You're the best.

      Thanks for convincing me that going to A Camp would be the best choice ever. Because it was. Of all the choices, going to A Camp is the best one.

  30. too sick to comment, really, just aggressively liking comments while coughing

    it was all well worth it.

    • I feel conflicted because you’re probably ill because you sat on my lap for so long on prom night but also I don’t regret that at all

      although I definitely care for your welfare so I should’ve thought more about that decision.

  31. I have never felt such safety and love at a place I barely know, with people I have only known for days.
    A-Camp is everything.

  32. Best advice of camp: “Instead of imagining people in their underwear, just pretend you’re talking to cats.”

    • You don’t even know how hard I was trying to convince myself that you were all cats when I said that, but it takes a lot of imagination power to imagine so very many introverted cats in one room.

  33. Precious memories:

    -“Starfish on a ham”

    -Talking about Dana Scully with other obsessed people. “You don’t even know. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.”

    -The corrupted Lost & Delirious movie file that skipped about a third of the movie but possibly made more sense than the original

    -Club Hawk. If you weren’t there, you missed out.

    -Thinking I was totally vanilla and then seeing Ali flog Liz at the kink workshop and then being like, “I need to re-evaluate some of my lifestyle choices, I’ll be in my bunk.”

    -Dani RDS saying “We see you” at the gender panel in response to someone who said they felt invisible. BRB, weeping.

    -The confusing, rapid-cycling This Is Funny/This Is Hot experience that was the Strip Spelling Bee.

  34. On a more serious note, I haven’t even started processing the amazingness that was A-Camp because there are too many feelings and I cannot articulate any of them yet, except for general feelings of gratitude (for everything and everyone – the laughter, the feelings circles, the inclusivity and acceptance, the kickass events/activities, lunchtime meet-ups, and makeouts under the stars) and sadness (for it being over and not knowing if I’ll be able to come back any time soon and for how far away I am from so many incredible human beings). The sincerest of thanks to everyone who made these 4 days so incredible, campers and staffers alike!

  35. Oh also I would like to officially apologize to Carmen, who was on my flight home, for saying “Hi Carmen!” as she walked by me on her way to her seat, because I didn’t meet her or talk to her at all at camp and that was really creepy of me, omg sorry… I was just really excited to see a familiar face.


      <3 <3

        • @carmenrios ooh yes that second one sent me a notification, hey I didn’t even know that was a feature of the site, cool.

          Aw, I’m sorry you the man in front of you was the worst, I hope the rest of the flight was better for you. You didn’t act like a brat! It’s not like you were expecting a random person in 26C to address you by name as you walked by. I assume.


  36. Walking to class today was so hard. Being in the real world was hard enough but then I realized that I was looking for familiar faces in the people walking by. Faces from A-Camp, and I won’t see any of them until whenever I return to camp. I really thought I was going to cry in the middle of campus.

  37. I was leaving the prom dance floor because I was super tired & my feet were exploding, and right as I got to my cabin Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” came on. I literally ran back to dance to it.

  38. Guys!! I absolutely had the best time of my life and I just want to tell you all that I love you so much (even the ones of who I haven’t met yet) and I need to thank you for making me feel so safe and welcome <3

  39. I don’t think I can adequately articulate how insanely grateful I am to finally meet the bodies that contain the AMAZING personalities I have connected with these last two years. I hate that it took me this long to realize that the virtual community provided by Autostraddle dims in comparison to connecting with the beautiful humans that have presented me with the opportunity to experience what true family and acceptance is. It’s crazy that in a mere five days I gained the only sense of support and community I’ve honestly never thought I’d be lucky enough to call mine. So many emotions, so many unforgettable times, so many amazing individuals. I’ll tuck my tears away now.
    -The heartfelt sentiments of a small town *gentlebelle*

    • LOVE. you will always have a place at the smoker’s circle. thanks for being an outstanding human being!! miss ya already.

      • Awww, see? Look at us being all loveydovey and shit..SIX MONTHS IS TOO LONG TO GO WITHOUT A SMOKERS’ CIRCLE MEETING. Where else can I smoke two packs in three days and no one judges? That’s right….no where lol

    • Exactly, it was so amazing to see the amazing Autostraddle staff and commenters as real people who are even more wonderful and beautiful and lovely in person!

    • peyton you tell amazing stories. jsyk. and i still laugh about your halloween banana story to myself.

    • ” the virtual community provided by Autostraddle dims in comparison to connecting with the beautiful humans that have presented me with the opportunity to experience what true family and acceptance is.”

      we feel exactly the same way about all of you.

  40. One of my favorite A-Camp 4.0 memories: Drinking a glass of wine while being tied up by Carolyn then having Hansen offer to wipe my nose because my hands were tied. It was insta-love!

    • Okay those of you who made merit badges at the workshop or at the carnival, what was your merit badge for? I want to know.

      I made a badge at the carnival and ran out of thread before i could finish the border, so I tied it off really badly and wrote “Half-Assing a Merit Badge” as the thing I’d earned.

