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.


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.


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.



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!



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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.


  1. As an introvert, I was terrified at the idea of being surrounded by 200+ strangers in the woods, but that quickly faded as I arrived to my cabin and met my roommates (what up, Jetpack!!). Never have I felt so comfortable going up to random people and strike up conversations, I truly felt I could be myself and am glad it was an accepting environment.

    With all that said, Mollie’s dance number left me a little flustered. Phew.

  2. I went in to this expecting a fun time and that I’d meet a lot of awesome queer ladies. It was so much more. Now I just pulled up into my driveway at home and I am having a pretty awful case of post A-Camp blues. I’m sad that it’s over. I actually let my guard down and gave no fucks. It was pretty surreal, yet simultaneously one of the most real experiences of my life. Thank you all who made this happen.
    All my love -McGee

    Avengers assemble!

  3. I’m surprised how good I feel post-camp. Perhaps the grief will hit me tomorrow?
    There’s something amazing about feeling totally at home with complete strangers. Because even though we came from around the world and with different walks of life, we all understood each other.
    It filled me with hope, knowledge, and most of all, confidence.
    Thank you, Autostraddle, and the amazing campers I shared my life with last week.

  4. … this… why… ..waitWHAT?!
    I thought A-camp was some sort of inside joke I didn’t get
    it is a thing?! an actual thing you can take part in??!! in real life???!!!


    can we make B-Camp (as in part 2) – right now..? and can we make it happen in vienna?

  5. Acamp seems to be getting longer can we all be super duper stoked over that! Everything was amazing and everything was right with the world.

  6. You should post lots and lots more pictures so I can stalk my girlfriend from another continent, and find out that she had an epic time because she won’t be able to tell me herself for like another whole THIRTY-SIX HOURS.

    Is that weird? That’s probably weird. I just know that pictures of her having fun with all the adorable queers will make me feel a lot better about her having gone away for a whole week.

  7. I went to the first A-Camp as well, but this one made me feel eveb more comfortable and able to be myself (obviously. I unbuttoned my shirt and danced in a room full of people I knew and would run into afterward.)

    Thank you all for helping me feel so comfortable and confident in my own skin for the first time in a long time. It meant the world and more to me.

    As thanks, enjoy this moment of camp (many more to follow when I finally get home :) )

    • Launa, thank you so much for teaching the classes (especially on short notice!) and encouraging us to participate! You created an amazingly safe, supportive, educational and FUN environment and I feel like I learned a lot from you in a very short time (philosophically as well as dance moves). If I lived in Seattle I would definitely come to your studio! Also you should feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, you are super hot and an excellent dancer (as well as an empower-er, is that a word?)

    • also i want to make up some kind of nerdy nickname for you because llauna is catalan for “can” and i kept wanted to call you llauna.

      • That’s so cool! I always liked my name. I guess it means “awakening” in Hawaiian. I like “can,” too. It feels empowering. Also “Llauna” is close to “llama” and I love llamas.

    • Aw, you guys are making me blush. I’m so happy I got to dance with you. You all rocked. I’d do it again any day. *hugs*

    • Launa, you are SO awesome!

      I could not have “sex’d up” A-camp without your help! You are incredibly talented and SUCH a pleasure to work and hang out with!
      I really hope to see you next camp!


    • Thanks for talking faith with me! You are proof that while it wont be easy this break up might be for the best!

      all the <3

  8. This was my first A-Camp and it was everything I imagined it would be + a heck of a lot more. Like a lot of other campers, I went to camp by myself not knowing anyone. I thought it was going to be weird and awkward but I could not have been more wrong. I met tons of cool people and made several new friends that I hope to visit some day (hello Seattle friends!). I’m home now and it’s going to be difficult to describe to people what camp was like. It’s truly something you had to have been there to know what it was like. The sense of community on that mountain all week is indescribable. It makes it hard to come back to the real world. I just have so many feelings that I don’t know what else to say!

    P.S. I ate two meals with Sarah Croce and we danced twice at the dance. I am now planning our wedding in my head, but don’t tell her that. Maybe I shouldn’t have made this statement public. I probably should have kept it to myself. Oh well. As Katrina said, no fucks to give!

    • Joleen!!! Can’t wait for you to visit Seattle! It was great to meet you on the bus on the way up and go into the craziness of camp with a friend, it was only right that we left camp the same way! So glad you came to camp, so glad we met, until next time, miss you!

      PS. I very jealous of your PS…

      • I’m glad we met on the bus and also got to leave on the same bus! I will definitely come to Seattle sometime! I’ve always wanted to go and now I will have a reason :)

      • You were singing that song while writing that, weren’t you?! When Haviland was talking about singing a Dolly Parton song during her concert I was really happy that it wasn’t Jolene! lol Although, it would have been kind of cool if she had done that one :)

  9. Hey friends. so many new friends. I was in Texas for six hours processing all the feelings and I just want to take a minute to thank all of you for making this the best experience ever. I will add more awesomeness once I’ve had a good nights rest (I got about three hours)and you know adjusted to the lack of well everything.


  10. Just got off red eye, red-eyed, dropping off my film right now, must sleep, feelings later! Miss everyone!

  11. I’ve spent so long worrying about who I was out to, what people thought of me, and not able to be myself. A-Camp was the most liberating, accepting, open space I could ever imagine, and I don’t want to go back to how I was before. I’m officially GIVING NO FUCKS!! Thanks A-Camp and all the amazing queers that made this possible. Can’t wait for Camp 2013!

  12. OMG I crashed sooooo bad yesterday. My feelings processor got overloaded and I couldn’t cope. A-Camp was mixed for me – some really great experiences, but also a couple of things that were weird for me, including some weirdness *from* me. It was just so much at once.

    Thanks for being open and friendly for me, though, I really appreciate it.

  13. A-camp was so fucking cool! Kickball on the (totally not) grassy field was so fun and I learned more about myself and had all the feelings at every panel I went to.

    The talent show, OMG the talent show! All of you people are amazing individuals. There was seriously not a bad act in the entire lineup (and there was quite the lineup!)

    I’d like to give a shout out to Riese for being one of the toughest people alive and to Carly for working her ass off and still looking happier than any person has any right to be.

    Also, as soon as I got into the airport I had the weirdest version of culture shock (straight shock?) where most women were actually straight and how most people with a short haircut and a button-down are actually men and not MoC ladies. It was very strange and I’m still sort of in that state.

  14. i was so scared that looking at photos and hearing words about a-camp after not physically being there would break my heart, and i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t sad and envious while reading this post, but my heart is not broken, just the opposite in fact — my heart is so full of love and excitement and possibility and i can’t wait to see more photos and hear more words and to know what we are creating, which is a community and a safe space and a family and a home. and i WILL see you all on that mountain in may, and i just can’t wait for things to get bigger and better forever.

    and btw, riese, those photos look amazing — i assume you took them with the new camera — what kind did you end up getting?!?

    • we got a cannon rebel T3i and it is AMAZING! we all took turns taking pictures of things so i can’t take credit for most of the ones up there, but needless to say, YAY FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

      • SO glad you went with the T3i, so much room to grow into it, totally goes with the theme of getting bigger & better forever. now i really can’t wait until may so i can participate in the taking turns of taking pictures. <3

    • I couldn’t agree more! For the first A-camp I was totes disappointed about not being there and afraid I would be bitter. After reading all the updates and seeing so many awesome pics I couldn’t help but smile! Camp seems heavenly and I am so glad it’s a place that is growing and thriving and hopefully a place I will get to experience one day. I can’t imagine how wonderful it’d be to retreat with my partner to the that mountaintop and kick it with the team and so many other interesting queer peoples in the space you all have created!

  15. I just got home after a delayed red-eye, so am not my most articulate, but camp was amazing. Words can not express my thanks to the whole A-camp team. If I had one word to sum up camp, it would be empowerment. Time and again, we gave each other permission to be ourselves. Permission to stop shopping for women’s underwear, to come out, to be silly, to take risks, and lots more. I feel like the “permission” is an important first step, hearing from someone else that you like and respect that its OK to make your own rules. But beyond that, Acamp also provided encouragement and positive feedback. I spent every moment of camp relishing in the diversity of the beautiful women there, in each of us special snowflakes being our unique selves. I’m so thankful for that space.

