OPEN THREAD: Let’s Talk About How Awesome A-Camp Was

this is camper kate hinchey's photo of someone taking our team photo

I’m sitting at the desk in Crystal’s hotel room — she’s flying out to Australia tonight, so Marni and I stayed with her here last night — and I slept for like eight entire hours and I’m not even hungover! So I’m feeling pretty good, is what I’m telling you. But not as good as I felt at A-Camp — sans sleep, nutrients or sobriety — because nothing in the entire world that I’ve seen so far has felt as good as A-Camp. As you may or may not know, I’ve had a LOT of feelings throughout my tender exploratory life on earth, but I don’t know yet how to talk about the A-Camp feelings.

Luckily, we’ve got an eight-hour drive and two battles with transportation companies ahead of us today, and you know what that means — lots of time to process!

For now, I have this: I wish it had gone on and on and on and on, just like in the song, that I could’ve sat down and talked to every single camper instead of just some of the campers, that I had words for this (rather than just facial expressions). I’ve never been so proud of my 35-strong team and so honored to be working with them, or more in awe of their incredible talent and intelligence and spirit — and I’d like to specifically mention Robin and Marni here, too, ’cause they organized and ran this weekend like pros.

I’ve never been so proud of all of you — 163 beautiful, energetic women and otherwise-identified queers — who came to a spot in the mountains from all over the world with such enormously positive attitudes and open arms. We talked about writing, made ‘zines, went hiking, drank tea, cross-stitched, pressed flowers, got alternative lifestyle haircuts, had our breasts pelted by giant super soakers wielded by Julie Goldman & Brandy Howard, met and geeked, performed slam poetry, played jeopardy, took photos, did interviews for Carly’s documentary, speed-dated with Hannah Hart, learned to sing with Haviland, attended gender panels and queer women of color panels and sex panels and queer-women-in-media panels and activism panels and career panels and formspring panels and also we drank/danced/laughed/sang/played/loved. I laughed so fucking hard my jaw ached by the end of every day, and we all clapped and cheered for all the things. And I believe somewhere in between planning elaborate pranks on one another, many of you got laid!

But maybe the one personal memememe feeling I think I’ve got right now at 30 minutes ’til check-out and three unpacked bags is that maybe this weekend I finally started to get it, what you’ve been telling me all along — I did this, right? I found you crazy-ass motherfuckers and we made this place and I had this vision and you all helped me realize it and we all found our words and now lots of people have been transformed forever and we have THIS — THIS THING! So — I guess I’m pretty proud of myself, too.

So yes, we’re looking at October (UPDATE: Maybe September or November actually, we’ll let you know!) for our next A-Camp event — in California again, although we do plan to host camps on other coasts hopefully next year (we’re aware of your 50 billion requests for this, never fear) — and I need to see all of your faces and also a lot of new faces next time.

And now I turn this open thread over to you and your feelings. We’ll have lots of camp-related content throughout the week to share our joy with you, but if you’re anything like me, you probably have lots of joy you already need to talk about right now. Take it away, special snowflakes!

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Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO 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 California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3017 articles for us.


  1. There are no words for how grateful I am that you did this for us Riese. It was a surreal and indescribable experience. I haven’t really found the words but I know where I will be in October.


  2. My feelings are, basically:

    1. Even though I’m upset I couldn’t go because I live in another continent,
    2. I’m glad it all went amazing and you all had lots of funsies,
    3. And yes, Riese, be proud, be really proud. This place is hilarious, enlightening, interesting and in general fucking great – and you created it. :)

  3. I can’t even begin to process the feelings I have about this past weekend but I’m so glad that I was there for the first ever ACamp. It’s amazing to see what the combined power of incredible diverse women can yield.
    I’m surprised that the next camp is already just around the corner in October and also curious to see what changes will be made to make the next ACamp even better. For a first time event this was an awesome turn out and if there is one thing I’ve come to learn about Autostraddle & its amazing staff is that they create a safe space with open communication. I no doubt any (constructive) insights and valued opinions from this first time event will be taken into consideration in making the next, and all future, ACamps even more amazing.

  4. My favorite parts of camp were the panels and the conversations I had with fellow campers. It was so nice being around so many people on the same page.
    I loved my cabin and also everyone else, so much. I wanted to know everyone and hug everyone and listen to everyones stories.
    Camp was so feelings heavy/feelings friendly; I never ever cry and I just couldn’t stop crying sunday.
    Nothing compares to camp.