      • Damn it how did this end up as a reply and not a new comment. I’m going to repost it below. I’m not even drunk or at altitude, I have no excuse.

    • Hahaha! Having you count the times you were wrapping the rope around my wrists was the cutest ever, like being tied up could be endearing? We made it endearing. Especially with the nose wipe.

  41. Okay guys, I’m gonna take the time here to write a love letter to a-camp when I should be studying. It’s gonna sound a lot closer to stockholme syndrome than a love letter, but trust me, we’re gonna get through it together, and it’s gonna be awesome. I’ve got like a billion feelings about camp, some of them the really pokey uncomfortable kind, and a lot of them are the really sad insecure kind, but it’s okay because sometimes those are the feelings you really need. So without further ado, here’s the story of a thing that shouldn’t have happened at a-camp, but was kind of the best thing to happen.

    I’ve got feels everywhere so I don’t really know where to begin. A good one is probably how I’m transgender and the effects that’s had on my life and outlook. I mean, first off, I’m really terrible at being a woman. I’m atrocious. I know, I know, woman is just like a performative category influenced by social structures and norms, and anyone who ID’s that way is a woman, etc etc, I totally get it. Thing is, I get misgendered like, once a day in my regular life. If I’m not being really femme, people apparently assume I’m a dude. And that kinda sucks. Even if gender is a fiction, people are still gonna put you SOMEWHERE. I was even accidentally misgendered at a-camp which was REALLY distressing for me.

    That misgendering really, really sucked. I spent the rest of the night in bed depressed, not joining in really awesome things like a topless cuddle pile and talking. I was even depressed for a bunch of the next day. It really highlighted how alienated I felt, even in a great space like a-camp. Even there, I couldn’t escape the misgendering. And my transness is really uncomfortable for me you guys, it puts me in a fucking weird place in gender, especially as androgynous as I am. I’m DEFINITELY not a man, but too butch and weird to be recognizeable as a woman, even to other lesbians, so what the fuck am I?

    That’s a realllly awkward question and speaks a lot to my insecurities. And I mean, being trans makes me PETRIFIED of pursuing a relationship, or even to boldly hit on people because of that awkwardness. On top of that, I have never had a relationship, I have never kissed anyone, I have never been on a date, and I have never had sex. So, visibly trans, misgendered a lot, and level -1 with the ladies. Good combination to kick things off. A lot of this was bothering me over camp, and I thought about it a lot and why it sometimes feels like even in a space of desire like a-camp, it really sucks to be the one who ISN’T desired. Which is kinda melodramatic, but it’s what I felt like. I wasn’t even very interesting. No one flirted with me, pretty much no one (outside my cabin) tried to start a conversation with me, and throughout camp, no one outside our cabin ever even like, smiled at me, or waved hello. I was almost a social ghost, despite efforts on day 1 to crack my VERY introvert shell and meet people. Sitting down at a random cafeteria table took so much effort from me, I’m surprised there’s still life on Earth. If I had disappeared from the mountain, anyone not in my cabin would probably never have noticed, and everything at camp would have been exactly the same. Some of that was probably my fault because body language and really bad depression and whatever, but still, it really sucked. Being in an awesome place like a-camp and it doesn’t feel like anyone outside your cabin even notes your existence, let alone cares enough to investigate it? It’s pretty awful.

    Awful or not, this all sort of led up to prom night which was in many ways one of the absolute WORST nights of my life. As soon as the music started and people began dancing, I was overwhelmed with all those bad feels and couldn’t handle things, so I left the party to go consult Dr.Whiskey Bottle on the swings while I cried to myself. THAT was one awful therapy session, let me tell you. Lots of crying and talk about bad things. This exciting therapy session was punctuated by moping in Wolf cabin, where some very nice people tried to help me out, an act which I appreciate more than they know (and if you’re reading this, you know who you are I hope and I love every one of you <3). My night ended at 12:30, but really it had ended at 9pm, and all the exciting energy of the next day at breakfast was totally lost on me. While most of the camp had an exciting, awesome, love-filled prom, prom for me had been absolutely, totally, hands-down, breathtakingly and heartbreakingly miserable beyond words.

