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Girls Rock! Chicago: Pushing the Bounds of Music

Girls Rock! Chicago recetnly held the first of two sessions of their annual rock camp. With the mission statement “Building socially just community with girls, transgender youth, and gender non-conforming youth,” young people are invited to join the camp where they will be immersed in a week full of music, exploration, and learning.

Before the week begins, campers choose a musical instrument or “track” to focus on for the duration of camp. There are five different tracks offered, electric guitar, electric bass, keyboard, drums, and a DJ option. Girls Rock! is both beginner-friendly and able to meet intermediate and advanced players where they are.

As they either learn to play these instruments or expand on their pre-developed skills, campers form bands and spend the week creating an original song. They then have the opportunity to record their single in a professional studio and perform it at the End of Camp Extravaganza in a real concert venue.

In addition to the musical aspect of camp, there is also a wide variety of workshops dedicated to introducing campers to even more skills, creating well-rounded individuals, and giving them a safe space to discuss topics that can be difficult. Some of these workshops include photography, soldering, fashion, music history, race, identity, and more.

So, what if you’re too old to experience this totally awesome camp? You aren’t! GR!C is always looking for more and more volunteers to make camp go round. Even if you don’t have musical experience, you can still play a valuable role at camp. If you are 17 or 18, you’ll be considered a “junior volunteer” and will have the opportunity to also form a band and create a song. If you are older, some other roles you can fulfill in camp include roadie, counselor, workshop leader, instrument instructor, and band coach.

Loads of campers have been participating since they were extremely young (age 8) and stay until they graduate at 16. Many come back to volunteer, keeping the camp up and running for the next generations. In fact, Maiya Austen, former participant, volunteer, and now camp director of GR!C, is the perfect example of dedicated campers continuing to return to the Girls Rock community and pouring into an experience that poured into them. Beginning in the camp when she was 8 and very nervous, Maiya “immediately felt so included and had so much fun.

I knew I wanted to continue my involvement after graduating. After volunteering and being part of the youth action committee in high school, I chose to become more involved as a staff member because of how much the program did for me, and I wanted to help give that same experience to a new group of kids each year!”

If you are a teen looking for somewhere to be yourself, learn new things, and have a great time, join Girls Rock for their second session, July 8th to July 15th. And if you’re 17 and up, volunteer! It is a great way to meet new people and impact youth in a very unique way. For more info visit their website by clicking here Girls Rock!


By Da’Jae Allen, Sophomore, Howard University

Instagram: @dajae.10


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Written by Da'Jae Allen

My name is Da’Jae and I’m from the West Side of Chicago. Reading is my favorite pastime, and I adore unicorns.

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