Last night, equipped with just a yoga mat and curiosity, we decided to spend the night at Zuccotti Park, where an estimated 500 people were camped out as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest. It was freezing, but the 24-hour McDonald's provided a warm refuge, and the general spirit of peaceful camaraderie made it feel less like Tiananmen Square and a lot more like summer camp. Here's why:

There are Roaming Dance Parties and Group Sing-a-longs:
After the General Assembly (where protesters join together to try and find consensus on their demands) the occupiers lit incense, strummed on guitars, and shared a Kumbaya moment. A drum circle pounded away until 11 p.m., when the occupation's "quiet hours" began. Lights out, punks! Or not.

At 10:46 p.m. last night, it was announced that a "Roaming Dance Party" would commence, although some folks were already headed to sleep.

From 10:53-11:06 p.m., musicians took turns performing for campers, singing totally unexpected protest songs like Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and Bobby D's "Like A Rolling Stone". And although camp counselors finally asked them to tone it down in observance of "Quiet Hours," that didn't stop a group of people from holding hands and singing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" around 11:45 p.m. Somebody call the Camp Director:

Protesters Sing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" at Zuccotti Park from Gothamist on Vimeo.

Camp Staff Helps the 99% Get Cozy:
Camp Zuccotti is fully equipped with makeshift amenities like the Comfort Station, where organizer Tom Pek told us, "We had 40 donated sleeping bags this morning and we're down to two now." The Camp Kitchen was still open at 11:30 p.m., doling out oysters to the hungry. Which is, tres chic for a DIY campsite. And starting at 8 a.m., a well rounded breakfast was offered for protesters to carb-load before their busy day of "mic-checking" and chanting, "We are the 99%!"

Campers are Safe Under the Strong Arm of the Law:
You're always safe at Camp Zuccotti, where the NYPD does impromptu walk-throughs at all hours of the night. At 11:25 p.m., a man was escorted from the site by NYPD after witnesses reported seeing him "doing a line of coke". Others said the man had been harassing women for the duration of his stay at Zuccotti Park and was in no way affiliated with the movement.

NYPD Escorts Alleged Drug User From Zuccotti Park from Gothamist on Vimeo.

The 11:25 p.m. NYPD beat cop walk-through was not enough to satisfy the higher-ups. At 12:06 a.m., the "white shirts" stomped through the park listing their demands of the campers for the evening. On their list of instructions: When videotaping them, "Don't get in my public space, my private space." Don't hang anything on the railings. No open flames. And "no building structures." To which one camper wisecracked, "Can we keep erections?"

"Make Out, Not War" Slogan Makes Camp Zuccotti the New OKCupid
Romances are not forbidden at this co-ed camp, and camp counselors generally seem to approve of couples canoodling atop their yoga mats. In fact, we tried not to stare as a couple transitioned from reading a Pablo Neruda anthology to each other to doing some exhibitionist style heavy-petting. The fifteen minute make-out session was interrupted by a man who kindly asked the couple if he could get his sleeping bag—which they were using as a pseudo-bed—back.

However, intercourse is frowned upon by some at Camp Zuccotti. We're told that couples who've made love connections at demonstrations have been spotted afterward making love, not war on tables throughout the campsite. One demonstrator who has been sleeping at Zuccotti Park since the beginning told us, "People were definitely having sex on the first night of sleeping here. It had to be addressed at the General Assembly meeting the next morning. I haven't seen anyone doing it since."

The 99% are 100% for the Camp Zuccotti Experience:
Brooklyn Law School student, Brendan Gilmartin, braved October's chilly weather last night at Camp Zuccotti for the first time and told us, "Despite the tough conditions, I really felt a sense of camaraderie sleeping amongst so many hundreds of strangers—like that we are all braving it out together, sacrificing our first world comforts to prevent a third world future...

"I found it really surprising how organized the protesters are. They seem to have a cogent structure of decision making to resolve day-to-day issues. They sort of have an internal police force making sure everyone is okay. They even have people sweeping up trash in the park during quiet hours. It's really like a utopian village among the sky scrapers and Wall Street banks. And ironically, the 24-hour McDonald's is awesome for letting people use their bathroom." The other local businesses, not so much.

Another camper, Tasha, who has been staying at the campsite for ten days instead of her East Village apartment, told us, "For the last week a lot of Unions have been joining the marches so [we've] grown tremendously. It's really packed here. We've been having a hard time trying to accommodate all these people. As far as the GA meetings, it's still really hard for people to hear, and they're trying to figure out a solution for that since we can't have loud speakers. But I welcome new people, the more the merrier! We just need to figure out how to accommodate them and I want them to understand the process that goes on in the GA meeting; it's a completely democratic process and when there's that many people involved it's hard for everything to be heard."