    And now it's a day later, and I'm not at camp anymore, and I realize that all the suckitude and sad feels, and tears, and Dr.Whiskey bottle taught me some really important shit about who I am and how I should be approaching my gender. I'm not femme, not in the slightest, not even a tiny little bit. But if I don't present femme, I'm not going to be gendered correctly. It's a lose/lose catch 22, either I get to be myself but I'll get gendered incorrectly, or I get gendered correctly but I don't get to be myself. And camp taught me that I'd been relying on that second option too much, and getting misgendered was in some ways the best thing to happen to me because it helped me realize what a false bargain that that kind of recognition is for me. Gender is an intersubjective language, yea, but if I'm only in it for how other people gender me, I'm never going to be in control of my own body, gender, or presentation, and so I'm never going to be in control or happy with myself. So I'm now planning a wardrobe overhaul, some tattoos, and a REALLY gay haircut (seriously, it is gonna be fantastic you guys. Really super awesome) because it turns out that trying to signify the 'right' signs to being perceived as a woman with the way my body is configured is only slightly less toxic and destructive to my soul than being misgendered in the first place. So if I have to choose between my gender and myself, I'm gonna pick team Me every time from here on out. And the misgendering is still gonna take a toll on my soul and lead to some bad nights and stuff, and I'm still gonna have a lot of fear over whether any lesbians will date a girl with a penis, but if I'm flying my freak flag high as a member of the official andro dyke brigade, at least I'm struggling on my own merits and can draw on my own reserves, instead of failing the tests that other people are putting out for me. I'm gonna fail on my own terms now, not the terms that were set out long before I was born. And you know what? That's a pretty cool thing.

    So this is a love letter to a-camp. Because it was wonderful, terrible, electrifying, soul crushing, informative, dissapointing, uplifting and heartbreaking, and it was exactly what I needed.

    You're all great people, a-camp is awesome, and I love all my cabinmates in the Cylons. Sometimes you have to work through the pain to get to the sweet rewards of self-actualization. Stay fabulous, y'all, and I hope to see you at a-camp 5.0.

    • I’ve never been in any sort of relationship or kissed anyone either! It felt really lonely in an environment that was sometimes very much sexsexsex, but it’s great to know I wasn’t alone!

      “So if I have to choose between my gender and myself, I’m gonna pick team Me every time from here on out” -yes, YOU DO YOU and love yourself cuz I love you for this whole letter and being brave enough to put this up!

    • I’m so proud of you for going through all that instead of running away from it. Team Me is the best team. If you are at Camp 5.0 I hope I get to meet you. <3

    • Hi Ash,
      I got the sense that you had some heavier stuff going on with you at camp, and Ididn’t want to pry but thank you so much for sharing here, and I’m so, so prud of you, if I can say that. I’m super excited to see & continue to know your andro-dyke self!

      “So if I have to choose between my gender and myself, I’m gonna pick team Me every time from here on out” – so fuckin’ good. And I hope that future a-camps 1. contain you and 2. make it so that’s not an either-or.

      Cylon love <3 chat me anytime

    • Ashley, my dear, I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough to write this. I completely understand what you mean about feeling like the only one who isn’t desirable, and that nobody outside our cabin would have noticed if we disappeared. I honestly don’t know if those things are true or not. Even though I’m in a relationship, it’s only because of dumb luck; as much as my partner and I love each other, the thought is never far from my mind that we originally got together out of desperation.

      What I do know, is that things take time, and I think for people like us struggling with trans baggage and social anxiety issues, it takes a lot of time. What I learned from camp, including the two nights I cried myself to sleep, was that I need to come back and keep at it, and I think it’s wonderful that you took away the same lesson. I know that next time, my confidence will be much higher, people will get used to seeing my face, and I will be ready.

      Finally, let me just say that I think that andro/butch/dapper trans women are among the sexiest people on this planet, because of the sheer confidence it takes to own that identity. You are amazing, Ashley!

    • Oh, and one other thing: Next time, just say the word and I will totally make out with you. :)

    • Wee long reply time! (I think)

      I SO get you on this Ashley. While I am partnered with someone I definitely understand how lucky I am in that. I am so sorry you felt bad and had a rough camp due to depression and feeling isolated. I understand those positions, and while I assume it is obvious, I will say that if we are at camp together and you want to talk, I am always running around and more than willing.

      I have gone through the exact same thing with the “go femme or go home”. The harsh fact that you aren’t considered a woman unless you accept some 1950’s Betty-Friedan-wet-dream of a housewife is a double edged sword for trans women (AND cisgendered women too!). We are only granted a single limited version of femininity to establish yourself as a woman, but having done so and learning about the experience it often happens that you might begin to see how utterly false it is for you as well. If you are femme, you are lucky (in this particular arena) in that you don’t have yet ANOTHER hurdle to climb over for your gender presentation. (Of course this can also lead to femme invisibility so yeah, always something.)

      I started out all Jones of New York, Coldwater Creek, or such at first. And while it made people around me a (TINY) bit more accepting it never really worked for me. I felt uncomfortable.
      Acamp in May is responsible for the same sort of revelation to me that it did for you. I discovered vests, cowboy hats, and enjoying coloring my hair crazy ass hues.

      We are rejecting the traditional narratives of appropriateness. Whether its clothing based on age, gender, class, or whatever. Because we are NOT going to be appropriate no matter what we do. So if we have the privilege, ability and the safety (a lot dont!) to express ourselves freely, fuck it I am in. And if a rough 5 days turns out to be the thing that unlocks your ability to live the “You do you” motto, then I am now even more in love with Acamp than before.
      I hope I see you at 5.0

      **We now return you to our regularly scheduled feeling-a-thon featuring Snow, Bears, Carnivals, Dapperness and LOVE**

    • Ashley, My sister , I stand with you, and are awed and proud of the announcement of your decision to set the terms of Ashleys presence in HER world.

