Girls Rock Birmingham a.k.a. GIRLS ROCK BHAM is without a doubt one of the best things happening in Birmingham, Alabama, for young girls. It’s a non-profit program for girls (and anyone identifying as a girl) ages 9-16 that “fosters a solid foundation for young girls to grow confidently as individuals while developing rewarding musical skills.” (I couldn’t have written it any better, so I borrowed those words directly from their website.) There are typically two week-long camps held each summer, one in June and another in July. The camp is run by incredibly energetic and talented volunteers and their tireless leader and founder of Girls Rock Birmingham, Shelly Edge! It’s important to note too that the volunteers teaching instrument use and leading the bands are often musicians with their own bands. You can visit the Girls Rock Bham website to read more. http://girlsrockbham.org/
Leading up to the camp’s beginning, girls were asked for their top three choices: keyboard, guitar, bass, vocals, or drums. Bands were decided by the volunteers and by mid-day Monday their bands were announced.
The camp has been at various locations in Birmingham and may change from one summer to the next. My own daughter has attended the camp twice ; one year it was at Alabama School of Fine Arts https://www.asfa.k12.al.us/ and this year it was at the Red Mountain Community School http://www.redmountaincommunityschool.com/.
I had the awesome opportunity to photograph during the week my daughter attended this summer. And you know what? It was even better than I had imagined!
A typical day began at 8:30 and ended at 4:00. The first day the girls eased into camp by getting to know each other and having group discussions, and after lunch their bands were announced. There was a small breakfast available for those interested. We all know how hard it is to get moving in the morning, especially after having a couple of weeks of summer and sleeping in. I found it really helpful to not have to concern ourselves with waking up early enough to eat! Girls were provided not only breakfast, but also a morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack as well! NO food prep for the parents-wow! And even this vegetarian family didn’t have to worry because they had options!
Girls learned a camp song and practiced it together, usually led by a few volunteer campers. There were skits that taught about listening to one another’s opinions, working together, and not interrupting (very helpful even outside of camp, wouldn’t you say?). They also played games, which were fun with a purpose! There were so many activities, it’s hard to remember them all, but let’s not forget the self-defense training they had one afternoon or the trip to MAKEbhm http://www.makebhm.com/ , which was conveniently located right next door! There, they learned how to screen print and were able to add their own logo design to the back of their camp tees.
I know! Pick your jaw up off the floor and read more!
There were guest speakers, like someone from I Heart Radio who talked about the business of music. Oh, and guest entertainment! I missed the afternoon that Love Moor https://soundcloud.com/lovemoor performed several songs for the girls, but I heard all about it.
In addition to all the mental exercise they also exercised their bodies with what they endearingly called Punk Rock Aerobics! This was a way to get them moving and awake, and the kids loved it!
They were placed in small groups twice a day, once with their instrument choice and once with their band. Can you imagine-within five short days, you meet your band mates; create a band name, personal stage name, and band logo; form new friendships; write a song together; learn to play an instrument; learn stage presence (a.k.a. “power persona”); boost your self-esteem; learn about the HERstory of music; meet professional musicians, hear them play live, and learn their stories; practice patience and tolerance, and even learn a little self-defense? I would be exhausted! Somehow they returned every day ready to rock!
If you know me, you know how I feel about this organization, and especially if you follow me on social media. I can’t stop talking about them this time of year; it’s camp time!
At the end of the week, there was a performance. The venue for the past two years has been Saturn in Avondale. https://www.saturnbirmingham.com/ The hour-long event was fun-filled with raffle tickets and prizes, a live auction, and short interviews of some of the Girls Rock Bham camp’s veteran attendees. And of course the really exciting part of the day was watching and listening to the bands perform. I’m always blown away by how much they accomplish in such a short amount of time-5 DAYS!!!
To really enhance the campers’ performance experiences, professional makeup artists volunteered their time to make the girls feel even more like rock stars. They had everything from black lipstick to glittery cheeks and hair. They looked great and felt empowered!
At the end of the performances, all campers were invited to the stage one last time to sing the camp song. I can’t reiterate enough the wonderful experience this was and could be for someone you know. It would not be possible if not for the love and energy of the camp volunteers, Shelly Edge, and sponsors of Girls Rock Birmingham.
Remember, there are only two camps each summer and they fill up quickly! If you’re interested in enrolling someone in camp in 2019, look for information on the Girls Rock Bham Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/girlsrockbham/ or visit their website http://girlsrockbham.org/ ; I suggest visiting to look for updates in late March or early April about signing up. You will not be sorry and the benefits your daughter will reap far out way the cost of the camp.
READY TO ROCK! READY TO ROLL!