Open Thread: We’re Not At Camp

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Hi beautiful humans.

It’s so nice to see you here, on the Internet.

I mean, let’s be real, it would be a lot nicer if we were all on a mountaintop, drinking tea and basking in the sun and attending gender panels and flirting with cute queers, but whatever, I guess the Internet is fine.


Who are we kidding? I’m totally depressed. Camp is happening right now, and the gang’s all there, except they’re not all there, because some of us aren’t there. That’s us. We’re the gang that’s not there. It’s a bummer, isn’t it? I’m bummed.

So I thought we could talk about our feelings. Spoiler alert, I’m sad and mopey and leaving awkwardly depressing comments on the A-Camp Facebook group. But I’m 100% willing to talk about that and/or convey my emotions in the form of images and gifs, and possibly also Ani DiFranco lyrics. You should do that too. Go crazy in the comments — images, song lyrics, gifs, poems…surprise me with all the forms your feelings can take! And hey, no pressure to be sad. If you’ve got some happy feels going on this week, spread them around. I could sure use some cheer.

This sad kitten was made by Taylor to represent her sadness about not attending camp

But wait! I’m not starting this open thread with that much gloom and doom. Start planning your triumphant journey to California THIS Spring, because Camp’s gonna happen again (and again and again and again) and I have the greatest feeling that one day, we’ll all be there.

So this is the part where I was going to announce the dates for A-Camp Spring 2013, but we’ve run into this teeny tiny problem called “getting in touch with Riese, or Laneia, or really anyone on that gosh darn mountain.” So I can tell you that we are 90% sure that A-Camp will take place in or around the last week of May 2013, and I can also promise you that as soon as we hear definitive words from Riese, I will update this very post and we will all rejoice. Though I feel like I must warn you not to get your hopes up, because given the status of cell service on the mountain I’m pretty sure all forms of communication involve a pack mule and/or messenger pigeon situation, so.

UPDATE: JUST KIDDING KIDS. Intern Grace obviously read my mind and acquired a messenger pigeon for this very situation, because as of 1:40pm EST I have received the official dates for A-Camp Spring 2013! You heard it here first:

A-Camp Spring 2013 will take place from Wednesday, May 22 to Monday, May 27 at Alpine Meadows Retreat Center in Angelus Oaks, California.

I’ll see you babes on the mountain then. Until then…I’ll see you in the comments.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. I had asked for like 3 days off for camp… IN MAY. May you guys!! And my boss had said no because we were supposed to be SO BUSY EVERYONE WOULD BE DOING 20 HOURS OF OVERTIME A DAY AND NEVER SLEEPING OR LEAVING THE OFFICE and guess what everything is totally fine and I totally could’ve taken 3 stupid days off.

    So as soon as the dates are set, I’m booking the entire week off, like 7 months ahead of time. Grr.

  2. Aww. Last week of May means camp moves from “right before exams” to “right smack in the middle of ’em” for me. But now I’m glad I splurged on tickets to NY for winter break instead of waiting to see if I could make another camp – and maybe I’ll see you then, V? (Both cabinmate Vs, actually!)

  3. I’m sure the camp is fun and all, but I’d be too nervous to do something like that, to be honest. I wouldn’t know anyone. Plus, it’s all the way in California, I think. And I have work.

    • hi molly! i went to camp in april not knowing a single human and it was terrifying at first but then it was so lovely. there were so many introverts, so many shy people, so many anxious people, and everyone totally understood and was respectful and open and welcoming and warm and understanding. i’m not at camp now because i live on the east coast and couldn’t take the time off work, but i just want you to know that if you ever have the opportunity to take time off and the money to fly to california/pay for camp, you shouldn’t let not knowing anyone stop you! most people arrived not knowing anyone and left with close and meaningful relationships. okay that’s all, i just love camp and want everyone to go. <3

      • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that badly. Well, also, this going to sound dumb, but I’ve actually never been on a plane before. And I’m not sure I’d really be into all the stuff mentioned, though I’m sure it’s lots of fun.


          • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that as something bad. I get carsick very easily, so I don’t know about riding in a plane, and I’ve never really traveled very far either, is all I was saying.

          • hi sorry didn’t mean to make it sound like i was forcing anyone to like camp / want to go! i just found it to be one of the most inclusive warm environments i’ve ever existed in. but it’s okay! you know our motto! do you! forever and ever amen.

    • I kind of feel the same way actually but I still really want to go.
      Plus it’ll be like 3 days after my 23rd birthday WHOO HOOO!!!!!!