  16. Literally all the feelings.

    I went to A-Camp with my cynic hat on: that I’d probably have fun, meet some cool people, enjoy myself, but it’d be nothing special.

    And certainly nothing life changing. Whoops. Forgot to foresee that.

    I’ve spent a lot of my life on the move, transient between places and never really forging real connections with people because leaving people behind really sucks. That’s why it was so confusing when I would hang out with all these lovely ladies and just want to find some way to always have time to hang out with everyone. Can you pack 300 people into a roll case and ~run away~?

    I could have never guessed that despite being somewhat active in the gay scene in San Diego I would meet two different people who live less than three miles from me and now we have to go get pho and go dancing.

    I could have never guessed I would hear “This is how we live, no fucks to give,” the article I read and held in my wallet like a talisman when I sold everything I owned and moved to California to pursue my dreams with no plan on how, exactly, that was going to happen. And that I would lose it.

    I could have never guessed that the parts of me I dislike the most would be the ones others would find the sexiest. I couldn’t predict that I would have this huge moment of clarity that I had been settling to some degree all my life in relationships when I met the most awesome lady ever (and now I’m kicking myself for not remembering her last name because I can’t book all the faces. :( Find me and we will seriously nerd out and talk poetry and sing badly to each other! )

    I could have never guessed that I would finally let all my stereotypes in my head of who I should have to be or what I need to do fall by the wayside because seeing all these lesbros and dandies and hard femmes finally gave me some mental reinforcement that you can present however the fuck you feel like and it will be AWESOME.

    I could have never guessed that sometimes, yeah, you just need to smoke that cigarette. When I come back in May (as I am now officially a convert), I’m seriously bringing at least three cartons of cigs so no one has to pray to the cigarette gods.

    So many feelings. So much lifechanging. I’m going to have a hard time adjusting. I went to the grocery store last night and being back in the “real world” was such a blow. Thank you so so so so much, A-Team, for making this happen.

    • I smoked an insane amount of cigarettes in the last few days, my voice is completely gone and I’m pretty sure my lungs have stopped functioning. It was worth it though. So much win in the smoker’s circle.

      Courtney, we need to eat pho together like, immediately.

  17. I have to run to work, so all of the feelings I’m processing will have to be condensed, but THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone there. The amazing people that helped plan this, the panelists, the people who put their time and effort into teaching us crafts, and to my fellow campsters. I learned so much from you.

    It was really something special. The bond, the community, the sense of good will and well being. Everyone so supportive of everyone else. It was truly a safe space – and I don’t think I’ve ever felt something quite like it.

    It’s hard being away from that now, but I’m going to try to bring that light and that way of living back into the real world. Start trying to apply camp attitude to my own life.

  18. is it ok to say in this space that while i did feel that some things about camp were great, my overall feeling upon leaving was sadness? and not sad because i was leaving, but sad because i didn’t find camp to be amazing and awesome. i felt disconnected a lot of the time. i was overwhelmed by how many people were there, and i felt pressure to have a really great time.
    i went to a camp 1.0 and had no expectations. so the fact that i came away having met some of the writers i admire most and made a couple new friends was really exciting and totally enough.
    i came back for camp 2.0 feeling ready to really engage, to become a part of the larger camp culture. but it didn’t feel right. i didn’t want to drink as much as the people around me seemed to. i just wanted to connect, and instead all i feel is disconnected.
    i walked around camp thinking ‘it must be me, there must be something wrong with me, why can’t i break this barrier and feel a real connection?’

    sorry to put a damper on all the happy in this thread.

    • This is also a question for me, a reader who loves what the autostraddle community brings into the world. I think it is so awesome you gals are bringing it into real life out of the internet. I wonder though what it would be like to have a totally sober a-camp. Would it be possible? Would it shift the community-building potential exponentially?

      • There was a sober cabin at camp, which I was part of, and it was wonderful. I thought everyone coexisted really well, and I didn’t feel like my choice to not drink was ever an issue. So I would encourage signing up for the sober group if that is a concern for you!

    • Thank you for being honest – it takes guts! I’m sorry camp wasn’t as enjoyable an experience for you as it seems to have been for a lot of folks, but I have to say There Is Nothing Wrong With You. I’ve never been to A-camp, so I am completely unacquainted with its supposed magical qualities, but I can definitely relate to feeling totally out of the loop when it looks like everyone else is having the best time ever. Maybe next camp will be better? When I’m in a situation like this, I hate to tell anyone that I’m not having a good time because it makes me feel so whiny, but I think it’s worth saying what you feel because there’s almost certainly someone else having the same experience.

      • Yes, this. Also lessthanenthused, make sure you fill out the post-camp survey (which will probably be sent in the next few wks) so that we know what to improve next time. The AS staff pays serious attention to the feedback so it’s not something to take lightly if you had a less than super time. Sending hugs!

    • I can relate – I remember going to the sober space the first night and finding no one there. I do drink, but not much, because when I get beyond tipsy I get sad/cranky and that definitely happened at A-Camp. I didn’t really get the nighttime bonding thing many people did because I was too out of it or sleepy to participate.

      Also my cabin people were lovely, but we were all so independent that we never did the whole cabin bonding, salute/yelling, group cohesion thing. So there was still a feeling of disconnect. People were generally friendly and lovely but it did feel like I had to fend for myself a lot.

      I hear you on the sadness. I peaked after the talent show and then crashed badly halfway through the dance. Everyone else has been connecting with each other even back home and supporting each other and I feel rather cut off from it all. It feels like I just happened to be at A-Camp but I never fully integrated as an *A-Camper* if that makes sense.

      <3 feel free to contact me if you want to chat. me[at]creatrixtiara[dot]com

    • Your “is it me? it must be me? what is wrong with me? why can’t I make these connections!” feelings about disconnection resonate with me. I felt like I was having a lot of processing feelings but they didn’t exist in a space that could be accessed by others. I felt a strange sense of rejection and distance, which was still there regardless of the drinking.

      So I don’t know. The purpose of this comment was to say, I feel a connection with your isolation/disconnection.

      • Hey Emily, I know our cabin wasn’t necessarily as cohesive as the others were, and I’m sorry if I contributed to your disconnect. I had similar feelings of disconnect and sometimes it made it hard for me to get over myself to connect with someone else. I was worried about you and am sorry I didn’t make more of an effort to check in. I hope you’re ok.

        • No one’s fault, yo. Don’t feel bad or anything because I’m sure someone being like I FEEL YOU would make me automatically feel a connection or anything, ya know? Anyway, this is to say, don’t sweat it.

    • don’t worry! there’s nothing wrong with you. i know i usually go home from camp with mixed feelings. usually i’m happy because it all happened but sad and/or overwhelmed because i’m around all these amazing people for such a short time and it’s just intense enough to bring out some of my insecurities. not that that’s necessarily how you feel, but i just wanted to let you know that you’re not the only one who doesn’t feel funny.

      but yes, please please please fill out the post camp survey. we want camp to keep getting better and we want everyone who comes to feel like they have a place.

    • Just wanted to re-iterate the request to fill out the survey! I just wrote it and a link should go out to you soon. There will be lots of spaces to express your feelings (good and bad) and to provide any suggestions for improvements if you have them.

      The survey is a huge tool used by the ACamp team to try and make the experience better every time so filling it out really will make an impact for May.

    • echoing everyone’s comment about the survey! also i’m sorry you felt disconnected — you too, emily and tiara. i wish that i’d had a chance to talk with you about it while it was going on. sometimes just telling someone that you feel left out can be what helps you eventually feel in.

      i met some campers at different times over the week/end who talked about feeling overwhelmed to the point of anxiety, and we discussed how therapeutic it was to just walk away from everyone so the only thing filling your head was trees and mountains, instead of all the faces and sounds. even rachel practiced her favorite exercise of “lying facedown on a mattress for a little while” to regroup and center. i don’t know if that advice would’ve helped in your case, but i would really have loved to talk with you.

      for what it’s worth — and i acknowledge that might not be much — i was also somewhat disappointed in the way a few things went. there were a couple of returning activities/situations that had been so electric for me in april but fell a little flat this time. i’ve been thinking of some ways to make those things better for may, but also i’m trying to just come to terms with the fact that each camp is its own camp, and no two camps will have the same kind of energy. nothing will ever feel like the first camp, but also nothing will ever feel like this one, and that’s definitely not because you failed somehow.

      rawr i just wish we’d talked about it.