  5. Well now I know what thread I will be obsessively refreshing for the next several days so I can live vicariously through everyone’s A-Camp experiences. I hope when the first East Coast A-Camp happens I’m able to convince my wife that this is a thing we should go to.

  6. Zomg A-Camp was so amazing and thank you so much for all the AS staff that were there and so nice and amazing and honestly like a million times more attractive than they look online (so, yeah they look cute online but in person? Holy shit. Just sayin’).

    I can’t wait for next camp and all the amazing activities it promises to bring, and I hope that the Little Rascals are together again and Laura can be our counselor, because she’s so amazing.


  7. “maybe this weekend I finally started to get it, what you’ve been telling me all along — I did this, right?”

    one of my favorite things was every time riese was on a stage, covering her face with her hands (just like her impersonator in the talent show), you could see her realizing this. it was so funny and cute. and yes, you did this. so thank you, and thanks to the whole team. it was kind of exactly like what I imagined autostraddle would be like in real life, and it was perfect.

  8. This was insane. Like, reading the summary of what went down, I cannot believe that I was there and now I’m not anymore. Like, holy shit, coming back to this website is surreal because I KNOW YOU WEIRDOS. AND HOLY FUCK, YOU KNOW ME?? YOU ACTUALLY KNOW ME?? That still blows my mind that I’m “famous” because everyone at here is my hero.

    My voice is still sore from singing, and I hope it never ever goes away.


  9. Riese, I just wanted to thank you and all of the staff so, so profusely for the incredible experience you constructed for us. I found myself again and again throughout the weekend looking around and seeing all of these gorgeous folks and thinking with awe, “These people are all queer. All of them. THIS IS CRAZY.” There just seemed to be this pervasive trust in each other, in this beautiful shining idea, and I still can’t seem to put into words how amazing that felt.

    You guys, every single one of you was so glorious. I felt like every time I turned around with my dissolving coffee cup of whiskey in Wolf Lounge I was meeting somebody stunning, living their truth. It was like looking into the sun, all day, every day. Thank you so, so much for your rays, dudes. I had an absolute ball.

  10. I’m going to try and sum up my favorite times at camp with a few sentences.

    Getting to ride in the car with Riese right off the bat (freaked out). Met some of the best people in my van including the cutest butch and femme couple of all time. Pretended not to know any of the Autostraddle staff or Hannah Hart (I was joking but I think I was too convincing). Met the Little Rascals and fell in love with my cabin including the best of the staff, Laura and Jamie. Asking Beth for the 34th time if what I was eating was lactose free. Hiking with Sarah where I got the nickname ‘Dora’. Laughing until I cried with Julie and Brandi. Sneaking off into the woods for a ‘talk’. Swinging on the swing set for hours. Learning more about myself than I knew possible on the gender panel. Throwing my underwear on stage at the talent show… And the whole talent show. And finally, meeting all the amazing Autostraddle writers and staff and of course all the campers.

    I think I’m forgetting something… Oh yeah!
    ‘Fuck me with a strap-on.’

  11. It meant a lot to me to be able to thank the Team in person for their amazing coverage on AS. Being back in the “real world” is surreal and I definitely didn’t want to leave the safe haven that was camp. Thank you so much Robin, Marni, Riese, and the rest of your crazy posse for organizing this, making it affordable, accessible, welcoming, and just tons of fun. I sobbed great big crocodile tears at the Queer Women of Color Panel, stitched my own book, and shot the shit with Katrina while she gave me the BEST UNDERCUT EVER and I feel like I have a new home in my skin (does that make any sense?).

    Totally wish I could be there in October, but I will have my thesis defense and other responsibilities that require my time and money. :( But I will forever remember my first A-Camp experience!

    P.S. now all the collars of my T-shirts have been cut out. FREEDOM.

  12. Can I ask a possibly dumb question? What was the age range of campers this time around? Because me and my wife are in our mid-30s and I’m afraid we’ll be like the old ladies if we go to one of these. (Yes, I am worrying about fitting in at a thing that I may hypothetically go to 1+ years in the future. This is how I operate.)

  13. CAMP..I can’t even…You all reinforced what I already knew to be true: You are all beautiful, special, amazing, lovely and inspiring. Thank you for letting me share your lives for a brief moment in time.

  14. This was such an amazing experience. Gabby and Katrina were the best counselors! They loved us so much that they stuck it out in our packed cabin.

