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

Hello here I am again, just like the last time we came back from camp, full of feelings I’m simply incapable of suppressing until we start rolling out the Recamps and therefore must impail you with immediately. See, A-Camp September 2012 happened last week and it’s over now, but I don’t want it to be over, so this is the part of the grieving process where I keep it alive by talking about it constantly. CONSTANTLY. I swear we’ve already got ten thousand workshop and panel and performance and special guest ideas already for next time and we’ve only been back at sea level for eight hours or so.

Runaways

Just like last time, I’m monumentally exhausted, but also shot through and broken open with an airy optimism so earnest I almost want to make fun of myself. There’s been so much momentum lately with the campaign and then camp and after spending five days in the woods with all your inspirational faces it’s like we’re almost infinite!

Thundercat + Battlestar

You hear things like, “In my 28 years on earth, I have never seen so much love up in the woods” and “now I feel like I can actually be me” and “things don’t feel so huge anymore” and “I’d never heard anyone tell my story before” and you hear from a trans* woman that this is the first queer women’s space where she’s actually felt welcome and safe and it goes on and on and WOW just WOW.

Little Rascal

Before April camp, nobody on our team had seen the campsite itself until ten of us arrived there about twelve hours before the campers and the rest of our team started showing up. There was a lot to make up as we went along, but Robin and Marni and all of us worked really hard, the campers were completely awesome, and everyone was so happy to be there that it still totally rocked and changed everybody’s lives forever and ever. The campers were game for being part of what was basically an experiment, but this time we didn’t sell it as an experiment but as an experience and holy shit this will just keep getting better.

A-Teamsters Mollie, Carrie & Vikki

Last week, the night before campers arrived, we gathered around the campfire after a day of Pre-Camp planning and bonding and everybody took turns talking about what Autostraddle and A-Camp meant to them and there was a lot of crying and a lot of feelings and the next day busloads of campers rolled in with their wide eyes and hopeful hearts and we were SO READY.

Laneia and Riese man the registration desk

You made postcards and ‘zines and friendship bracelets and tea and chapstick; speed-dated, swam and hiked; talked about coming out, gender, body image, non-monogamy, trans* issues, design & branding, geekery, animal training, DIY home repair, gaming, working for non-profits, queer families, race, religion, andro/butch style and took workshops on how to spoon, write, sing and pole dance. You did all of those things and at least ten thousand other things.

golden girls

You watched Autostraddle writers reading their poems and stories and secrets, Haviland Stillwell singing her songs and Julie Goldman & Brandy Howard attacking campers with giant supersoakers. You fell in love with everybody and they fell for you too and you guys, YOU GUYS, that was intensely fucking fun and also life-changing and those things.

Thundercats

We had 31 Canadians, six Australians and eleven from the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Within the US, we had campers coming from 34 different states, including 84 Californians, 17 Southwesterners, 30 Midwesterners, 44 Easterners, 15 Southern folks and 26 from the Northwest. The campers ranged in age from 18 to 46 with an average age of 25 and they were all the cutest things ever and my heart lives on a mountaintop.

 

DISCUSS!!!

A-Camp 2013 will be May 23rd – 27th in Angelus Oaks, CA. We’re still not 100% sure about how many days camp will be this time, but we’ll let you know soon!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

 

Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. 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 2851 articles for us.

492 Comments

  1. I have finally had a chance to sit down and read through the comments and look through photos (they will be up soon) and reflect just a bit on A-Camp 2.0. I am forever grateful to Riese for giving me the opportunity to co-direct camp with Marni. I can’t imagine spending my free time doing anything else besides planning for camp (and sleeping maybe which I’ve done quite a bit of today). I wish you all could hear our very lengthy A-Camp phone conversations and how excited we get during the planning process. I will forever save all of my g-chats with Marni because they are filled with so many fun ideas and feelings and love for all of you.

