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Rock camp teaches girls to use their voices


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(KCPW News) For its second year in Salt Lake City, the Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls is pushing girls out from backstage and into the limelight.

The weeklong camp gives girls ages 8-18 a chance to form bands and learn to sing, play drums, bass, guitar and keys. The girls write their own songs and perform them at a final showcase at the end of the week. In addition to musical instruction, the camp features workshops on topics such as self-defense, body image and the history of women in rock.

Hillary McDaniel, co-director at the camp, said the camp’s goal the first year was to create an intimate and rewarding experience for the girls.

“We wanted every single girl to get a lot of attention from volunteers and to feel empowered,” McDaniels said. “They all got on stage and played their song and had a great experience.”

More than half of last year’s campers returned. A second session was added this year to accommodate the growing interest from participants and to give parents another option to fit the camp into tricky summer schedules.

Lindy Wadsworth attended the camp last year and came on as a guitar instructor for this session. She says she’s inspired by the girls’ talent and willingness to learn.

“I think it’s cool seeing them progress so fast,” Wadsworth said. “Being a camper, I didn’t really notice that last year. But this year, when I’m in there instructing the guitars, [I see] just how much better they’re getting day to day.”

At the Madeline Choir School, where the camp is being held, there’s not a man in sight — all the volunteers, instructors and participants are women. It’s not because they don’t like men, McDaniel says, and she envisions an inclusive youth camp for everyone in the future. But she says a camp exclusively for girls is needed right now because women and girls don’t always get the opportunity to be in a leadership role or take center stage.

“Girls when they’re younger will run for student body council and things like that, but when they get into junior high and high school they don’t seek out the leadership positions as much, they don’t seek out science and math as much and they don’t seek out front roles in music,” McDaniel said. “They play in the background or they might be in orchestra or part of a big group, but to play solo or to play in a band, you don’t see that as much with girls as you do boys.”

It’s 10-year-old Lily’s first time at the camp. She’s made new friends and even wrote a song about them with her band, Timeless. But beyond forging new friendships and fronting the group, Lily has learned other important lessons.

“We’ve learned how to respect each other and our instruments. Like, you shouldn’t talk over each other and you should never drop the mic,” she said.

The second session of the camp begins July 31.

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