Frequently Asked Questions – Practical Details:
When is camp?
Friday June 7 – Thursday June 11, 2019
Where is camp?
Our site is in the mountains of West Virginia, about 2.5 hours west of the DC area, 2.5 hours southeast of Pittsburgh, and about 70 miles west of Winchester, Virginia.
When can I arrive at camp?
You can arrive any time after noon on Friday June 7. Note that the first meal served will be Friday dinner.
I only have time to come to part of camp. Is that OK?
In order to create the safety necessary for deep emotional work and transformation, we hold camp as a “closed container.” We ask all campers to be on-site and present in time for the orientation and culture-creating workshops that begin on the first Saturday of camp at 9:00 am; drop-ins and latecomers are not allowed. If you only have time to stay for part of camp, that is fine, as long as you start camp with the whole group and are present for the opening sessions.
Can I come earlier or stay later?
Yes! We have space for a limited number of people to help with camp set-up and/or take-down and with creating the camp “energy”. Volunteers for set-up arrive Wednesday evening, June 5, so that we are all ready to work first thing on Thursday. Volunteers for take-down will stay Thursday night, and we’ll be ready to work first thing on Thursday, June 13. Take-down volunteers may stay Friday night, when we will have connecting activities, leaving no later than noon on Saturday. Volunteers contribute $20 for either session toward meals.
PLEASE DON’T ARRIVE BEFORE NOON ON FRIDAY, June 7, UNLESS YOU HAVE MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO HELP OUT WITH SET-UP!
I keep hearing this phrase, “at choice”. What does it mean?
It means that you get to choose, minute by minute, what you will do or not do. Being at choice is about radical consent, in every moment. There are only a few rules at camp, and these help make a safe container for us (e.g., no drugs or alcohol, no violence); beyond those rules, everyone is empowered to choose their own course. We encourage people to check in with themselves and how they are feeling at the present moment. Sometimes people make plans or try activities that don’t turn out as they expected. Follow your joy and excitement, rather than a sense of obligation.
Do I have to hug or touch people at camp?
Absolutely not. While hugging and touch are very much a part of many folx lives, everyone is always completely “at choice” about whether to participate. We encourage you to take responsibility for your experience by clearly communicating your preferences about touch to the people around you.
Do I have to ask permission every time I want to hug or touch someone?
Yes, unless you have a prior agreement with this person that touch is always welcome; and even then, it can be a good idea to check in frequently. After all, the most enjoyable kind of touch is that which is welcomed by all participants.
Is there support available for campers who are having emotional issues?
Yes. There are camper volunteers and trained staff who support campers with empathy & peer counseling, first aid, and mediation & facilitation. You will have an opportunity to volunteer at camp if you have the appropriate skills, experience, and/or credentials, and wish to share them.
What will the weather be like?
The site is in an area that has an average daytime high temperature of mid to high 70’s, and an average nightly low in the mid to low 60’s. In this region, on average it precipitates about every third or fourth day.
Where do we sleep?
Our indoor accommodations consist of private rooms and cabins ($330-$650) and dorm-style spaces ($75-$200). These include a lodge house, 2-br cottage, and 10 rustic cabins, heated and furnished with twin-size upper and lower bunk beds, full-size futon beds, and queen-sized beds. The cabins also have small lofts that each contain two mattresses side-by-side. Tenting is also available and it is free of charge. There are 35 flat, shaded, forest floor campsites on the land, some right next to the stream.
We also own a motel that is 3 miles west of the Summer Camp site, less than a 5 minute drive. All motel rooms have air conditioning/heating, WiFi Internet, refrigerator, microwave, satellite TV, phone, and private bath; most rooms have two queen beds. Rates for 6 nights (Friday through Saturday), up to 2 people, range from $375 to $450; extra persons are $45 each.
How many people will be at camp?
We expect anywhere from 40 to 80 attendees. Enrollment will be capped at 80 if necessary.
Will it be a diverse group of people? What sort of age ranges, backgrounds, etc.?
We expect that participants will be generally intelligent, open-hearted, thoughtful explorers of life. We welcome people of all ages, genders, sexualities, race and ethnicities, and lifestyle choices. This particular event will only have a few cis allies present.
