Remember when you were growing up as a an odd kid and there were a few people you admired for reminding you that you didn't have to play with dolls or listen to the Spice Girls? They encouraged you to get the Penny Hardaway basketball shoes you wanted and play hella video games while singing along to Jagged Little Pill.
They were the liberators who advised you "don't be afraid to be weird. "
The Girls Rock Camp Houston team is embarking on its second summer of this truism, giving girls ages 8-18 the chance to hone their musical education while expressing their creativity and building self-esteem.
The weeklong music camp begins August 1 at the Rice University Student Center. The camp is made up of 30 girls who participate in music and art-based workshops including songwriting, zine construction, women in rock history, and body image. The girls get in groups to form a band, write an original song and then perform it on the last day of camp.
Local musician and GRCH director Anna Garza founded the Houston chapter of the Girls Rock nonprofit organization last year, joining 28 other cities that have worked together to create social change with the Girls Rock Camp Alliance since 2006. GRCH has grown considerably since its inaugural year: this year, the 30 available slots filled up in just a week.
"We already have such a strong presence in the community for the first and second year and we've been fortunate to have support of community. The idea sells itself; people recognize that there is a need for a self empowerment camp for young girls," says Garza.
With the interactivity of the program, it's hard not to want to get involved. GRCH is currently accepting volunteers (with and without musical experience) and general donations.
Last year, after seeing an article about the camp on Rocks Off, Guitar Center employee and fellow local musician Rachel Hansbro got in touch with Garza and hooked the camp up with guitar strings, tuners and gift cards courtesy of her employer. Guitar Center even donated a few guitars for the silent auction.
"When she came to deliver the merch, she asked to stay. She ended up coming back every single day," Garza says. "On the last day of the camp's run-through, before the final performance, she had tears in her eyes and said, 'I don't know what's happening, but something about this camp is special.'"
In addition to equipment and volunteers-from counselors to music coaches to "roadies," GRCH is also currently accepting workshop proposals for the upcoming session.
"Our program is culturally diverse - it's not just rock, we want to expand to embrace all different types of music," says Garza. "This could be an experimental or hip-hop workshop or even breakdancing - anything that will build any type of confidence in young girls."
Garza foresees the camp growing significantly in the next few years, and hopes to expand the registration and open up more sessions.
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"We can make a difference in our community, you have to start somewhere," stresses Garza. "It's important to get to them while they're young and ingrain in them that they're worthy and intelligent. They shouldn't be afraid to flaunt their intelligence and confidence."
For more information see Girls Rock Camp Houston's Web site.