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 50-60 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 350 staff and campers. Housing at Beber Camp is 40% more expensive for campers than it was at Alpine Meadows, due to better facilities, a larger and more supportive support staff, and better food. For our hard-working staff, who stay on the retreat center side in dorm-style or apartment-style rooms, housing costs 125% more than it did at Alpine.
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 as freelance contractors for their work with A-Camp.
Our Two Co-Directors Marni and Kristin 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.
They have their own support staff, too: The Coordinator of Logistics (Nikki) and Intern/AV Director (Lauren) handle behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts, including coordinating travel and handling customer service.
Our Special Programming Director (Carly) is entirely responsible for planning and executing no less than five spectacular nights of entertainment and one all-day festival.
In order to make A-Camp a welcoming space for our entire community, we now also have paid leadership positions addressing the special needs of our community: the two QTPOC Speakeasy Leaders, Queen Trans, and our Accessibility Maven.
A-Camp Talent & Special guests
We bring in 4-6 featured talent every camp and they perform for y'all at a 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 — such as Kim Milan, who will be working with our own staff on an anti-racism program for A-Camp 8.0. Depending on the facilitator, this expense ranges from "free camp" to us covering travel as well as providing a small stipend.
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-$1,975 per staff member.
Making A-Camp accessible to people of various ability levels requires expenses like golf cart and van rentals (and insurance), sign language interpreters, and accessible lodging.
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 and bandanas for the color 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. In the beginning, none of our talent or staff were paid to work A-Camp and we weren't even able to cover all staff travel until 2014. As the expense of running A-Camp has increased, our profit margin has narrowed, which we've compensated for financially with A+, our membership program.
But it hasn't eliminated the need for profit altogether. Furthermore, the time and energy 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!