What should I make sure to bring?
For tent campers: tent, warm sleeping bag or *two* lighter weight sleeping bags (one inside the other), and pad/air mattress. Sheets inside a sleeping bag add to the warmth as well. If you are using an air mattress, an extra layer of insulation between you and the mattress is highly recommended– a comforter or foam pad will help a lot.
For campers staying in rustic cabins w/electric: sheets, blankets or a sleeping bag, pillows, pillowcases, towels.
For campers staying in non-electric rustic cabins: lanterns, sheets, blankets or a sleeping bag, pillows, pillowcases, towels.
For lodge. cottage, and motel residents: sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels are provided.
Flashlights, extra blankets, towels, easy-to-carry water bottle, toiletries, biodegradable soap, shampoo, and conditioner, safe sex supplies, rain gear, a watch or other timepiece, earplugs.
Warm clothes for cool cool nights, boots or hiking shoes for walking through possible mud.
Personal snacks or food items to prepare for yourself in the Personal Foods Kitchen if you have special food needs.
Your sense of humor and willingness to co-create an incredible experience.
What else might I want to bring?
Acoustic musical instruments, face paints, your favorite dance music, fun and outrageous clothing or costumes for festive dance parties, a personal journal and pens/pencils, books to share in our lending library, flyers about related events.
What should I leave at home?
Alcohol or recreational drugs, valuables of any sort, non-biodegradable soaps, shampoos, or conditioners, pets of any size. Weapons of any kind are not allowed. Some campers are highly allergic to scents so please do not wear any scented products at camp, including essential oils or other “natural” scented products.
Is there a program for children and/or teenagers?
No. If you are under 18 years of age and wish to attend this event please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are service animals allowed at camp?
Certified service animals are allowed at camp. Please get in touch with us if you would like to bring a service animal to camp. No pets, please.
Are chemical, natural, and aromatic enhancement allowed?
Coffee and tea, both caffeinated and decaf, are available. Please leave alcohol and recreational drugs at home. (Learning to relate well to people requires all the unaffected faculties we can muster!) There is a designated smoking area. Please leave perfumes and other scents, including “natural” scents and essential oils, at home to accommodate for allergies.
Is there phone and internet service at camp?
Yes, though we suggest that you spend as little time as possible on the phone or internet, in order to be present with the community-building, learning opportunities, and personal connections at camp. Most cell phones do not work at our site, though some will work about a mile up the road. We have landlines available onsite, with free US long distance. WiFi Internet will be available in and near the lodge.
We will have an indoor hospitality area at the Mountaineer Motel (3 miles west of the event site; 5 minute drive) that will have phone lines that can be used for longer calls, with free long distance in the US. There is also WiFi Internet. Cell reception is also better there; US Cellular is the main carrier, but Sprint and Verizon roam onto US Cellular. Some other services may also be able to roam onto US Cellular.
What kind of food will there be?
All of the meals are vegetarian and vegan compatible, with a lot of variety. Please let us know if you have a food allergy or special diet; we will do our best to accommodate you. Snacks, leftovers, fruit, coffee and tea are available at all times. We also have a Personal Foods Kitchen for those with special food needs to store and prepare their own foods. Note that we take special pride in the quality of the foods that we prepare; most campers, even those who regularly eat meat, find that they need little or nothing to supplement the vegetarian camp fare. Dishes, cups, and silverware will be provided; you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer. The first meal served will be Friday dinner at 6 PM.
Will I need to do community service at camp?
We ask all campers to help co-create the experience with about 1 hour for each night you are at camp – kitchen duty, clean-up after meals, keeping our meeting spaces orderly, etc. All service contributions at camp will take into account any physical or other limitations you may have.
Do people play music and sing at camp?
All music-making is greatly appreciated. Bring your instruments and talents. Be part of the live music celebration and share your music during the afternoons or during free time.
What should I do with my car during camp?
There is ample parking close to or in the campground, and most campsites have parking spaces. If you have a special need that requires your car to be near you, let us know. Please plan to use your car as little as possible during camp, to reduce fumes and preserve our connections to each other and nature.
