Bay Area Girls Rock Camp & The Future of Rock and Roll
When I was younger the list of things that I wanted to be when I grew up was pretty short: Ewok, Batman, someone who climbs trees really high. But when I was introduced to Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks and Crissy Hynde by a cool aunt when I was early in my elementary school tenure, my career goal was put into fine focus – I was going to be a rock star.
To my young, sugar riddled brain it was everything: power, noise, a disregard of the conventional, and the ultimate manifestation of self-confidence. After all, in a world where little girls and young women are encouraged to shut up and sit down, rock and roll is a medium that communicates an alternative to an expected silent and passive female existence.
Thankfully, in 2007, a group of women in Portland, Oregon got together and decided that rock n’ roll was more than just a way to piss off the squares. It could act as a powerful tool to teach girls and young women self-esteem, feminism, and community using music as a medium. During the course of a week students learn an instrument, form a band, write a song and preform it for their friends, families, and fans at the end of camp. But music isn’t then only thing that happens – students also learn women’s rock history, silk screening, zine making, and self-defense. To say the week-long experience is emotional is an understatement.
Think about it for a second- women volunteering to teach girls how to be strong. How to be loud. How to be unapologetic in taking up space that has traditionally been reserved for boys. How to a defend themselves. How to find a sense of place in a dynamic history of powerful women. This is the stuff that can shake foundations.
I began volunteering with the Bay Area Girl’s Rock Camp chapter during the summer of 2010. I was out of a job and in a decidedly weird place in myself. After a year of girl-crushing on the organization, I figured that the time was ripe for me to get involved. It took three hours into my volunteer training and I was sold. Four hours into my first volunteer shift, I was a zealot. How can I adequately explain to you how moved I was hearing my students talk to me about what they think is important about being a girl and how in a world trying to force sexuality on young adults these tiny warriors fight this pervasive system. I have played in bands for many years, I have played hundreds of shows and have put out several albums – I love music, it has become my life. Despite all my personal accomplishments, I have never been more soul-deeply proud of anything than watching my students play their song they so beautifully crafted at camp.
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Do yourself a favor, check out the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and see how you can participate. Volunteer, donate money, go and check out the show cases. I promise, it will change your life.