Camp Feral!: Fifteen Years, 1998 – 2012 (Part 3) – by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
“Camp Feral! An all-inclusive furry summer camp where the registration fee covers your food, lodging and activities for the most unique and memorable furry experience of your life! Your fee covers all the coffee you can drink, [and] all the breakfast lunch or dinner you can eat.” (from the Camp Feral! 2012 website)
Camp Feral! is the oldest of the recorded outdoor furry conventions, going back to 1998. It is also Canada’s oldest furry event, and the fourth oldest continuing furry convention (after EuroFurence in 1995 and Anthrocon and Mephit FurMeet in 1997). It was started after the oldest furry annual convention, ConFurence in Southern California (1989), gave rise to U.S. East Coast furry conventions in 1995 to 1997 (Furtasticon, Confurence East, Albany Anthrocon), inspiring Canadian furry fans to start their own convention – but with a difference.
Camp Feral!: Fifteen Years, 1998 – 2012, Part 3
Camp Feral! X, at Camp Arowhon, was August 27 – 31, 2007. The U.S. financial crisis affected attendance adversely, dropping it back to about 80 campers. It focused upon the Camp’s tenth anniversary. The Feral! Survival Guide featured a retrospective by Terry Wessner titled “It’s Like Herding Cats, Only Moreso”. Registration was now C$325 for regular campers, C$375 for Sponsors, and C$495 for patrons, plus the C$45 bus fee.
Guests of Honour were three Canadian furry artists; Ferris (Chuck Davies), Gideon Hoss (of Club Stripes), and Max Blackrabbit (Malcolm Earle). The FeralCom staff was mostly the same: Potoroo and Patchouli (co-chairs), Verec (registration and logistics), Grex (finances), WilyKat and Growler (security), Dralen (workshop coordiator), Crono (activities coordinator), Cobalt (conbook and activities editor), and Blake, Desertwolf, Khaki Wolf, and Srice (gofurs).
Programming centered around the four clans was continued, but participation became voluntary rather than mandatory, freeing campers to choose other activities if they wished. A Feral Scavenger Hunt was added to the programming. Fifteen cabins took part in the final night’s Cabin Skits, with the cabin of the three guests of honour, the “Snog Lodge”, being voted the best skit. New furry publisher Bad Dog Books slated the first volume of its FANG anthology, the “little black book of furry [gay] fiction”, for release to coincide with Feral! 2007.
There were two campers from Brazil, who enjoyed themselves so much that they founded Abando the next year, Brazil’s first Furry camp, held annually since 2008 in February or March during Brazil’s pre-Lent Carnaval season, originally at Sitio Mayo, the large farm of WToboe (Olavo Ramazzotti) in São Roque, São Paulo, Brazil. In 2012 Abando moved to the larger Parque Estadual Intervales (Intervales State Park) in Ribeirão Grande, São Paulo. (Camp Feral! has since unofficially recognized Abando as Feral!’s sister con. Potoroo is the Abando Guest of Honor in 2013.)
A later FurBid auction post: “Up for sale is one of the “Camp Feral! 2007 Rave” posters, No. 3 of 3. 2007 celebrated Camp Feral’s tenth year. Featuring artwork by Cyberwulfe, this poster was used to advertise the main dance at Feral! 2007. The poster is laser plotted on 11×17″ glossy paper and signed by the three guests of honour; Ferris, Max Blackrabbit, and Gideon. The poster is also signed by each of the four Camp Feral! Rave 2007 DJ’s; Potoroo (Feral! Chairman), Branwyn, Miami Pony, and Khaki Wolf. The poster was on display at the rave itself, and is a little dusty and has been rolled and unrolled several times, but is otherwise in excellent condition. All signatures are in gold or silver gel ink, and the entire poster is guaranteed to hold up for years to come.”
In addition to Wessner’s history, the 2007 Feral! Survival Guide had a foreword by Camp Feral!’s founder, P. Pardus, plus a gallery of art, maps, and “factoids” from the nine previous conbooks. The front cover showed all three mascots and some of the FeralCom on the front steps of Camp Arowhon’s main lodge, drawn by a collective of artists including Max Blackrabbit, Gideon, Ferris, Crono Liganthah, Patches, and Wilycat. The back cover featured Italian furry artist Scale’s “Under the Moon” as a preview of Feral! 2008. The T-shirt was by Ferris.