Can I bring an RV to camp?
Our site can accommodate only a very few small RVs and campers, and we do not have hookups for RVs. Please get permission in advance if you plan to bring an RV.
What airport should I use if I am flying to camp?
The closest airports are Dulles International Airport (IAD), Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), and Reagan National (DCA). Without traffic delays, camp is about 2:15 hours from Dulles, 2:45 hours from Reagan National, and a little less than three hours drive from BWI, so you can either rent a car or we can help arrange a carpool or group ride from there to camp. The Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is also a possibility. It is about 2:45 hours away, but there is hardly ever any traffic to cope with, so that time is very consistently real. We also have an e-list to assist in helping campers find rides with each other.
I don’t want to drive to camp. Can I get there on public transportation?
We encourage as many people as possible to carpool to camp. Once you have registered, we will add you to an online group where you can network with other campers and arrange carpools. We do offer one pickup on Friday evening from the Amtrak station in Cumberland, MD; this must be arranged in advance. The organizers will help out with carpools as much as possible.
I can’t afford the full amount of camp fees. Is there work exchange or scholarship available?
We want to offer the opportunity for as many people as possible to attend Gender & Beyond. For those in financial need, we can make work trade and/or scholarship arrangements. No one is turned away fro lack of funds. Please get in touch with us – if you want to be there, we want you there! Let’s figure out what works for you!
Click here to submit a request for Scholarship or Work Trade
Don’t forget to register too!
Who is CFNC? Is it a business or what?
The Center for a New Culture(CFNC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with tax-exempt status, is the fiscal sponsor for this event. It is a partnership of professional organizers who have been involved with social change and personal growth work for many decades. Find more info here and here
Can I help organize camp?
Yes! We have opportunities for volunteers. Please get in touch if there is some aspect of camp that you would like to help out with.
Can I smoke, light fires, or use candles at camp?
Candles and any other open flames may not be used anywhere except in the fire rings provided at each tent site or cabin; they must never be used inside a tent or cabin. You may build campfires in the fire pits; please pay the site $5 per load of firewood, and be sure that any fire is extinguished before you leave it or go to sleep. There are dedicated smoking areas at camp; please do not smoke in or near any of the other public spaces at camp, nor in any of the indoor accommodations.
I’m feeling left out; a lot of people here seem to know each other. What should I do?
Since so many of us have experienced rejection and carry wounds from those experiences, you are unlikely to be the only one with these feelings. Luckily, you have many options. You can sit with your feeling and see what you might learn from it. You can ask for support from fellow campers or from our trained staff. You can offer to help with the work of camp; the cooks and the organizers are always happy for more help, and it’s a great way to meet people. You can decide that you are welcome and include yourself in conversations or ask for hugs. You can be transparent and tell people you are feeling left out and want to connect.
Why aren’t alcohol and recreational drugs allowed at camp?
We will be learning about and practicing deep connections with others during the seven days at camp. In order to ensure that people are able to be truly present and available for themselves and each other, we ask everyone to maintain clear minds and bodies by abstaining from drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs during camp. Also, the site has strict rules against recreational drugs that we wish to respect.
Can we make trips to visit friends or nearby attractions during camp? Or can our friends come and visit us at camp?
Our clear intention and mission is to create a safe, heartful, intimate community together and a fertile ground for connecting with others in a loving way. To get the most out of the camp experience, it is important to participate in the workshops and assorted group processes which are designed and intended to build intimacy and connection. Because of this, we suggest that you keep any trips away from camp to a minimum. Of course, you are always at choice, and if taking a break, or attending to important matters is what you need to do, we respect that. In order to support deep connection among campers, our policy is not to allow visitors as they tend to pull attendees away from the energy of the camp.
I may wish to participate in sexual encounters. Are there any rules?
We do not make rules about sexual encounters between adults, but we highly recommend conscious, informed decision-making. To make this possible, appropriate conversation before engaging would include sharing relevant sexual and relationship histories, any health concerns, guidelines for use of safer sex supplies, and any boundaries to be honored.
