Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Girls Rock!!!

Have you seen the Girls Rock DVD yet? It's a documentary about four girls who transform their lives at a Rock 'n' Roll camp for girls. It was filmed in Portland, and since its release in 2007, the camp has expanded to other cities in America including Denver (July 27 - August 1). Twist & Shout is working with this organization and is excited about the potential that this partnership will be sure to create. I am personally volunteering as a Band Manager during the camp and will be sending along updates & photos about the experience. For now, I spoke with Project Director Monique Bourdage to find out more about it.

What is the purpose of Girls Rock Camp? Why do girls need this?
The mission of Girls Rock Denver is to empower girls and young women through music education, creation, and performance. Its purpose is to provide Colorado girls ages 8-18 with a safe space in which to express themselves. We're doing this because we believe that strong girls grow into strong women and that the skills the girls learn at camp, such as assertiveness, self-expression and teamwork, will benefit them and their communities long after camp is over. We believe our camp will also help to break down gender stereotypes by providing our campers with female role models (everyone who works directly with the campers is a female musician, artist, performer, educator, or community member) and the confidence to use their voices. Furthermore, women are still under- or mis-represented in the music industry. We hope to introduce our campers to female musicians whose music and images challenge what is usually depicted in popular media.

What are some of the effects the camp has had on previous participants in other cities? Have there been any follow up with girls who've been through the program to determine the lasting effects (specifically the girls from the Girls Rock documentary)?
Many camps have had campers who have returned year after year. Some have even gone on to intern, volunteer, or otherwise work for the rock camp they attended when they were younger. The campers also form bonds with their bandmates that can last for years. Blubird, a band shown in the documentary, still regularly plays around Portland and even plays as a lunch time band during Ladies Rock Camp sessions. The rock camp experience is one that definitely sticks with you. Marie Schow, who was featured briefly in the documentary as a camper 4 years ago, is now in college. This summer, she will return to her native Colorado and work as a band manager with Girls Rock Denver. Although I don't have data about specific effects of rock camp, it says something that so many campers turn into camp volunteers in order to continue the experience for younger girls.

How did you get involved with girls rock?
I found out about Girls Rock camps while researching my master's thesis on the electric guitar and the social construction of gender. Through my research, I discovered the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, and my partner, Chris Conner, and I decided to take part in the GRCA's annual 50 Shows in 50 States benefit event. We held three events in December 2007 and raised
more money than any other state. With the outpouring of support from the community, it was easy to see that Denver needed and wanted its own girls rock camp. In April 2008, I helped plan events, along with Angela Death of the Denver Roller Dolls and Erin Harbowy of Neighborhood Flix, for the Denver premiere of Girls Rock! The Movie. It was during these director's weekend events that we did the volunteer recruiting necessary to hold our first camp session this summer.

What volunteers are needed and how can they get involved? Who can they contact?
During camp week, we are still in need of several female musicians willing to donate their time. We need instrument instructors (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards--especially keyboards, and vocals). This requires a commitment from 8:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m. from July 27th through July 31st. We also need a couple more band coaches. Band coaches supervise a particular band's practice sessions and guide the band through the song writing process. This position requires a commitment from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. from July 27th-July 31st. Volunteer applications can be downloaded from our website (www.girlsrockdenver.org) and emailed to girlsrockdenver@gmail.com. Questions can be directed to me at the same email address.

If girls 8-18 are interested, how can they get into the camp? How are the girls chosen?
Camper applications can also be downloaded from our website and mailed to us at P.O. Box 8473, Denver, CO 80201. We still have a few spaces left for girls interested in learning guitar, bass, or drums. Girls are chosen on a first come, first served basis and financial aid is still available. Details are included on the application and website.

Anything else to add?
We are also in need of food, equipment, supplies and other donations. There is a wish list on our website, or people may contact me to find out about additional items we need.
Since our days are long and several of our campers come from low-income families, we would like to be able to provide lunch and snacks for all 6 days of camp. We have received some donations, but are still in need.
Any equipment donations may be dropped off at Music Gear Guys (220 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209) or the Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons. We will gladly take anything you have to offer--practice amps, bass guitars, mics, effects pedals, drum equipment, auxiliary percussion, and accessories such as picks and cables. If you would like to loan equipment to the camp, please email us to make arrangements.
We are also in need of services such as photocopying and donations for our campers' goodie bags (such as water bottles, composition notebooks, cds, picks, drum sticks, etc.). We'd also like to secure some gifts for our volunteers, who have worked year-round and also taken a week off work this summer to make this camp happen for the girls of Colorado.

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