Girls Rock Camp teaches music, self-esteem
By Haley Perrin | Sun, 07/08/2012 - 8:59pm
This past month, forty girls aged eight through eighteen participated in a unique opportunity to learn about music, friendship, self-esteem and collaboration. The Girls Rock Camp (GRC) of Madison’s first summer session ran from June 25-29 at the Madison Waldorf School.
“Girls Rock Camp is a week long day camp for girls to come and learn an instrument, form a band, write a song ,and get up and rock out on the last day of camp in front of hundreds of screaming fans,” said the camp’s music director, Beth Kille.
Kille, who has been active in the Madison music scene for the past twelve years, started the camp with Executive Director, Halle Pollay, three years ago. The Madison program is a branch of an international group that seeks to “empower girls and women through music.”
The first GRC began in Portland, Oregon ten years ago. There is also an international Ladies Rock Camp group.
“The mission of GRC is to promote and encourage positive self-esteem and collaboration for young girls and women, and we do that through music. One of the most important things about camp is showing these girls that no matter where you come from, or your size, color, or ideas, everyone has value and something to offer. For many of our girls who struggle with identity, this is a launch pad to give them one. They are now a drummer, a guitarist, a vocalist in a band,” Pollay said.
She added that she grew up around music and wanted her daughter to have the same experience.
Each day the girls come to camp, practice their core instrument, or rotate through learning the others (guitar, drums, keyboards, bass, and vocals), and then break for lunch. After lunch, band practice starts. Each band picks a name, writes a song, and performs it at the end of the week for the rest of the students, their families, and other fans.
An all-women staff coaches the forty girls that attend camp each day. Some of them are new to the music scene; others have been professional or semiprofessional musicians for many years. The camp employs approximately thirty women throughout the summer.
One of the camp councilors, Carell Casey, is a singer, songwriter and guitarist in two of her own bands. She began working for GRC after attending Ladies Rock Camp.
“I had the best time of my life and loved that the atmosphere was so supportive and encouraging. I was so inspired by the organization that I put together fundraising and events for them, and all the proceeds go to GRC,” Casey said.
Drums councilor Nicky Sund said she enjoys teaching at the camp because she gets to see the girls learn. She also sees how happy performing makes them.
Some of the girls, like SophieRose, 9, attend camp to advance their skills and meet new friends. SophieRose is a vocalist who started taking voice lessons just for the fun of it.
“Girls Rock Camp is really awesome and all girls should do it!” she said.
Others, such as Dana, 15, hope to start their own bands someday.
“I won a guitar at an auction, was always interested in it and loved music so thought it would be fun. Once I picked it up I fell in love,” she said.
Dana taught herself how to play guitar, and is now taking lessons every Friday. Her guitar instructor, along with Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of the band Metallica, are her inspirations.
Pollay’s daughter, Sarah, 13, is taking part of the advanced camp session in August. She has always been interested in music, has been to multiple camps in the past for vocals, and recently taught herself guitar.
“My favorite thing about GRC is watching how everything comes together at the end of the week. At first you think, this is a disaster; it’s never going to work. But then at the showcase you see how it all pieces together, how hard everyone has worked and what you can do even though you all just met,” Sarah said.
Girls Rock Camp is a nonprofit program. They offer financial aid and do not turn girls away for lack of resources. They are always actively looking for sponsors and monetary, music equipment, and office supplies donations.
Two other camp sessions will take place this summer; the first during the week of July 16, and the second, during the week of August 6. The second is a pilot session for older girls with more advanced musical skills.
If you are interested in donating or enrolling your daughter in a future camp session, see here. No music experience is necessary, only a love of music and a desire to learn!
To hear the girls singing the camp's theme song, check out the slideshow below:
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