By Myki Angeline
Girls Rock Sacramento (GRS) recently completed another successful summer teen music camp and showcase. The 6 day camp took place at the Met high school, while the energetic showcase was held at the Ace of Spades venue in downtown Sacramento, California, courtesy of Raychel Sabath, Marketing Manager for Live Nation. GRS was founded in 2016 and to date has held four mini camps (7-11 yrs), four teen camps (12-17 yrs), and are heading into their sixth Ladies Rock Camp this October.
This non-profit organization is part of the global entity Girls Rock Camp Alliance. What started out in 2001 as one camp located in Oregon (Rock n Roll Camp For Girls) has now spread to over 100 grassroots music camps across twelve countries empowering young women, those who identify as women, and the non-binary community by focusing on social justice and inclusivity through music education.
But these camps provide more than just learning to play an instrument, write a song, and perform in front of a crowd. Founder of GRS and Camp Director Larisa Bryski explains, “We are MUCH more than a music camp. What does it mean to say that ‘girls rock?’ The obvious answer involves guitars and drums, and of course we absolutely subscribe to that, but also ‘to ROCK’ forward in life as an empowered, enlightened, compassionate, and confident human being is the deeper goal. We work to foster creative, safe spaces where youth who identify as girls, trans, non binary, or gender non-conforming can express themselves without judgement or competition–where differences are celebrated and nurtured. We teach them to play instruments and work together in bands, but we also work to inspire positive social change, as well as teach our campers to recognize, understand, and respond to discrimination. Ultimately, we work for a unified world, free of the myths that tell young people that they can’t do or be something simply because of the pronouns they use.”
Girls Rock Sacramento creates a supportive community through diverse and dynamic workshops in a positive, safe space during the week long camp. Each participant is placed in a band and learns about songwriting, marketing, team-building, self defense, creating merchandise, and body confidence. This year they included two new workshops – sound bath healing and gender identity. Everyone is encouraged to participate at their own pace and comfort level while receiving support in abundance from one another, and from nearly 40 volunteers (myself, included) who invest their time, experience, knowledge and energy into each young human.
While there are a few campers who come into this with some knowledge of playing an instrument, most of those who participate are brand new to the experience. This year GRS hosted 28 young adults, with most of them first timers and – four of them graduating from the mini camp experience! The participants were placed in a band, created their band name and created one original song that was performed at the showcase finale – 5 bands in all; New Era, Lost & Found, See-No-Evil, The Infinitz, and Project 51.
Here is what some of the participants, their parents, and volunteers had to say about the summer camp and showcase:
“I love hearing how campers share their thoughts and feelings while still being respectful and empathetic towards others. It’s an integral skill for making music, but also for collaboration in general. I’m overjoyed that this camp exists, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.” – Hannah Adamy, Volunteer and PHD candidate in music at UCDavis.
“My daughter (Amelia Olden) is the lead singer for the band Lost and Found. This was her first time as a camper at Girls Rock. It was an amazing, life-affirming, empowering, rich, and wonderful experience. Amelia learned about self-respect, self-defense, and gender roles all in the context of making music. Every afternoon she came home with a new facet to her soul opening up. She sang around the house, watched YouTube tutorials about making music, and practiced guitar. I can’t thank you enough! Amelia found her thing!!!! She will be back next year and I suspect the year after!” – Jennifer Olden, parent
“This was my second season at GRS, and I learned to play guitar and sing. Our band is See-No-Evil and our original song is, ‘My World’. My favorite workshops were probably the games, such as Improv or the drawing charades. I enjoyed those because I got to spend time with my friends from camp, and also get to bond with the girls in my band. I also enjoyed the songwriting workshop as well, since that is an interest of mine, and it was helpful towards writing our song.” – Lily Ross, GRS camper
“It was way better than I expected. We learned self defense, how to meditate and relax, and learned how to write music and play as a band! The only thing I would change about GRS is how long it is, I wish it was ALL summer!” – Leiahna Llorente, 1st time camper and bassist for The Infinitz
“Leiahna really enjoyed GRS. It inspired her to try new instruments that she had no prior interest in. Her confidence is soaring as she learned so much about herself during the program, and what she’s capable of. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for all of their hard work and dedication. Leiahna misses you all already.” – Ana Kline, parent
“The showcase was definitely my favorite experience. Seeing the bands’ hard work pay off, seeing the camp leaders thrive in the live venue setting… And the best part, is that its a really fun show! These young people absolutely OWN it on stage, and are even better than some professionals!” – Jasmine Bailey, band coach for Lost and Found
“This is now my 4th year and I love it. Every year is different but I have enjoyed each year and have learned so much about music, the world we live in, friendships, and more. I feel I grow every year and always come out a much better person. My favorite was making the marketing posters and Stevie Circle because they were fun and I love art and expressing myself. All workshops were helpful and I learned a lot. Like I said, I feel I grow every year emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. I wish this camp was more than one week. I think two weeks is better and I already told Larisa LOL. Thank you Myki, your self defense activity always makes me feel empowered.” – Aisley Siau, former mini camper and lead vocalist for Project 51
“Working with GRS has been so thrilling! I love watching them develop their skills to contribute towards each of their bands.” – Katie Knipp, piano coach 2019, 2018
Girls Rock Sacramento became an official rock alliance camp in 2018, and have plans to include a Youth Board of Directors made up of former camp alumi. To learn more about GRS, join a camp, or donate to their important cause visit their website at: girlsrocksacamento.com.