How Girls Rock Camp Changed My Life

Categories: Exene Says

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Exene Cervenka
[Editor's Note: Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. Her column, Exene Says..., is her space to basically just write what's on her mind, everything from crazy life stories to political theories and observations about what's going on in this fucked up world of ours. To contact her, send all messages to askexene@ocweekly.com.]

The first Girls Rock Camp was the genius idea of Misty McElroy. It was her thesis project in her senior year at Portland State University. She was a roadie and frustrated by the blatant sexism she experienced in the music world. The premise was simple: to take a shot at empowering girls through music. Now, 17 years later, there are 35 camps in the U.S., Europe and South America.

It's a beautiful gift that female musicians, writers, tech support, singers and mentors give to the girls at these camps!

That's why I volunteered for Girls Rock Camp LA last summer. There was a day of orientation, followed by five days of camp. And on the seventh day was the showcase, at which all the bands formed at the camp played their songs, written that week.
There were about 70 volunteers and 40 girls, and camp was held at a downtown-LA Catholic school campus.

It was one of the most challenging, demanding, rewarding, divine, magical, emotionally moving, transformational events of my life. The other volunteers were extraordinary in their commitment to the Girls Rock Camp organization. It was a smooth, brilliantly structured, seriously instructive place. The girls were so naturally dedicated and had so much fun. There was lots of hard work, laughter and joy in seeing the girls' accomplishments. And they showed a lot of gratitude to the volunteers. 

The campers met one another, formed bands, learned an instrument, agreed on the name of the band, wrote songs, silk-screened T-shirts, practiced, studied, worked, became friends and maybe best of all, raised their self-esteem.


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