    • Ashley, I love your attitude and I love what you got out of all of this. I think my cafeteria table was the random one you sat at, and I’m so glad you did, although now I wish I would have talked to you more. The thing is (and this is no excuse for the people who wouldn’t look at you, or for me not really engaging with you as well as I could have), we were all nervous about this big adventure on the mountain, too. Anyway, I want to thank you for this comment because it reminded me that I need to go the extra mile to help people feel welcome when I’m in a place of privilege, even on Mt. Feelings. Just because A-camp is a safe space doesn’t mean I can’t notice my cis-privilege and good-mental-health-privilege and extrovert-privilege and try and make it even safer.

      Also, I love your determination to make good choices for YOU, and I want to tell you that you are truly beautiful, invited to any game of “spin-the-bottle-with-feelings” that cabin flashdance holds in the future, you make an excellent woman by my standards, and I really really hope we get to talk more at camp 5.0.

  42. Okay, real comment time.

    First of all, as a lifelong city-dweller (New York City and then Los Angeles), I had never really seen stars before coming to camp. Within a couple hours of meeting each other and the rest of our cabinmates, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of little white dots in the sky. I’m pretty sure I shouted out “Nature, what the FUCK!” about five times a minute that night.

    I had lost control of my car multiple times on the way up to camp in all that sleet and snow, so I was in a state of complete shock when I arrived–in fact, given all the beautiful queers in my line of vision, I was convinced that I actually HAD died driving up the mountain and had somehow conned my way into heaven. By Thursday morning, however, the enormity of camp had solidified into something tangible, something frighteningly beautiful.

    I don’t normally notice–in my day-to-day life–how different I am from everyone else, so I was blindsided by just how fucking normal I felt on Mt. Feelings. My Flashdancers and I became a family almost immediately (our all infecting each other with the camp virus by way of nightly games of spin-the-bottle-with-Feelings counts as a blood bond, right?), and I had such beautiful conversations with so many of you other wonderful folks that my heart will undoubtedly remain full to bursting for months. I miss camp. I miss you all. I love you deeply.

    • Okay also?!?!? For anyone reading down this comment thread, I just feel the need to document that Cabin Flashdance has been having a blitz of emotional “I miss you’s” and hilarious stories and skateboarding videos and memory-reminders and virtual feelings-circles on our Facebook page since leaving the mountain. We had such a special cabin and while all of camp was mind-blowingly amazing, the Flashdancers have my heart forever, every one of you. I mean, come on… “the only sex club on the mountain.” With beer pong and Portia-level truths we have torn down walls built up by an ugly world. And we all we worried we would make connections…

      WE MUST HAVE A REUNION BECAUSE I CANT GO MY WHOLE LIFE WITHOUT THE FLASHDANCE GAME AND SPIN-THE-BOTTLE-WITH-FEELINGS (which we have correctly identified as the gayest game ever). Also I want to know every Autostraddler in real life now because if they’re half as cool as the ones at camp, I will have the coolest network known to humankind.

      • Not to detract from Spin-The-Bottle-With-Feelings, but the Cylons and the Peaches got together for Strip Cards Against Humanity, which is a pretty good candidate for gayest game ever too. :)

        (To your comfort level, but it turns out we’re pretty comfortable with each other!)


        • How about a game of Strip-Spin-The-Bottle-Against-Humanity-With-Feelings? We could make this work.

          Although to be real, such a queer game would probably qualify as For-Humanity.

      • Portia truth questions = advanced truth questions

        it’s officially been codified into the universal rules of truth or dare, truth or spin the bottle, truth or anything

  43. Okay those of you who made merit badges at the workshop or at the carnival, what was your merit badge for? I want to know.

    I made a badge at the carnival and ran out of thread before i could finish the border, so I tied it off really badly and wrote “Half-Assing a Merit Badge” as the thing I’d earned.

  44. I would also like to say that my cheeks got sore from smiling/laughing basically every minute of acamp (thank you, intelligent and hilarious acampers). And I’m finding that my everyday interactions with people today are a lot more caring and genuine, as if my heart has been filled to the brim and I have to to pass on the love. I found myself being more open and friendlier than ever at acamp because there’s something to be said about individuals interacting and connecting as more of their true selves.
    As an artist I often get discouraged at how grossly pedestrian and ordinary things can be in our communities; even in a colorful city like Los Angeles, people fall victim to soulless routine and materialism, and put on masks.. I’ve come to find that my queerness is a rally against all this; to be queer is to be outside of norms, to be genuine, to be different, passionate, courageous. To be queer is to feel more, to be compassionate and caring, to see more; to be able to recognize and fight against injustice. And in all it seems as if by default we’re more likely to be bound to a humanitarian spirit. Whether you were at camp or not, I guess I’m just expressing how powerful it is to reach out and be a part of a community while continuing to learn how to love yourself deeply.