From Miami Pony’s Feral! 2007 con report: “One of the coolest things at Feral this year was done very early the very first morning. A bunch of us (about 20 or so) got up at 4:30, loaded into a really big canoe, and paddled out into the middle of the lake. It was still as glass. We watched the moon slowly eclipse, it took a while, and we chatted quietly while the earth’s shadow slowly covered it. It was just over the treeline as dawn was breaking, fully eclipsed, just this hovering red ball in the sky, and as the sky got lighter it just faded out.. no re-exposing of the moon.. it just vanished.
“No wonder early peoples would totally freak out when there was an eclipse. It looked fucking awesome 🙂
“I once beat Branwyn’s cabin (just barely, I’m sure) with my ‘I Will Survive’ re-write, with lyrics recounting the Predator and Prey game that we love to play at Feral; Branwyn’s skit was a re-write of ‘The Wreck Of the Edmund Fitzgerald’. He got me back years later by medley-ing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in to his song, to brilliant effect; my original (I think it was the same year but I can’t be sure) was entitled ‘We didn’t spend too much time on this song’, which did include the tune from ‘Tiny Bubbles’. Later, we worked together and we were able to re-write the words to ‘Uncle Fukka’ from the South Park movie. Branwyn and I come up with the best stuff when our brains are allowed to interact.
“So, this year, in order to save the world from utter planet-aligning chaos, I co-wrote the cabin skit song with Dralen instead 😉 Branwyn was off doing other things which were far far cooler than a silly song anyway.
“Without further ado: ‘Feral Number Ten’ by Miami and Dralen. Music: ‘Bobcaygeon’ by the Tragically Hip. Any spots where the lyrics don’t seem to work is due to us hack’n’slash-ed-ly rearranging bits of the song. Trust me it all worked (even when there were two gusts of wind blowing our sheet music off the stand).”
Feral! 2008, August 24 – 28, drew about 92 campers. The guests of honour were two Ontario artists, Ferris and Patches. The Camp Feral! website, which went back to 2001 or earlier with regular updates, was extensively redesigned. Registration on the new website began on February 10. Registration was again C$325 for a regular camper, C$375 for a Sponsor, and C$495 for a Patron. “As an expression of our gratitude to our most helpful donors, Sponsors and Patrons both receive a free Feral! art T-shirt as a symbol of our thanks for their support of Feral, as well as admission to the Sponsor event, which features premium food and drink, and a chance to rub elbows with our special guests!
“Patrons will also receive an additional special gift, and have the opportunity to sponsor specific initiatives. (For example, a special guest we have invited to Feral may be able to come, but we might need help paying for their transportation cost. A Patron could decide to sponsor that specific initiative.) If you’re interested in becoming a Patron, please contact us at email@example.com for more information.”
A major change was that attendance became limited to those 19 and older. This was for insurance purposes, principally to ensure that all the campers were old enough to drink, ending having to check whether individual attendees were old enough or not. The FeralCom hoped that insurance costs would drop so much that additional events could be scheduled, or the registration fee could be lowered. This affected some veteran campers; Tir’ran, who had been a participant since the first camp, stopped coming because he could no longer bring his children.
ChairFur Potoroo wrote in the Survival Guide, “After ﬁve years, many of our staff are choosing this year to be their last so they can join future Ferals as campers rather than staff. I’d like for the campers to all join in and thank them for all the work they’ve done to ensure this camp is possible. Every year I thank the campers for making Feral what it is, but I’d like to throw a spotlight onto the members of staff who work year round for us.” The retiring FeralCom staff whom he thanked were Wily, Patches, and Growler.
A new Feral! scrapbook, with mementos from previous camps, was begun. All three mascots were featured on the Feral! Survival Guide by Ferris and Slinky (Andrew Murphy-Mee), and on the T-shirt by Patches.
A subject that transcends the years is that almost every Survival Guide warns:
- Do not approach the wildlife or coax it to approach you. Think RABIES.
- Do not feed the wildlife. They can ﬁnd food just ﬁne themselves, thank you very much!
Has Camp Feral! ever had problems with the wildlife becoming too fearless of the campers? Potoroo says, “As for wildlife, generally they aren’t aggressive but they have been sneaky in the past. A few years back the little squirrels and chipmunks were very good at sneaking up on the tables in the Main Lodge and sneaking the food off our plates without us noticing.
“That’s the worst it’s ever been…we’ve had moose, foxes, and plenty of rodents visit us on site before but not much more!”
