Published Jun 26, 2011Having started out in bands as teenagers, both Alysha Haugen and Magali Meagher know too well the sting of intimidation that can deter young women from learning to rock. Now, as members of the notorious Weezer cover band Sheezer, plus By Divine Right (Haugen) and the Phonemes (Meagher) among others, the two wanted to share some empowerment with a crop of female youth through the inaugural Girls Rock Camp in Toronto, running July 18 to 23.
The week-long camp for girls aged 8 to 18 features instrument instruction, band practice, workshops in subjects such as zine making and collaboration, and a band showcase. The first Canadian chapters (inspired by a project founded a decade ago in Portland, OR) started as early as 2002 in Newfoundland, followed by chapters in Calgary, Edmonton, and Victoria in 2005. A new crop rose again in 2009 and are going strong still: Vancouver will run from July 4 to 9, Montreal from July 25 to 30, and Peterborough, ON, will run two sessions in the second and third weeks in August for different age groups. Volunteers will run the first camp in Mississauga, ON, in early August, too.
Rock Camp for me is really exciting," Haugen says. "I think I would have had a much different perspective on myself and my abilities if I'd had a group of women telling me that just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't be a kick-ass musician."
Sarah Buchanan started the Vancouver chapter (which has grown to include year-round programming) and is happy to see new camps springing up; she's seen first hand the positive effect it has on the girls. "The main increase is definitely in confidence. And also volume," she laughs.
Haugen assures there is no intention to exclude anyone – no, not even boys – but to focus on fun, and give girls the unique opportunity to feel comfortable and supported to express themselves and build confidence. "Not just confidence playing music, but it'll spread throughout every aspect of their lives."