Using rock music to engender education, self-empowerment, self-advocacy, teamwork, and leadership? Radical.
As a newcomer to Seattle, I’m enjoying learning about the diverse organizations and causes with roots in the Pacific Northwest. Each month, I will highlight a local group whose radical work inspires me to be more radical in my own work and daily life.
I love the idea of using music and community to build confidence in girls and spark social change. Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls started in Portland, Oregon, in 2000 and similar programs have opened across the country, and the world, ever since. Seattle’s Rain City Rock Camp for Girls is dedicated to building self-esteem and encouraging creative expression through music. Any girl can participate, even if she has never sung a note or picked up a musical instrument.
Rock Camp runs throughout the year at various venues across Seattle. They provide summer programs, yearlong programs, advanced programs, and even weekend programs for those of us 19 and over. The weeklong camp for girls and the weekend camp for adults both culminate with a public concert performance at a local venue. If you don’t want to be part of a band, you can donate or volunteer to help staff their summer camps. They need music instructors, camp counselors, mental health supporters, receptionists, and even a camp photographer.
The nonprofit program provides grants for tuition and educates campers on body image, song writing and the history of women in rock and hip-hop, focusing on putting an end to oppression, gender bias, and bullying. Rain City Rock Camp for Girls practices non-discrimination, and individuals who self-identify as female, trans, or gender non-conforming are welcome to participate. Everyone who completes an application, and is able to cover costs or receive financial aid, is invited to attend and are accepted on a first come, first served basis.
There’s something special about the inclusivity of the music community. I joined choir in elementary school, was involved in music programs through high school, taught myself to play the guitar, and was a founding member of a women’s a cappella group in college. Throughout my involvement – from elementary school to college – I learned invaluable lessons, made great friends, and gained confidence. Attending Rock Camp when I was a kid would have been an incredible chance to step outside the choir box and truly express myself and strengthen my skills in a welcoming, creative place. Rock Camp provides a fun, safe place for girls to learn, build relationships, and, most importantly, be themselves.