Girls rock out at camp

July 8, 2011
By

(Photo Courtesy Kelly Davidson) Alison Murray teaches Lily Resnikoff how to play bass guitar at last year’s Girls Rock Camp.

HYDE SQ.—Girls Rock Camp Boston (GRCB) is not a camp for the timid. During one week in July and August, campers are expected to learn an instrument—guitar, bass, drums, vocals or keyboard—write an original song and perform it in a rock venue.

Yet GRCB is designed for people who can have serious timidity issues: girls between the ages of 8 and 16.

“Girls are rarely encouraged to play music in this way,” organizer and JP resident Hilken Mancini said. “Girls feel that when they fail, they don’t want to try again. They’re expected to be perfect all the time…But when they’re surrounded by all women volunteers and participants, they lose the tendency to second-guess themselves.

“The point of the program is to show they can do something.”

Mancini lives and works in JP—she owns vintage clothing store 40 South, on South Street—and the camp is hosted by JP institution Spontaneous Celebrations on Danforth Street.

“Spontaneous has been really supportive…I’ve known those guys for a really long time. They’re a youth community organization, just like we are,” Mancini said.

“Our goal is trying to build within our community,” Mancini said.

The culmination of the week-long camp’s workshops, practices and coaching sessions is a full-on showcase of the twelve bands formed during the program. Last year, it was hosted at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge. This summer, the showcases will happen at Brighton Music Hall, a large and popular music venue.

“It’s so wonderful for the girls to see they can do anything,” Mancini said.

Last year, the camp’s first, GRCB had 40 campers. This year, it has 60. Just under half of those are return campers.

“You want to get them at that age where they can express themselves,” Mancini said.

Mancini told the Gazette GRCB is incorporating hip-hop elements to the curriculum this summer, with hopes to keep expanding next year.

“We’re trying to bring in and expose the girls to other possibilities,” she said.

“When you’re helping [a camper] fulfill her full potential, you discover what you’re capable of,” Mancini said of CRCB’s unexpected benefits.

Of last year’s campers, Mancini already has a few success stories. Of note: one former camper is auditioning for “American Idol.”

“We’re reaching out and trying to show them they can do these things,” Mancini explained.

Another important facet of the program is the fact that the volunteers—instructors, counselors and other support staff—are also all women.

“All kinds of women volunteer for this program,” Mancini said, explaining that the program volunteers range from mothers who volunteer as support crew, to Tanya Donelly, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, guitarist and co-founder of the band Throwing Muses, “who’s a total celebrity.”

Last year, the volunteer roster included Thalia Zedek, a longtime fixture in the local indie rock scene, among “all kinds of amazing women in our community,” Mancini said.

The organizers, Mancini and Nora Allen-Wiles, met in Portland, Ore. some five years ago, while working at the original Girls Rock Camp, founded in 2001.

“Half-jokingly, we said we should do [a camp] in Boston, thinking it’d be too hard,” Mancini said. “Yet here we are.”

Mancini was also the creator of Punk Rock Aerobics.

GRCB will have two sessions this summer, July 18-23 and Aug. 8-13.

For more info, visit girlsrockboston.org.

 

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