Photo by Kat Schleicher
This summer, girls from the greater Milwaukee area will go to camp, and some of these camps will involve scouting. Others will teach sports fundamentals to aspiring athletes. And one new Milwaukee summer camp will set aside merit badges and the bump-set-spike mantra to instead allow young women to form bands, write songs and rock out on stage.
Following the fine example set by female-oriented youth rock ’n’ roll camps in other cities – there are more than 35 nationwide – Comet Café and Honeypie co-owner Valeri Lucks funneled her long-standing interest in music into spearheading Girls Rock Milwaukee. Now, the local girls music camp has scheduled its inaugural session for Aug. 5-11. “I originally had wanted to teach with the Chicago camp,” Lucks explains, “and then I realized it didn’t exist in Milwaukee and thought, ‘Why not just start it in Milwaukee?’”
|Hear more about Girls Rock on WUWM’s “Lake Effect” June 24 at 10 a.m.
She enlisted the help of Ashley Smith, the former frontwoman of local rock band Red Knife Lottery, to get a Milwaukee chapter off the ground. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (which is hosting the camp at its Helene Zelazo Center) and a still-growing cast of area musicians and other volunteers (who will lead classes and workshops) responded with enthusiasm.
In serving girls ages 8-16, this first camp will stick closely to the core values of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, which stresses acceptance and empowerment for girls interested in music. Each day of camp includes band practice, with campers split into groups based on experience level and musical interests. In between, campers will attend lessons on flier- and button-making, the history of women in music, image and identity, and songwriting. On Sunday, the camp will culminate with a concert at Turner Hall showcasing the camp’s bands and the songs written during the week.
“This camp is about working with girls and giving them a space to be creative and not judged,” Lucks says. “I do think young women, particularly when they hit the junior high and high school years, find themselves being judged pretty critically by peers, by everybody around them.”
Girls Rock Milwaukee’s first session can accommodate 32 students. No previous music experience or equipment is necessary. More information can be found at girlsrockmilwaukee.org, and Honeypie will host a fundraiser (a five-course Girls Rock Dinner) June 17*.
*Since publication, the date for the frundraiser has changed.