    There are so many things I could say, but I guess the moment that stuck with me the most was when Robin was dropping me off at the airport (in her awesome captains hat) and she smiled at me and gave me the biggest hug to see me off. I have never felt so loved, accepted, amused, crazy, overwhelmed, amazed and fulfilled than I felt at camp.


  15. This camp was my 21st century Daughters of Bilitis experience. It was good to see the idea manifest in the form of a weekend sanctuary in the woods with so many amazing queers. This is probably what many of us often fantasized about while living in our heteronormative world. I am thankful to be a part of this and I hope for many more!

  16. Reading Autostraddle every morning makes my life significantly less lonely and makes me feel like I’m surrounded by queer women. Going to A-Camp and literally being surrounded by you guys was one of the best experiences of my life. I completely agree Dena about coming back to reality being surreal. It wasn’t until I logged on to Autostraddle from home that I truly realized camp was over. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to the, as Gabby put it, magical fairyland known as A-Camp over and over again.

    Thank you so much to the entire Autostraddle crew. You guys are fantastic and I love you all!

  17. A-Camp was the best thing ever and I could never ever thank you guys enough. I cried so much on the way home. I can’t even really believe it happened, it felt like a dream. I’m excited to see the documentary so I can be sure I didn’t make the whole thing up! I love all of you so so so so much!!

  18. One afternoon I saw this random guy walking around. He seemed to be associated with the camp, like making a delivery or something. And he said, “Why are all these people here? Like, who are you?” and I answered, “We’re, um, all friends from this online community and we’ve come from all over the world and we all happen to be gay.” He had this look of wonder on his face and said, “That’s awesome, I’m so glad you guys have this. Have a great weekend.”

    One of my favorite parts of camp was the moment I had with Gaby where I got to tell her in person something I had wrote in the comments on a piece she had written. She gave me a hug and a kiss and told me how much it meant to her. In that (very sweet) moment, I realized that yeah, we really are family. I’m still riding the wave of warm fuzzies.

  19. This was just, wow! I met some great new friends, and had sooo much fun at all the activities I got to go to. I didn’t want this weekend to end!!! Thank you Autostraddle Staff!!!
    This website keeps changing my life again and again for the better. Thank you!!!

  20. I thought I was going to be super jealous about not being able to be there, but I’m actually just really warmed reading these comments. It sounds like it was incredible, and I hope one day I can go!!

  21. I have so many feelings about camp, that this has been one of the hardest Mondays in the history of Mondays.
    A-camp is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I have been changed. I met so many amazing people, especially my cabin. 21 hump street yo! I don’t think I can really articulate the awesomeness that is Camp Autostraddle. Can’t wait until next time!

    Thank you so much Riese for sharing your dream with us!

  22. Oh maaaaan I’m in America in October but I’M ON THE WRONG FREAKING COAST D: I don’t think I’ll get the money to come to America again for a good few years, either, so this is generally a little sad. But still, one day, I will meet you all and have as much fun as you all did.

  23. All these little pieces and memories of camp keeping floating in and out of my head. I, too, am unwilling to form a cohesive narrative out of the weekend ’cause it’ll make it too past tense, too rigidly a story I will one day tell like it had structure and linear movement when for me it was really a continuous spontaneous effervescence of the joy, merriment, and excitement of all being in one place.

  24. Hey hey! I seriously can’t stop talking about it. Whoever I’m talking to could mention literally anything and I’ll find a way to turn it into a story about gay camp.

    I’m dying that I know so many of these comment faces now. It was just the best weekend ever and ever amen.

    Highlights include:

    I wanna gayyyy baby

    My new cut that totally does look even better curly

    Dancing to Robyn

    Sleeping “with” an Olympian (I plan to not tell anyone it was just an adjacent bunk bed)

    Pull my hair, no don’t pull my hair, pull my hair!

    Beth rapping

    The like 40 lesbian spin the bottle game (is this real life?)

    Amazing new friends most of whom have texted me but if you have not yet- get on it.

    Now when I walk down the street I am pretty sure every woman I see is gay after seeing the amazing diversity of our group. It was really beautiful.

    Thank you sooo much for making this possible. I’m already making plans for next camp. Hotel Cali for life.