Camp Feral! XII, August 29 – September 2, 2009, again recorded 92 campers, a reported “slight increase” which cast doubt on 2008’s estimate. The two guests of honour were host Flain Falcon of the furry podcast Clawcast and newer Anthropod, and Ursa Major Award-winning author Kyell Gold. The 2009 theme was “Wish you were here …”, developed around sending postcards from camp. Registration took advantage of the redesigned Camp Feral! website, opening on January 15. Furry fans were encouraged to sign up early, to become campers for the whole year rather than for just the five days of the camp. Year-long members could contact other members through the Camper’s Mailing List and the Feral! website’s forums, and the website’s LJ, Twitter, and Facebook accounts were open to the public. The website also featured FeralCom and guest blogs. Additional events throughout the year were planned such as a pre-Feral! BBQ. 2009’s rates were C$325 for a regular membership, C$375 for a Sponsor, and C$495 for a Patron, not counting C$45 for the chartered bus from Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall.
The 2009 FeralCom consisted of: Potoroo (chairman, workshop coordinator), Srice (accountant, winemaker), Jafra (security, logistics), Yennix (webmaster, logistics, leatherer), Crono Liganthah (activities coordinator), Pup (Jafra’s assistant; web & marketing designer), Timber (also Jafra’s assistant), Fuzzybunny (dance coordinator, Darkk DJ), Cobalt! (conbook designer), Inari The Fox (web architect & graphic designer) and the Pyhrra and Nayo, general helpers. The Survival Guide also credited four “Staff at Large” who performed pre-con services but were unable to attend: Growler (e-mail coordinator), Cobalt (Survival Guide editor), Dralen (sponsors’ events coordinator), and Dakk (Fuzzybunny’s assistant).
By this time the routine at Camp Feral! had settled into a familiar pattern. There would continue to be innovations and changes tailored to each year’s guests of honour, but in general the publicity for 2009 could serve as the plan for the future:
“Events at Camp Feral! are like no other. Very few furry cons can boast campfire Sing-A-Longs, a Poetry Corner in a Recreations Hall next to a lake, or a dance in a cabin in the woods. Even better…we have two dances!
“Drum Circle: The traditional kick-off for Camp Feral! On the first night after dinner we light the Upper Campfire and supply sticks, drums, pails and other percussion instruments and start up a tribal drum circle! Definitely a great way to meet some new furs and start off Feral!
”Campfire Sing-A-Long: Loads of traditional campfire songs plus ‘those songs everyone seems to know’ get bandied around the Upper Campfire on the second night of Camp Feral! Our set of regular bards – Branwyn, Miami and Wotan – will have guitars, and you can bring your own and join in! Lyric sheets will be available…bring a flashlight!
”Poetry Corner: Held in the Rec Hall next to Tee Pee Lake, the stage is set for finger snaps and coffee. Bring your own poems, or bring your favourites, and recite them to a crowd of poetry lovers! A tradition since 2003.
”Musicians Circle: A showcase of talent among furry musicians! On the mainstage at the Rec Hall, furries perform at this ‘open mic’ night! Hear original furry music or furs singing their favourite songs. Everyone is encouraged to show up with guitars, keyboards, or just their voice! You can even find furs in advance and set up duets or a group song. (The campfire behind Cabin 36 is a great jam spot!!!)
”Sponsors Event: A big THANK you open to Sponsors and Patrons, this amazing ‘social’ is chock full of wine, cheese, beer brewed by Potoroo’s dad, a DJ and LOADS of hugs from the staff to the furs who help keep Feral! alive! Special Guests are also in attendance so it’s a good chance to say hi to a great furry artist, writer or personality!
“Mixtape Dance: The evening before the DJ’s take the stage, this dance has a little bit of everything! New DJ’s can give it a shot during their very own set. ‘DJ-OFFS’ which pit two DJ’s against each other in a duel of music. Requests are taken (you can even bring your own CD or memory stick to supply a track!) Think of it like a high school dance…only a hundred times better!
“For 2009, confirmed activities run by Feral! staff or campers are:
“Melee! (run by the fine folks of the MonFur community!)
“Greased Watermelon Football: a bunch o’ furs jump in the water, and a watermelon is tossed in. Try getting that sucker into the opposing teams goal. Go on. I dare you!
”Camp Arowhon activities offered in 2009 include:
“Predator vs. Prey: Say you’re a carnivore…maybe you’ll get a chance to feel what it’s like to be a herbivore chased through the woods. Say you’re a herbivore…revenge at last! The Camp Feral! tradition since day one!
“Lake Swim: Like a marathon with water…it doesn’t matter if you win, it only matters that you jumped in and gave it a shot. Join the other furs as they swim across Tee Pee Lake! And if you’re insane…try swimming back!
