So This One Time at Band Camp…
by Allison Hawkey, for AroundPhilly.com
Typically, when one thinks of band camp, they think of nerdy high school kids wearing glasses and marching around with flutes and trumpets. No one ever thinks that band camp could be cool. Well, Girls Rock Philly is changing that. Girls Rock Philly is a girls-only weeklong day camp for girls ages 9 to 17 that is dedicated to teaching girls how to play musical instruments, write songs and, most importantly, how to rock out.
Originally, the first Girls Rock Camp sprang up in Portland, Oregon in 2000. Since then, different chapters have cropped up across the country. Although they are each independent chapters, they are all fairly similar to each other and share materials, and have even formed a Girls Rock Camp alliance. When Girls Rock Philly was first founded in Philadelphia in August of 2007, the camp had only 20 girls in attendance. Three years later, the camp has quadrupled its size, and looks forward to 80 campers coming this August. The camp lasts from Monday to Friday, ultimately culminating in a showcase on Saturday that is open to the public. This year the showcase will be held at the Trocadero Theatre on South Street.
No Experience Necessary!Girls Rock Camp doesn’t require any prior experience; girls of all music levels are accepted, from beginner to advanced. While some girls have no musical knowledge and want to come out to try something new, others are truly amazing instrumentalists that just want to have fun and play in the unique camp environment; other girls are advanced musicians in one instrument, and want the opportunity to learn another. The most popular instrument choices are guitar and drums.
Girls Rock Camp brings something very unique to Philly. It is the sole girls-only rock camp in the city, and its all-female staff allows for a more comfortable environment where girls don’t have to be afraid to speak up, ask questions, or to try something new. In their applications, campers are asked to pick their top two instrument choices (they get to choose from guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals, drums, or DJing). They are assigned one of their choices for the week, and attend instrument practice every morning. However, rather than focusing solely on technique or on learning song covers, Girls Rock Camp fully immerses rockers in the creative song-writing process.
The camp offers cool workshops like self-defense, how to book your own shows, top female rockers, and even lets them make band art, allowing them to create their own logos, which they can brand on shirts, buttons, anything! But the best part about the camp - the girls get to form their own bands and collaborate to create their own song. Every afternoon, campers meet up with their band and with the help of their band coach write a unique piece of music that is all their own. After spending the week practicing, they get to perform their song on the Saturday showcase, showing everyone all the hard work they’ve done. The camp teaches girls much more than how to play an instrument, and it has many goals that it hopes to achieve. Girls Rock Philly wants to allow girls the opportunity to try a new and challenging thing, and to make campers feel as though they have strength and the power to contribute to the world. By allowing them to participate in the creative musical-process from beginning to end, the camp is hoping to make girls realize that they have great ideas, can solve problems, that their opinion matters, and that they can always feel comfortable asking for help. Through their band, girls are able to learn teamwork and resiliency.
Above all, Girls Rock Philly wants to make girls feel as though they can handle whatever comes their way. Even if they realize that they don’t like playing an instrument and never want to pick one up again, Girls Rock Philly has been successful if the girls can carry a sense of confidence and self-adventure with them in whatever direction they want to travel. Girls Rock Philly is just more than a band camp – it’s a camp that teaches girls how to be strong, creative, confident individuals that can feel secure in going out and doing what they love best. Of course, they get to create awesome music in the process.
To follow the Girls Rock Camp this summer, check out www.girlsrockphilly.tumblr.com or their Facebook page. Also, make sure to support the girls! The showcase will be Saturday, August 10, at the Trocadero Theatre. Doors open at 12:30 PM and the showcase begins at 1 PM; tickets are $10 for all ages.