Have you ever heard of a summer camp that is a rock camp for girls? Well it exists! The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, located in New York city, and modeled after the Portland, Oregon-based program ” Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls”, is a non-profit educational program for girls ages 8-18 from in and around the New York city area and beyond. Some girls have attended from as far away as Florida, Texas, Colorado, and of all places Nova Scotia, to name a few. The girls come from various socio-economic, racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
The Camp operates under the policy in which campers pay a participation fee in accordance with their household income, a sliding pay scale if you will. The non-profit ensures that girls from a broad range of economic backgrounds are served by providing a minimum of 50% participants with scholarships. Particular focus is placed on conducting outreach to minority, low income and/or underserved communities.
Willie Mae ” Big Mama ” Thornton, a blues and rock performer/songwriter was one of the first women to play the music that came to be known as Rock & Roll.The camp program that is named so in her honor offers girls the chance to learn how to play musical instruments, write songs, perform, and participate in team-building activities in a supportive environment that fosters self-esteem, self-confidence, creativity, tolerance, and collaboration.
The campers form bands on the first day. From there campers learn to write their own songs and play their own instruments with the assistance of volunteer women musicians. During the course of the week they take time out to make band t-shirts, buttons, costumes, and posters, too. The campers jump right in from the start of the week and play guitar, work the soundboard, and learn how to direct music videos.After a week of preparation these same campers, now practiced and rehearsed bands, perform their self-written original songs at a large scale recital-concert. Both recital-concerts in August 2005 and July of 2006 were well-received for the previous two years this camp has cranked out its rocker girls.
The media coverage has been significant, too. The Saturday, July 22, 2006 New York Post article by Veronica Thew is a great pictured birds-eye view of out of a slice of daily life during summer camp, rock camp the night before the bands hit the stage! Other coverage has been done by The New York Times, The Daily News, New York Newsday, Time Out New York, the New York Observer, as well as a host of others in print, t.v., and radio coverage.
The 2007 year promises to be an even bigger year in participation in New York. The camp organizers are planning additional camp sessions for the summer and are developing plans to launch a year-round-after-school-program. Back by popular demand as well is Ladies Rock Camp! Last year over 50 women attended the special fund-raising three day “weekend edition” of rock camp for women program which culminated in a showcase concert. Ladies Rock Camp 2007 is again the ” weekend edition ” of all the cool things the girls do. The three day program is a fund-raising event for the scholarship fund of Wilie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.
With the successes of seven-year Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls and Girls Rock Institute, an after school program, both in Portland Oregon, coupled with successes here in New York, don’t be surprised if you see camps like Willie Mae Rock Camp and others become a hot trend for wholesome fun seekers, summer campers, and moms alike this summer nationwide.
Willie Mae Rock Camp is located at 632 Broadway, 7th fl., NY, NY 10012 and can be reached at 718.534.3412