Raise your hand if you remember being a kid on summer break and singing passionately into a hairbrush while jumping on the bed as your younger brother shined flashlights on you, because you were “performing” Pat Benatar's “Love is a Battlefield”? If only I'd had Girls Rock Camp!
That's the refrain I've heard from many a lady, and it's part of the thrill of Girls Rock Camp Austin. Founded by musician Emily Marks in 2007, the nonprofit camp offers a weeklong immersive experience twice a summer, in which identity can be found, instruments and history learned, and friendships forged. Up and down the halls of Trinity United Methodist Church in Hyde Park where the camp has been offered a permanent space, come the sounds of new songs, a class on women in music history, a lunchtime set from San Antonio's Girl in a Coma and reassurance that, yes, you rock.
In its fifth summer, the camp has also become its own family tree, with teachers and volunteers steeped in Austin's music scene passing the torch to bands like Schmillion, which formed there in 2009 and recently opened three dates for Arcade Fire. It's also now comparable to bigger camps like Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls and New York City's Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. Corpus Cristi's following suit, and recently started Chicas Rock.
“I think having the year-round space is going to help so much,” Marks says. “I don't think all our growing pains are over yet, but we're defnitely setting the tone. We're no longer just grassroots; we're a professional agency. We started during the worst time to start a nonprofit, and we survived that, so hopefully it's up from here. All-female spaces are so important, especially as a space for encouragement.”
That week of encouragement culminates Saturday, July 30, at Republic Live, where the bands formed each play an original song. (The band names are always amazing, and could only come from the minds of teenage girls.) Take it from me, if you are of a certain age, your eyes will well up at least once, but after 100 degrees it's all just sweat.