Camp Feral!: Fifteen Years, 1998 – 2012 (Part 2) – by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Article with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

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 2

“The park had brought in a naturalist to lead a Wolf Howl.  Apparently this is a regular event in Algonquin Park.  First there was a very informative slide show and presentation, then the naturalist took us outside and tried to get the wolves to howl.  What he does is that he howls three times, then waits to see if the wolves respond.  If after a few rounds they do not, then several naturalists howl together as though it was a pack howling, sometimes that will get the wolves to howl back. Unfortunately, on this night they didn’t howl.  Might have been the rain. I could imagine them sheltering themselves from the rain and laughing at the stupid humans out getting soaked and howling.

1998 T-shirt by MelSkunk & Benjamin

1998 T-shirt by MelSkunk & Benjamin.

“Later on the storm got worse, and knocked out the power in the camp. The generator was fired up, but that only supplied power to the main lodge. So no campfire this night, although they did light a fire in the lodge’s fireplace.  It was nice to hang out with a good part of the group as a whole.  For a little while, Qeveren and I went out on the front steps and watched the storm–there was some fantastic lightning.  We sang to each other and got kinda damp and just enjoyed each other’s company.

“After a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast it was back to Toronto.  Qeveren and I caught a ride back with Ann in her truck instead of getting back on the school bus.  Apparently we missed some rather interesting antics…but there are pictures, thank goodness.  🙂

“I want to take this opportunity to tell all of you that you really ought to come up for this next year.  I highly recommend it, I have never had so much fun or come away from a place so relaxed.  The camp was beautiful, the staff was wonderful, the food and accomodations were great, the company was wonderful.  Please please please look over the other con reports, browse the photos and at least think about coming up next year.  You’ve got a year to think about it and save up.  You’ll have a great time.  I certainly did. Silfur and Pardus and the rest of the comittee should be given a huge pat on the back for hosting such a wonderful event.”

Camp Feral! 2000 or Feral! 2K was on August 16 – 20, again at the Kinark Outdoor Centre. It had about 80 participants. The Committee was P. Pardus, Head Manager and Registration Coordinator; Terry Wessner, FeralCom Meeting Host; Benjamin (no longer Simba), Webmaster and FeralCom Coordinator; Silfur, Venue Liaison; Bohor, Transportation; and newcomers Isaac, Marketing Strategist; Hiker, head cabin leader; Marlos, Secretary; Deuce, Workshop Coordinator; FuzzyBunny, Activities Coordinator; and Pakesh De, Security and Camper Safety. Registration was C$275, plus C$25 for the chartered bus from Toronto.

Camp Feral! 2000’s website promised, “Get back to basics in the serene beauty of Ontario’s wilderness. Learn to make a costume or improve your drawing skills. Practice archery or take part in a massive game that pits predator against prey. Paddle across the lake in a kayak. All before dinner.”

“Every day at Camp Feral! is filled with a variety of fun and interesting things to do and new friends to do them with. Our staff works hard all year to line up some of the best teachers in the fandom for hands-on workshops that run over the entire four days of Feral!”

“You’ll share a cabin with a Feral! cabin counsellor and four or five other campers. At night, you’ll drift off to the distant singing at the campfire and awake to the beams of the sunlight and the incessant pounding on the door from one of the “early” cabins.” The website included a scrapbook of photos from the two previous camps, and encouraged members who joined early to communicate through Camp Feral!’s message boards.

Feral2Kban-br-01The workshops included: Drawing track (Basic Drawing, Action and Expression, Perspective and Drawing From Nature, Comics (only one attendee), Life Drawing, Advanced Drawing Panel); Writing track (Overcoming Creative Blocks, Rules of Good Writing, Furries as Non-Humans, Furry World-Building, Panel – Finding a Publisher); Sewing/Costuming track (Making Tails, Silverfang (now Liorah; Laura Whent) (full-day), Making Ears, Silverfang, Making Gloves (paws), Deuce, Starting a Fursuit (full-day, still too short), Deuce; Sewing/Plushies (Basic Plushie-Making (full-day, but nobody showed up), Tirran, Advanced Plushie-Making (full-day), Tirran; and Misc track (Mask Making, Pann, Face and Body Painting, Marlos, Foam Carving (full-day), Loopy and Ostrich, and Performing in Costume). Other instructors included BushyCat, Giza, K-9, MelSkunk, Wookee/Nakira, Benjamin, and Terry Wessner.   A Feral! General (Art) Store was set up for a few hours on Friday evening, for campers to display and sell their artwork, PG and Adult.