“Summer Camp Activities: Archery, Wall Climbing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Swimming, Sailing, Eco Games, a Rope Course and more!
“There are also two tennis courts, a basketball court, a volleyball net, a tetherball pole, and many other opportunities to get active!”
“CONFIRMED WORKSHOPS FOR 2009!
“WRITING SEMINAR with KYELL GOLD: Love writing? Here’s your chance to share a short story with four other furs under the moderation of Kyell Gold and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your writing! A great chance to improve your writing through discussion! The first five campers to request a seat for this seminar and supply the short story they would like to discuss will be allowed into this special seminar! Please contact Potoroo at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply!
“PODCASTS AND NEW MEDIA with FLAIN FALCON: Flain will lead a workshop discussing podcasts, new media and furry! An opportunity to learn from a fur with experience through both Clawcast and Anthropodcast!
“COSTUMING: EARS AND TAILS with LOOPY!: Returning again, Feral’s most popular workshop instructor with his costuming workshop on Ears and Tails! Not only do you learn how to make your own set of ears or tail, you leave with the product! (A small fee is charged for materials, from $5 to $10 depending on the amount of fabric used!)
“LEATHERWORKING with YENNIX!: Back again, Yennix will have a leatherworking project that will show you not only how to work with leather but how to make something you can bring home! In the past, collars, cuffs and bracelets have been projects! (a small fee is charged for materials, TBA) [The fee was C$30.]
“DRAWING TECHNIQUES with PAPA GOYLE!: Back again, Papa Goyle will take his over 30 years of experience and teach you basic drawing techniques! One of the most popular workshops of 2008!
“BASIC WRITING with KYELL GOLD and SKYLOS!: The basics of writing are discussed by two very experienced furry authors! Get the gist, and more, to start you on your way towards a lifetime of writing! Or brush up on the basics to help improve your already budding career!”
In addition to the workshops run by the two Guests of Honour, Kyell Gold held a reading of his new novel, Shadow of the Father. Flain Falcon recorded a live episode of his Anthropodcast in the Rec Hall, interviewing Chair Potoroo, Gold, and several furries from an audience of forty to fifty campers.
Other events included the last evening’s Dead Dog Party, and a Camp Arowhon staff vs. campers dodgeball game. “Memorable moments” included Halex leading a group of canoe-pirates to overtake and board the Voyageur Canoe in mid-lake; temperatures dropping to near freezing on the Monday morning; and Pyhrra winning the lake swim for the fourth year in a row. Camp Arowhon’s popular director, J.J., who had run the camp in 1998 and 2004 to 2007, returned.
The three mascots were featured on the Feral! Survival Guide cover by Patches, and on the 2009 T-shirt by Zakkun. The Survival Guide included “Sunny Trail”, an exclusive short story by GoH Kyell Gold.
Camp Feral! 2010, at Camp Arowhon on September 1 – 5, was “Feral! the 13th”. The thirteenth annual event was themed around the Friday the 13th horror movies. Guests of Honour were musician Colson Grainger and artist Ivybeth. Attendance was 94. Fees were again C$325 for a regular membership, C$375 for a Sponsor, and C$495 for a Patron; and C$45 for the chartered bus from Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall.
Growler became co-chair with Potoroo, and graphic designer Arius was added to the FeralCom (Yennix, Crono, Srice, Nayo!, Jafra, pup, Inari, Dakk, Grex, and Timber) to carry out the Feral! the 13th theme. The basic advertisement was a mock movie poster showing mascot Pawnee with a machete and hockey mask, captioned “A summer camp … by a lake … miles from the nearest town. Plan for a bloody good time.” Other posters were variants on this.
Potoroo wrote on the furry.ca forum, “With a Friday the 13th/Sleepaway Camp/Horror theme there’s LOTS of possibilities for art and pics. Pawnee (our mascot) is Jason…Ruger and Weeko are the heroes…contact me if you’d like to draw for our collection of scenes for the website or conbook! We’ll be filming some mini-movies on site this year, keep an eye on campferal.org for links to our YouTube vids!”
FeralCom began using YouTube to heavily promote the camp. There were videos of past camps, video blogs (vlogs), and a webisode featuring a fursuited Pawnee (with a hockey mask designed for his muzzle) coming to live with the Feral! staff during the several months’ leadup to the camp. The first Furnal Equinox convention in Toronto was held that March, and Feral the 13th was promoted there; also at the previous October’s furry Vancouver Howloween convention.