  25. I don’t have words for how absolutely incredible camp was. I had some of the most amazing conversations with everyone- I was just struck my how honest, beautiful, and interesting every single camper and staff member was. I’m even more in love with Autostraddle than I was before, if that’s even possible. The talent show was the most fun I’ve had in a really long time, and the panels were just fantastic. I don’t have the words for how great camp was – those of you who were there know what I mean, and those of you who weren’t: I hope you have the chance to find out.

    I want to thank all the staff for being so open and welcoming. I’m honored that I was able to go the first ever A-camp, and that I actually had the chance to TALK to all of you.

    Also- the Autostraddle published poetry anthology has to happen, okay? cool.

  26. I’d also like to add that being at camp made me feel the most comfortable and free I’ve ever felt. Being with other queer women who shared my thoughts and love and anger with the world made me feel complete, so thanks to the A Team and every single camper who made me grateful to be gay. So, yeah, that cocky bitch with the giant ego? You all made her ;) Thanks <3

  27. I finally know what the game Apples to Apples is!

    also, morning time hugs and cuddles, A MILLI, $269 worth of BOOZERY, bottom bitch trundles that turned into floor group snuggle sessions and all of you beautiful, bold and badass babygirls as campers.


  28. Some way I’m going to earn enough money to afford a flight from Europe in October. I’m going to do it. I would just feel absolutely miserable if I missed out on another A-Camp.

    Did a lot of international folks come this time?

  29. It’s hard to find the words to describe the weekend, but maybe amazing and tiring and thrilling and thought-provoking and comforting are a good start. Thank you to Riese and Marni and Robin and the whole team and Beth and everyone for putting this together. You did an awesome job making us feel welcome and loved.

    Here are some highlights of my weekend, in no particular order.

    Meeting Julie and Brandy and getting my picture taken with them

    The talent show

    Hanging out with the amazing women in my cabin. Shoutout to Wolfpack and our awesome counselor Stef. Ow owwwwww.

    The gender panel, how to pick up ladies with Katrina and Gabby, high tea with Laneia and Rachel

    Being interviewed for the A-Camp documentary

    Riding back to the airport with Laneia and Megan and seeing how completely f’ing adorable they are together.

    And, last but not least – Riding with Laneia in a towtruck the last ten miles to camp on Thursday night with Megan’s car on the back after the power steering died halfway up the mountain in the dark and fog. Never would I have predicted such a crazy start to to an amazing weekend.

    For all of you who couldn’t make it this time, start saving now for October. Queer Autostraddle love in 3D awaits you.

  30. Riese and I are driving back to Oakland right now (and I’m eating what feels like my tenth in n out burger in 3 days) but I just wanted to say how grateful I am to every single human who came to camp and made it so fucking fun and life-changing. And wow what an amazing staff of people who all gave 150% and made everything so fucking perfect and amazing. I love you all! Not even 24 hours have gone by an we’re already planning the next one!

  31. Best. Thread. Ever.
    This totally makes it feel like you guys are all actually people. And I wasn’t even there. But we’re like a group of people with lives and feelings and shit.

    Also, at camp did Hannah Hart and Brittani morph into some kind of power duo? If they do a show together that would be beyond awesome.

  32. I’m so glad everyone had such a beautiful time – I can feel the love even though I wasn’t there! I cannot wait for any east coast and/or Canada A-Camp.

    Let’s hear it for community that crosses so much space and place, amirite? Way to go, team.

  33. this morning i took a bus to the train into manhattan for a meeting, and i looked around and wrote an email to my wolf pack, because i can’t believe that camp is over and i’m so glad that it happened.

    i’ve always felt like this was a community that i belonged to, even though i’m introverted and a little strange, and camp was the best confirmation of that idea.
    i know i won’t be able to afford to go back in october. but that’s ok, someone else should get a chance. and now i can say i have queer friends in new york, finally.
    and when a camp comes to the east coast, you better believe i’ll be there.

    love you all
    the girl on crutches

  34. The only problem with A-camp, after I left, everyone I saw looked like a lesbian. I swear! In the airport I kept trying to make gay eye contact with everyone, but they were all just as hetero as I was a homo. I have so many A-camp feelings to process!

  35. I don’t know if squee is still a word people use, but every one of y’alls’ comments is making me squee. Fucking adorbz and very heartwarming.

    I’m ready for it to be October so I can write my very own A-Camp abstract.

  36. Wow, the energy is palpable in these comments; it’s weird, you guys, I’m totally getting all your ESP feelings from over here.

    Question: was there any sort of sobriety corner at camp? Y’know, for those of us who are teetotalers and might be interested in going in the future.