      • Laneia, thank you so much for noticing my comment/disconnect. I tried posting about it on the FB group and no one noticed, which just sealed the disconnect for me further. It feels like I just passed through while everyone else has zillions of friends who noticed them and misses them already and making plans etc etc.

        I don’t mean to sound petty. I really appreciated people coming up to me and telling me they liked my comments or my performance. I was especially touched when Linney talked to me about how she felt like I represented her during my performance because she wouldn’t have the guts to do so. And I talked about my story with Daniela downthread. But here I am having way too many feelings about A-Camp and wanting shared processing – and I feel like there’s no one there to listen. I don’t know.

        So thank you for noticing. It goes a hell of a long way.

      • I don’t think I knew then or really now how to talk about it? I mean, it’s not like I feel like I got picked last for softball, but more like, I had taken myself out of the running before the roster picking even began?

        Like Brandy echoed below, I am quite sure that I am the source and not A-Camp. I didn’t mean to imply that. More just like, maybe I have chronic bitchface and other intimacy issues that A-Camp sort of brought out?

        Anyway! I did make amazing moments with a lot of people, I just don’t think I was making ALL THE MOMENTS ALL THE TIME WITH ALL THE PEOPLE like a lot of people did and I expected myself to do.

        • “I did make amazing moments with a lot of people, I just don’t think I was making ALL THE MOMENTS ALL THE TIME WITH ALL THE PEOPLE like a lot of people did and I expected myself to do.”


          I don’t really think anyone is to blame, per se – it’s just a really unusual situation and for some of us it’s harder than others to make head or tail about it. I know my feelings only came crashing down Sat night/Sun all day though I did try to talk to a few people about it when I got the chance.

          It’s tricky, and difficult, and there’s no clear answers. I just want to send some love and say you’re not alone, disconnected people.

          • This is EXACTLY what I said to my girlfriend when I called her – camp was amazing in SO many ways, and there was such a sense of community and love and I didn’t know that A-Camp would let me find this thing that has no name but is related so happiness and contentedness and safe spaces and even though I don’t even know if I’ll ever be able to make it to another A-Camp, I’ll always have it with me.

            But I think I was expecting to meet all the friends and make all the connections, and that never managed to click for me – I don’t know whether it was jetlag, my sore tooth mucking things (my mood) up, or missing the first night because of Acute Lack of Sleep. Or the simple fact that I am an introvert and that I think A-Camp was just too BIG for me to find someone to REALLY connect with.

            I loved it. But if I do come again, I have to remember that chances are that I won’t necessarily leave having made all the friends.

            But obvs next time I’ll just bring my girlfriend.

          • I went to sleep the first night too because I wasn’t sick at A-Camp… but suffering from fatigue problems. So, I didn’t drink or party that first night.
            I felt really left out by my cabin, because they all bonded over sharing alcohol the first night.

            It brought out a lot of my self-esteem issues and insecurities, because my cabinmates were so beautiful and awesome. I felt like it was me, I must be weird/unattractive/stupid… I felt like because of my sheltered upbringing (extremely Mormon) that maybe there was something I just *didn’t get* ..

            And, I felt like girls were sometimes mistaking my bubbly extrovertedness or compliments for “I want to make-out with your face.”
            I didn’t make any friends… and now on the cabin fb group they’re all professing their love of a-camp and I’m left at a loss.

            Damn. It’s like school when everyone finds their friends the first day, and you’re left asking, “How do people make friends?”

            I did talk to people and loved A-Camp, I tried to put myself out there a lot, I am an extrovert, you can just walk up to people and hang-out there, I LOVED the panels…. it just wasn’t the feelings/bonding/talking-about-feminism/activism/LGBTQ/friends I was hoping for.

            Mostly left me with lots of insecurities and feelings.

    • I drank a ton at A-Camp (obviously) and I felt disconnected at times too. Maybe it was because we were at the first A-camp and looking for that same intimacy?? Or maybe it was just us?? For me, I’m quit sure I was the source of my own sense of aloneness. I don’t want to presume to match your feelings with mine, I just wanted to say that there were times I felt exactly what you’re describing.

      My comment is completely superfluous at this point because Laneia exactly expressed my sentiments in hers. So- what she said!

      For what it’s worth, whenever I remember a moment from the past week that makes me feel weird or empty- I just look for the nearest animal and snuggle it. And then I try and think of something from the week that made me smile.

      • At one point I was feeling just like lessenthused described and then BRANDY FUCKING HOWARD took the time to introduce herself to me…I honestly don’t remember what I said but hopefully it was my name?

      • I’m sorry you had lonely moments, Brandy, but I gotta say, you made my whole day by telling me I had a sexual name, lol! I’m glad you were there and popped into my class.

      • I had an incredible time this week, but I picked up on the difference in tone between the two within the first 12-18 hours, to the point of thinking, “uh oh – this is going to be a long five days.” There was some definite engineering going on in terms of the pacing of the events and therefore the emotional impact of those events, but I thought it was masterful – hundreds of queer women, each with the capacity to become attracted to each other, or having never been in exclusively queer spaces where they could express their feelings before, put together in tiny cabins for five days. That could have gone south easily. Thankfully, no feelings were hurt. I wound up really appreciating, strange as it sounds, the lesser level of intimacy – there was still plenty of time to fall in love with my cabin mates and to stop and be friendly to people.

        But then – crucial factor – I was there in April and I just kept talking to people and cheerfully kept faith that it was going to work out, which it did. April was and is sacred ground. There was mix of hope and fear that caused us to all lean on each other. I will remember the beauty of it forever. But things change. I don’t think I’d have been screaming with eight other women like a drunken frat boy on Saturday night EXCEPT for April. I’m sorry there are people who didn’t have such a great experience.

        Meredydd and Taylor had suggested a panel of older campers last time and I really think it’s due. I think we have just the humor and sensitivity and candor about our fears to give the anxious perspective.

        And the GG’s were always there, and always will be, for whoever chooses to stop by. But I am carding anyone who stops by for a drink in May (no, that’s not a joke).

        • tiana I love you, but you’re totally right.

          we were chatting in the airport later waiting for planes and morgan was saying that having a camp social worker or accredited therapist would have been really perfect.

          and someone whose position in the camp is to be that approachable presence where people know that they’re not distracting them from another job or when someone else might need them more. (and someone who is trained for that so they’re not totally overwhelmed by the feelings and a camp isn’t liable)

      • we did have a therapy-type counselor/social worker at camp! her name was sarah and she was fantastic and hopefully she’ll be coming back in may.

        • I didn’t find out about that until the last day! Too bad, because I was experiencing an intense case of lesbian over-processing all camp long. I hope she comes back, I predict that she will be needed.

    • wow, while i was at work it turns out i wasn’t alone in my feelings!
      laura, laneia, emily, tiara, vikki, lisa: believe it or not i talked to you all while at camp. i actually talked to a lot of people. but people kept asking “what was your favorite thing about today?” and i just didn’t want to be the debbie downer that said, ‘well, honestly, i was really sad today, and found it incredibly hard to engage.’
      as for the comment about there being a counselor at camp, there was. we became friends. but i’m not the type to go to a counselor to be counseled.
      and trust me, staff, my survey will be as detailed and critically honest as it was last time. but i’m not saying that y’all did anything wrong. i was seriously impressed with how well camp ran this time. but i think it ran away from me, for a lot of reasons.
      after a great day of work and taking some distance, i feel a little more at peace with my camp experience. i realize that my comment earlier echoes as sort of a desperate beacon, and knowing that i was not the only one to feel what i felt is a really helpful thing.

      let the processing continue.

  19. Can we have A-Camp Midwest? For all those in the Midwest who wanted to go but couldn’t, for whatever reason.

  20. Loved camp & having all the feelings today. I especially loved the quiet moments of great conversation. QWOC panel is life. BOMB GRRLS forever & also so much love to the Jetpack cabin. I can only think in fragments because of all the feelings.

    • JAMIE i just got your package. i love you so, so much. you guys jamie knew i was sad about not attending a-camp this time around so she made me my very own journal and mailed it to me with a note and a sticker that made me cry. i cried in my girlfriend’s bedroom last night when she handed it to me (i have to get mail shipped to my girlfriend’s house because the mailman refuses to acknowledge my existence at my apartment in brooklyn.)

      fyi jam, i am in the midst of making you a purple and green friendship bracelet and i will be mailing it to you asap.

      you guys, camp friends are forever.

