My boyfriend is a drummer, so when I spied a sticker with an illustration of knuckles and drumsticks on a coworker’s water bottle at a meeting, I asked her about it. And that’s how I found out about an international movement to empower girls called Girls Rock Camp.
Girls Rock Camp helps girls “find their voice” by teaching them to play instruments and perform in a band at the end of a weeklong session. Girls also learn about empowerment and social justice along the way.
A wonderful and life-changing experience, right?
My coworker, who volunteers for the girls’ camp, told me about Ladies Rock Camp, which is a condensed three-day version of the girls’ camp for women 21+ held each spring. The money raised from this camp is used to fund scholarships for girls who want to attend the summer camp.
Music is a HUGE part of my life as is volunteering = I HAD TO volunteer for this camp and see what it was all about. (And it would conveniently count as a birthday list item.)
I arrived at the orientation the night before the weekend started, having no idea what to expect. The camp was taking place at a community center in a neighboring town. There were about 25 women there, and as we introduced ourselves, I learned that most of the women had been campers themselves and had been volunteering for a while. They all talked about what a positive experience it was for them, and I sensed that I was entering a community—one that I’d enjoy being a part of.
Camp started the next morning (a Friday), but I arrived at dinnertime because I had to work during the day. I would be on “site crew” for the weekend, meaning that I would set up spaces for workshops, stock the bathrooms, and help out wherever I was needed. My cohorts were two veteran volunteers who gladly showed me the ropes.
The weekend was intense…each day started around 9:00 am and ended around 11:00 pm. If I remember correctly, there were about 50 campers who split up into eight bands. Most bands were composed of a lead singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboardist. The daily schedule was packed full of practice time, workshop time, social time, and meals.
On Saturday, I helped set up two sessions of a screenprinting workshop. Each band came up with a name and a logo and made screen-printed T-shirts. I loved watching creativity at work. Ladies had a choice of three workshops in the evening. Luckily there wasn’t much setup needed, so I attended one about standing up to micro-agressions in daily life.
On Sunday, the energy was palpable because the campers would be performing in public that evening at a popular music venue. After only three days of lessons! Campers had their hair “did” by volunteer hairdressers and could choose among hundreds of temporary tattoos to wear. Band photos were taken and I helped set up one last workshop on relational aggression.
The camp ran like a well-oiled machine. Every camper and volunteer whom I met was friendly, curious, open, supportive, and loved music. Watching the campers onstage on Sunday night was truly inspiring and empowering. I can’t wait to volunteer again next year.