ROCKIN’ OUT IN PHILLY – Girls Rock Philly Music Camp August 8-13 ROCKIN’ OUT IN PHILLY – Girls Rock Philly Music Camp August 8-13

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Words by Bootsie – Camp Photos by Girls Rock Philly Bloggers – Live Photos by Charles

It’s a muggy hot day in Philly and the faint noise of an electric guitar can be heard as I approach the World Café. I open the door to the hum of a bass and amplified vocals, and I can’t help but anticipate being punched in the face with Rock n’ Roll music. On my arrival, the band SpazZmoTic walks on stage with nervous enthusiasm and a mission to end summer with a knock out performance.

Girls Rock Philly (GRP) is a girls-only, weeklong summer day camp for girls age 9-17. GRP is a not-for-profit organization brought to Philadelphia in 2006 with the initiative to empower girls through the use of music and specialized workshops. A team of female instructors and band coaches, who voluntarily share their time to create a comfortable and supportive environment, teach the program. Classes are held in music technique, songwriting, the history of females in Rock n’ Roll, band art, blogging, punk rock aerobics and the creation of band merchandise. Instructors also lead workshops associated in building confidence and the discouragement of bullying.

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A band coach is assigned to each band to guide the girls through the process of working together as a group, writing songs, coming up with a band name, and creating a stage presence. Caroline Mills, a veteran band coach and blog instructor, corresponded with me throughout the week where I heard from several campers and learned about their experiences first hand. Izzy, age 10, said, “I was really shy when I walked in. But when it was time to show my band what I could do, I stood at the mic and sang Firework.” What is great about GRP is that the foundation of the organization is built on promoting self-expression and confidence in an area of music where girls are not generally thought to be involved in.

I believe Rock n’ Roll more than other genres of music can often be thought of as a rowdy boys club. While there are several famous female Rock n’ Roll legacies, the lifestyle is not believed to be for women. The Runaways, Jefferson Airplane, Heart, and Blondie are just a few women of Rock n’ Roll that have responded to this lack of representation with a voice of success. Morgan, age 11, talks about how she was introduced to Kim Gordon and local musicians, “A band I didn’t know about was Sonic Youth, and here they talk about it sometimes. I also liked the guest band Very Happy, they rocked!” I find that GRP is filling a need in a community like Philadelphia, where there is a growing music scene and more girls will have the opportunity be part of the next generation of musicians. By creating a growing acceptance of this diversity within your own city is important for the future of the genre.

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GRP is part of the Girls Rock Alliance founded in Portland Oregon to promote educational programs in music for young girls around the United States. Girls Rock Alliance includes organizations such as Girls Rock Chicago and Willie Mae’s Rock Camp for Girls in Brooklyn. After attending a Girls Rock Alliance conference in Portland, Founder of GRP Beth Warshaw-Duncan realized Philadelphia was lacking a program that would encourage similar standards of mentorship and personal enrichment in music for young girls.

While the cost of the camp is $400 dollars per child, scholarships are offered to at least half the students. Not every 5th grader wants to take the summer off and go to sleep away camp in the country, whether you know an instrument or not you are accepted at GRP. The program organizes the bands by musical ability so that returning campers are always maturing and learning something new. All the campers not only participate in a concert showcase with their band mates, but also have the chance to record a song in a professional studio for a Girls Rock Philly album.

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My personal experience of the showcase was unexpected. I have yet to experience such an organized production from a non-profit that deals in children’s education and mentorship. GRP had a whole light production and camera crew, sound engineers and smoke machines, the entire showcase had a genuine Rock n’ Roll concert feel. The performances the campers brought to the stage was not only the voice of an instrument, but jump kicks and tutus. These girls brought killer outfits and serious attitude, whether they wrote a song about a boy or being misunderstood, I was thoroughly impressed. Everyone was having fun, and the comments of parents and community members were positive to the extent that these young women already have a local following for the future.

It is only appropriate that an all-girls rock and roll camp join the bandwagon of outdoors festivals, sweaty venues, and tastemakers causing a stir during the summer season. Whether it’s rockin’ out with an electric guitar or having fun belting a pop song, these girls will remember their time at Girls Rock Philly as a supportive environment and key element to their musical growth.

Girls Rock Philly Camp Cam:

Girls Rock Philly Showcase:

Ed. Note: Pinpoint would like to thank Aimee Miller and Beth Warshaw-Duncan for their assistance in this piece. Extra special thanks to Caroline Mills and her team of bloggers for providing the camp photos and facilitating interviews with the campers. And, of course, Bootsie for bringing it all together.



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