  21. So, there’s a possibility that I can go to camp this spring, but I honestly don’t know if I want to go. I mean, I do, but I have so many reservations about it. I have a lot of feelings.

    • Rachel you should go!! It’s the safest most accepting and life changing thing I have ever done. Hands down the best experience ever.

    • please come! i want to meet you and know you and learn from you and then miss the hell out of you, like i do the rest of these weirdos.

    • it is scary but it’s so worth every minute of it. everyone is so lovely and loving that you can’t help but feel good about it.

    • Definitely go! Don’t make it a thing where you put pressure on yourself to have fun… some things aren’t (such as the exhaustion you get just by sprinting across camp in that altitude) but you learn so much, and everyone is so accepting that even if you don’t have as much fun as you think you will, it’s still worth it.

    • Go. If you can go, go. Real talk: you will probably get overwhelmed at points, cause I think everyone I spoke to did. I know I got tired/sad/overwhelmed/anxious a few different times. But then you just go back to the cabin or into the woods and timeout, and come back when you’re ready. I would not have missed any of it for the world.

      I mean basically, I think camp is like anything — if you go into it expecting a MAGICAL LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE almost anything would fall short. But if you just go in and let it happen, you can find magic and have your life changed by accident. I did not expect basically any of the good things that happened, or any of the feelings I came out of it with. I didn’t even know what was missing, it turns out, until A Camp was it. Someone said something about that it in one of the readings actually — was it Laura? Something about realising where your holes are, and learning what to do to fill them? Which obviously fnar fnar holes, but actually — yeah, that.

    • If it makes you feel better I thought I was going to pass out when I first stepped out of my car, but everyone is so, so kind.

  22. My girlfriend and I were first time campers and we ended up in the most amazing cabin #misfitsforlife

    We were so nervous that when we arrived and saw all of the A-Campers congregating in the airport for the shuttle we, like, bolted in the opposite direction, I had to smoke a cig and compose myself before heading over there. What happens when we finally did? The incredible and amazingly talented Gabby greeted us with the warmest hug ever and Laura checked us in and made us wonder if her nickname, Hot Laura, was shortened from Hot/Sweet/Adorable Laura because she was all of those and seriously so much more.

    They really set the tone for the trip because everyone was so friendly, which is mind boggling considering how much stress they must have been under.

    All of the events I attended were super fun and interesting, sex panel and talent show definitely being standouts.

    All in all, we met some very cool friends and hope that everyone, including the staff at Alpine Meadows, knows how much we appreciated your hard work and open hearts.

  23. okay you guys but really, it took me 26 hours to get home via my weird and complicated trip and now i’m just straight chillin’ on a new laptop that will allow me to write things for you and i just want you to know that i loved meeting everyone so so much and that getting to know more campers than i did last time was so much fun. i’m making that smoker’s circle facebook group but also i just wish we could hug? i didn’t even really get to say goodbye and i wish i had.

      • i slept for 30 hours total after camp i think with little 30 minute breaks. i am not a robot but that’d be cool

    • I am so happy I got to know you and that I was entertained by Hungover-Carmen for hours the very first day. You are the coolest.

  24. It’s so hard being off the mountain, but in addition to feeling sad I also feel very energized, like I can deal with all the stuff I have to do better than I could have before I went. A-Camp was an immensely affirming experience, thank you to everyone who made it happen.

  25. I am still processing.

    Before A-Camp, I knew about 12 other lesbians, and never really got the concept or importance of community- NOW I TOTALLY GET IT AND LOVE IT AND NEED IT IN MY LIFE AT ALL TIMES.

    I was so comfortable on top of that mountain with all of those gaymos and my cabin was beautiful. Fucking beautiful. They felt like old friends after an hour, and I want them in my life for always! #misfitsforlife

    I think the most important thing I need to remember is how precious those four days were and to never take them for granted. I learned so much. So much. I thought my head and heart were going to explode ninety-seven times daily – in the best way possible.

    P.S. Misfits belated chant: “MISFITS GIVE NO SHITS!”

    • Yes yes yes yes re: never understanding the importance of community before, and now wanting it at all times. My theme song for camp was “I’m going to go home and BUILD THIS”. I want my own group of amazing people I can share meals and crafts and feelings with, and I am going to make this happen, and without A Camp I don’t think I would ever have realised it was missing. So basically probably my whole life will be better from now? I mean it is already.

  26. Hello!

    I was lucky enough to be able to go to both camps. Both were amazing but this one seems to be a lot harder to kick as I sit here in my apartment.

    I went to a lot more panels this time and several discussion groups and I THINK I actually learned all of the things. There is something so safe and confidence inspiring about this place. I actually stood up in groups and asked questions/shared stories that scared me. I actually went up to a girl I thought was cute. I hope to be able to carry some of that into my “real life”.

    I can’t wait to get back although I’ll have to leave early next time.

    Also, my favorite quote from the sex panel (paraphrased) “I don’t care if you throw me up against a wall or I throw you, just as long as someone is doing the throwing” Pretty much as awesome as strap on quotes from last time.

  27. Did anyone happen to record Marni’s cover of “Do It Like A Dude”? I would like that in my life every day, please.

    Also I just wanted to say that I have never met a more nurturing, wonderful group of people than the A-Camp staff. They are all made of kittens. :)

  28. you guys, camp just keeps getting better. i met so many more of you this time and did at least 3 things that terrified me and i’m already counting down the days until next time. everyone there was so talented and beautiful and so good at being themselves.

  29. i met so many more of you this time! you’re so brilliant and giant, like your love and excitement is just as big as the mountain. a few times i was the me i was hoping i could be, sometimes even better.

    the only thing i could think to do on the (6 hr) drive home was make zine pages in the front seat, and when i got home all my living room furniture had been rearranged (who does that?) but instead of getting upset i just wrote a letter to you and drank one of the IPAs that celeste had left in wolf lodge and made a million lists and plans for may.

    like what if we do a period panel. what then.

  30. A-Camp forms families, builds community, and makes you feel the feelings. If you want to know what it feels like to be loved just for being you–go up the mountain.

    *Hunger Salute*

    Also, Tierney’s face is priceless.

  31. I want to hear people’s Magic A-Camp moments, because I love collecting this sort of thing.

    My personal one: Hearing Daniela’s story about her relationship dynamic during the Non-Monogamy panel. I was almost *shaking* because I am in the *exact same relationship* – plus/minus 3 years -and I had NEVER heard, seen, read about anyone else who was in a similar relationship structure. For ages I had felt like a *freak* because of it, like I was doing relationships wrong or something. I talked to Daniela about it, with all these pent-up feelings I never got to really share properly with anyone, and she *gets it*. EVERYTHING we talked about, I had been through, all the qualms and worries and wtf-is-thisness. If there is one thing I’m taking away from A-Camp it’s meeting Daniela because FINALLY FUCKING HELL I am NOT alone. <33333

    One I witness: at the QPOC panel:
    Dena: I don't know any Persian queers!
    Someone a few seats away: I am!
    All: :DDDDDD

    • Yes, that was definitely an amazing moment! You could just feel the joy in the room.

      I had a few great moments.

      Everyone cracking up as the camp guy talked about “bear” precautions.

      Me noticing that groups of people were listening when I was first playing violin in the morning. And then somewhat related, is me playing underneath a giant flower parachute in the woods with sunbeams and gently shifting shadows.

      This is a small one, but it matters to me: Seeing that there was a coffee machine/when the machine ran out and the kitchen guy immediately replaced it.

      During the all-camp photoshoot, the sequenced process of everyone getting super quiet, then the tiny click of the camera, then wild applause, and then doing that whole thing over again three more times.

        • THANK GOODNESS SOMEONE DID. I was wondering about that.

          I just had to explain to my roommate why that was funny.

          Also, Evey! You made me so happy when I was sprawled in the hammock one morning and I heard Irish fiddle playing. It was so awesome, and your talent show performance was beyond amazing.

  32. Camp is everything wonderful in the world condensed into less than a week of panels and bonfires and hoppers and feelings. It’s hard to explain this to anyone who wasn’t there or doesn’t “get” autostraddle, which makes coming home crazy hard. Experiencing A-Camp 2.0 with old and new friends, hanging with our staff outside of gmail (and of course, my Forever 21 campers!) give May’s camp a lot to live up to and to look forward to! I’m not even bothered by the amount of embarrassing and awkward pics of me that have already been posted. <3

  33. I need the video of Marni’s “Do it like a dude” because feelings. Jessie J cannot compare.

    Also… 21 hump street!!

