Rock and roll dreams

Ladies Rock Camp Vancouver 2012 is over. It was an amazing weekend. You figured I'd say that, I know. But truly, it was.

Each rock camp at which I've volunteered has been a different experience for me. In 2009, I volunteered for Girls Rock Camp Vancouver in its first year. I didn't know anyone there except for Sweetie, who also volunteered (and had done so in Portland during one session of their 2008 camp). That year, I taught guitar. I especially enjoyed working with the younger girls. It was such an emotional experience to watch them perform on that Saturday night! I was at GRCV again in 2010, but that time as a band manager for a band made up of some of tweens and teens. I was so proud that they drove themselves and did such a great rocking song! And I even got to sit in with them at a second set at Under the Volcano because their guitarist couldn't be there. Believe me, I was honoured to do so.

In 2011, I was unable to volunteer for GRCV. But that was the first year that we put on Ladies Rock Camp, and that one I could do. Once again, I was a guitar instructor. At least that's what I signed up for. I ended up staying at camp for much of each day, pitching in to help however I could—moving equipment, making runs for supplies, and hanging out at loud band practices in case any guitarists needed extra help (which they did sometimes). It was an exhausting but very satisfying weekend. At the showcase, I cried to see how far the women had come. It was such a joy!

This year, I was one of the camp organizers. My title was volunteer coordinator. It was my responsibility to contact volunteers who signed up, recruit to fill in gaps, and ensure that the volunteers had what they needed to do their jobs. We had a great group of volunteers! So many people were enthusiastically doing what needed to be done, and some of it wasn't fun, notably moving heavy equipment. But people were brilliant.

Because I was focused on the volunteers, I wasn't as directly involved with the campers, and that made the whole camp feel a little different for me. Fortunately, I did get to speak with most of them at some point. Because I didn't have the personal connections that an instructor or band coach would have, the showcase wasn't quite as emotional experience for me as it was last year, but it was still great. And when all was done, I felt tired but very satisfied. We had learned lessons from last year's camp. We had done a better job. Things went more smoothly, and I think everyone's experience was better. We'll know for sure when we get back evaluation forms.

This was a great group of campers—15 women, diverse in age, background, and musical ability. We had guitarists and bass players and drummers starting from scratch. We had singers who had sung before but never with a band or never in a rock style. One of the first things they do at camp after introductions is to form bands. They sorted themselves into four groups very quickly! And with astonishing speed, they figured out their band names and logos. Before long, they were working on their song. I co-facilitated a songwriting workshop, and the campers asked some great questions. They made it through Saturday, a long day that tends to be the most difficult and have the most frustrations. By Sunday they were in the groove and aiming solidly toward the showcase. And they all delivered! They can be proud of what they've done, and I think they probably are.

I can't say enough good things about the volunteers. Some had worked last year, many were new. Everyone gave full effort, and several went over and above. I was so impressed by how dedicated they were to making camp the best possible experience for the campers. They worked long days, and I heard no complaints. It will be interesting to see what kind of feedback we get from our survey. The volunteers often have good suggestions for improvements.

And finally, I absolutely loved working with my fellow organizers. Three of them were veterans of last year when they somehow made camp work very well with too few people and resources. Two of us were new. The other new person was a camper last year, and this year did a bang-up job on the food. We cut back in a few ways from last year, and if anything I think we ate better! And our gear person, our camper registration person, and our super head organizer are all such wonderful people. I will be glad to have the time back now that my job is done for the year, but I will miss meeting with those women. We always got things done, and we always had a good time doing it.

Fashion note: At the showcase, I wore my favourite dress, a number called Surrender from Nicole Bridger in teal. Sleeveless, natural waist, with a drape on the front and a handkerchief hem. I wore it with the pair of colour-blocked high-heeled sandals (the teal a perfect match for the dress) that I had hesitated to buy in San Francisco. I have no idea whether the dress or shoes had anything to do with it, but I sold a roll of raffle tickets in about 15 minutes.

À la prochaine fois!

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