  4. I totally thought about going this time but then my kitten got really sick, to the point where there was no way I could leave town. Even if I had gotten the most hardcore catsitter ever, I was afraid someone else would have to end up making the call about whether she needed to be put down or not, which would be horrible. Then she died so really I could have gone. Though the over $6k in credit card debt for vet bills is limiting my spending these days So that’s my sad “why I’m not at A-Camp” story.

    • Wow 6000 dollars in vet bills for a kitten? You know you can get those for like 30 bucks at a shelter right?
      Anyway, sorry it died though.

        • I’m sorry that came across as insensitive. I just grew up in the country where every other week a neighbor’s cat was having kittens that could had for free and I was taught to be unsentimental about animals.

          I just would never spend 6000 dollars on vet bills for any animal, let alone a little kitten. If you are comfortable with that kind of financial action, more power to you.

    • Aww I’m sorry.
      I know it is in kitty heaven though living it up.
      Eating a lot of catnip, playing with mouse toys, eating salmon and
      chicken and tuna. Scratching all the scratching posts she/he can find.
      Loving all the other female kitties (I’m assuming she’s a girl here) and
      being the happiest kitty ever.

      • She was a girl! She was only 9 months though, so not old enough to be exploring her sexuality! She did like cuddling with my other (girl) kitty though.

  5. I wish I was at camp wearing flannel and boots and smelling campfires and fresh air and meeting people whose faces are otherwise tiny squares on my computer. I’ve never been to California. When I was a kid I never went to sleep away camp because social anxiety and coffee addiction (yes, starting in childhood) and general introversion. But all I want to do now is go to A Camp and meet cute nice queers and talk about girls and do arts and crafts projects in the sun. Next time!!!

    • That all sounds like every day here in Alaska. Well, except for the queers and girl talk and arts and crafts. Oh, and SUNSHINE.

      Okay I guess it actually sucks pretty bad here.

  6. This sounds amazing! In the Uk we don’t tend to have stuff like that. We had a festival called Lfest which was pretty ace and lots of wet lesbians wondering around a field (it was raining…) (not the rude wet) (It’s Britain it always rains)(anyway..)
    I hope you do get to go next year :) If ever I get to go to America that would be sweet x

    • Mm, another question – has anyone in their late 20s ever gone to A-camp? I’d love to go but I don’t want to seem like a perv.

      • oh my gosh layla — late 20s?! that’s like a baby! there were 30 year olds at camp! riese is 30ish! so is marni! and robin and carly, i think! also there were people who were 40, maybe even 50! i don’t have exact stats on this but i pinky swear promise we weren’t all baby 23 year old’s running around — camp is for everyone! all ages! please come!

        • YES. Aside from the whole poor-grad-student-living-on-loans thing, this is why I’ve hesitated to even think about a-camp. I feel like so many autostraddlers are early-20s babies, and I’m sure we’d still be fast friends and all that but I didn’t want to be the only almost-cougar late-20s-and-older queer there. Phew. Someday! (But not May because my grad school is on quarters, not semesters like normal people, and so that’s pre-finals time for us. Buh.)

          • No you guys there are so many people of different age ranges here and I am so glad because of how much we learn from each other and our ages are just another thing that makes us unique.

            Also don’t ask me how I have wireless for this at camp because I’m fairly positive my service is fueled completely by feelings.

          • Yeah, this is my life. I’m 33. Apparently people stop going out when they turn 30 ’round here. But I’m still gonna go to camp in May. Probably.

          • It actually goes right down the middle — this session definitely skews older, I ended up making three full cabins for 28+ campers — but about half the campers are under 25 and about half are over. we’re also making an effort to bring in older staff, too, and have done so this time and will in the future.

          • Aw, this is all good to hear. I’ll be 28 the next time A-camp comes around, and I want to go, money and program permitting. I just worried that it skewed younger, and that everyone would think I was a creeper. Thanks, y’all!

          • yay! maybe my goal will be to finish my thesis by a-camp next year. i’m also on quarters but maybe if i finish i can escape for a week and celebrate with other 28+ queer ladies at a-camp! and other not 28+ folks, but i also was worried about being a creeper old person at camp…anyway, now i have a goal and motivation. thanks again, autostrad, you’re the greatest!

          • Jen!! I am 30 and a grad student and I want to go in May, provided my school schedule works and finances are okay to take a trip from Vancouver to Cali in May on a student budget. Oh, I will have so many feelings if I can go!!! And I am studying to be a counsellor /therapist, so I can help everyone with their feelings too!!