  34. I have a million things to say. I will narrow it down to three.

    1. This morning I woke up and was epically sad that I wasn’t starting my day in the smoker’s circle.

    2. A-Camp got me writing again.

    3. There are no words to explain what happened to me at camp this week. The world looks different now. Maybe the world is the same and I just found my home. I’m not sure which. All I know is that May cannot come soon enough.

    Also, I have never wanted to be a chair as bad as I did during the talent show. Just saying…

    • OMG Patrice, I was SOOO sad that I didn’t get to smoke with you before you left, thank you so much for always needing a nicotine rush at the same time I did. You are amazing, and we are going to have to do more SPIDER demos next camp.

      • oh god. I did that, didn’t I? Thanks A Camp for allowing a butch to attempt to shake her booty against a wall.

        • Patrice!! I miss you already, and all you guys!! Smoker’s circle FTW! I feel like so many just hilarious things happened over there! Also, I have all these pictures that you took, “ninja-style” and they keep making me laugh upon closer inspection.

    • you have the most amazing hair!
      also amazing, you had cigarettes when pretty much nobody else did.

      if somebody finds my fucking rolling paper I still want that. I ‘d even pay for the int. shipping

  35. I will keep this short at sweet.

    + thanks to the entire autostruddle staff for making this camp happen (yes the typo is intended, riese will get it)
    + it was amazing meeting everyone, you are all beautiful unicorns.
    + this was my first A camp but definitely not my last.

    much love,
    christie xoxo

    thundercat/australia represent!

  36. As an A-Camp veteran I was surprised by how much I learned this second time around. Like, Gabby and Katrina taught me to embrace my “swag”. Katrina and Stef helped me realize I could be a big spoon or a little spoon. I could be a tea spoon or a slotted spoon. Hell..I can be a ladle if I want! I learned I suck at lesbian jeopardy and Autostraddle trivia. I discovered I actually enjoy tea and that speed dating is something everyone should try at least once. The sex panel taught me that my sex life has been surprisingly tame..Like, really! I learned some of you actually read my comments? And just as the first camp did, this camp showed me how beautiful you all are. All of you! I want to hug all the A-Campers and Autostraddlers so hard!  Marni and Robin still rock. Riese is just amazing. And Laneia: I. Can’t. Even….(my Internet crush lives on. Sorry Megan) The entire A-Team did such an amazing job. Thank you all! I took so much away from the first camp. The second camp helped reinforce it all. I have gotten the very best thing from it that I ever could have imagined or hoped for. And all because in July 2010, Riese woke up at 3am and wrote “CAMP – THIS WILL BE OUR THING” on a notepad. (I’m so going to buy you a pony!) I won’t be returning in the spring. I have passed the torch to Marika. She is now where the whiskey comes from and has a tshirt to prove it! Wear it well my young successor. I love you all. Truly.

    • WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU WON’T BE RETURNING. do you not know what ‘returning’ means? did you confuse ‘returning’ with ‘free burning’ maybe? because ok like, that happens to everyone — you can’t just free burn constantly. you should definitely take breaks every now and then. i think the spring would be a great time to slack off on the free burning. good call.


      Just…think about the glory this IRL friendship could become.

    • oh no, I didn’t meet you and say hi to you at camp. that was totes on my to do list. ‘go up to the person with the gun and say ‘hi, your comments make me laugh a lot”‘ but you didn’t bring the gun so I couldn’t figure out who you where

    • thinking about it….where you on of the girls I borrowed a cork screw from after I broke my 99cent store one ?

        • well I did go there a few times tho …. I had several bottles of wine to open tbh!
          did you guys have a good trip? back in sf yet?
          I’m smoking all by myself right now, saddest thing ever

          • That’s true, I completely didn’t think how those bottle of wine magically became uncorked. And yeah, good trip back, nearly no traffic.

            Smoking by myself is the saddest thing ever, especially since a week ago, I was surrounded by so many smoking queers.

  37. So, I had an epic emotional breakdown during my second trip to A- camp, and I don’t regret going. It still is the most magical group of people ever, and I still love all of you. Goes to show how accepting this community is, that I was allowed to be broody and depressed, and no one was bothered by it.

    I came to camp expecting to have a good time, so I could possibly forget about a long list of personal issues I’m currently experiencing. I left camp with the realization that I can’t forget my personal issues. These issues are big issues, and camp really highlighted that for me.

    As an introverted person who is uncomfortable with their own intense emotionalism, the experience of being surrounded by 300 lesbians in the middle of the woods is going to be fucking profound. The feelings, they are limitless.

    Also, Jetpack for life.

    • i really hope that things work out <3

      thank you for coming and i’m so glad you still found it profound. i also hope the times you spent in the smoker’s circle really helped, because those were my highest times.

  38. JETPACK FOR LIFE! PURPLE TEAM for the win! You guys, I have jetlag, but for gayness. Lezlag? Jetfag? I don’t even know. I am having all the feelings about all the things, specifically:

    – I can’t believe all my 90’s knowledge finally paid off in trivia magic.

    – I have a lady boner for the Wild Stallions.

    – I wish I had thought of something smoother to say/not been so fucked up, but instead I just walked up to Carmen and said “Hey girl Carmen Rios.” And then walked away. Blame it on the altitude.

    – Chelsea

    • “- I wish I had thought of something smoother to say/not been so fucked up, but instead I just walked up to Carmen and said “Hey girl Carmen Rios.” And then walked away. Blame it on the altitude.”

      if there is anyone on staff who understands the altitude struggle… it is clearly me. thank you for even being intrigued by my drunk ass. there’s always next time!

    • 1. Without your 90’s knowledge, Orange team would have won color wars (but I am glad that if we lost, it was to purple).

      2. Wild Stallion’s have a huge lady boner for you. You need to come visit Chicago.

      3. Blame it on the altitude.

      Btw, my Acamp medeal fell out of my bookbag that I took to work today and I literally almost cried thinking about how much I miss you guys. Faggity Fued was a ridiculously good time.

      • I accidentally read that as “my A camp medal fell out of my boobs” and I thought that sounded completely feasible for it to get lost in your glorious tits.

  39. A-camp was the most amazing experience of my life. I love all my cabin mates to death. I danced in public for the first time in my life and found out that I love danceing. I only slept 3 hours each day, because I did’t want to miss a minute of camp. My cabin and I got to talk about feelings with Riese and Laneia! Piercing won the war (inside joke).

    RunaGays ftw

    *Hunger Salute*

  40. ^my username is not the name I go by, if you met me at Camp you know me as Dana.

    I had a really amazing A-Camp. I feel like I learned a few things and became less shitty at being a human with feelings, so there’s something. I’m a little worried that I freaked out some of the staff by fangirling a bit but I was just really excited to meet these amazing people who put their words on my computer, so I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.

    I had an appointment with my psychologist this morning and I had kind of a huge breakthrough/down, and I feel like having been the non-judgmental space of the camp let me stop judging myself so hard. I finally allowed myself to feel the ALL the feelings that I deserve to feel about some really fucked-up shit in my past, so thank you, especially to the little rascals who supported me during my emotional outpouring. I wasn’t really prepared for all of that but I’m glad that it happened. I will definitely see you all at San Francisco pride next summer!

    The gender panel was UH-MAZING, I had all the feelings! Also I learned that a)I look really good in bowties and b)how to tie one, so I’ve been to the thrift store and will be rocking one on my date tonight. Thanks to Katrina and Gabby I can turn my swag on to really impress her. Also, Jacq, we need to get in touch and talk winter wear, cause I’ve found some awesome jackets that will actually stand up to winnipeg winters.

  41. A-Camp was exactly what I was looking for. Lately I’ve felt really disconnected and annoyed at the queer community for like somanythings and I went to A-Camp because I wanted to once again embrace my queerness. And that’s exactly what happened. I feel more queer than ever. Which is pretty great ’cause I’m pretty queer!

    It was the perfect mixture of feels, fun, and meeting so many people. I have never been surrounded by so many people who I felt were totally accepting, intelligent, and non-judgemental.

