Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is a nonprofit music and mentoring program that empowers girls and women through music education, volunteerism, and activities that foster self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. The organization brings together girls and women from diverse communities and encourages them to explore self-expression through music, build meaningful alliances, develop the confidence in making healthy choices in their lives, and effect positive change.
About the Organization:
Named after Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, one of the first women to perform the music that came to be known as "rock n' roll," Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls was founded in 2004 by a group of New York City women musicians. Its first summer day camp for girls ages 8 to 18 was held in 2005; due to increasing demand, the program expanded to include two sessions in 2006. In 2009 the organization expanded its offerings further to include year-round programming in the form of a community music facility providing a wide variety of affordable afterschool music programs and resources for girls and women.
The camp was inspired by and modeled after the Portland, Oregon-based program Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls, where several of the founders volunteered.
The Rock Camp for Girls, a week-long summer day camp, offers instrument and songwriting lessons, workshops, band practice, and performances by visiting artists and culminates in a showcase concert. All classes are taught by volunteer women musicians. The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls all-stars band, Sister Songwriters, will perform August 11, 2012 at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. The next showcase concert featuring sixteen bands will be held August 25 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
The Willie Mae Music Lab is a community music and mentoring center that provides affordable programs from October through April, including small group lessons in vocals, drums, guitar, and keyboards; house bands; weekend workshops; and a supervised "clubhouse" where students can engage in music-related activities. Limited financial aid is also available.
The organization provides the musical instruments, although enrollees can bring their own. When instruments are not being used during camp, they can be rented through the Gear Loan program.
Willie Mae also offers Ladies Rock Camp, a three-day intensive program for adult women.
The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls Web site features MP3 files of songs performed by the girls' bands, promotional videos, and photographs. Visitors to the site can learn how to volunteer with and/or support the organization by donating cash, food, or equipment, as well as buy clothing, band portraits, calendars, and other camp materials.
Support for Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is provided by foundations, individuals, government agencies, and corporations, including in-kind support.