|First iteration||August 21 to 23, 1998|
|Organizer(s)||Camp Feral committee|
|Resources||Photos, videos, reports: Feral! resources|
Camp Feral! is a furry convention held every year in the wilderness of Ontario, Canada. It is the first outdoor furry convention, and currently the third oldest furry convention in the world (behind Eurofurence and Anthrocon). Traditionally, it is an intimate gathering that gathers anywhere from 50 to 100 participants, with the exception in 2006 with 132 registered campers; however, attendance has grown steadily since 2010, with 163 campers in 2015. Camp Feral! has been running since 1998, and is often referred to as being the "uncon" due to its vast differences from hotel-oriented furry events.
The concept for Feral! was first drawn up during the summer of 1997 over the span of several meetings. Several furs had shown great interest in hosting a furry conference in the Toronto area after having attended the successful Albany AnthroCon 1997 in July. P.Pardus is credited for being the driving force behind starting Feral!, combining two suggestions from locals Terry Wessner and Silfur of a workshop-oriented university and a summer camp respectively. A committee was soon brought together, including P.Pardus, Terry Wessner, Silfur, Benjamin, and Wilykat.
In a retrospective on Feral! published in Feral! 2007's conbook, Wessner credited the origins of the Feral! name to MelSkunk, stating they were looking for a name that was "evocative without being too open to ridicule". MelSkunk suggested the name, which was immediately adopted by the convention's staff.
While initially a three-day event in its first year, the camp's duration was increased to five days in subsequent years to permit for additional workshops and camp-related activities.
Guests of Honour
- 2001*: Uncle Kage, chairman of Anthrocon
- 2002: Jessica Willard, furry artist and creator of Falstaff
- 2003: Krahnos and Roxicat, furry artists
- 2004: Iyu and Aethan, creators of Circles
- 2005: Anklebones and The Wormwood, furry artists, Sean and Andrew Rabbitt, owners of Rabbit Valley Comics, BanWynn Oakshadow, furry writer
- 2006: Uncle Kage and 2 the Ranting Gryphon, comedian
- 2007: Ferris, Gideon Hoss, and Max Blackrabbit, furry artists
- 2008: Two Ontario artists, Ferris and Patches were showcased
- 2009: Flain Falcon, podcaster and Kyell Gold, furry author
- 2010: Colson Grainger, musician and Ivybeth, artist
- 2011: Black Teagan of Blotch, furry artist, and writer Rikoshi
- 2012: Grimal, cartoonist and illustrator and Arius, artist and graphic designer.
- 2013: Anyare, Gishkishenh and Patto, three Canadian artists
- 2014: Kihu, DJ/Musician/Artist, and Tempe O'Kun, Author/Game Designer
Prior to 2001, workshop instructors tended to serve as guests of honour and weren't specifically publicized as such.
Though Feral!'s events have not always been the exact same from year to year, some of the more well-established ones have become tradition:
- Predator & Prey: Sometimes better known as The Survival Game or The Food Chain Game, participants are split into three groups based on the roles in an ecosystem - carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores, which can eat any animal below them in the chain. The objective of all participants is to consume as many creatures as possible by tagging them while stopping at food and water stations. "Special" roles in the ecosystem (such as disease, fire, etc.) are often performed by Guests of Honour, with amusing results.
- Capture the Flag: Teams compete against each other in an all-out fight to get the other team's flag and bring it back to their own goal. The game is played with LARP (live-action roleplay) rules, meaning the foam swords tend to fly.
- Cabin Skits: On the penultimate day of the camp, cabins come together to perform skits for the remaining campers. First introduced in 1999, it tends to be one of the more nervewracking events for campers, intimidated by the prospects of getting up and acting in front of their peers - but several memorable skits have come out of this event.
- Musicians Circle: An opportunity for furry musicians to perform for an audience of peers and admirers, covers and original pieces are sung on stage. Normally they are solo-performances but occasionally duos and groups form during the camp.
- Poetry Corner: A tradition since 2003, furry poets bring their poetry, or perform the poetry they wrote during workshops at camp, for an audience. Sometimes accompanied by coffee or wine, and applause is replaced by finger snaps.