    Thanks to everyone for the amazing four/five days. I even got sick in the middle of it and you-know-what, it didn’t even matter!

    Hope to make it next time, love all y’all!

  42. I think my wife really needs an A-Camp experience. Ever since we moved for university she’s felt so alone; not a femme or lady appreciator to be had in this town :/. And now she’s totally convinced she’s the only gorgeous gal out there who loves to curl her hair and wear floral prints.
    I think we’re going to sign up for this lovely outdoor gay-palooza :D


      please come in may. my girlfriend and i will be there and we want to meet you and hang out and be friends and wear floral (my gf will not be wearing floral so that part is totally not mandatory but i will be in only floral all day every day).

    • Curling my hair is quite honestly one of my fave past times. You two should totally come. There may be more femmes in your town than you realize. Seeing as there is that whole femme invisibility thing.

  43. I am very happy that I went to A-Camp. Even if everyone was walking around repeating “So.MANY.Feelings” over and over again with tears in theirs eyes. Like robots that magically,suddenly became capable of feeling emotions (yeah I’m a jackass).

    For me this is just the beginning of many great friendships and experiences. I was excited to meet everyone but I’m most excited to see the ongoing friendships and impact of that.

    A-Camp is a great place to see what a safe, accepting space feels like, where you really can feel all those “feelings”, and hear others tell their story, while feeling like they are telling your own.

    It’s important to experience that outside your everyday life. A camp reminded me how many people don’t have a safe space, and don’t feel accepted. It made me think that maybe I need to start connecting with some of my own feelings.

  44. THUNDERCATS HOOOO! #feelings

    I didn’t know what to expect from my A-Camp experience because most of my (Chicagostraddle) friends who went the first time are a bit on the crazier side. I get all anxious and introverted and uncomfortable. But I went knowing that it would be a safe space… and I could hide in my cabin if I needed to! I took breaks when I needed, but also forced myself to do things like speed dating and singing in the talent show (even if I only sang a teeny bit, I got on stage and didn’t die!) I went to the queer women of faith panel and had so many feelings and cried my eyes out in public, but felt ok about it. I even danced some which doesn’t happen very often. It was so good to see the team members that I haven’t seen (mostly) in years, and to meet a couple that I hadn’t met before. I wish I wasn’t so overwhelmed by Saturday night because I really wanted to meet Julie and Brandy and get a picture. Next time! And maybe next time I won’t ‘accidentally’ forget my uke so I can’t perform in the talent show. But really, I love how no matter how I felt, no matter what I was wearing, no matter what activities I chose to do or not do, etc., I didn’t feel judged. It was a very welcoming safe space that I wish I had more in real life (not that Chicagostraddle doesn’t give me that, but that’s not the real world…)

    Ack, but I am a little bummed with myself for not doing better at Autostraddle Trivia!

    • I love you Elli B! I was really happy to get to meet you and you were the best team mate at trivia. I was also bummed that I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I had once imagined, but that just means I have more reading to do. I can’t wait to come visit Chicago:)

  45. Camp is my number one feeling for all of time. My heart is still on the mountain. Staff – thank you for being the hardest working, hardest playing and hardest loving people I have ever met. Campers – thank you for your enthusiasm and acceptance. I’m completely devastated that I can’t go to the next one. Thinking about not being there makes me feel all weird and awful inside.

  46. things i lost at camp and then found later include:
    – my blazer
    – my captain’s hat
    – my charger
    – my headlamp
    – my binder
    – my chord charts

    and then this morning i left my phone in a cab and it had so many pictures of mollie deflating the shark with her entire lower body and now i’m really sad.

    you guys i loved my cabin so much and i loved all the new writers so much and i loved coffee with grace and champagne toasts for breakfast and roadtripping with annika as my copilot and GETTING IN THE VAN and i can’t believe i have to wait so long to see you babies all over again.

    i’m already making so many plans for may.

    • things i am still missing from camp:
      -my blue a-camp 1.0 shirt
      -my black kenneth cole sunglasses
      -carmen laughing
      -JILL talking about plumbing and cows
      -marni’s DIY tips
      -making up imaginary tumblr accounts with brittani
      -every single human and feeling on that mountain

      but for reals, if anyone found my shirt or sunglasses i’ll pay to have them sent back to me.

      • if you find yourself in nyc i can do a really great carmen impression.
        i hope i find myself in oklahoma soon so i can see jill’s gabby impression again.

          • I hope you saw the “impression” the first time I did it, not the reenactment, which was not very good. I was kinda nervous because Gabby was present for the reenactment…and she is kinda my hero now.

            I’m wearing the Jamaican Bronx bracelet she gave me right now btw.

          • Jill saying I’m your Hero is like Chuck Norris allowing Indiana Jones to stand next to him. I am HONORED, dearest gentlequeer. May our paths cross again very soon.

  47. We are stiiiiillllllll driving home and I think we are in Utah somewhere but we won $90 in Vegas and I bought a blazer so no regrets.

    Meeting so many people was completely overwhelming but lovely. My cabin was incredib and I’m obsessed with all of you. Who runs the world? America, you guys. America and Lisa Frank.

    Being introduced on the last night and having a sea of chairs part to let me get to the stage was a terrifying moment but thank you all for your kindness. I’d like to clarify that I’m only a contributing editor and I have nothing to do with fixing the site so don’t put your hope in me.

    I cannot wait to come back in May and give all of you hugs and love and peer pressure you into being my best friends.

    • Hansen is driving, so now I can comment! (WE ARE SO READY TO BE HOME.)
      I went to Camp expecting to make a friend or two and have a good time. I was blown away by how incredible this whole experience has been. I made some amazing friends in our cabin, #misfitsforlife. I listened to some epic gender discussions, made a zine for our cabin (I brought it home! Misfits, I will need your addresses!), bonded with other gluten intolerant queers, and so much more.

      I agree with other campers that it was super overwhelming at times, and I felt out of place once in a while, but as a whole camp was EPIC. I cannot wait to make this road trip in May. It was so amazing to be around 280 queers. You are all amazing. I have all the feelings.

      Who runs the world?! AMERICA. (and Lisa Frank)

  48. I’m sitting in my lesbian coffee shop back home and they are playing an acoustic version of Call Your Girlfriend. I’m not fucking kidding. I might start crying. How epic was it when we all were singing that at the end of the talent show. Also when we sang the medley of songs throughout the talent show (umbrella, if I was your boifriend etc). So fun.

      • it is the Highland Cork, Denver, Co. Its not strictly lesbian. However, it is owned by lesbians and plenty of queerness abounds. Plus I hang out there. Pretty much anywhere I hang out I dub as a “lesbian” place ;)

  49. Guys, this girl at the rock climbing told me about a stretch to help after rock climbing, which also applies to ladysex. Put your hands in a praying position, turn them down and push inwards.

    You’re welcome.

    Also, nothing is better than A Camp, and I want to live there.

    • Ambra!! I never got to tell you that your performance at the talent show was fantastic! You should be so proud :)

  50. Valencia! I want to be in an adorable, silent reading circle right this minute. Reading silently by myself just isn’t the same.

    • VALENCIAAAA. Maybe I’ll go to the next A-Camp prepared to be a little crazier, but I was so happy to be in a cabin of ladies who were down with being their chill selves.

  51. Favourite A-Camp moments:

    – When Katrina said she hadn’t written the essay she was meant to read so she was reading something else instead, and then said “This is how we live…” and I realised what was about to happen.
    – All Wild Stallions times, including many that are not repeatable.
    – Meeting Challahback Girl what what
    – In Queer WOC panel when the only Persian queer in the world found another and the JOY IN THE ROOM and Gabby said “A Camp!” over the sound of everyone cheering. I can’t.
    – When the last two answers to Sex Acts I’d Never Do in Faggity Feud were ‘bondage’ and ‘threesomes’ and I actually thought people might riot
    – Pretty much everything Gabby did to be fair
    – Bears. They’re dangerous you guys.
    – Alice gave us vodka!
    – Gaella (sp?) reading “Say Yes” at the talent show because that is pretty much exactly how I feel about Autostraddle at all times
    – Marni’s cover of Do It Like a Dude
    – Mollie’s dance sweet merciful actual Jesus
    – They always say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but it turns out Laneia is exactly as wonderful as I thought she would be. More so in fact. We are very lucky.
    – Panels panels panels. I learned all the things.

