Well, we set up guitars of course. But yesterday was a little different. Chris packed up a tote bag full of allen wrenches and screw drivers, a soldiering gun, and a cordless drill, with the kids packed in the car we went over to the Girl’s Rock Philly practice space to help them gear up (literally) for camp. I had to go back to the shop for some spare parts, pickup springs, knobs and screws, we had to take two guitars back to the shop for more work but all in all the day went pretty well, and all the other guitars and basses are ready to rock!
I have been teaching bass at the Girls rock camp here in Phila for the last 3 years, and am preparing for my fourth. I am in the groove of it now. There’s the big stressful buildup towards camp (where we are right now), there’s the crazy, frantic, but super-fun week of camp, there’s the showcase where the girls play and us counselors get all weepy, and then it’s over. Till next year.
If you are not familiar with Girl’s rock camps, they are all over the place! It’s a very cool thing. A summer camp with all female counselors for all female campers. The girls come in, form bands, get some instrument instruction, write a song & play a show. All in one week. Some people bristle at the all-female aspect of it, and I’ll admit I didn’t get it at first, but I totally get it now. It’s not like anybody hates guys, they certainly help out getting ready, but during camp week it’s all women run. It’s more an equal- opportunity thing.
There’s a few reasons why I volunteer at the camp. First, it’s good to volunteer doing something. I sat on my butt for years and years thinking “I should really get involved in some volunteer project” and then one day the camp director reached out to me and asked me to teach. I could have been a little more pro-active on the getting out there part, and now that I think about it, I’m a little embarrassed that I waited for an invitation to get involved.
Second reason is a lot like the first reason, it’s a good thing to do. I wish I’d had a camp like this when I was younger. If I can make some slightly off-center teenager (I was a very off-center teenager) come in to their own, then that’s something worth doing.
And then the third reason might sound a little cynical but it really is not. Is it so awful to say that teaching kids to play guitar and bass is good for business? Or that there is business value in educating potential customers who will have a lifetime interest in buying guitars? Okay, a little cynical, but at least I’m admitting it.
And the whole women-centric aspect of it? Like I said, I was not sure of that at first, but it’s a great environment, and really safe place for girls to try on a different personality. Some people might question why it’s needed, like I said, I questioned it myself. But then this shows up:
Every year this gear guide shows up and I just roll my eyes. What else can I do? This is how new gear is marketed, with stripper girls. And just last week I sent in a check for my ad in this very guide , so am I complicit? Am I trying to atone for my sins? (maybe) I like to think I’m just trying to change the demographic.
More information about Girls Rock Philly here:
Find a Girls Rock camp in your area: