For one week out of every year, a gaggle of queers takes over a camp in Ojai, California. This is A-Camp. A camp is hosted by Autostraddle where the staff literally creates the world with their bare hands for us to enjoy. There are workshops, classes, sing-alongs, dances, nighttime programming, and more.
As a first time camper who lives in the intersections of latinx identity, queerness, being a fat babe, chronic pain, and generalized anxiety and depression, I was… A little stressed about going to camp? But I was met with immediate relaxation and calm as I realized all of the things that were put in place for me to enjoy my camp experience.
So here are ten things (out of like, much more) that I learned at my first A-Camp.
Shoot Your Shot
Camp is the one place where it is fucking normal to take risks and be brave and be your most authentic self. So shoot your shot. Take life by the metaphorical horns and make it your bitch. I did this by asking someone to homecoming, not worrying if they said no, and having a fantastic time anyway.
Lean into the Discomfort
How do we learn as humans? By being uncomfortable. Lean into this discomfort and allow it to kind of wash over you in waves. As someone who is kind of an introvert and a little anxious (shout out to Lexapro) it was important for me to push myself. Camp was overwhelming in all of the best ways and I am a better person because of it.
Glitter is a Quintessential Part of the Queer Experience
I now have a group chat called “Glitter on My Titties”. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
The Hill is Dangerous
There is a hill that connects the cabins to the rest of campus, on the first day I twisted my ankle. I very much felt like the Freshman who hurt herself at the first football game. So take it from me, take the pavement in the morning while it is misty out. Or ya know, take the accessibility shuttle if you have access needs and challenge your internalized ableism! You do you.
Shoot Your Shot (part two)
You are being connected to/have access to some of the best writers and creators in the industry. Say hi. Tell them what you do. Find the self-promotional board by the pigeon-holes (that I put up with some white paper from the dining hall lounge.) You are special and this is a great place to connect with other queer creators.
Be Prepared to Cry?
Sometimes you go to fun workshops and sometimes you go to workshops that are about challenging your internalized body shame and you learn that just because you think you’re doing the work doesn’t mean you’re actually doing the work. And then you cry a little. And then you sit on the lawn and read tarot cards for some new friends you made and you cry some more.
Riese Really Hates Season 4 of The L Word
As someone who has never seen the L Word, I don’t understand what the beef is about. But what I can tell you is that it is hilarious to watch Riese be the only one on stage during a TV panel who hates season 4 of The L Word.
Closed Spaces are Essential
Part of why camp was such an affirming and good time for me was because of the closed spaces for POC. There was a pool party, a welcome workshop, a karaoke thing. A ton of spaces that were just for POC queer experiences, which are different from white queer experiences. It let me feel seen in a way that I’ve never felt before.
Everyone is so Fucking Hot.
No seriously. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen such beautiful people all in one place at one time? Like holy fuck, everyone was so hot and I loved every second.
You Are Enough, Camp is for You.
If you feel imposter syndrome a lot like I do, you might feel as if camp is not for you. But if you’re queer and you wanna be around other queer babes. Camp is for you. If you are there and meet those requirements, camp is for you. A-Camp is a special world and you deserve to be a part of it. You deserve to feel that empathy and joy and compassion.
I can’t wait to go back next year.
xo sigue nadando,