A “Jasonized” Pawnee (Jason Furhees) prowled the 2010 camp “killing” campers who never knew where he would strike next. Unfortunately, the “menace” was not entirely fictional. An unknown stomach flu struck several campers, one so badly that he was taken to a hospital as a precaution. The campers were reminded to wash their hands before and during meals, which apparently was enough to take care of that problem.
The 36-page Feral! Survival Guide featured a color cover by Blotch showing the hocky-masked Pawnee sneaking up behind a horrified raccoon, and an exclusive story, “The Challenge”, by Kyell Gold. The T-shirt was a red-on-black ornate horned animal skull by Toronto nonfurry graphic designer Edgardo Sanchez.
hyenaboy’s (Ren Zacchigna) Furaffinity Feral! 2010 con report:
“I’ve been in and out of the furry fandom since 2002, but isolated from the actual community (I did play Furcadia back in 2002-03, though. :])… So, even though I’m from the GTA, no one from the Toronto community actually even knew of me until this past year. With one exception — I was seeing a fur who was involved in the T.O. community in 2005 and went to a meetup at someone’s house with him. I actually recognized a few faces from that party at Feral! this past weekend, but I highly doubt anyone remembers me. 😉 I’ve only started posting on forums more recently, went to a local meetup earlier this year, and went to my first two cons this year … the first being Furnal Equinox in March, and the second being Feral!
“I headed down to Yorkdale Mall and took the bus up to Arowhon with others. I was definitely feeling the nerves… I didn’t actually know anybody here, and I have a difficult time making friends. (This is part of the reason I chose to go to Feral! in the first place, though.) Anyway, took three and a half-ish hours to get there, registered, had dinner, and went to my cabin. Met my cabinmates. Nice fellows. Talked a little bit about how I never go to events and wanted to meet new people.
“I spent the rest of the evening hanging around the main lodge. Listened to people play music, watched people play board games or draw. Mustered up courage to go and talk to people I wanted to get to know better. And nothing bad happened! Score one for the socially anxious hyena. 🙂
“I guess the hardest part of the first couple of days of camp was dealing with me being transgender. I expected it to be that way. I didn’t know how I should handle it myself, so I kind of just put myself out there and let people assume what they would. I think by the end of camp, half of the crowd assumed I was female, the other half assumed I was male, most of the rest were just confused, and the people who actually tried to get to know me did find out that I am indeed a transguy and either were still confused or cool about it.
“For the record, I know that no one had bad intentions, but asking someone if they are a boy or a girl is an extremely touchy subject. Lucky I’m not incredibly sensitive about it and willing to educate. I wanted to be myself at camp, but I also didn’t want to be correcting people the entire time, so I didn’t correct peoples’ pronoun use for the majority of the time. (I prefer he/him/his.)
“On that note, it was hard for me to determine exactly how I was going to handle swimming (which I ended up just doing with a shirt and trunks on). That whole situation was rough on me. Hate being around all of these people who are able to just be comfortable in their bodies, and I’m there trying to cover mine up because it will give me away. I was feeling out of sorts on the second day because of that.
“I only attended one workshop: Hiker, Torrle, and Ivybeth’s drawing workshop. The anatomy covered was really helpful, as was learning about ear and tail placement. I should’ve gone to the other art workshops. I hear one of them had people modeling to draw from. That would have been helpful. I also really wanted to go to the leatherworking one, but I had no cash on me the entire time I was at Feral… which meant I couldn’t commission anyone for anything, or do any of the workshops that involved materials. Even though that saddens me, my bank account thanks me, because I know I would’ve spent a lot. 🙂
“Other things… I did the climbing wall. Or attempted to. It was raining, and it was hard because I am seriously out of shape. I have … like no muscles at all. I have some leg strength (from DDRing way back in the day), but no arm strength at all. Don’t ever ask me to arm wrestle (or do ask me to arm wrestle, I suppose). Anyway, ow. My forearms hurt like a bitch after that. I was also coerced into trying archery since I was watching it. That didn’t go too well either, though it did go much better than I thought it would!
“The food was really good. I stuffed myself every single day because I do not eat at home. I can’t cook to save my life. This is a fact, unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of weight since moving out and I think I’m almost anemic again. So I ate. A lot. Actually, I generally put too much on my plate and threw out a little bit. I tried to eat it all, though, because I felt bad every time I couldn’t finish. (I didn’t throw out a lot, I swear!). OM NOM NOM FOOD. They even had midnight snacks for us! Which was good because a lot of people were up past midnight.
