By Heather Adamson
VANCOUVER — Girls Rock Camp Vancouver (GRCV) is amping up for another year of offering a week-long music program for girls. With some big fundraising shows happening this month, BeatRoute spoke with this year’s Camp Director, Dusty Exner and Events Coordinator, Kyla Rockingham to learn more about this community initiative.
“Our primary objective is to build self-esteem in female youth through music creation and performance,” shared Rockingham, “music is the vehicle we use to build their confidence.”
The camp takes place July 25-29 at the Urban Native Youth Association and culminates with a showcase at the Rio Theatre on July 30. For five days girls from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds are mentored by local female musicians and industry insiders who coach them on various aspects including instrument instruction, songwriting, positive self-image and identity, and technical training. GRCV has a core team of five women as well as a Board of Directors, all volunteering their time to pull this opportunity together.
“There is no shortage of male role models in rock music,” states Exner. “Whether it be on the radio, behind the desk at a music store or as their music teacher, girls are more likely to experience music through men. We are creating a space where women are in leadership roles both on stage and behind the scenes to create tangible examples and role models for young girls.”
Girls Rock Camp Vancouver aims to ensure girls do not grow up thinking rock music is off limits, they are planting seeds of self-confidence for young girls to grow up and take ownership of their rightful place alongside their male peers.
“If there were more opportunities like this, we would see a lot more girls in bands,” says Exner.
“What keeps us going as volunteers is knowing how valuable an experience this would have been for us when we were their age,” echoes Rockingham. “It is incredible to see them come together from completely different economic backgrounds and throw all of that out the window to play music together. Things that matter in the halls of highschool like ‘social status’ do not matter at camp, they are so excited to be learning and playing in an environment that supports them and lifts them up as equals.”
Not only is the camp a powerful initiative for gender equality, it is trans-inclusive and doesn’t dismiss the support of their male-identified allies. “We have male musicians who want to support the camp and volunteer which we welcome whole heartedly, we just ensure that women are in the core leadership positions while our male allies provide support through other volunteer duties that assist us with running a successful camp,” shares Exner.
GRCV is still in need of volunteers for camp, including instrument instructors and band managers. Volunteer commitment can range from full days for the whole week to helping out for a morning or afternoon.
Besides volunteering of time, donations are gratefully accepted to provide the instruments, food, supplies and subsidization of camp fees to remove barriers of access. “We want to ensure girls from all economic backgrounds can participate,” explains Rockingham.
Though the spaces are already full for this year’s camp, inquiries about becoming a volunteer or making a donation can be directed to www.girlsrockcampvancouver.ca.BC, British Columbia, Girls Rock Camp, Girls Rock Camp Vancouver