Why does A-Camp cost so much?
I. It doesn't.
Adult Camps have become a big business since about a year after we started ours, but ours remains the most affordable event of its kind — without the professional networks these other camps come from and with a website that relies on Camp to survive.
II. Because It Costs So Much To Do!
We rent an enormous facility, provide world-class talent & entertainment, and bring our own staff of 60+ people from around the world to make A-Camp happen. We also take feedback from campers seriously, and making each camp better than the last often involves a larger financial investment.
So, let's talk about those costs.
THE FACILITY & MEALS
This is our largest expense by far, as we are leasing an entire property and providing meals and lodging for 300-425 staff and campers. Housing at Beber Camp was 40% more expensive for campers than it was at Alpine Meadows, but that facility didn’t meet our expectations, and we returned to California for better weather and a site we could really trust to deliver a solid experience. We had to face reality: a premium camp experience is going to be way more expensive. And it is!
A-CAMP PAID STAFF
We cover travel expenses (between $300-$1,000 per person) and lodging/meals (between $475-$975 pp) for a team of about 60 people. We also have nine staff positions who are paid small stipends for their work with A-Camp, ranging from booking shuttles and travel to consulting on trans issues. Our Two Co-Directors Marni and Robin work between 20-60 hours a week in the months leading up to camp, with the last month being a full-time job. This kind of intensive and temporary contract work is a difficult job to fit into a career, but they do it and are compensated accordingly.
A-CAMP TALENT & SPECIAL GUESTS
We bring in 4-6 featured talent every camp and they perform for y'all at a teeny-teeny-tiny fraction of their typical rates (BECAUSE THAT'S HOW MUCH FUN CAMP IS!) We also often bring in facilitators with specialized skills for specific programming — sometimes for free, sometimes for free/discounted camp or a stipend or travel expenses or some combination of those.
A-CAMP VOLUNTEER STAFF
In order to provide a diverse team, a wide range of programming options, and provide every cabin with two counselors, A-Camp requires a staff-to-camper ratio of about 1:6. 40-50 unpaid non-leadership staff members work their asses off leading workshops, supporting campers, and helping behind-the-scenes. Each staff member has travel and lodging/food covered at a total cost of between $775-$1,575 per staff member.
Making A-Camp accessible to people of various ability levels requires expenses like golf cart and van rentals (and insurance) or sign language interpreters.
SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT
We offer 100+ workshops and activities throughout camp, many of which require extensive supplies. There are lots of random expenses, too, like signage, A/V equipment, bins for food storage, step-and-repeats, and bandanas for the rainbow wars.
III. Because We Don't Have Corporate Sponsors
A-Camp is a family of queer weirdos, not a billboard for Wells Fargo or Petco. Conferences like BlogHer ($399 for two days of programming, lodging not included, host hotel runs around $249/night), lesbian events like The Dinah ($279 for three days of programming, lodging not included, host hotel starts at $239/night), and festivals like South By Southwest ($1,225 for a music festival pass, lodging not included) are heavy on corporate sponsors and charge vendors to sell their merchandise. We only work with indie businesses who either pay for sponsored camperships, or become 'sponsors' by donating items for our gift bags or workshops. 99% of the money that goes towards making A-Camp happen comes from A-Campers themselves.
IV. Because We Need To Make a Profit
A-Camp was initially designed as a way to support Autostraddle.com, the site that birthed A-Camp, as digital ad revenue has declined every year since 2013 — for many years, we all worked at camp for free and most covered their own travel. We're glad those days are over and that the growth of our membership program A+ has enabled us to be not entirely dependent on A-Camp profits to stay afloat.
But it hasn't eliminated the need for profit altogether and remains a crucial revenue stream. Furthermore, the time, energy and money that the site loses as our staff prepares for and attends A-Camp is significant and therefore must be "worth it." Many team members take time off their paid jobs to work at A-Camp, partially 'cause they know A-Camp profits enable their Autostraddle paychecks. But also BECAUSE IT'S SO FUN.
V. BECAUSE WE REALLY WANT YOU TO HAVE A GOOD TIME
We wanna give you a really good camp! A relatively small price bump per-person can make a huge difference in what we're able to offer. Ask anybody at A-Camp 6.0 about the Taco Truck and they will attest that this is true!
What’s different about pricing at A-Camp X?
We want to keep camp accessible to all.
We know A-Camp is becoming more difficult to afford every year for many potential attendees, and the fact that it’s the cheapest event of its kind is little comfort. In the past, we’d aimed to keep camp “all-inclusive” to ensure everybody, regardless of income, had identical access to everything camp has to offer.
But doing things like folding the cost of linens (as we did at Alpine Meadows) into tuition made the cost higher, even though not everybody necessarily needed them. Ditto for alcohol-related workshops and other activities with high supply costs. So we’re finding other ways to make our A-Camp ends meet:
- Early-bird pricing: if you’re on a tight budget, be sure to sign up for A-Camp within the first two weeks of February for 2016 prices! That’s just $695! WHAT A DEAL! Then we'll go up to $735.
- If you get early-bird pricing but could've afforded full price, we're encouraging you to throw the difference at our Campership Fund.
- We're going to have more campers than ever before
- We're not counting on tuition to either encompass or make up the difference for the cost of shuttles and linens
- We will continue doing a (hopefully new & improved) lottery system for some of the activities that are popular with a limited capacity. But we'll also be selling a small number of reserved spots in each of these workshops for those who can afford it. There also might be more activities that command an extra fee than there has been in year's past.
- In an effort to save time/money on opening day and cut back on the incredible amount of food waste left behind in cabins and also the reported awkwardness of the store stop, airport shuttles will not be stopping at the store on their way to camp. Instead, we'll be selling snacks and other necessities on-site at the A-Camp Canteen for those who need, and campers who really need alcohol or anything from an outside store can figure that out with campers who are driving and can pick stuff up for them. (We're literally 5 minutes from town, also.)
- This is a transition year — we're working with a slimmer budget and can re-assess for next time once y'all realize how great this new site is!