    Robin and Carly are the super coolest ever.
    DeAnne Smith is my new favorite comedian.
    The collective commentary over “Lost and Delirious” was the best. I wish this could be a thing, like a youtube channel, where hilarious queers dub over films.
    and generally just.. THANK YOU

  45. Feelings feelings feelings!

    So, this camp I got triggered by overhearing something not-cool. And in the “real world” I don’t usually get triggered by that sort of stuff anymore. Spent today trying to process why I got so upset when camp is such a safe space. Realization: in most situations I have a giant wall up to prevent that from happening. At camp, the wall comes down and I can feel feelings. And it is safe to feel those feelings – fellow cats came over to cuddle until I felt ok. It was good.

    A few times during and since camp I have cried from overwhelmed gratitude because people have been so fabulous, welcoming, and safe. I made spelling mistakes and took off large portions of my clothes in front of many, many people. My inner critic always expects people to laugh or boo, but at camp, nobody does that. It’s a beautiful thing. I have 8000 feet of joy and love for you people today <3


    No but seriously, I miss all of my cabinmates so much. I wasn’t prepared for all of these feelings.

    I don’t know what my favorite part was…. maybe it was sharing pictures of our cats and drinking cider while we sat in the Strugglebus on the side of the road, bonding with fellow introverts, getting in touch with my inner writer, making a Bulbasaur out of perler beads, feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS at the staff reading, smiling so much that it hurt at the first ever strip spelling bee, hiking with Hannah Hart, stealing balloons with my cabinmates, finally gathering enough bravery to dance at prom, or hiding the Amazons’ mattresses (sorry, not sorry) :p Just being in a community of amazing, understanding, beautiful queer people for five days was incredible in itself.

    Going back to the real world has been pretty jarring. A Camp gave me the confidence to be myself, but it didn’t take away the pain the comes with it when I’m no longer on Queer Mountain. I hope that we can all keep those positive feelings with us as we navigate treacherous society again.

    All I know is that now, Autostraddle is much more than a website for me.

  47. People have been asking me about camp and what it was like and the first word I always think of is “safe.” In every way – physically like duh, but emotionally & mentally & spiritually in a way that I imagine most queers can never feel. And backing that up was the fact that I knew, I just *knew* that if something bad happened, everything would be done to make it better.

    That was the reason I found myself smiling most moments of the day and going to panels that I knew would make me cry and sitting down next to people I’d never met before and daring to dance with people so steaming hot that I’d consider them “out of my league” any other day. Because for five days, I had the confidence that everything really would be okay. I was safe. I was valued. I was loved.

    This is the first time I’m really processing camp because I spent all yesterday and today driving and didn’t allow myself feelings (feelings are dangerous when you’re going 80+mph) and now I’m all weepy. What a precious experience that was.

    I’m heartbroken that life isn’t like that, I must admit; I felt safer on the mountain without any walls up than I do down here. I fell in friend-love with so, so many people and now they’re not here anymore; I can’t quite be the same person down here. I guess survival from this point is holding that self in my mind and heart. A-Camp will join my mental collection of sacred imagery along with my holy texts and favorite pieces of art and grandmother’s house. We’ll always have a-camp.

    Shoutout to the Cylons (Cylettes? It’s a thing. I’m gonna make it a thing): The greatest band of sisters I could have hoped for – the greatest pranksters, artists (lol), nerdbuddies, strip-cards-against-humanity players, and self-initiators. The greatest and most supportive of friends. Also some damn sexy folks. Swoons all around. It was hard being the most enlightened cabin on the mountain, but we managed remarkably well.
    ((Request: stop snapchatting me your cats; I was promised boobs. (jk jk jk they are adorable kitties; to your comfort level etc etc)))

    Shoutout to the Alpine Meadows staff. I of course wasn’t behind the scenes, but they seemed to have dealt remarkably well with a couple hundred queers descending on them with our bizarre rituals and manifold dietary peculiarities.

    Shoutout to Kip for my delightfully femmey, delightfully queer haircut.

    Shoutout to everyone at the Queerituality panel – can’t imagine a better place to sob about my religion/family/queerness feelings in front of 30 people, and shoutout especially to Hansen for doing similar and showing me it was okay. I basically loved you from afar for the rest of camp, hope that’s okay.

    Oh gosh I miss all of you including those of you I never met because I was just so fucking happy that you all were there/you were hot when I saw you across the dining hall and I appreciated your hotness. So shoutout to everyone.

    • I wish you had loved me from closer than afar! I’m glad my little sobfest was helpful and not just a really embarrassing thing that happened to me. We should have hugged it out!

  48. Things I learned at camp:
    1. I’m continuously amazed by how gay I actually am… At camp, this realization was permanently codified.

    2. I can do something in my life that doesn’t make me want to kill myself, even if it’s not my job. So many of you amazing people just up and started doing things you like to do, and that’s really encouraging.