Sexual activity is limited to private spaces and the playspace, so that those who don’t wish to observe can also remain “at choice” and not be involved or witness to something they don’t consent to.
What exactly is the ‘Adult Playspace’ anyway?
It is a small and entirely voluntary part of the overall program, and is in a separate part of the grounds, so anyone who doesn’t have an interest in it won’t have to deal with it in any way, and won’t be missing anything important. It is a place for structured exploration of erotic, trance, and other healing and ecstatic experiences that may or may not also be explicitly sexual.
We have found that this carefully contained space can be valuable for many people, and can be especially healing for those with sexual trauma or repression. Also, it is a unique context for dropping pretense, and being honest about our needs, desires, challenges, and gifts that we have to offer–without expecting anyone else to feel obliged to meet them. Nothing is compulsory–our most important value is that each person is completely at choice about however they want to participate or not. Enthusiastic consent is essential; we sometimes say that anything that’s not a “Hell, YES!” is really a “No” in disguise. Whenever the Playspace is not scheduled, individuals are free to use the space however they wish; however, that is not part of the official program.
The schedule looks really packed. Is it OK to miss events or show up late to them?
You are entirely at choice. We hold a group intention of honoring the presenters by starting events on time. Unless the presenter has requested that no one join after the presentation has started, latecomers will be welcome to step into events. At the same time, it is respectful not to expect others to summarize for you what you have missed or to jump in on a discussion that you have heard little of.
Why is everyone expected to do community service work?
Most importantly, working together builds community. Doing something real together such as helping prepare a meal allows us to experience people in a different kind of setting, and to practice the relationship skills that we will be learning. If you have a handicap or illness that would make it difficult for you to contribute, please check in with us before camp.
I have a disability. Will camp be accessible for me?
The site will be accessible for most people with some types of disabilities, but may be challenging for others. If you have questions about disability access, or have any special food, medical, or other needs, please get in touch with us to discuss how your needs can be accommodated.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color inclusivity at camp.
How many BIPOC people attend camp on average?
Over the last two years of camp, BIPOC are a very small number. It is a majority-white trans/non-binary/queer space. This year, we expect camp to be mostly white. If you are used to/familiar with majority white spaces with some BIPOC-supports then you’ll most likely be comfortable at camp.
What is Gender & Beyond doing to welcome BIPOC identified people?
At this year’s camp there will be a “refuge” cabin available only to BIPOC folks, which will be supported by a Black co-organizer. This organizer will also be available for emotional support from Friday – Sunday afternoon.
Is the West Virginia retreat center safe for me?
It really depends on your level of safety in rural places. The camp itself is on grounds owned and operated by Gender & Beyond’s intentional community, New Culture East [non-residential/regional] (OR Allegheny Crest Intentional Village [residential]). Therefore, the entire grounds welcomes all camp participants and can refuse entry to anyone who does not abide to the grounds’ nondiscrimination agreements.
At the same time, the grounds are in a more remote part of West Virginia, surrounded by other private grounds in which owners do not share the same cultural and political views toward inclusivity. There are confederate flags on some nearby properties that you should be prepared to see. Depending on your background with certain rural communities, you may feel safe enough on the grounds; for others, it may be more challenging.
Please know, however, that over the history of CFNC holding events at Abrams Creek, over ten years, there haven’t been any encounters with local residents or property owners or any reason to believe anyone’s physical safety is at risk.
What efforts are being made for camp to be less white and white-centered?
The whiteness of the New Culture community is of significant awareness and an ongoing effort to shift, internally among core members, and externally, at community events.
There continues to be antiracism education among core members; cultivation of deeper relationships with BIPOC folks who share New Culture’s vision; creation of safer spaces within camps/retreats, including Gender & Beyond; other BIPOC supports integrated into extended events; and generally, successful BIPOC outreach efforts.
While Gender & Beyond has the lowest BIPOC turnout among Center for a New Culture retreats, it remains a priority to understand the reasons fewer BIPOC attend this event compared to other New Culture events, and an intention to continue making changes so that there’s more space for BIPOC folks.