“I’m surprised I was able to function on my sleep schedule. I think the excitement of being at camp kept me going. I was never actually really tired. I went to bed late and was up in time for breakfast every single day. I did take a couple of naps, one short one, and one long one on Saturday before the dance — I was annoyed about something and I decided to sleep it off. I ended up sleeping through dinner, but we got me some food before it was all thrown out.
“The dances were fantastic. The first one, the dance/lounge, ended earlier and I was there the entire time. The second one ran really late, and I headed to bed at 2:30ish. I’m not a dancer. I don’t generally dance and I hate the night clubbing scene with a passion. However, I’m pretty sure the dances were my favourite part of Feral!. Once people had gotten me up off my bottom, I managed to completely lose myself in it. I have no idea whether I look good when I’m glow-sticking and/or flailing around, but I had fun and I don’t think anyone gave a shit what I danced like.
“I’ve had a lot of difficulty with attempting to define myself this year. But I’ve never felt as comfortable as just a PERSON (…or a furry :]) as I did at Feral!. Everyone there was so very nice. And everyone encourages you to get involved and have fun. People actually want to see you have fun. And I’ve had a severe lack of that throughout my entire life.
“I almost cried several different times on the last day as we were getting to leave. So close. SO close. But I managed to hold it back, because gawd, how embarrassing would that be? :3
“Thank you to everyone who was there. Even if we didn’t talk, you were there and were part of the experience. Probably the best week of my life so far. 🙂
“…And I’m so lonely now!”
Camp Feral! 2011 was held on August 31 – September 4. The previous year’s Feral! the 13th theme was so popular that Feral! 2011 followed it up with the only-slightly-different “It Came From Camp Feral!” theme, around B sci-fi horror movies in general. The guests of honour were artist Black Teagan (Teagan Gavet, half of the Blotch artistic duo) and writer Rikoshi (Rikoshi Kisaragi, real name Kevin Frane), and the attendance was Camp Feral!’s third highest, 111. Registrations were now C$350 for regular campers, C$400 for Sponsors, and C$495 for Patrons, plus C$45 for the round-trip bus from the Yorkdale Mall. The 2011 FeralCom were Potoroo, Growler, Yennix, Timber, Crono, Nayo, Grex, Dakk, March, Zabbu, Solez and Simbayo, with Dralen and Cobalt again helping out with con book and sponsor’s event respectively.
Potoroo explained on the website: “In 2010, our theme was ‘Feral the 13th,’ an homage to the slasher flicks ‘Friday the 13th.’ What were we thinking having a camp about a killer in the woods…in the wood! It was all tongue-in-cheek craziness, and we all had a great time! And as the camp went along, with our campwide game (involving a camper playing Jason, going around killing campers…fake of course) and events…I realized that it was as though *gasp* we were actually IN a Friday the 13th movie!
“Think about it: the campers are just going along, having fun, doing camp things…until Jason gets ’em!
“So, I wanted to see how far we could take the idea. The ‘B-Movie’ theme was a perfect follow up and a great match for camp – bizarre, offbeat, funny sometimes without intending to be. And, since I am a huge B-Movie fan, I kinda…pushed for it.
“The thought came to mind: why not both pay homage to B-Movies of all kinds…’and’ pretend that camp is its own B-Movie! Like…if we pretended that a green ooze or mist overtook the camp, and everyone who came into contact with it thought they were turning into animals…that would be B, right? And it would be accurate! I mean…what ‘else’ do furries think about?
“Just like 2010…you just have to come to camp and have fun…and you’re a part of the movie!
“So a story was born! A fake B-Movie about people turning into animals (in their minds) and eventually leading to a battle…well, you’ll find out more soon. But the movie is actually ‘Camp Feral!’! We decided to make a trailer…and then go up to camp and film an ‘opening sequence’ to the movie…a sequence that ends when the bus arrives…the bus that holds the campers…you know, when the movie starts. […]
“There will be a campwide game, the events and some activities will be themed…we’ll screen some selected B-Movies in the Rec Hall at night…and of course the creations by our Guest of Honours BlackTeagan and Rikoshi will suit the story we’re developing!
“All you have to do is show up! We’ll do the rest!”
“Do you dare tempt fate against … squirrels from beyond the grave!”
The leadup to the 2011 camp began the previous November 2 with the YouTube posting of a faux It Came From Camp Feral! trailer. This was followed up during the coming months with further trailers, camper interaction on the website’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and pre-Feral! activities around the “making a B-movie” theme.
Potoroo thinks that, “… with our series starting in 2010, first Feral! promo video sent to FC in 2003, and first video filmed prior to the first Camp Feral in the Spring of 1998, Feral is likely the most video-heavy convention in the world, if you consider self-produced promotional videos. We have footage from each year of camp, and have been making original content for 16 years.”