    I think I knew that it would make an impact on some for sure, but knowing how much A-Camp has meant to all of you inspires me to work even harder to make it the best thing it can be every time. Seeing everyone so happy and comfortable in their own skin and supportive of each other was so exciting and encouraging for me. So thank you to Riese for starting the revolution. Thank you to Alex for being her right hand lady and building the empire. Thank you to Marni for being the best co anyone could ask for and for working hard with me to create something so much bigger than I could have imagined. Thank you to Carly for being the most amazing, supportive and hard-working partner in the world. Thank you to the rest of our amazing camp staff who I will list in more detail at a later point because they deserve individual praise. And last but never least, to our perfect readers and campers, thank you for changing my life, yet again. I can’t wait to see your smiling faces in May!

  2. I had to leave on the second day because I was (and still am, ew!) sick with what we’ve affectionately dubbed the “Battlestar Plague” so I feel like I missed a whole lot. Most of my Camp Feelings involve sadness over not being a part of the comraderie, leaving with a million new shiny-haired friends, etc.

    I will say that staff was absolutely sweet to me while I was busy trying not to die from some bizarre, hellish sinus infection/flu bug and went out of their way to make me comfortable. I actually began to feel bad when about five folks came by to make sure my bed was sufficiently blanketed. It was one of the nicest things strangers have done for me, so I guess that’s not a bad memory to take away from the whole thing.

  3. I totally forgot to mention this on the survey, but I would like to suggest that campers be able to propose panels/classes/etc to present. There was so much talent and thoughtfulness in our camperhood and I’m sure we have a lot to learn from each other! Some sort of Skillshare would be awesome.

    also please bring back the exotic dance classes, I totally forgot how much I missed it until I got to Mollie and Launa’s class <3

  4. I am so late to this epic comment party, but I had to travel back to the future and then sleep (!) first…

    Before I went to camp I was fine with thinking “Ok, this is a one time thing”, and now I can’t imagine never seeing all of your pretty faces again.

    I was really nervous first at LAX and then when we arrived at camp. But Hangover Carmen was fun to be around and my camp was basically made when Riese, ca. 30 minutes after I had arrived, told me “Put it [the cookie] in your mouth. Eat it.”

    Camp wasn’t perfect-perfect I think, so I can relate to the times that something felt “off”, but it had like a million special, awesome, mindblowing moments. For me it felt like a safe space.
    No femme inivisibility! I thought it might be weird to wear a lot of dresses in the woods, but everyone seemed to love the polka dots and sparkly tights. And noone questioned me being queer because of the way I looked – or judged me for the amount of glitter I put on things.

    Also, I had so many good conversations about relationships and sex and families and religion and butch/femme-issues. I finally got to meet and hug Gabby, which was awesome.

    I was so tired last night after I had come home, that I literally passed out while watching the Real L Word. I think it was right after Romi’s wedding, so who could really blame me. I missed the whole of Whitney’s and Sara’s wedding and when I woke up I didn’t know where I was or if I should speak english or german with my girl.

    On a sidenote, thanks for accepting the accent. Oh my, how I hate it, but all of you made me very comfortable speaking english.

    And, I don’t know. So much love and hugs!

  5. It’s been a week and I’m still talking non-stop about camp to anyone who will listen. It was so galvanizing to find myself in a supportive, safe space with so many like-minded people. I left feeling really good about where I’m at in life and how I experience the world but also motivated to take on more – more responsibilities, more goals for my future, more everything so I can keep channeling all that positive energy. Staffers, thanks for all the love and energy you poured into such a huge undertaking! Campers, thank you for your courage and genuineness and warmth. I just love all of you in a really major way.

  6. So, I realize this is a bit late to the party, but I have to say this sounds like a dream of mine. All my friends have been to a sleepaway camp/girl scout camp while I went to theater camp. Which is different.
    I am so excited to go- I already have about $30 put away, and the date to register on my calendar.
    Is it possible to arrive to camp via greyhound (or some way to get to where I can get to camp from said point)?

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