The most popular games were the Predator & Prey and the cabin skits. The 2000 Feral! Survival Guide had a full colour front cover by Benjamin; a triptych showing Benjamin and Farley writing or drawing; a horse guitarist; and Timbavati contemplating a bull’s skull; and a back cover featuring a map of the Kinark Outdoor Centre. The T-shirt by Richard Bartrop and Wookiee/Nakira showed a heavily-muscled anthro tiger fishing with Arrogant Worms (“the Arrogant Worms” was the name of a popular band) as bait.

Feral! 2001, August 22 – 26, was the first to feature an official Guest of Honour: Dr. Samuel C. Conway, the popular chairman of Anthrocon. There were 95 campers. The Committee was about the same, although most members shuffled their jobs: Pardus was Head Manager and Registrf2001covation; Terry Wessner was Meeting Coordinator; Benjamin was Webmaster and Media Manager; Bohor, Transportation; Hiker, Head Counselor; Marlos, Secretary; Deuce, Workshop Coordinator; FuzzyBunny, Activities Coordinator; and Pakash De, Security and Camper Safety. Additions were Branwyn (Dan Desveaux), Venue Liaison (including cook and menu coordinator), and Miami Pony (Ian Mahoney), Advertising Manager. The Feral! Survival Guide announced: “The Feral! staff members are wearing green shirts that have the ‘Feral!’ logo splashed across the front. If you have any problems or questions, talk to one of them, they can help.” Attendance was C$275, plus C$25 for the chartered bus from Toronto.

Feral! 2001 was once more at the Kinark Outdoor Centre. Workshops and instructors were: Drawing (Basic Drawing, Hiker, Krahnos, and Loopy, Action and Expression, A. Seraph and Loopy, Painting, Benjamin, Drawing from Life and Nature, Benjamin and Krahnos); Costuming (Making a Tail (full-day), Silverfang with Giza (Doug Muth) assisting, Making Ears, Silverfang & Giza, Face and Body Painting, Marlos); Writing (Writing Fundamentals, A. Seraph with Terry assisting, Furry Characters and Worlds including the inauguration of a popular World Building Game, Potoroo (Lucas Raymond) & Terry); Advanced Sewing (Starting a Fursuit (full-day), Tirran, Plushie Making, Tirran); Miscellaneous (Mask Making, Rava Purr, Sculpting, Loopy); and Panels (Overcoming Creative Blocks, Advanced Art Panel, Performing in Costume, Potoroo).

Campers came from as far away as Australia and Finland. Scar drove to Ontario from Texas. Programmed events were much the same, with the addition of “Uncle Kage’s Story Hour”, performed at Kinark’s main campfire after dark. Conway/Kagemushi threw himself into the Camp; he highlighted the Predators vs. Prey by appearing as a gigantic wolf against Mother Nature (Pakesh De), whom he ate. The popular General (Art) Store was repeated.

Kage later reported: “There were some interesting similarities between Anthrocon and FERAL!

  • ANTHROCON: Climbing stairs to get to roomsBenjamin-Farley-2Kcover
  • FERAL!: Climbing steep hills to get to cabins
  • ANTHROCON: Long wait in registration
  • FERAL!: Long ride on bus
  • ANTHROCON: Philadelphia tap water
  • FERAL!: Lake Nestea
  • ANTHROCON: Lack of towels made showering difficult
  • FERAL!: Lack of hot water made showering difficult
  • ANTHROCON: Muggers
  • FERAL!: Mosquitos”

The Camp Feral! website thanked Tigerwolf (George F. Nemeier, Jr.) for supplying radios and his van; SnowWolf (Lawrence Peck) for DJing the Furry Rave; and BushyCat (Rebecca Ann Frey) for “the well-abused piñatas”. The 48-page Feral! Survival Guide had a full color cover by Krahnos, a night scene of a group of furries singing around the campfire, with a map of the Kinark Centre on the back cover again; a short-short story by Ron Orr; and information on, the Canadian furry community web site. The T-shirt was by BushyCat, showing a Siamese cat explorer armed with a tiny fly-swatter being chased through the jungle by a giant mosquito.

