Girls Rock Camp New Orleans (GRCNO) is a volunteer-run summer music camp for ‘individuals who self-identify as female and/or non-binary’ between the ages of 9 to 16. Each member learns to play an instrument, write a song and will star in a live musical performance at the culmination of the camp! This summer, GRCNO will take place at the Wardolf School of New Orleans from June 30 – July 4, with the musical showcase taking place on July 5.
GRCNO is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, an international non-profit organization founded in 2007. In addition to music lessons and mentorship, many camps produced by GRCA offer after-school or holiday programs, hip hop-themed camps, DJ camps and Ladies Rock camps. GRCA has 43 camps in the U.S., Canada, South America and Europe.
The goal of each Girls Rock Camp is to foster self-esteem in girls and gender non-conforming youth by teaching them a skill and allowing them to showcase said skill in their communities. In addition to learning to play instruments and writing songs, the members of GRCNO also attend workshops on music history, zine-making, self defense and social justice.
GRCNO is important because of how entrenched music is in the culture of New Orleans, as well as the lack of services, opportunities and activities available to youth in New Orleans post-Katrina. The camp aims to carve a space out for non-male youth in male-dominated musical spaces. The GRCA took a survey after a week of camp and found an 8 percent increase in program participants who affirm, “I know what to do when someone says, ‘You can’t do that because you’re a girl.’” One camper in a GRCA questionnaire from 2001 says, “[Girls Rock Camp is the] best camp ever! It gave me so much more experience with working in a band, and sharing my music ideas with other people.”
Like many others, GRCNO operates on a sliding basis in order to keep the camp open to campers, regardless of how much money they have to offer. To cover expenses, GRCNO accepts instrument donations and collaborates with other companies in New Orleans such as New Orleans Ladies Arm Wrestling, Shotgun Cinema and Rusted Up Beyond All Recognition Bikes (RUBARB), a non-profit organization that teaches how to build and maintain bicycles.
Aspiring volunteers and young budding artists can apply for GRCNO 2014 until May 30. Visit this website for more information.