          • In May I’m going to just finishing a masters in family therapy! We should totally have an informal group counseling session or mental health panel! That would be amazing.

        • not at all! i’m not sure where this idea originated. robin, marni, laneia and i are also all over 29 and alex is 27 and we run this shit, soooooo

          • Oh, okay. But I’m also not really into drinking and partying and what-not, so I don’t know. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Sotmrry if it sunded like that. I just mean for me.

      • I was 30 at the first A-Camp. I did not feel out of place at all. Truthfully I feel like I had a totally different Camp experience than the younger campers but it was still awesome.

      • Our whole cabin was a spectrum of early to later 20s. I’m 26 and I had a blast so much so that while I wait a few hours here for my plane i’m catching up on Autostraddle and replying to comments about camp!

    • hi amanda! because 90% of the team lives in california (or at least west coast) and because of our positive relationship with alpine meadows, it’s currently a smarter financial choice to continue having camp on the west coast (i don’t know the exact details because i’m not riese, but i know that we would have to charge a LOT more for an east coast camp right now, so much more that it would actually be MORE expensive for campers on the east coast than buying a plane ticket & paying for camp right now!) we’re all hopeful that camp will one day be able to happen in a lot of different locations, but for now, california’s where it’s at. i hope i get to see you at camp one day :)

    • Or let’s split the difference and have it in Louisiana because the stupid GS council is making plans to sell the most beautiful camp in the state and the only thing that could make the site more wonderful would be if it was filled with queer ladies!

  7. Oh my Lord the Gods have spoken and this Utah bitch is going to A-Camp this Spring! Nothing will stop me. Vanessa I will see you there and we will be reunited and it will feel sooooo good.


    but real talk vanessa and i are totally hanging out tomorrow and crying about not being at a-camp

      • summer camp rentals have summer camp in the summer so we can only rent them out in the off-season. we picked the last week of may because most schools are done by then. literally school schedules were our #1 factor in picking dates, and we tried really hard to find some that worked.

        • If it was like one week earlier I might be able to make it! But I work for a summer program in June that we have to start prepping for the last few days of May.

          One day, though. One day it will happen.

        • This is literally the only time teaching has ever given me the sads (aside from striking…)

          Seriously though, thanks for trying to make it work, I know planning these things must be a beast. Someday I shall camp. Someday…

          • Sickness is a thing. Do you work somewhere where you are allowed sick time? (i.e. compensation would be rad, but not getting fired would be a must)

  9. This is my first comment. I’m not at camp and I’m not precisely sad about it though it would probably be a lot more fun than hiding out in my room at the International Students’ House that I share with about 50 people who are all five years younger than me and nobody here is gay. I think. I haven’t seen any overt evidence of queerness.

    Okay, I’m extremely sad about not being at camp.

    • happy first comment, tom!

      if it makes you feel better, exactly nobody ever thinks i am gay, so perhaps there’s a shy feminine girl in your midst right now, sitting in her room, feeling sad because she’s not overtly queer and thus has to awkwardly out herself all the time if she wants the chance to connect with her community, and wishing she could find a fellow queermo. out of 50 humans, i’m almost convinced one of them must be queer. i am sending you good vibes and hoping you find your partner in crime. i found my girlfriend in a small group of 33 americans who were spending the year in israel, so i believe there is hope.

      also i hope you will be able to join us at camp in may 2013, or another camp in the future. we love you and we’re here for you. <3

      • Aw, thanks! Yeah, it’s the eternal coming out-process, isn’t it? I’m sure there are other gay people here, I just need to find them.

        We totally need an international secret hand shake or something.

  10. A-Camp February 2014, guys. I never ask for birthday presents, but that would be the best 21st birthday present ever.

  11. My girlfriend left me for a-camp! Ok, maybe a little over dramatic,but she still left me for a week. FML! Anyone else in the same boat?

    • i left my girlfriend for camp in april. this time around we’re both stuck on the east coast…but come may, i’m bringing her with me!

    • Yep i’m in the same boat…but it does help that they do have SOE reception up there so i have been talking to her.
      Oh and that I packed her bag for her…so if she cant find something she calls me to ask where it is….see still totally helpful even though i’m over 5 hours away.

  12. Yippee. My old coworker is at work today visiting. The one who, in summer 2009, said “you’re gay, aren’t you, Christy?” when I was totally not in a place to deal with that question. I stuttered that i was bisexual and avoided her for the rest of the summer.