Feral! 2002’s guest of honour was furry artist Ginger (Jessica Willard), whose gay wolf-dog Falstaff was featured prominently in Feral! 2002’s publications and publicity; but Dr. Samuel Conway was also a featured guest. The Camp returned to the Kinark Outdoor Centre, on August 21 – 25. Attendance was 87. Rava Purr was added to FeralCom in charge of finances; the cost increased to C$295 plus C$30 extra for the chartered bus.

jw-feral-adStaff were P, Pardus, Branwyn, Hiker, Miami, FuzzyBunny, Doug Muth, Deuce, Harbin Hedgehog, Torrle Z. Wolf, and Rexx Wolfe (Alexsi Antanaitis). Workshops and instructors were: Drawing (Basic Drawing, Krahnos & Hiker, Inking and Colouring, Ginger & Hiker, Action and Expression, Loopy, Krahnos & Hiker, Perspective and Drawing From Nature, Vandringar, Art Panel, Ginger, Krahnos, Loopy & Torrle); Writing (Rules of Good Writing, Lucas Dalton & Cnipur, Furry Characters and Worlds, Potoroo & Lucas Dalton); Costuming (just listed as “sewing”, Silverfang, Giza & Deuce; teaching tails/ears/paws per student interest all con long, Mesh Heads, Tirran, Plushies and Puppets, Vandringar & Tirran, Fursuit Making, Tirran); Crafts (Plaster Masks, Branwyn, Sculpting, Loopy); Theatre (Performing in Costume, Potoroo, Theatrical Writing, Potoroo); and Other (Overcoming Creative Blocks, Torrle, Hiker & Vandringar, Performing in Costume).

“As in previous years, we offer a broad range of interesting courses where you can advance your skills in drawing, writing, plushie making and costuming. For the aquatically inclined, Kinark has its own lake, with canoes, kayaks and paddle boats. On the ground, you can practice archery, do battle with foam swords or water guns, and take part in the race for survival in the predator/prey games. For those with even higher goals the climbing walls and high ropes course will get things off the ground.” (Press release by Benjamin) There were also “nature hikes, campfire sing-alongs, and ritual Teletubby sacrifices. Rargh.” (A reference to the Drum Circle around the evening campfires, “which occasionally involves ritual Teletubby sacrifices”.)

past-art-35Deuce rated his favourite game as, “greased watermellon “football” (more like water polo, but still lots of fun).” A Poetry Corner was led by Wotan. Samuel Conway returned and repeated his “Uncle Kage’s Story Hour” around the campfire. Saturday night’s Feral! Woodland Rave featured DJs SnowWolf, Genki, Slay3r, and Chris Pardus. The front cover of this year’s Feral! Survival Guide featured Krahnos’ artwork of a canoeing grey wolf. The back cover was an advertisement for Feral! 2003 by artist FirestormSix, showing several furries roasting marshmallows around a campfire. The T-shirt, drawn by Associated Student Bodies artist Chris McKinley and coloured by Hiker, was inspired by the Predator vs. Prey game. This was the first Feral! T-shirt to sell out at the con itself, requiring a re-order.

2002’s guest of honour, Ginger, later wrote this thank-you: “I just wanted to THANK YOU!!! for the wonderful time I had at Feral! I had a GREAT time! I have never felt so welcome nor had so much fun.

“That was absolutely the best time I have ever had at “camp”. The scenery was delightful (except for some mosquitos), the food was NOT that bad and I have never seen a group of people so well-adjusted. If someone (say, me 😉 ) sucked at archery, they heard nothing but encouraging cheers! Chickening out at the climbing wall? No laughter here — just sympathetic “awww” noises and cries of “Well, you got further than I did!”

“I have never seen a group of people having so much fun. We really know how to enjoy ourselves 🙂

“The trip to the Wolf Centre was also great, and vaguely informative. 🙂 They look like a pretty well-run institution and it’s always nice to see how OTHER people keep wolves.

“I *SINCERELY* regret not participating in the predator-prey game. Foolish me, I had tired myself out. Wolphy and HangNail both participated and loved it, but sincerely regret not wearing long pants/sleeves and mosquito repellent. (You warned them!) I loved sucking at archery, and watching other people do much better than myself on the climbing wall. I enjoyed canoeing, and am happy I got to see a beaver swimming around in the lake…or maybe it was an otter…:)

“The Improv was hilarious and I suspect I shall someday have “Cerulean Toast Buzz” engraved on my tombstone. (Seek Spatula Beer!) I had never laughed so hard, until the cabin skits :). I apologize for my contribution to that august institution *, and hope someday to collect on my prize (we
really did have to get going!)…not that I feel I didn’t get the biggest prize of all, in getting to be part of that exceptionally cool gathering. You really have got something good going there.

“I had a great time…I hope I was worth the effort 🙂


“*editor’s note – Ginger’s cabin skit exceeded the Canadian Legal Limit for Puns (C.L.L.P.) and has been rated a “hazardous substance” – any furs who witnessed that cabin skit have been warned to avoid exposure to horribly bad puns for at least 2 months.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.39.57 AMFeral! 2003 had some pre-con rumors (that nobody will talk about) that were apparently intended to scuttle the camp, but when camp time came, about 70 campers were registered, starting on the Camp Feral! website on February 15. It hosted two guests of honour: popular Canadian furry artists John “Roxicat” Barrett and Krahnos “the Magi-Dragon”. The Camp was on August 20 to 24, for the final time at the Kinark Open Centre. Registration was C$279 plus C$30 for the Feral! bus from Toronto.

The Feral! Organizing Committee underwent a complete change, largely due to Terry Wessner moving away from Toronto and his ability to chair committee meetings at his apartment. The new FeralCom was: Branwyn (ChairFur, Marketing), FuzzyBunny (Activities Coordinator), Miami Pony (Camper Relations), Potoroo (Workshop Coordinator, Secretary), and Verec (Financial).

past-art-20The Poetry Corner the previous year was so popular that a Poetry Track led by Wotan was added to the workshops. Wotan also inaugurated a second Poetry Corner for the regular program that has become one of the most popular programs, featuring campers reading their own poems either brought to Feral! or written during the workshops, in a “beat” atmosphere “sometimes accompanied by coffee or wine”. The 2003 Poetry Corner included a “stunning reading” by DJ SnowWolf of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”. A “bead hunting” game was introduced, to collect the most wooden beads for participating in workshops, winning games, etc. Another game was a “Furvivor” scavenger hunt.

The artwork-heavy 30-page 2003 Feral! Survival Guide had a colour cover by Roxicat. There were advertisements for Conifur Northwest, AnthroCon, and Further Confusion, showing the widespread support that Camp Feral! was gaining throughout Furry fandom. The back cover was a cartoon advertisement for Feral! 2004 by Circles writers Iyu (Steve Domanski) and Aethan (Andrew French), and artist K-9 (Scott Fabianek), coloured by Halex. The T-shirt by Paf showed a cartoon bear roasting a hot dog over the campfire.

From Taral’s [not Taral Wayne] Feral! 2003 con report: “Tuesday I went to the barber with Khaki and got a trim of my hair (which is still insane) and my face (which needed it). More general hanging out, then back to Toronto very late to sleep at my aunt’s place again.

“Wednesday was the bus day. Pack, head out to the mall and find bus. Potoroo handed me the Cripple Mr. Onion stuff since Deuce wasn’t coming (awww!), which was a little unexpected. Bus ride was cool, bus driver was really cool. 🙂 Arrived at Kinark only to find out that *someone* had broken down right at the entrance! As it turns out, “someone” was Zid and Scuzzy, who were later to regale us with the story of their adventure… The tow truck was thankfully already there, and got them out of the way fast enough. We unloaded the bus, and headed up to the cabins to drop our stuff off. It being the half-day, nothing much was going on besides registration, although I did discover Ketrava (rawr!) and saw Fox Connor again for the first time in a year. Much talking, hanging out, spending some time around the big giant fire… then bed — way too late.

“Thursday was the first day of activities. I made it to breakfast (8am… *groan*), but too late to get a bead. They told us that the beads were handed out for various things. They were pretty, so I tried to collect some. Then I wandered around for a bit before ending up at the climbing and archery areas. Khaki had a really, really nice half-moon long bow that Shikoi had made for him, and everyone had some fun using it… at least until Mach pulled it too far by accident and something went *crack*. After that it had a habit of pulling to one side. Shikoi said it was probably broken. Poor bow. It’s probably going to be relegated to a show position now. The afternoon I went to the writing workshop and an art workshop. Loopy is a very good teacher, talking about the biology and physiology of things like trying to add wings to anthropomorphic animals. Writing was interesting, although I’m not so big on the poetry thing. Predator/Prey was interesting to watch, especially considering that Fire and Disease were both very fast runners… I’ve decided that next year I’m going to try to be Bad Weather (or Storm Cloud). Mwahahaha! I hit you with a lightning bolt and you die! Got too many mosquito bites, though… I think they like me too much. Dinner, stare at Mars, run away from the rain to the improv show, sleep.

“Friday I missed breakfast. 8am is tooo early. I woke up at 9:50 when Blackfeather (the cabin leader) was getting up to go to activities. He apparently had gone to breakfast and then come back to nap some. *shrug* I eventually dragged myself out of bed to go to more stuff, I think the improv training workshop (very fun). I also attended the world-building workshop in the afternoon, but that was only after the rather spectacular event of The Charcoal Sausages. They were supposed to be BBQ sausages. Mine was fine (I got in line first), but most people had a raw sausage halfway charred through. Yuk. I did find out that Kinark refunded the Feral! organization for that meal. I think the meal was worth it just for the sight of the two guest of honor artists using their sausages to draw pictures. That afternoon was the Furvivor Death Rally (a modified version of the previous years’ cabin games). My team sucked at much of it, although we did well at the long ball (tennis ball in pantyhose that’s tied around your waist — use it to hit other balls into a goal area) and the jello drop (think about it). That last one got really crazy, especially when XeonBunny (who was organizing) got attacked with the remaining jello. I made sure some got down his backside. Whee! (Got a gold bead for that.)

“Saturday I missed breakfast. 8am is tooo early. 10am is too early too. I got up around 10:30-ish. I don’t think I really bothered with any activities that day — I was too covered in bites by that point. That afternoon, however, we did get to do cabin skits. Very very good cabin skits for the most part this year. We did a Feral! twist on the Friday Five stuff that keeps going around LiveJournal. My favorite question/answer? “What was the worst meal you’ve had here at Camp Feral!?” “Lake Nestea.” (In case you’re not familiar, the lake at Kinark is called Grey Lake. But we renamed it Lake Nestea last year in honor of color resulting from the sheer amount of sediment that was suspended in the water.) After that was the rave, where I got really crazy (with no alcohol until late, and even then only a little). Dancing with Sympolarbear was exceptionally fun. I think he really was the reason I let myself have that much fun. The only problem was just how cold it was — the temperature had dropped at least 10 degrees when that cold front came through, so towards the early hours of the morning I spent most of the time hovering around the fire. (Mmmm, fire fire fire fire.)

“Sunday was pack and head back. Spent most of the trip on the bus cuddled up with Ciron. Was fun, except I still wish we’d been able to stop at Wendy’s instead of McDonald’s. *sigh* I was hungry, I didn’t care too much at the time. Spent the rest of the afternoon with Ciron and his friends Tzup (who’d come from Australia!) and Nboa. Yummy Italian food. Sleep.”

Feral! 2004 returned to Camp Arowhon, where it has been ever since, on August 25 – 29. The Guests of Honour were Iyu and Aethan, the writers of the Circles comic book published by Rabbit Valley. The Committee was co-chaired for the first time, by Verec and Potoroo. Other FeralCom staff and workshop instructors were mixed together, but included the usual names. Attendance was about 85. Costs by this time were C$284 plus C$34 to take the chartered bus from Toronto.

The beads game was repeated. “If you were at Feral! 2003, you’ll definitely remember our crazy bead-hunting participation game! Well, it’s back and better than ever! Our bead experts are searching high and low for bigger, better, more wooden beads!!

“If you’re wondering what we’re going on about, it’s like this: When you come to Feral, you’ll be presented with a cord. Each time you participate in a workshop, win a team challenge or take on certain activities, you get a bead to string onto it. The beads are, of course, a souvenir memento which is yours to keep. Finally, the cabin with the most total beads at the end wins a special prize or two, as well as the adulation of their fellow furs. This year, the individual fur with the most beads will win a free Feral! registration for 2005!”

The 40-page 2004 Feral! Survival Guide had a front cover by Grimal featuring a group of furs playing tug o’ war, fiction, lots of artwork, advertisements from Furry conventions and others such as Rabbit Valley Comics, and a back cover by Jessie T. Wolf showing three furs (fox, cougar, horse) having a nighttime wienie roast around a campfire. The T-shirt, by Ginger (now Jessica Willard-Addams), featured her Falstaff nervously poking a daisy with a stick.

Feral! 2005, at Camp Arowhon, was the first to break 100 attendees, with 103 campers. It took place from August 27 – 31. The Guests of Honour were increased to furry “artists in residence” Anklebones and The Wormwood; Sean and Andrew Rabbitt of Rabbit Valley Comics; and Furry writer BanWyn Oakshadow (a.k.a. Uncle Oakie). Potoroo was the Chairman, and other Feralcom staff included Branwyn, Veric, Wilykat, Dralen, Growler, Tora, Ciron, Patchouli, Crono Liganthan, and Grex (positions not specified). The full price of 2005 registration was C$295 plus C$45 for the bus from Toronto. There were also new Sponsor memberships for C$45 additional (Sponsors received “a Feral! 2005 art T-shirt, plus an invitation to a special meal at Camp Arowhon’s private Staff Lodge, with our special guests in attendance!), and Super Sponsor memberships for C$90 additional (Super Sponsors received “the same benefits as a Sponsor, plus an exclusive version of Feral’s 2005 “Survival Pack” art print set with each print signed and numbered!”

Camp Arowhon’s rustic atmosphere inspired a more structured program. There was a theme, “Join the Tribe”, centered around aboriginal motifs. There was an official flag, and the aboriginal theme was emphasized on that year’s website. Campers were divided into four “clans” which were given different challenges. In addition to the usual activities was a four-hour canoe trip with cookout lunch through Algonquin Park’s lakes and rivers.

Uncle Kage was among the notable campers. The front cover of the 2005 Feral! Survival Guide was by GoHs Anklebones and The Wormwood, while the back cover was an advertisement for Feral! 2006 by Seraph. Anklebones and The Wormwood also designed the T-shirt around a “tribal” theme; the back of the shirt showed the 2005 official flag.

From Chairman Potoroo’s Feral! 2005 con report:

“I’ve finally recovered and re-entered the world of ‘technology’ (at least, other than FRS radios and alarm clocks) so I figure it’s time to write something up about Camp Feral! since it’s kind of the thing I’ve been spending the last year doing.


“I mean, I have the luxury of knowing not only how *I* felt about Feral!, but also I have everything people have told me in emails, the surveys we took, the con reports I’ve read…and it seems everyone had a great time! Honestly…if ‘popcorn’ was the most common complaint…we must’ve done something right!

“Some people asked me on the last day if I was able to have any fun. I guess it seemed that the constant running around, answering of questions (soooo…many…questions), stress-where-no-stress-was-needed, and overall mindset of ‘Gotta Make Sure The Event Goes Well’ gave the impression I was having a bad time. I was having a GREAT time!!! Watching everything come together was so exciting, seeing people enjoy themselves, resolving issues in such a challenging environment (think: when you run out of something, it’s not like you can run to the corner store…PROBLEM SOLVE). Most importantly, on a ‘Camp Feral! Staff’ level, it was amazing to watch the staff all work together and so hard to keep everything going, to push through the tough times and keep positive.

“On a more ‘camp’ level, I was able to play basketball (damn you, Jafra! damn you to hell!), play tennis (Growler is a VERY scary server…he told me he was good, I didn’t know he was THAT good), film both Predator vs. Prey and Capture the Flag (almost injuring myself multiple times as a result), ride up on the bus and chat with so many new furs, get painted for a clan challenge (POTOROO, not POOTROO!), confuse everyone with me and Wily’s ridiculous cabin skit (I’m a thumbtack /o_o), and apparently find my way into an Uncle Kage story (…did he REALLY make me sound that gay??)

“A lot of people helped make Feral! a success. I want to thank our Guests of Honour, Andrew and Sean Rabbitt, for showing up and taking time to relax at a furry con (seems like a strange thing to say, but it’s our best way of acknowledging them for all the help they’ve done for Feral!), BIG THANKS go to The Wormwood and Anklebones for being Artists in Residence and giving Feral! not only a consistent visual theme but THE BEST CONBOOK COVER IN HISTORY, and to Uncle Kage for showing up, letting his hair down, and saying the things he can’t say at Anthrocon 😉 We have it on tape, dude 😉

“Also, thanks to the staff of Feral: Verec for managing to…manage everything, Branwyn for taking care of all those insane things we need but I just don’t understand (you know…like insurance…and transportation…and everything else ;), Patches for being the Awesome Chick who Kept Me from Going Insane (trust me, you did…), Wilykat and Growler for keeping Feral! secure (at no point did I have ANY concerns about security at Feral thanks to you two), Dralen for keeping the workshops going (for the first time in YEARS I didn’t have to do ANYTHING involving workshop setup!!!), Breve Pup for being an amazing official Gofur and always jumping in when we needed help (thank you thank you…it seemed each time I was held up or needed help, you were around), Nixy for keeping Verec from going insane, and Ciron and Zebu for putting together the conbook (even under the chaotic circumstances of dealing with furries…especially me)

Feral! 2005 flag and back of the official T-shirt, by Anklebones and The Wormwood.

Feral! 2005 flag and back of the official T-shirt, by Anklebones and The Wormwood.

“Non-staff thanks (off the top of my head) go out to Avatar-X for all the work he did on prints, copying and with our FRS’s (ummm…we’ll sell those extra prints somehow!), Miami (who amazingly ‘wasnt’ official staff but certainly seemed to be) for his Clan Challenge and the incredible patience of arriving on site to discover he’s likely gonna have to do some work, Deuce for using humour to dig at me for the whole Cabin Leader and Workshop Leader thing rather than beating me with a baseball bat, all the Cabin Leaders for their help in maintaining order and keeping people in the know (Crono, you’re insane…Quentin, thanks for stepping in when we needed someone). Also, Crono…thanks for the Feral comic, and for EXPLODING out of your shell this year. Very few people were mentioned by name in our exit surveys (hell, I was only mentioned twice, once saying I should be more pink) and apparently you are ‘very cute’ 😉

“Everyone should know my email by now. If you did something to help either that I was present for and forgot about in the Feral! chaos, or that I wasn’t present for, please email me and let me know. I’m not asking you to brag about the help you offered, I just want to make sure everyone who helped Feral! gets the acknowledgement they deserve, and giving me a quick reminder lets me know in my brainmeats that you’re someone to think about for next year in case we need volunteers or other help…which is also a reason NOT to tell me if you want to avoid the surprise of being called on in 2006 😉

“So…I came back from Feral!, kind of crashed on Wednesday night. Thursday I had the day off, so I planned on doing anything BUT Feral! work. But I felt this weird void all day, felt really…off. I figured out what the problem was and began to fix it…

“…I started work on Feral! 2006 😉 I’m still waiting to see if I’m back as chair next year, but I figure I can get some stuff done in the meantime either way.

“Thanks to everyone for an amazing Feral! I figure next year can only be better.”

Feral! 2006, at Camp Arowhon, grew again to 132 campers, the largest attendance to date. It was held slightly later in the year, on September 2 – 6. The Guests of Honour were cut back to two: professional/furry stand-up comedian 2, the Ranting Gryphon (Matthew Wayne Davis), and Anthrocon’s Dr. Samuel “Uncle Kage” Conway.

FeralCom was apologetic for having to raise the basic registration to C$300 (plus C$45 for the three-hours-each-way bus ride to and from Toronto). The sponsorship plan gave campers the option to sign up as Sponsors for C$350 or Patrons for C$495. “Being a Feral! sponsor will get you our love and admiration, AS WELL as some special gifts: you will get a Feral! Art T-Shirt, as well as free tickets for the Feral! 2006 raffle! This raffle will have a great list of prizes…AND you can win multiple times! Prizes will include artists commissions, signed prints, Feral memorabilia, real-life prizes such as snacks and drinks, CDs, as well as some ‘fun’ prizes donated by Feral staff, campers and other furs. […] A patron is a fur who helps cover the registration cost of another fur. In this case, a patron will help bring one of our special guests to Feral, thus freeing up that registration or transportation expense to be funneled back into Feral! for use at special events, improving our workshop and activities supplies, or for various surprises for campers! The fee is $495 (just less than two registration fees) and other than the satisfaction in knowing you helped bring a special guest to Feral (and their thanks!) you can choose from a list of special gifts to receive! Of course, you will receive a Feral! 2006 art t-shirt, as well as have all the fees waived for workshops that have a cost. Please note: you can register and select one of the gifts, but if someone else registers and pays first, you will need to make a different selection.”

This year’s FeralCom staff members were Potoroo and Patchouli (co-chairs), Verec (registration), Nixy (website), Tora (logistics), Grex (finances), Wilykat and Growler (security), Dralen (workshop coordinator), Crono (activities coordinator), FuzzyBunny (dance coordinator), Branwyn and Miami Pony (music coordinators), TheZebu (conbook editor), and Zid!, Cobalt, and Tafym (gofurs). Workshop instructors were BanWynn Oakshadow, Wotan, Loopy, Scuzzy, Fuzzmonster, 2 the Ranting Gryphon, Uncle Kage, Wilykat, The Wormwood, and Anklebones.

Feral! 2006 had four mascots: Geist (Earth), Misha (Fire), Aelos (Wind), and Kabalo (Water). Each was the “patron” of one of the four “clans” that campers were divided among. The Clan Challenges were won by, in descending order, Wind, Water, Earth, and Fire.

Uncle Kage was prominent throughout Feral! 2006. He and 2 performed a pantomime cabin skit in which the two said nothing for two minutes. At the Patron Event, he and Potoroo played foosball with the winner getting Anthrocon and the loser getting Camp Feral! The outcome was not announced.

The Feral! Survival Guide’s full-colour front cover, a composite of all four mascots by “artists in residence” The Wormwood and Anklebones, took over about 100 hours to complete. The original painting in acrylics was sold at a silent auction; Potoroo and his mate Yennix got it for around C$450. The back cover, drawn by Ferris and coloured by Patchouli, featured Feral! 2007’s wolf mascot Pawnee. Each of the four mascots got a separate T-shirt, making Feral! 2006 the first convention with so many official T-shirts.

Unfortunately, even before the end of Feral! 2006, a dispute arose between FeralCom and artists The Wormwood and Anklebones over who owned the mascots’ copyright. That is why the 2007 mascot was designed early, with the copyright clearly in the Camp’s name. Pawnee (or Pawnie), with co-mascots Weeko, a female porcupine (created by Patchouli) and Ruger, a male deer (created by Gideon Hoss), have been Feral!’s mascots ever since.

From Deuce’s Feral! 2006 con report: “Returned from Feral. Had a wonderful time. Highlights included:

  • “All the boardgaming I could ever possibly want. On all but one day, there was light rain, which made many of the campers choose indoor pursuits. It was only somewhere between “spitting” and “overcast”, though, so it didn’t stop people (like me) from having fun outdoors too.
  • “I got a chance to both go canoeing and kayaking, the latter of which I haven’t done in about a decade. Lots of fun both times, both for the scenery and for the conversation with the people I dragged out there with me. Very relaxing.
  • “I finally dusted off my watercolour kit. I still need a lot of practice, but it felt good to paint again. Painting was diagrams of plane sections of 3- and 4-cubes, to aid the further brain-bending of entropicana.
  • “The art show was nice. Had to pass up a few pieces due to a self-imposed “don’t buy pictures that I wouldn’t show my parents” rule, but I can pick those up next year, as this threshold has been recalibrated after a conversation with them.
  • “There were some great moments of comedy at the camp, both from the story/rant session with Uncle Kage and 2, the Ranting Gryphon, and from the cabin skits (still wondering what “scene the 7th” through “scene the 9th” of the last skit contained). Most memorable moment: 2 Gryphon’s brain fault after the infamous “*my* magic power is StSI!” line. You pretty much had to be there. It should be on the tape.
  • “Made modest progress on the lynx head that’s been sitting around since about 2000 or 2001. It needs about a full day of fiddling before it’s ready for use. Probably won’t happen soon, but progress was still nice.
  • “Received enough money from workshop-goers who paid for fabric that I came out slightly ahead on money spent at-con, instead of the more usual $200-$300 behind (from taxi to/from the pickup point, and about $200 dropped on the art show). Part of this was that I didn’t buy much art this time around, and part was that the rain made many people choose indoor pursuits (making ears/tails workshops very popular).
  • “Saw plushies of the four element-themed camp mascots, made by one of the con-goers on commission as prizes for the camp games. I now have the con chair’s blessing for inquiring with the artist about ordering a duplicate of the way-too-cute one of the “water” mascot. This will be on the backburner, as it requires freeing up a considerable amount of cash, but it might be an option after Christmas (if the person who made them agrees).
  • “Inspired by a project of Torrle’s that involved multiple Monopoly boards and a Trivial Pursuit board, I came up with draft rules that let you play a variant of Master of Orion using “ice house” pyramid-shaped game tokens. This was playtested once at Feral, and worked surprisingly well. We’ll see how this goes.
  • “Had a great time with the cabin games, which were recalibrated from last year (no more infamous popcorn challenge). We were about 20 minutes short of finishing it, but it was still lots of fun.
  • “Got to make sandcastles again, finally. One “snakey-dragoney-thingy” and one pair of linked towers were added to the sandbox, which mostly contained sculptures of the camp buildings. This prompted much speculation on where exactly in the camp the SDT could be found. When people eventually post con photos, I’ll see if I can snag a few of these for the scrapbook.

“Overall, this probably ranks as “best Feral in a long time” for me, with the only one definitely beating it being my very first visit in 1998 (first con, first mass-interaction with people in the fandom).”

– Fred Patten

Soon: Part 3.