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 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3019 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. 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.

  6. 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 :) )

  7. 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!

  8. 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.


  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?!?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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).

    • 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!”

  22. 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.

  23. 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. :)

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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…

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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*

  35. ^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.

  36. 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!

  37. 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

  38. 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.

  39. 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:)

  40. 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.

  41. 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.