As seen in the Athens NEWS:
Girls just wanna rock!
Camp aims to empower young women with music
By: McKenzie Powell
Athens NEWS Contributor
G rowing up as a young woman in a society often viewed as patriarchal and degrading toward females can be difficult and confusing.
This, unfortunately, can lead to self-consciousness and lack of pride in young women. This is where Athens Rock Camp for Girls enters the picture.
“How can we empower girls to feel like their words are worth something and they can work together to create powerful connections and powerful music that can inspire other girls and women and people?” asks Cindy Crabb, camp coordinator of the four-year-old local program.
The answer for Crabb and others was the 2010 creation of Athens Rock Camp for Girls, a one-week guitar, drums, bass and vocal camp for girls ranging in age from 12 to 18.
Rock Camp is currently in session, running from July 21-27. The camp will conclude at ARTS/West in Athens this weekend with two highly anticipated concerts, the first Saturday at 7 p.m. and the second Sunday at 2 p.m.
Athens Rock Camp for Girls seeks to instill self-confidence and empowerment in the teen girl participants through musical expression and workshops, according to one of the program’s adult founders.
“Our goal is basically to give the campers a week where they don’t have to think about looking good and they just have a week of total artistic expression,” said Tessa Evanosky.
A typical day at Rock Camp starts with morning circle, where the campers are given an overview of the day along with the opportunity to let out a scream. “We have them hold hands and do a group scream where they can either scream as loud as they want or they can pass,” Evanosky said.
Campers are also given one specific rule to follow throughout the course of the week. “We start off with a ‘no body talk’ rule. You can’t compliment people on their clothes or their appearance. [We] just try to help people start to compliment people on things that they do,” said Crabb.
After the morning circle, campers dive into a schedule jam-packed with music lessons, a lunch break, lunchtime concerts, workshops and band practice.
Workshops can include anything from self-defense to media literacy to stage presence. These workshops help build on a variety of personal assets including confidence, awareness and empowerment.
“I like that it’s very empowering because it shows women what they can do to protect themselves from being discriminated against,” said camper Ashley Wilson, 14. “It shows you that you don’t have to be a certain way or fit in a certain category and just that you can be yourself,” she said. “It lets you get out your creativity and frustrations in a productive way, and it also shows you how to empower other girls around you.”
At the start of the week, campers are broken up into groups of five girls apiece to create bands. According to Evanosky, these bands usually consist of two guitar players, one bass player, one drummer and at least one vocalist.
Band practice is used as a way for the young musicians to prepare their songs for the upcoming concert. “They spend most of the week coming up with one or two original songs,” said Evanosky. “We really discourage them playing any covers, and then during the final concert they perform their songs that they wrote.”
Crabb said the resulting concerts are usually powerful enough to bring tears to people in the audience. “The concert is so amazing. It’s hard to write a song in a week and they write amazing songs. They write songs about so many different subjects, and they just sing and play with all of their hearts. It’s so powerful,” she said.
Wilson agreed. “It is about music but it’s also, to me, it’s about more than just that. It’s why you turn to music and why girls should have each other’s backs,” she said. “I think that’s very important for a girl to have growing up.”
Due to last year’s sold-out concert, camp organizers this year decided to schedule two concert dates to better accommodate the expected audience. Tickets are limited to 130 per show and range from $5-10 per ticket. Tickets can only be purchased at the venue before the performance.
The Girls Rock Camp program was founded in Portland, Ore., and has since spread throughout the country and world. Athens Rock Camp for Girls is one of the smallest Girls Rock Camps in the country, since it normally takes only 25 campers a year due to size restrictions in the ARTS/West building.
All coaches, mentors and helpers at Athens Rock Camp for Girls are volunteers. Costs are only $50 per camper, making it one of the most affordable Girls Rock Camps in the country.