The Musicians’ Circle expanded in 2011, from bring-your-own instruments to “a drum kit, amps and a PA system and becoming almost a festival of open mics, with some videos on our YouTube Channel featuring the music performed,” Potoroo described. “Returning Guest of Honour Kyell Gold and Guest of Honour Rikoshi even got up to sing some songs.”
In 2011 the camp inaugurated the Friends of Feral award, presented by the FeralCom to those who had become frequent workers for the annual event over the years. The award consists of the recipients’ names engraved on a bronze plate affixed to a ring of wood. The first recipients were Deuce and Miami. both regular attendees and committee or other behind-the-scenes workers; in Miami’s case since the first Camp Feral!
The 2011 Survival Guide cover was a simulated old VHS tape cover by Black Teagan, while Arius did the T-shirt.
Camp Feral! 2012, the “Quintennial”, was held on August 24 – 28, 2012, at Camp Arowhon in Algonquin Provincial Park, as usual. Attendance was 123; Feral!’s second highest. The announced Guests of Honour were graphic designer Arius, “in absentia” (but he was able to attend at the last minute), and furry artist Gez Tank Skunkrat, a.k.a. Grimal. Rates were again C$350, C$400, and C$495; and C$45 for the bus. The Feral! bus stop in Toronto was moved from Yorkdale Mall due to renovations, to The Den (Potoroo’s house; the furry commune where five Feral! staffers live). The 2012 website’s Getting To Camp instructions included some historical information about the Feral! Bus: “If you don’t have to drive, take the Feral! Bus. It is a unique experience; traveling with a group of furs to and from Feral on a school bus (in the past driven by both Potoroo’s elementary school bus driver, and once by his high school prom date’s Mom!!). You leave the work to us for a low fee, and can relax at Feral a little more!”
2012’s theme, once more planned by Arius, was the other kind of s-f movies: the future: “Futurecamp!”; “The Future Is Now!”; a “Retro Future Space Camp”.
“For 2012, we want to both honour a talented artist and acknowledge an under appreciated artform. The look of Feral! from ‘Feral the 13th’ to ‘Futurecamp!’ is largely attributed to one person: Arius. In 2010, we wanted a unique feel to come through our logo and t-shirts and turned to an artist with skill in graphic design to do so, and the result was mindblowing. In 2011, we turned back to Arius and had him take over the look of the website, promotions and t-shirt for ‘It Came From Camp Feral!’ and again it was a look we’d never seen before in a furry con. This year, Arius is the design mind behind ‘Futurecamp!’”
“Futurecamp!”, imaginatively co-presented with fictional corporate sponsor Tomorrowcorp (products advertised included Hover Canoes, Jet Packs (with TailGuard), BearTame …), had its own theme song, “written to sound like a cheesy 1960s sitcom theme”, and eight video episodes that appeared on YouTube “with help from film whiz Olefin”. There was also a series of short “Ask Timber” videos, featuring “celebrity endorser” Timber! The Talking Dog!
Camp Feral! Inaugurated Camp Arowhon’s new Rustic Lodge theatre that made the dancing and cabin skits more enjoyable. The last events to be held in Camp Arowhon’s old Recreation Hall before it was torn down were Camp Feral!’s Furry Improv and a screening of The Hunger Games. The campfire singalong and the Sponsor’s Event were larger than in previous years. A 2012 highlight was branwyn’s a cappella singing in the dark woods on the first night. The 2012 Friends of Feral award went to Hiker and Loopy.
The 42-page Survival Guide became the Official User Manual 15th Edition, with two stories, lots of art, and advertisements from eight other Furry cons. The cover was by GT Skunkrat. It had Furry caricatures of sixteen FeralCom staff: Potoroo, Grex, Crono, Nayo, Olefin, Dakk, Cobalt, Simbayo, Dralen, Yennix, Growler, Timbehr, Molten, Solez, Zabbu, and March (and Timber! The Talking Dog). Arius did the 2012 T-shirt.
