It’s a ‘G’ Thing: Rock camp offers band lessons and confidence boost for girls

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From strumming to beating, it's all about letting loose at the Willie Mae Rock Camp.

“What instrument are you gonna play today?" I asked Callie. "Drums,” she replied.

“I play the bass,” Charlie smiled.

“I’m doing vocals,” Olivia said.

It's music with a mission.

“The values that we’re really practicing and thinking about are making change in the world, self determination, supporting each other and just making your own voice heard,” Karla Schickele said.

Life lessons that are being taught to a specific group on kids.

“I noticed that everybody here is a girl right?” I asked Rose. "Yes, I like that because sometimes people say boys can do more things and I think girls can do the same things”

“I have a very deep personal connection with music," Schickele said.

Karla Schickele has been playing music her whole life, launching this program in 2004. It's named after Willie Mae 'Big Mama' Thornton, a blues and rock performer/songwriter who was one of the first women to play the music that came to be known as “rock n’ roll.” The camp grew out of the Portland, Oregon-based program Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls.

“The music business has a lot of men and a lot of male bands at the forefront and all the amazing work that women musicians are doing doesn’t get the same kind of attention,” she explained.

The camp lets kids try their hand at guitar, keyboard, djing, vocals, drums and more. But I quickly learned that it's not just the music making this so fun for everyone.

“I really like this camp because you can make friends really easily,” Heronima smiled.

“You can be very free, nobody’s judging you and you can be yourself,” Mads added.

There's truly an atmosphere of diversity and acceptance.

“A lot of our campers come from the program feeling a boost of confidence in their own abilities to take creative risks and try new things,” Schickele said.

The campers also get front row seats to a professional performance each day at lunch, giving them a glimpse at what it means to follow your dreams.

“I think by having the lunchtime performers we’re making that ambition or that dream a little less remote,” Schickele smiled.


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi