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Travel Notes

Camp It is a men’s only camping weekend for gay, bi, and trans men who love men and this was our very first time. Making things even more precarious, this was also the first time we had put up our tent in the last four years and there were storms approaching from every direction. It was sure to be an entertaining weekend, one way or another.

We chose to set up our tent a day early so we would not totally embarrass ourselves in front of all the other punters. The weather decided to provide a reprieve for the first 24 hours so later we headed for the beach which was only about 200 meters from our campsite.

The following morning our fellow revellers started arriving. Some had booked the air-conditioned cabins which, considering the promised inclement weather, was a fairly wise choice. The more confident campers pitched their tents at the unpowered sites, others arrived in camper vans and there was even a brightly coloured tipi village for larger groups.

The first opportunity we had to meet everyone was at the Friday night buffet dinner. To keep things simple campers were asked to bring their our own plates, cutlery and whatever they wanted to drink. During dinner we met guys from as far as Newcastle, Roma and even one couple on holiday from London.

Conversation centred around the outfits we had prepared for the Zombie Party that night and also what we weren’t wearing for the ABC (Anything But Clothes) party the following evening.

After dinner we were invited for drinks with John Bortolin, a Byron Bay photographer who has produced a stunning collection of male portraiture entitled Manscapes. John was the official photographer for Camp It and, having seen his expert eye for candid images, we were intrigued about what magic he would create from this assortment of events and characters.

Later we wandered around the camp grounds to meet Zombies, mad clowns and fright night movie characters. Some had made a huge effort to dress in their bloodcurdling best. The highlights of the Zombie party were the brilliantly attired drag queens, adorned with ample cuts, nicks and trickling blood, accessorised with fishnets, leather and, of course, a fluorescent cocktail in hand.

The rain soon brought all the abominable characters together in the party hall and DJ Les Smith and DJ Fradge soon whipped the crowd into party mode.

The pool party the next day was saved by a run of fine hot weather. The pool was filled with floaties of every possible colour (mainly pink) and the pumping tunes was a call to all Camp It water lovers to don bathers, grab drinks and join the fun.

Poolside fashion ranged from see through speedos, skimpy mankinis and little black frocks to nothing at all. It was a time to get soaking wet, drink, chat and make new friends, even if they had beach balls for breasts.

The afternoon highlight was the jelly wrestling. Macho men in jockstraps, footy shorts and bulging budgie smugglers, as well as drag queens in bras, panties and tubs of make-up, joined in the slippery competition. Some were surprisingly serious about winning. Or was it just the rare opportunity to wrestle semi-naked in a giant tub of orange jelly?

Meanwhile the Glamping Competition was officially underway. How gay can you possibly make your tent of van? Rainbow flags proudly fluttered, coloured lights blinked, mirror balls shimmered, life-size superhero cutouts were erected, It’s Raining Men was on a continuous loop and a retro VW Kombi tent fluttered under the bushes. The rain didn’t put a dampener on campsite style.

At the ABC (Anything But Clothes) party on Saturday night most tested costume boundaries with high levels of absurdity and creativity. There was a plethora of strategically placed soft toys, muscle men aprons covering only the ‘essential ingredients’, fellows festooned in hazard warning tape and even two bargain conscious maidens bedecked in Aldi clothing baskets.

Drag shows by Bebe Gunn, Mya Crafone, Candy Surprise and Shushu Funtanna preceded the dancing and everyone was encouraged to loosen their ‘apron strings’ and party the night away.

During the whole weekend community groups like QuAC provided caffeine fixes, snacks and made sure the important message about continuing our safe sex regime was heard loud and clear, handing out condoms, pamphlets and promotion packages.

Body Electric presented yoga and massage workshops in their own private space. Breakfast and lunches could be purchased each day and evening meals, included in the weekend ticket price, were all catered for by the organisers.

After a night of thunderstorms, lightning and torrential rain some of us decided to check out a little early the next morning, having had our fill of fun. Others stopped for the chill out on Sunday, which included a beach walk and a movie night.

Our congratulations to Camp It coordinators Julian and Clinton for a fantastic weekend and we look forward to hearing when the next event is being held, especially now we are no longer Camp It virgins.

This article was originally published on Gay Men On Holiday.

Image: Camp It Pool Party - photo courtesy of Gay Men On Holiday

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