- Dances: Camp Feral's dances have always been unique. At Camp Kinark they took place in the woods and featured DJs spinning vinyl with laser and light shows shimmering off the trees and leaves. At Camp Arowhon, they take place in a newly built (2012), very large multi-purpose performance hall. There is a stage for DJ's and a backstage dressing room used as a headless lounge.
Feral!'s first mascot was Farley, a distinctly Canadian-looking lynx character created by Benjamin prior to the first edition of the event in 1998. Farley appeared in the first Feral! con book, later entitled the Feral! Survival Guide.
Mascots tended to consist of contributions from artist Guests of Honour to the Survival Guide for the next several years. In 2006, to coincide with the 'Clan Challenge' activities four different mascots were introduced. Completed by artist team The Wormwood and Anklebones, each mascot represented one of the four clans at Feral! - Geist for Earth, Misha for Fire, Aelos for Wind, and Kabalo for Water. In 2006 a series of four t-shirts were made with the mascots, making Feral! the first furry convention to offer such a large variety of art shirts for sale in a single year. Unfortunately, the four mascots parted ways with Camp Feral! immediately after 2006.
In 2007, furry artists Ferris and Patchouli collaborated to create a new mascot, Pawnee (sometimes written as Pawnie), which now appears full-time on Feral!'s website. Patchouli also designed a female porcupine named Weeko. Ruger, a character who hails from rural Ontario and was created by Gideon, acts as a third mascot. These three mascots have been present on the cover of the conbook from 2007 to 2009, as well as the 2008 and 2009 art t-shirts.
Pawnee was introduced as a fursuit mascot in 2010 and appears in Camp Feral video series. His character is silent, communicating only through mime which is understood by Feral staff. He is a trickster, often changing personality depending on the theme. In 2010, Pawnee took on the character of Jason Furhees, a play on Jason Voorhees, which he is revisiting for the 2015 event. Pawnee is often a voice of reason compared to Camp Feral! staff, who are depicted as disorganized or unaware of their situation. In 2011, Pawnee worked to protect campers from Evil Nayo, who was trying to spread the contagion as part of the 'It Came From Camp Feral!' b-movie theme. In 2012, he worked to restore the timeline and battle Evil Simbayo who tried to take over Camp Feral! a hundred year in the future for 'Futurecamp!' In 2014, Pawnee portrayed a mystical being from the woods who wanted to bring peace to the warring lands in the Game of Thrones theme 'Algonquinos.'
Camp Arowhon is a campground nestled deep in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. GPS co-ordinates to Camp Arowhon are: 45.595783,-78.730946. With its own lake, its facilities are well-suited to the convention due to the fact that it hosts several summer camps for children during a two-month period throughout the summer (its main log cabin hall for campers, built in 1928, can host almost 350 people). The facility provides lifeguards, all equipment and scheduled times for kayaking, canoeing, sailboarding, and swimming. Recent events have been hosted at the conclusion of the camping season, prior to the site undergoing maintenance.
Kinark Outdoor Centre
The Kinark Outdoor Centre served as the venue for Feral! from 1999 to 2003. It was first used when Camp Arowhon had no time slot available for Feral! 1999. It is located in the Haliburton Heights region of southeastern Ontario, Canada, very near to a small town named Minden. This venue bears a hilly terrain with its own lake, which quickly earned the nick name of "Lake Nestea" due to the particles of leaves from the nearby trees (tannin) that gave the water a deep golden hue. Where Arowhon excelled in rustic charm, Kinark had the advantage of being a more modern facility which had a few class room spaces with good resources available for workshops.
Camp Arowhon is about a 3 hour drive from Toronto. Attendees can either drive themselves, carpool or take the Feral Bus for a nominal fee ($45 roundtrip as of 2013). The bus departs either from Yorkdale Mall or the nearby "Roo Den", both of which are accessible via public transportation. Toronto has a subway system, but it does not go to the Airport. There are straightforward bus routes to the Camp Feral bus departure point, but Toronto's large transportation system may overwhelm new visitors. Fly-in should research busss and pay close attention to the instructions on the Camp Feral website regarding arrival and departure guidelines, to make sure they don't miss the bus.
- Feral 2006 FAQ, http://www.campferal.org/faq.php
- Camp Feral! website
- Camp Feral! Twitter
- Camp Feral! YouTube Channel
- Feral Campers LiveJournal community
- I Love Camp Feral! group on Facebook
- Photos, videos, reports: Feral! resources