Tim Bracken, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Girls are learning to play instruments and write songs in just five days at a camp organized by the nonprofit Girls Rock! DC.
But it took a lot to get the nonprofit off the ground.
The organization was formed in 2008 with the goal of empowering girls through music. Inspired by Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Ore., Girls Rock! DC became a member of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, which has over 20 affiliate groups across the country.
It's not a typical music camp, according to co-founder Julie Yoder. The goal isn't to learn concertos, but rather to spark creativity and develop campers' confidence. The camp is open to girls ages 8 to 18 years old.
"It takes about 90 volunteers to put on camp," Yoder says.
They need instructors, participant coordinators and even roadies to make sure that the instruments remain in playing condition.
The camp was started with little funding, and fundraising efforts are coordinated mostly by volunteers.
"We used to have to ask people to loan their instruments to get us through the week," Yoder says.
Now, the camp has plenty of instruments and amplifiers thanks to donations from local residents and businesses. The Atomic Music store in Beltsville, Md., is a big supporter of the camp.
"Every year, they give us strings, they give us cables," Yoder says. "I don't think we could have built this instrument fleet without their generosity."
Applications to the camp have steadily increased since 2008. When the girls apply, they indicate what instrument they're interested in.
On the first day of camp, Yoder says the girls go through a rapid-fire interview process with their peers in search of prospective bandmates. They fill out questionnaires so that organizers can help form the bands.
By the end of the first day, each band is formed and ready to practice.
The rest of the week consists of regular periods of instrument instruction, workshops and band rehearsals. By the end of the week, each group has written an original song and performs as part of the venue showcase.
It's presented just like a regular rock concert, complete with stage lights and a cheering audience. This year's concert will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2012 at the 9:30 Club. Admission is $10.
"They all have stage jitters, but we've never had anybody refuse to go on stage, or say, ‘I'm not ready' or ‘I can't do this,'" Yoder says. "It's pretty remarkable."
In addition to the 9:30 Club's donation of its stage, the music club Black Cat will host the after-party.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)