That might initially sound strange, but if you think about it, we apologize automatically for many many small things in life -- bumping into someone on the street, striking a sour chord on the guitar, or dropping someone's change when returning it. And there's no need to apologize or feel bad for mistakes that are simply a part of life. On a larger scale though, we apologize too often for who we are: all the quirks, beauties, and flaws that other people might not understand so we feel the need to be the one to admit to a fault. And that's the point -- you shouldn't be sorry for that when in fact, you rock.
That's one of the amazing things that RCRC instills in girls -- the fact that whoever they are, that whoever rocks. Just finishing its sixth year, RCRC is a summer camp for girls ages 8-17 to teach them to rock and all that that entails. How does that happen? RCRC is a week-long program and on the first day, we divide all the girls into four to five person bands (vocalist, drummer, bassist, one or two guitarists). Each group is assigned a camp counselor and a band coach. By the end of the week, each band performs a new song they've written together at a showcase. Some girls have been to camp before, some of them have never touched an instrument. Regardless of experience or mishaps, it somehow always comes together by the end of the week. This seems like a statistical impossibility (and I'll get to that later), but it's true.
The girls get instrument instruction and band practice every day. They also participate in two daily workshops -- one is music-related and are instructings like songwriting, different rock styles, or stage presence. As a camp strictly for girls with all-girl campers, all-girl volunteers, all-girl staff, we desire to empower girls of this generation, and the other daily workshop focuses on that: body image and media, self defense, and how to be a good member and ally of the community.
There are so many reasons why I have come to love RCRC and what it does, and to believe so strongly in what it means.
One time, I saw my band of girls get off-sync in practice, but then check in with each other by making eye contact and then sync back in because of what they learned in a workshop that day. It was magic.
I couldn't help but smile ecstatically when my drummer finally found the right "darker" rhythm she had been wracking her brains over, when the guitarist invented a new chord ("E-ish") for the verses, or when all of the band came up with a line apiece for the second verse of the song that talks about what makes them happy in life. I was not-so-secretly busting with pride when my vocalist dropped a surprise rap for the bridge of their song.
I get chills when I see the girls learn how to defend themselves and apply it to practice pads during class. I can't help but feel for the girls that share about experiences with bullying and what society views as the "perfect girl". Over 50% of girls in the US experience depression by middle school and in high school that number soars above 80%. There's a reason for that.
RCRC is not just about empowering girls to rock through their instruments and the songs they create; it's about creating a revolution of girls that embrace themselves and those around them.
There are so many Rock Camp Miracles that happen throughout the week -- whether in a girl's character, or the magical coming together of a band and a song that was teetering on disaster. When staff first assured RCRC Counselors that it always comes together in the end, my immediate fear was "Oh God, I'm going to the one that doesn't make it. And then they'll never be able to say that again. Or they'll ban me from the program and pretend I never happened." But what I learned through the week is that it always comes together because of these Rock Camp Miracles.
But these Rock Camp MIracles are not based on blind faith. They are built on this amazing community of staff and volunteers who genuinely believe in what they are doing, wholeheartedly care for these girls, and shed blood, sweat, and tears for each other.
It's a humbling thing to be amongst these incredible women who come from all backgrounds and sit down after camp each day to encourage one another, seek advice, and then constantly think on what they can be doing for their campers. Sometimes there are tears of frustration, sometimes tears of gratitude, and very often tears of joy.
These are the women who, when an incident arises, there are immediate points of eye contact across the room before they rise magnificently to the occasion with grace. These are the women who jump in to dance with wild abandon with campers. These are the women who guide, support, and smooth over any and all camper worries -- from lost ear plugs to disagreements over the band name.
These are the women that make Rock Camp Miracles happen.
We see some physical manifestation of that magic on stage at the Showcase. There's something special about visibly seeing girls grow into giants of confidence as they perform something of theirs before a cheering crowd -- whether it's a song about fluffy kitties (the chorus a collection of sung "meows") or about the beautiful Seattle city (where the boys are cool/and the girls are witty).
And maybe, hopefully we'll see a physical or not so physical manifestation of RCRC in the girls as they leave camp and go out into the world. Rock Camp is about celebrating differences, but supporting and coming together because of these differences...not in spite of them.
United We Band.
If you have someone you'd like to tell about Rock Camp, or if you'd like to volunteer, make sure to check here for more info. If you don't live near the Seattle area, look it up! There are currently over 50 similar camps around the world and the number is growing.