    3. Caking is when a person gets sexual pleasure from baking a cake and sitting on said cake. (I never knew.)

    4. Out me and closeted/passing as straight me have very different personalities. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but one is happier than the other… And even though I don’t really know Out me as well as I know passing me, camp made me much less afraid of getting to know them better.

    5. Whatever it is that I identify as/am struggling with, I’m not alone… Whether it be gender, money, mental health issues, childhood, coming out, introversion … I met people that had it, experienced it, overcame it, still struggled with it, or felt it at some point, and for that I am so grateful. I have such a problem remembering that.

    7. There is a direct positive correlation between how many queers are in the room and how much fun I have dancing.

    6. People go to camp over and over again not because they are out of control or because they have endless funds to throw at silly things. They go because it’s worth it. I TOTALLY get it now.

    <3 a really happy first time camper

  49. Also: I’m pretty sure I know what my first-ever tattoo is going to be. [SPOILER ALERT] A BLACK TRIANGLE WITH “YOU DO YOU” IN IT SOMEWHERE ON MY HIPS. (inspired by those little pins and everything autostraddle has meant to me)

  50. I came out to my work friends (only friends I had before camp) today because I was just in such a good place and so happy, hope it doesn’t blow up in my face. Stormtroopers, you are the most beautiful, smart, kind humans I’ve ever known. I feel like I left camp with a few acquaintances last time, just because of the situation I was in, but this time I left with friends. Real fucking friends I feel like I can text when I need someone to talk to or visit if I get the chance. I trusted so many people with things about myself and I didn’t filter how I felt and it made this camp the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

  51. I didn’t think I had major feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings when I got home last night, but I’ve been watching Facebook and Twitter updates today, seeing all the photos go up, and oh boy do I ever have ALL OF THE FEELINGS. Here we go…

    I went into this kind of expecting to just get out of the city for a few days and most likely just hang out with a book in the woods. What I got instead completely changed how I am looking at my life right now.

    I have to admit – I always found the “you do you” slogan to be a little weird. Sure, everyone deserves to be accepted for who they are, but don’t we all have to “play nice” with others? Adjust our behaviour in various ways to match whatever social situation we’re in? It wasn’t till this trip that I finally understood what “you do you” really means.

    I hadn’t realized exactly how much I needed to be in a queer-normative space even for a few days. Camp is a whole new world where we can just really be ourselves, whatever that means to each of us. The thing that got me was how many people were willing to say “hey, this thing you just did bothered me. can you not?” and how many times that was responded to with “oh god I’m so sorry, sure. can you help me understand what I did wrong?”. That is so remarkably unlike “real life” where many people assert their right to behave their way over the comfort of others who just get used to it and don’t voice their discomfort in order to avoid a potentially difficult or dangerous confrontation.

    I hope the friendships I made this past week last a long time. Everyone I met has been interesting, funny, and overall a gorgeous human being. A special shout-out to all the other Cylons, the Stormtroopers, Team Red, the advice booth at the carnival, and everyone who shared their stories and/or their alcohol with me.

    So say we all.

  52. The only excitement comparable to going to A-Camp is being a kid at Disney for the very first time and meeting all of your Disney Hero/ines. This experience was especially exciting to me because I was such a cynical kid and going to Disney made me want to become a costume/makeup artist, so I hadn’t experienced that magic firsthand before.

    Staff, consider yourselves so lucky that I didn’t stroke your faces and whisper, “My Precious is real”.


      • I’M SO SORRY VANESSA! I was going to write you a super sweet note so you could have proof of everything I said and carry it with you (and re-read it a bunch because that’s what I do with notes), but I’m nowhere as great at expressing thoughts with words as you are. I’m a lot more of a visual person, so basically all of my notes end up looking like mini-comics or entries in Hyperbole and a Half. I can’t believe that I forgot to take a pencil to Mt. Feelings, so my drawing abilities were crippled and limited to writing really weird puns using scratch and sniff fruit stickers in karate poses and it was really really hard to turn karate fruits into our hug convincingly.

  53. Oh wowsers. First time commenting in response to all the feels, and I didn’t even attend camp.
    After reading the 3.0 caps earlier this year, I wanted to be at 4.0.
    This time, I’ve promised myself to def be at 5.0 because, duh.
    My heart is literally jumping around for all the tangible emotion I can feel, just from reading about everyone’s experiences, and I want in! Already 100% excited for camp things, 2015.

      • @brigettedwr haha I just had a moment of horror imagining I was going to have to wait a year and a half to go back. I hope you go to 5.0! That tangible emotion you get from reading this thread is like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what it’s like to actually be there.

  54. So many impressions of the amazing phenomena that was A-camp.
    The thrill of stretching beyond my insecurities surrounding my writing, and in the presences of autostraddle writers I have deified write my first lines of erotic prose and limericks. Yes limericks.

    The rare, visceral feeling of safety. How intoxicating it was to be in a in a space where the community had too much respect and love for your person to want to harm you!

    the moment of sweetly being kissed on the dance floor of Klub Deer, and the next night at the prom receiving only a brief hello and distant smiles; Lady of New york You left me with the most bittersweet memory of the camp , but I want to thank you for it.

