Real-life school of rock needs you

Donate instruments, CDs or money to a summer camp so girls can rock out.

Published November 3, 2005 4:51PM (EST)

Broadsheet public service announcement: Five years ago, adolescent girls armed with drumsticks and electric guitars took over Portland, Ore., for a week in the summer. Some had musical training, others were picking up an instrument for the first time. The thing they all had in common: These girls wanted to rock.

The Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls was supposed to be a one-off. Now, as a result of the camp's insane popularity, it's still going strong, and has even inspired a spinoff, Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Willie Mae Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Girls from all over the country -- even the world -- apply to these camps, hoping to secure one of the limited, coveted opportunities to learn how to play an instrument, to bond over music with other girls and to jam in a supportive environment. In an effort to keep the weeklong camp affordable -- and open to as many girls as possible -- organizers keep tuition fees low (Portland's camp is $300, while Brooklyn's works on a sliding scale); both camps also offer a limited number of scholarships.

As the RnRC4G and Willie Mae grow, they need our help, and there are a handful of different ways to pitch in. (Each camp has its individual needs; just check the Web sites.) Musical instruments are most needed (you know you haven't picked up that old Ovation acoustic in a while, and what about your partner's Peavey amp?), but you can also donate CDs to the camps' libraries. Of course, giving money is always an efficient and effective way to show support, too. The Girls Rock Institute, a spinoff of RnRC4G that runs through the year, is trying to raise $10,000 before the end of 2005.

So forget those Cinderella get-ups. Let's get these girls into guitars!

By Hillary Frey

Hillary Frey is the Books editor at Salon.

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