    Now I’m out and proud, but I definitely wasn’t at the time. I also wasn’t really on board with being gay so I hedged with telling myself I was bi. Ugh what an inappropriate question. Seeing her STILL makes me uncomfortable. She’s literally the only person who has ever confronted me on my sexuality in that manner. (I’m lucky, I know.) But like, ugh, gtfo.

  13. See i’d be sad but A) i have no idea how a pre-medical but dman well trying trans girl would go down on a camp and i did just come home to the UK from belgium yesterday which is beer capital of everywhere and made me rather happy. Belgium is awesome.

  14. I am here in New Zealand doing absolutely nothing when I could be surrounded by queers in America.
    You guys seem to have a lot of queers.
    And my queer youth meetup has been postponed, damnit!

  15. I wanna be there right now! I can’t even type coherent thoughts on it. Oh May. Why you gotta be so far away?!?

  16. AHH, the last week of may is my second to last week before graduating high school. WHY??? I’m just going to hope and hope and hope that the fall camp next year is before I start college and that I can go.

  17. That’s over my birthday! May 25th! It would be so great if I could go but I have very low hopes that I’d be able to afford it. I’m only working part-time right now and I have loans and rent to pay. BUT maybe…maybe it will happen. :) :/

  18. Hahaha that’s useful, because it seems that A-Camp 2013 will take place while I am revising for my high school exams… in another country.

    I’m holding out for A-Camp 2014, personally.

  19. Yessss A-Camp 2013! I was just talking about this with a friend and then magically the dates appear! So totally there, provided our savings get us flights from Melbourne and Glasgow respectively eeek.

  20. I’m definitely coming in May! I’ve never been to America, what else should I do while I’m there?! This announcement definitely makes up for not being there right now! So many !!!’s

  21. That amazing incredible awe-inspiring happiness-inducing moment when you realize that A-Camp will start just as school lets out about an hour and a half away . . .

  22. aww shucks! it’s allergy season then, so i’ll be chained to my desk til june. well, maybe next time!

  23. Planning a trip is my favourite way to cheer up. Yay for May! And you know what comes after May? A very prideful June. That’s right America I’ll be there!

  24. I cannot come to a camp in may and that makes me sad by adorable girlfriend and I are moving to SAN FRANCISCO in september 2013 and maybe then I will be able to come because I’ll have a different more flexible job and we’ll be SO CLOSE and we could just DRIVE THERE AHHHHHHH IAMSOEXCITEDTOMOVE


  25. I am not sad so much as insanely jealous of everyone that is at camp. I can’t wait til spring though! Putting in a request for the time off on Monday.

  26. the biggest feeling i am feeling is that i am so glad there are definite dates to look forward to. so, it’s almost like i can pretend a-camp is not going on right now. almost?

    • yes! definite dates = definite planning = definite comfort = definite excitement. and definite reunion <3

  27. A Camp 2013 may or may not be highly affecting my decision to look for my junior year internship in LA/California. I need to go to one of these and East Coast + school = waahh.

    • i want you to know that is a completely valid way to choose an internship. i support this decision 100%.

  28. The Friday of camp in May is a faculty work day at my school, and that Monday is Memorial day. This means I would only have to skip two days of class! Time to start saving :D

  29. So bloody glad that my brother is in town so I’m out doing stuff and not wallowing in jealousy in front of my computer!

  30. I need to go to mAy-Camp. Because what could be better than celebrating my birthday on a mountain with so many wonderful human beings?

    NOTHING. Unless… Are kittens allowed at camp? That would make it even better.

  31. AGH. I was really excited until I realized I’d already be at a sci-fi convention on the opposite coast.

    Curses! *fistshake*

  32. sooo, woke up at 6 am and being lazy before i haul my ass to the boxing club. so, that’s something, right…?

    • yes, that is totally something! i woke up at 10am and cleaned my kitchen and my living room so i feel like that is something too. but you’re boxing right now so your something might be more than my something. but we’re all superstars, is the point.

  33. This is my first comment!
    My girlfriend is at A-Camp right now. I’m in Chicago and miss her terribly- and not just because of A-Camp. She moved to California a few weeks ago to go to grad school at UCLA. But! I’m visiting her in four days! And we have monthly plans to see each other!
    I still wish I was at A-Camp with her though.

    • thank you for commenting! keep commenting! we love you and we love your comments and i love that you’ve commented since then (on my funday!) and i can’t wait for you to see your girlfriend and also for you both to come to camp in may because you’re both coming to camp in may, right??

  34. Not being at ACamp is the worst. Why does med school always manage to put mandatory anatomy lab sessions on friday afternoons?!

