The halls of Columbia College are typically pretty quiet during the summer months. Not so this week. Those who wandered onto campus heard guitars, bass and drums pumping out of various classrooms. The raucous vibrations came courtesy of the Girls Rock Columbia day camp, which wraps up its second year with a showcase at the college’s Cottingham Theater tomorrow afternoon, featuring bands of campers that formed, practiced and wrote songs during the week.
What: Girls Rock Columbia showcase
Where: Cottingham Theatre, Columbia College, 1301 Columbia College Dr.
When: Saturday, July 26, 3 p.m.
Price: $10 ($5 kids 12 and under)
More Info: girlsrockcolumbia.org
Members of the local music scene once again served as volunteers, visiting the camp to perform and mentor the girls. This year’s contributors included Molly Ledford of Lunch Money, Amy Cuthbertson of Can’t Kids and all of The Prairie Willows. Death of Paris singer Jayna Doyle was also on hand, serving as a band coach who guided groups of girls through the process.
“My band has named themselves Kitty Litter, which rules,” Doyle says. “During the week they have to create rules, name their band, write one song to play at the showcase, submit a band logo for T-shirts, and rehearse, too.”
Girls don’t have to know how to play to participate. Many learn an instrument while they are there. Such empowerment is a big theme at these camps, which take place in different spots across the country. Another focus is fostering a sense of community between the campers. According to Girls Rock Columbia’s Facebook, “The program encourages an environment that cultivates self-confidence, challenges gender stereotypes, promotes positive female relationships, creativity, and leadership.” In addition to holding workshops on vocals, band photography and various instruments, Columbia’s camp also included a self-defense class.
In its second year, Girls Rock is building on last year’s success. Hosted at Eau Claire High School, that first attempt resulted in five different bands being formed by campers and culminated in a showcase at Tapps Art Center that drew more than 300 people. According to organizers, this year’s camp tripled in attendance from 2013, and the partnership with the all-female Columbia College is a good match for what Girls Rock is all about. The showcase on Saturday will give the campers an opportunity to put what they’ve learned during the week into practice in front of a live audience.
“The girls are eager to get on stage this year,” Doyle says. “Everyone is feeling brave enough to try because everyone at camp wants to see each other do well. It has been an amazing experience for both campers and volunteers.”