Ladies Rock Camp Vancouver 2012

I wrote about this year's Ladies Rock Camp Vancouver back in January when I first joined the organizer team, but I've written nothing since! Too busy actually doing the organizing and writing about fashion and my own band, Lisa's Hotcakes, I guess. And now there's less than a week to go before camp. I did a really brief radio interview on the phone on Saturday about LRCV. I gave them my "elevator speech."

Ladies Rock Camp is, first of all, about Girls Rock Camp. LRCV is a fundraiser for for GRCV. There are girls who would love to go to camp but whose families cannot afford to send them. We help with that. Every woman who signs up for LRCV helps send a girl to GRCV. And what Girls Rock Camp is about is building self-esteem in girls through music and female mentoring. Girls from eight to sixteen come into camp, possibly with no musical experience. It's a safe environment. There are no boys, except for an occasional male helper. They don't have to impress anyone. They don't feel intimidated. They get to rock out to their heart's content, and they do. It's truly amazing to see what happens with these girls over the course of a week.

LRC is not, however, only a fundraiser for GRC. It's really GRC itself for women. Women come to camp with no musical experience or perhaps with some experience but wanting to learn another instrument (as I did in Portland in 2010 when I learned to play drums). They never had anything like GRC when they were growing up. Maybe they always wanted to be in a band. Maybe they just want to know what it feels like to get up on stage and make music that is their own. Just as we do for the girls, we provide a safe, supportive environment for women to stretch and grow and learn that they can do far more than they had imagined.

The girls have six days to do their thing. The women have only three! It's a pretty intense weekend. In that short time, they meet each other, form bands, get instruction on their instrument of choice, write their own song together, practise with their band, and participate in workshops on songwriting, stage presence, and silk screening T-shirts. On Sunday evening, each band hits the stage for a real show before what is likely to be a packed house.

And just like the girls, these women are amazing. They overcome fears and self doubt. They learn and grow and show off their stuff at the showcase. Last year, I cried like a baby watching what they could do. I was so proud of their accomplishments!

I think a lot about whether my obsession with fashion is anti-feminist. I haven't come up with a good answer yet. I hope that fashion is at least neutral on feminism, and that maybe there are even ways it can be pro-feminist.

But I have no doubt about rock camp. This is as feminist an endeavour as can be. Self-esteem. Empowerment. Accomplishment. Overcoming a lifetime of inhibition and fear. Everyone comes out of this experience a stronger woman and a stronger person.

I loved every performance from last year, but this one still gets me wound up:

Girls Rock Camp started in Portland, Oregon, more than 10 years ago. Since then, camps have proliferated over much of the world. The camps are all independent from each other, but representatives get together once a year to support each other and exchange ideas. The goal of all the camps is the same. See if there's a Girls Rock Camp near you (and make sure it's the real deal, because there are "star" camps as well). And if there's a Ladies Rock Camp too, maybe your inner rock goddess needs to come out.

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