SyHusky’s Daily Fur Blog report (abridged):
“Hello everyone, okay I don’t like doing these things but my VBlog of the Camp Feral 2012 trip might take some time so I wanted to post somethn’. […]
“Next morning we head out to Feral up a little north of Ontario. FireStorm drives myself, Keagan, Bastion and Sage. The others got to have fun on the school bus up there, so I need pics from that please!!! Of course when we get there it’s so much fun, the cabin was amazing right by the water too. We got to do all those Feral activities like, Rock climb, Poem Workshop, Leather Workshop, and of course the Canoe/Kayak . There is much more I leave out like Pred/Prey, you’ll need to come up next year to see. I went out everyday on the Kayak which got me into great shape and sun tan. I DID fursuit which was amazing at night because it kept me warm. I managed not to get anything F’d up because I knew the paths, so YES fursuit can happen. Of course the famous AtlWolf and Kenyan were by my side in the cabin sleeping in the bunk beds beside me. Atl had his wolf fur suit which made things so much easier because I was not alone when walking around. I have to say it was tricky when it came to not having the head on because “headless lounge” doesn’t really happen often. Only on the last night did we have an amazing headless area.
“On the last day of Feral I wanted to get a shower before the Cabin Skits (where your cabin mates get together and comes up with a short skit to do in front of everyone) (we won 38-a&b !!! Better believeeeee that’s a paddlen’). I was walking up to the showers and BAM!! I get stung by a hornet! After the electrical pain in my left elbow and somewhat nasty venom effects down my throat I lived. So-much-so about 4-5 hours later I got into suit and danced the last dance until 3am. I came out and it felt like snow time because, my suit was sweat wet from the hours of having it on. ‘Tis a wonderful night and I met so many new people. I danced with so many wonderful other and drank so much I hope those people remember me because I may have a mind slip. […]
“When I got home let me tell you, it’s the worst PCD you’ll have from a con, because Feral is full of things to do. This is not just a con where you sit in a lobby and say, “what am I going to do now? go up the room? go outside? should I sit back in the lobby?” . This is a FUN great time full of activities which will make all your days complete. Thanks to Roo the chairman and his many good people for the trip like every year. The views at night and the sunrise from the lake will be missed greatly. My all time favorite thing had to be when I was on top of the rock overseeing all of the camp and forest area for miles. Anyone who has pics from the top of the rock on the boat trip I want to see them please!!
“I will post the Vblog soon stay tuned here for the video. Sorry I missed many other pics because I was in suit, but I promise FireStorm was my other hand at that and took tons of pics you can see HERE.“
So now Camp Feral! 2012 is over. 2013 is coming up on August 23-27; with a theme of Canadiana – “as many Canadian cultural stereotypes as we can squeeze in ;)”; but we have to end this history somewhere, and this is where: after fifteen years of successful Camps. The “uncon” always has room for a few more – have you tried it out?
I would like to thank all of the Feral! campers who helped me to write this history, especially Deuce who suggested it and sent me lots of information on the early camps, Potoroo who sent me scans of all the Survival Guides, and all the campers who allowed me to quote their con reports. May Camp Feral! go on into the indefinite future!
P.S.: A legitimate question is: if a furry camp is so popular, what others are there? There are now six in the U.S.: Oklacon (Festival of the Feral the first year), a weekend campout in Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma, annual near Hallowe’en since 2003; Furs Unleashed!, a four-day campout in the Hickory Run State Park in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, annual during May or June since 2008; Wild Nights, a five-day campout at Robbers’ Cave State Park in Eastern Oklahoma, annual during April since 2009; the Central Plains Furmeet, at the Lake Afton campground near Wichita, Kansas, annual in May or June since 2010; Campfire Tails, a five-day campout at the Ogden Group Camp in the Deschutes National Forest near La Pine, Oregon, annual in early August since 2010; and the Central Midwest Furmeet, at the Capitol City KOA campground near Topeka, Kansas, annual in early September since 2010. A slightly different event is the Furry Ski Weekend, at the Copper Mountain Ski Resort in the White River National Forest near Leadville, Colorado, annual in mid-February since 2007. There are three others besides Camp Feral! in Canada, two in Germany, and one each in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Finland, New Zealand, and Poland.
The latest is in Spain. On November 24 and 25, 2012, the first Ibercamp in Spain was scheduled in a commercial camping site in the Sierra de Mariola, a remote nature area in the mountains near the village of Salem, Valencia, halfway between Valencia city and Alicante near the Mediterranean coast. The two-day event cost €75, and included food, drinks (including a few hours of open bar at the karaoke), and a bungalow spot. Activities included three hours of hiking with an experienced guide. Fursuits and pets were permitted. Attendance this first year was limited to 24 campers (not counting staff) aged 18 and older, or 14–17 with written permission of parents or guardian; and organizer Alex Vixgeck announced that all 24 openings were taken within 24 hours, mostly by Spaniards/Catalans and Portuguese but including one Briton. A promising beginning!