    I’m sure I have more but for starters there’s that.

  52. A-Campers, and Autostraddlers,

    It was such a tremendous pleasure to spend several days atop a mountain with each and every one of you. I can not put into words just how much you have all done for me, but know that I have left A-Camp feeling utterly inspired!

    In short, I have begun writing again, reorganized my entire apartment, promised myself to take up dance again(because you were all so encouraging, and I had a BLAST dancing for all of you), and have decided to find someone who will love me unconditionally for who I am. In other words, and I say this in the least sexual way possible – I’M DOING ME.

    It was an absolute honor to meet and spend time with all of you, and I hope everyone got as much out of A-Camp as I did!

    Don’t be afraid to be yourselves, because you are fabulous.


  53. WAIT. Best part of A-Camp: Alex Vega telling me I have moves. Thanks for the confidence Autostraddle. It worked so well I lost my keys when I got home and had to do a Sunday afternoon walk of shame.

  54. Haviland told me I was badass or something, and that was cool.

    I made a cross-stitch that says “Science, bitches!”

    I had so many feelings with my cabin, usually in the woods late at night, sometimes with a bag of Malbec and a book of Andrea Gibson poems. Pretty sure I cried at least once a day, but it was really cathartic and great. My cabin was seriously the best.

    I’m really sad I got sick and that we lost a Battlestar early on (Jules, I love you!) Now I’m finally home in my recliner and so incredibly congested and stupid overwhelmed, despite ALL OF THE PSEUDOEPHEDRINE (ALL OF IT).

    I liked it that Digger passed the whiskey torch to me (thanks, we didn’t get to hang out enough!)

    Also, I have to say, Chelsea won A camp. Somewhere we have a “McKayla Maroney is not impressed” picture with our medals. I’m going to have to find that.

    Also, my cabin is the best at spooning.

    That’s it for now.

      • My favorite part of that was when we repositioned during the endurance spoon and Shannon actually fell asleep. On the ground. On my boob.

        That super spoon felt super great.

  55. YES! If anyone has our “Mckayla/McGayla is not impressed” photo please post it! Also, if you have a photo of me getting spanked/soaking wet you can facebook it but don’t tag me…true story, my mom is my facebook friend. And she SEES EVERYTHING. #privacyfail

  56. So this one time at Camp I cried a lot to Laneia and she was so wonderful and sweet and hugged me approximately one thousand times.

  57. Y’all made me feel so goshdarn special. Probz cuz y’all’re the goshdarn specialists in special. I want to pick up and hug everyone of you all over again! Maybe everyone can get in a nice single file line for that next time? I think I just invented a new workshop!

  58. Camp was the most amazing experience I have ever had. It was my first time ever going someplace where I didn’t know a soul and I was nervous out of my mind. Within minutes of getting to camp all my nerves were gone. I have never felt more myself, more confident, or more loved ever in my life. I met so many amazing people. I am still processing all of my feelings…

    Little Rascals I love all of you so much and I can’t wait to eventually be reunited (so I can hug you and talk about feelings and cuddle)

  59. When Laneia and I decided to be counselors this time I was really excited about having a cabin of brand new campers and integrating them into the A-Camp experience but what I didn’t expect was how fucking supportive the campers were of us. I LOVE YOU WEIRDO RUNAGAYS

    *hunger salute*

    • plz give an example of an autostraddle person who would be unsupportive of having RIESE and LANEIA as their counselors.

    • Being a camp counselor was my favorite part of A Camp. Thank you for letting me do that and thanks to the Avengers for being so awesome!

    • just…incredible. you two are so beautiful. I can’t believe this even happened. we knew you were busy running the show, but the fact that you came to our cabin to hang out with us (jeez guys, you even got there before i did haha) ??? I don’t know how you did it, but you did! you guys are heroes.

      *hunger salute*

    • We loved you before, and now that we’ve met you, we love you even more. You guys couldn’t be more amazing people. We will support you forever

      *hunger salute*

    • Just like Niki says, we will support you forever. I will never get over how much love you and Laneia showed each of us and how amazing of a job you did making our whole a-camp experience. You won our hearts as completely as we won camp :)

      *hunger salute*

  60. it’s freaking weird to be able to picture some of you at your computers like typing and ~having feelings and shit.

    also *hunger salute* isn’t working for me, it’s making me hungry.

  61. Anyone who is unsure about signing up for the next camp, just do it. Anything you stressed about won’t be a factor once you arrive, and everything you didn’t think you needed will be addressed and warmly taken care of.

  62. Also, camp just made me feel so conflicted about what I’m doing with my life. Watching how supportive everyone was of their community and how they sacrificed their time to make everyone feel safe and comfortable made me feel like what I do is so fucking trivial. At the same time, when my very sweet, Southern cabin mate tells me that she’d get fired if her employers ever knew that she was gay, I’m so grateful that although i’m the only queer person and the only latina in an office comprised solely of sorority girls, they’ve always been really cool with it.

  63. a few highlights from camp:

    +cherry bomb reunion & finding Jamie in her cabin and receiving a rad notebook & jetpack stickers
    +”Oh! You’re not a cat!” – my cabin mate after introducing myself
    +unofficial Buffy roundtable w/ Samantha and Geneva
    +nice conversations in Deer + in the cabin
    +winning Autostraddle Trivia and dying from embarrassment
    +Blame it on the Altitude, Do It Like A Dude & Call Your Girlfriend
    +eating my first in-n-out burger w/ various campers
    +post-camp floor feelings circle at LAX & feelings afterparty with Morgan in our terminal

  64. I know my team didn’t win the Rainbow Wars but I prepared a speech anyway:

    I would like to thank the Autostraddle staff for inviting me to camp…my cabin-mates Meredydd and Cee for hanging out with me…the Avengers for being incredibly nice to me even though I followed them everywhere…all the campers who put up with my earnest rambling during the campfire…and every single person who shared their stories. And last but not least, I would like to thank the mountain lions, bears and rattlesnakes for not eating me. The eHow articles I read on surviving attacks and bites were not needed.

  65. Bros and sisters, dappers and femmes, all of you campers and Autostraddlers, past present & future…I’d like to take a moment & share an A-Camp testimonial with all of you. A-Camp was its own breed of a spiritual retreat, a festival of queermos…there were even a few Lesbian Jesus sightings.

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus in all of the faces on the other side of the terminal baggage claim. Shy smiles & small talk eventually led to some deeper bus trip bonding. Aka “What do you mean you still haven’t seen Mean Girls??!” & “It’s just like, y’know, holding a big black thing in your’s easy.”

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face on the door of The Misfits cabin. Her Misfits were varied – they were coupled & single & Ukranadian & American & fucking hilarious when she was trying to quietly change into her pjs around 5am but ended up spilling $9 worth of quarters on the floor. “Sorry guys, just making it rain.”

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face in all of the smokers in Kappa Phi Tobacco (Oy! Oy! Oy!) “I’m a human being! Not a fucking piece of furniture!!” But don’t let Lesbian Jesus fool you…she fucking loves cuddle puddles.

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face during Faggity Feud. She also can’t believe this thing about “bondage” & “threesomes” as answers. And even if my side did lose, we all still won, y’know? Yeah, you know.

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face in the sky as I walked alone lost in the woods at 3.30am because of “altitude”. You know what helps the anxiety of the reality of being lost but also hinders the finding your cabin process? Whiskey. Ps. If you were one of the girls that was trying to leave the others’ cabins on the down low, Lesbian Jesus erased my mind & I remember NOTHING.

    +Pretty sure I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face on the Twister mat, her face visibly shaped with lube and strobe lights. LJ thanks you, Sarah Croce. A lot.

    +Pretty sure LJ’s face was the entirety of the stripper pole as well.

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus’ face floating above Klub Deer. She truly did take such good care of each & every single one of us.

    +I saw very strong & brave Lesbian Jesus’ on the Talent Show stage. Both literally & figuratively.

    +I saw Lesbian Jesus (and the rest of you) not judging me for drinking before/during/after breakfast until bed time. Or at least not to my face. Much love, ladies, much love.

    +Lesbian Jesus forced me to deal with my feelings honestly. Which is not my thing. It’s not all that avoidable at A-Camp though & I think that’s part of its allure.