    The thrill of meeting new friends. Those moments with kelsey, sharing our stories ,our rants, in the warmth of wolf lodge or the frosty air of the smoking circle. The morning conversations at sunrise lodge. My amazing conversations with the members of the Amazon tribe.I look forward to these friendships blossoming!

    Yes so many impressions , so many feelings and memories to untangle. But I just couldn’t wait to share with you all,ergo this outpouring of disjointed impressions. Keep doing you!



    I mean, to your comfort level. If you’re comfortable with that.

  56. I am only just now starting to be able to put any of this into words, but I feel like it’s time to make my first ever autostraddle comment.

    I have so many good memories: all of the panels (but especially Crazy/Beautiful and the one on non-monosexuality), the funniest/best round of initiation questions for our cabin, strip cards-against-humanity, laughing with all kinds of amazing people, sitting in the woods by myself, sitting in the woods with others, prom. But here’s what I think I am most struck by: with all the feelings, and all of the talks, and all of the people – I found everything just so easy and FUN. I was expecting camp to be fun and relaxing, but I was not expecting that to be such a big fucking deal. There is something surprisingly radical about hundreds of queer women relaxing, cracking jokes, having fun, expressing sexy feelings, dealing with hard stuff, and accepting each other without having to TALK about the fact that we should accept each other, or to defend the way we have fun, or apologize for our bad feelings. In the non-mountain-world, so many conversations about queer topics basically revolve around trying to convince someone else not to be a jerk; I hadn’t realized how exhausting this was until returning from camp. With the baseline assumption that we are all here to support each other and not be jerks, so many other parts of us can be expressed and explored. Sometimes those parts are serious and painful, sometimes those parts are sexy as hell, and sometimes those parts are downright silly and hilarious. The thing is, every single one of those parts is just as important as the others, and I am in awe of all you beautiful, whole, hilarious, kind humans.

    I hadn’t fully realized that the kind of space I strive to make in the privacy of my own home and head was a thing that other people wanted, or that could even be possible on a more public scale. Camp has given me so many things I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. I am so grateful. Thank you.

  57. Man, I still feel camp hungover. Admittedly, it’s the sexiest hangover.

    This was the best camp yet, and even two days later I can’t manage to find the right words to say so.

  58. As a first time camper, I was a little nervous, as I had no idea what kind of experience it would be.

    I shouldn’t have worried though, because from the moment I arrived at the meeting point for shuttles, ’til the time I set foot back in Canada, straddlers were there every step of the way, being amazing.

    A few of my favourite moments:

    -Tardy to the Party workshop – LIFE CHANGING
    -A bear hug from Marni the bear
    -The surprise prom proposal
    -Jen in her scout uniform
    -Dapper shark
    -Hiking with Hannah
    -Staff readings – AMAZING

    Unexpected bonuses – having the opportunity to get to know some amazing people during each shuttle trip, surprise awkward slow dance, loads of dapper straddlers (the ties! Dear lord) and so many hugs from so many gorgeous human beings.

    Hello to my fellow Amazons. Sorry I didn’t get to spend more time with some of you. Maybe next time.

    • Yeah I pretty much died an extremely sexy death at all the dapper straddlers. And, to be fair, at all the other straddlers too. People truly being themselves are just so gorgeous.

      We went to a bunch of the same things and I don’t know if I met you! Augh, next time talk to more people, self.

    • Hey Rach, I knew it was you when you mentioned Jenn in her scout uniform. I’m so glad I got to know you and hang out with you during the carnival, that was so much fun. You were the second to last camper I saw as we left camp and I’m glad you knew how to take the LAX shuttle to the various terminals.

  59. The puppet reenactments of classic queer TV scenes, the extremely helpful/informative Q&A at the firestarters dinner table, the complete confusion and joy we all felt at the movie screening, sitting on the picnic bench with some of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met, watching our humans hula hoop (/practice their very private motions, you know what I’m saying, alice motes)… I really don’t have enough words to express all my feelers of love for all of you amazing creatures.

    Firestarters – you are all fucking hilarious, beautiful, genuinely excellent humans. I would also like to say that I’ve been walking around with my NOPE face on for 2 days because I’m not surrounded by all the dapper as fuck freshness that Saskia, Kiyomi, Serina, et al brought to the table every single day.

    Finally, Crystal and Jen hangout time was some of the best time I’ve spent with anybody in a really long time. I just wanna crawl into your bunk, stroke your hair, and whisper sweet Tammys into your ear…

    Love you all.

    • Our conversation about Tami Taylor has killed me a hundred times over since we left the mountain x

  60. Is there a Facebook group for Los Angeles Area Autostraddlers? And, if not, can we make one?


  61. I was so so nervous to go to camp because I’ve got terrible anxiety, like having panic attacks about just walking to class, and it was so absolutely amazing to be at camp and just feel so comfortable. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen but nothing ever did. I don’t think I have had such a long period of such low anxiety since like ever? And my amazing cabin mates and counselors were so great and amazing and totally okay with my being quiet most of the time. But I still think I talked to y’all more in five days than I talk to most of my friends in a month.