  35. GUYS, GUYS, GUYS, I really need your help. I moved to university last week all on my lonesome. I hate, hate, hate my flatmates, but luckily I’ve managed to find a little gang of queers to hang around with due to our great LGBT society.

    Unfortunately, after a way too drunken night out last night, I brought one of them back to my flat and, well…you know.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but then she insisted on smoking out my window, told me half way through that she’d have to tell her flatmates she’d got with a guy that night, started knocking on my flatmates doors while still naked to try and wake them up and took up the entire fucking bed (damn you, university accomodation single beds).

    Then I woke up in the morning and realised she’d scratched all down my back – no, seriously, it looks like I’ve been mauled by a tiger. I’m pretty sure it’s going to scar. I went to the bathroom to inspect the damage, came back to my room and found she’d dissappeared with all her stuff.

    She’s pretty much one of about three friends I’ve made since I got here and, even worse, she’s doing the same course as me, so I’m going to see her all the time. Even worse than that, I don’t even like her that much, but the sex was pretty damn great, mauling aside. WHAT DO I DO?

    • I think the first thing to remember is that university is a big place filled with lots of people. It’s only your first week?? Give it time, try joining some other societies and meeting new people? Also if you really hate the people you’re living with, you can probably apply to switch halls.

      Also maybe after a while of being forced to interact with her on your course and in a similar friendship group, you’ll both look back on this as just a funny story, and it won’t be that awkward?

      Probably gonna be awkward for a while though. My best advice on avoiding awkward situations is to just act like you’re not awkward at all and you don’t regret a thing. Good luck :)

  36. I wish that “attending A-camp” is enough of “a strong and persuasive petition” to be approved of a US Tourist Visa sans the “show money”. Can anyone (AS staff and/or member) work for Manila US Embassy for a little while and help us Filipina ‘Straddlers go to A-Camp please? LOL ^_^

  37. i thought they were gonna do an east coast A-camp after this one? P-p-p-p-pleaaaaase? maybe i’ll luck up and get to go cross country next year

    • hi lindsey! as riese wrote above, there are campers of all ages:

      “It actually goes right down the middle — this session definitely skews older, I ended up making three full cabins (16 people each) for 28+ campers — but about half the campers are under 25 and about half are over. we’re also making an effort to bring in older staff, too, and have done so this time and will in the future.” – riese

      hope that helps :)

  38. Reasons Why I Cannot Go To A-Camp:

    1) I am 16 and live in the UK. This means I am going to need to wait until I am at least 18 to even consider A-Camp. Also the comments have made me realise that a lot of stuff is 21+ in the US but I’m really not sure I can wait that long. It’s cool, I’ve got a savings account to build in the meantime. Also, I made one of the paint chip calendars Autostraddle showed me because they’re totally cute, so I’m counting how many prides I get to go to between now and possible autumn 2014 A-Camp to keep myself busy/happy and gay.
    2) I’m currently sitting in front of about 50 photos of London attempting to make a moodboard out of them. Apparently this is what art students do. I’ve only just converted to being one from being a drama student because of timetable problems. in these photos are about 5 of the same close-ups of a freaking postbox because I’m not allowed to use illustrative images in my final piece, only abstract expressions of things. The only thing weirder than having to write about the details on a postbox in a very serious and artistic manner is having to walk around the city for an entire day shamelessly taking close-ups of said postboxes, landmarks and random objects.

  39. So, I really really want to go to A-camp in the spring. It will be like 2 months after I get home from the Peace Corps and I can’t imagine a better present to myself after over 2 years in a Muslim country than a weekend with amazing queers. Hopefully that will work out, we shall see.

    On a happy note even though I’m definitely not at A-camp I had a wonderful weekend with some great people and worked hard and played hard and decided to learn to play the guitar and hitchhiked and had a fire outdoors and came in to possession of a sweatshirt that says “Pussyfoot” on it. So, life is good.

    • I also missed A-Camp due to being in a muslim country on a medical mission (but not for the peace corps). I’m hoping to be at spring A-Camp too, maybe we can trade stories!

  40. Not only did I miss camp, but I also couldn’t get to a solid enough internet connection to actually use my laptop, so I missed the thread to have feelings on. Feelings multiplied by 400,000.

  41. If only I could find a way to convince my uni that my PhD research involves going to A-Camp in the US of A. I’ve only ever been to the East Coast as well, I bet my Irish skin would be bright red in California in May, hopefully from blushing as well as sun!

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