    +I heard the spirit of Lesbian Jesus in all of the wonderful quotes overhead by campers. I am going to bring a small journal specifically for quoting campers. They range from quite profound to fucking hilarious. “Is it like incest if I hook up with someone in my cabin?” “Depends on if it’s just kissing or full on face riding.”

    +Lesbian Jesus made sure we packed everything (or at least most of everything) & provided plenty of tiny spring rolls & loaded us up on the last bus to the airport. We were all prepping for the quiet ride back until Sara Medd informed us that “Hey guyssss?? Guess what??? Your bus driver….is….a….LESBIAN!” She told us that she & her girlfriend are going to be coming to the next one & it reminded us all that yes, there would be a next time.

    A-Camp got to me, despite my initial urge to deny it access. I was super resistant to opening up to everything A-Camp offered me until the last couple of hours..because I don’t know why. I ended up thinking of words & crying behind my sunglasses in the airport & smiling when a fellow camper would walk by & I knew there would be new experiences & fun faces & party times & serious times & alone times & the rest of times but I didn’t think it’d literally be ALL of the feelings. I thought maybe an 80/20 split? But no, all of the fucking feelings.
    Sometimes I was cool & sometimes I was an asshole & sometimes I made jokes that maybe weren’t so A-Camp appropriate & I apologized a LOT about those last two things but you always made me smile when you complimented me on my hair but really most of the time I was just a wandering weirdo. I realized that no amount of reading about the past camp could prepare me for the intense wave of awesome that this camp creates. A few of us would discuss how much we weren’t looking forward to our real lives. But you know what? For a few moments in time A-Camp was our real life & we were fucking living it.

    The lasting A-Camp impression for me was on the airport terminal shuttle bus with three other A-Campers. Three of us had reached our terminal & as the other two had followed me off, they turned to the bus & did their Battlestar, So Say We All chant & it was pretty fucking adorable.

    In closing, I can’t wait to see LJ on all of your lovely faces next year….and A-WOMAN!!

  66. I am so amazingly glad I came to camp. And I am amazingly glad that this exists and that you guys put this together for people like us. I just can’t get over all the positivity and love that was felt every minute of camp. I only wish that every person ever could get an experience where they feel so welcome and comfortable with themselves. And I was surprised that this experience actually reminded me a little of church camp. I can only speak for my own experiences, but they were similar in the love and welcoming, etc. I think Jesus would have approved of A-Camp, from what I hear he liked people spreading love and kindness. A-Camp is probably my new religion. The only thing that matters is how we treat each other in the world, and I hope that we can all take a little piece of this with us and share the warm fuzzies that camp gave us with everyone else around us. We all deserve a welcoming loving home and that home can be found in camp, friends, family, community, or even a fucking website. I just wanna spread all the good feelings all over.

  67. I REALLY want to go to an A Camp sometime. Like this website is a lifeline for me sometimes, and A Camp would be mindblowingly AWESOME. But I’m a trans man and I’m worried I would feel kind of like an outsider. Like is it okay? Can I come too?

    • You can come too! Everyone is welcome! That’s the spirit of camp, welcoming wonderfulness. :D I met a trans man at camp. He was one of the happiest and nicest people I met!

  68. You guys. Riese and I just got home after driving all day, talking about camp the entire time (we also played the alphabet game with Ani DiFranco song titles in the car and did pretty well – I’m still embarassed about publicly missing ‘Superhero’ in the lesbian trivia game). My voice is hoarse, my lips are chapped, and my heart is full! Camp is just going to keep getting better and better you guys, for real. Robin, Riese, the rest of the staff and I have tons of ideas about ways to improve. We take all of your feedback to heart so please do the surveys and let us know your thoughts!

    You were all so lovely and perfect and I was honoured to be able to play a part in such an incredible event. Everyone come back and everyone else come too!

  69. A-camp was a life-changer. The kindness and support I found at A-camp was overwhelming. I’m pretty sure I shed more tears at this camp then ever before, both of joy and sorrow. Now that im back at home, they are all tears of sadness. The strength of all the staff to share their stories and background has encouraged me to look at my life and maybe have the courage at next A-camp to share my own tale. I think the talent show was about the best thing ever, when else are you going to see a juggler strip? Autostraddlers rock on!! and A-women!

    P.S: Who runs the world?

  70. a) I can’t believe I forgot about talent show lesbian jesus on my highlights reel.

    b) “What would be an instant turnoff?” “Bad grammar and spelling” AND IT WAS ON THE BOARD.

    c) A Camp was good for my confidence/self-esteem to the point that when posting my degree results on FB (they came through when we were at camp and they were really good you guys) I almost wrote “Who runs the world? Me.” but then I remembered in the UK/Ireland we don’t do that. But I thought it and that is an INCREDIBLE GIFT. A Camp forrrever.

  71. I’m late to this thread, but I want to say thank you to the camp staff–you did a wonderful job of creating a beautiful, happy space for us campers. I hope I can return in May!

  72. I have a question for Riese or whoever did the cabin assignment (was told it was Riese) How did you figure out who to put together you did such a good job with my cabin 21 Hump st (hump, hump)? I know you asked a couple questions, but it seems impossible that you could have just based it on that.

    • YES, I feel the same way about the Battlestars!! How did you know that so many of us would just straight up want to go to bed after the Opening Ceremonies? I felt super lame for being so exhausted… and then I opened the door to my cabin and other people were wearing pajamas and brushing their teeth!

    • She has this weird ability to put people in the exact right places and knowing EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR NAMES. Its really amazing how much love exists inside of one person.

  73. I don’t really know how this happened, but after I posted a poem about A-Camp to my website, the traffic BLEW UP. I wasn’t prepared, and now I have big fat happy queer tears rolling down my cheeks. I already knew I loved this community, but it’s amazing to come back to reality and still feel SO SUPPORTED. And thank you for everyone who hugged me and told me how much my poem meant to them after the talent show. I was in shock at the intense response. seriously. <3

  74. When I first set foot in A-Camp I was overcome by the realization that ‘everyone here looks like me’, and by that I mean that everyone looked different. There was such a diversity of styles, gender expressions, body-types, and hair styles. All my life I’ve felt like a weirdo in a sea of normal people, and at A-Camp I felt like a weirdo in a sea weirdos. It was magic. And as I step back into the sea of the normals, I know there’s an island of weirdos out there waiting for me to return.

  75. So a while back there was some suggestion of an East Coast A-Camp. Is that going to be a thing? Because I would love for that to be a thing.

  76. Yet again, sounds like its been an awesome A-Camp. I need to go this next year! Sucks being so far away and with so little money!

  77. so thanks for everything everyone :) I finally got some sleep, but now when I try to write something meaningful I get this cry feeling and I’m afraid to cry because I might never stop.

    I had an amazing time. I’ll admit sometimes in trying to be brave I felt overwhelmed, but not because I was sharing the feelings, but because I haven’t been loved or accepted this way in a very long time.I didn’t know what to do, so all I could do was try to express how much I love and support you back. I feel really hopeful now. I will never forget this. Also my Mom really loved the talent show video and I think her heart grew ten sizes for the gays and for me which is amazing progress.

    The Queer Women of Color Panel and The Coming Out Panel gave me so much to think about. I’ve been afraid of myself for a very long time. I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m not so scary.

    I hope I was fun, because I was having fun. I love you.



    but hnnngggh going to A-camp in may would cost me about $1300 which is almost 3 months’ worth of rent money and alsooo i want to cry a little

    but maybe i can go when i do my term abroad in 2014…like would it be weird if i picked my term abroad-placement based on closeness to camp? cause i kinda wanna do that. so don’t stop with this camping thing before 2014 k

  79. I have 10 minutes before I have to start work and not enough time in the world to process all my feelings (I NEED AT LEAST 2 DAYS) so I will say this for now:

    Never have I ever believed I could be as strong and fierce as I was at A-Camp. Never have I ever read Andrea Gibson’s work until the night before the talent show–and it fucking resonated with me. Never have I ever written or cried as much as I have since the year began. Never have I ever felt so loved supported since I moved up to SF on my own ten months ago (shout out to staff, you went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed, and I infinitely love you for it). AND never have I ever believed that I could continue going forward with my life as all the struggle and bs was dragging me down in my journey. AS, you really are the wind beneath my wings.

    This all would never had happened had I not received a campership. But now I am saving $2 every day for the next A-Camp; day 1 of 246 was yesterday.

    you guys I am a proud Autostraddler!