  62. I kept reading through these comments worrying that I’d missed EVERYTHING since I seriously don’t understand about 95% of the hilarious-sounding things people are referencing. I hate missing all the in-jokes! But then I remembered that I skipped a few activity blocks just because I was sitting on the floor with the other Bangles having fabulous and soul-nourishing and hysterical conversations I could not dare drag myself away from, and so I’ve stopped questioning whether or not I had as incredible a time as I thought I did. Because I did. (Okay, there was ONE missed activity block due to a hangover nap. But just one. If only someone had warned us about the whole altitude/alcohol thing!) (I KNOW, Y’ALL. I KNOW.)

    And while I’m glad to be back to my dog and my girl and my city and my memory foam and my shower that doesn’t require creative contortion, and while my feet are finally clean and I’m at last warm and comfortable and allergy-free, I’d still fly right back out there tonight if it were an option.

    All of you are so lovely, whether I only laughed with you in the restroom about the defective paper towel dispensers or bumped into you on the dance floor or sat next to you in a panel or spoke to you briefly at a meal or waiting for the shuttle or spun around dancing with you till I was all sweaty and winded. And a lot of you I never even interacted with for one second, but y’all still made my heart swell when I just observed you runnin’ around being you. Glad to have shared the experience with all of you.

    • I think if you could visualize camp it would be a gorgeous crystalline network of pulsing glowing lines where each one represented each camper’s experience. There’s a lot of places where they intersect but path is unique.

      Which is to say I feel you on not wanting to miss out on things. I try to think of it more like how no one else had my camp experience just like I didn’t have theirs. Idk if that even makes sense to anyone but me.


        • @uncannykate …I feel like I should know what you’re talking about, but I don’t.

          Oh! You mean from the L Word. Lol. Yes I guess that does provide a similar visual. :)

      • It makes TOTAL sense and I completely agree and hope everyone’s experience was the perfect fit for their needs and joys and amusements!

    • i always get home from camp feeling like i didn’t talk to ANYONE or do ANYTHING because everyone talks about all these different things and i’m like WHAT WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN but then i realize that i can’t be everywhere at once and i can’t get to know 250+ humans intimately and i’m always just grateful with the tiny little pocket of camp that i’m able to carry around, ya know? which is to say i totally feel ya, and also i’m glad you loved your specific camp times <3

      • Also, this is just motivation to start saving up to return because clearly I need to go to all of the things and experience everything.

        IT’S A TRAP, Y’ALL.

      • Is there any way we can get 200+ time turners for the next camp? I want everyone to be able to feel all of the feelings!

  63. Wow. Simply wow.
    A-Camp was magical and glorious and really, really, difficult.
    I was able to be the wonderful, charismatic friendly-person I remember myself being a long time ago. Hugs all around! I made so many friends, and it was really fun knowing most of the people and being able to just go get hugs any time I pleased! And everyone knew my name from me stripping. That’s one of a kind. Take that default world!
    (By the way, does anyone have the word list from the spelling bee?)

    At the same time, Mt. Feelings brought out the deepest fears and doubts I had in myself. Among other issues, I dealt with what it is like being a male-bodied lesbian. I identify as genderfluid, and tried to dress cute, but that only goes so far in changing how I present, and how I present brings with it all sorts of complicated Feelings™.

    And yet, I was given so many tools that I’ll carry with me forever. Through workshops, and conversations, and hugs and love, I’m going to be a better person. In that way, A-Camp was invaluable, and will bring me back every year.

    So so so filled with love for you all!

  64. <3 Sno Camp was my very best camp yet!! I moved myself and my dog and all our stuff to Chicago yesterday. I really need to sleep for another day or so before I can really put it all into words, but I couldn't resist the urge to talk to my Stormtroopers, creep on all of Blue Crush, and listen to the Spice Girls so I turned on my computer and I can't stop.

  65. That Avicii song that I at first didn’t like at all but then started growing on me and its lyric about “I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost” really applies to how I feel about A-Camp. Heaven is legit a place on earth, even when it’s randomly snowing (even the with the massive mud puddles.) Can’t remember the last time I felt so at peace. I let out so many emotions in the most uncomplicated way ever and now I can’t remember what containers they go back in.

    The only stressful part of camp was leaving and the overwhelming amount of auto-crushes I experienced. Dear everyone at camp: Thank you for being alive.

  66. Pro-tip: wear your hardware jewelry you made at A-Camp to an Alison Bechdel musical and you will be the hit of the ladies’ room.

    • Pro-Tip: Post a comment about wearing your badass jewelry to an Alison Bechdel concert that you rocked the ladies at and watch everyone on Autostraddle wish they were you/could be with you.

  67. I can’t wait for all of the Prom photos to come out. Or just more photos in general. All the photos.

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