This Is An Amazing Story Of Alaskan Girls Being Provided A Place To Find Their Voice In The World And Given The Tools To Do So.
JB | TDL | July 13, 2015
I recently came across Girls Rock Camp Alaska in an interview TDL did with CJ Marie of the band DIVIDES from Portland, OR. She volunteered this summer at the camp to help her friend Monica Lettner, (GRCA Founder).
As the father of four girls myself, I was deeply touched by what CJ said in our interview with her, ” As a girl, you’re subliminally taught from a young age to be quiet and calm and docile. None of those things are generally associated with rock music.”
I wanted to know more. I contacted Monica and she was kind enough to share her heart for music in our state and how she hopes it helps young ladies take life’s stage with confidence.
Before GRCA initially got together in early 2014, describe how the initial idea came about?
Monica: Girls Rock Camp Alaska officially began in January 2014, supplemented by the experience I gained while attaining my degrees and teaching all over Alaska for a decade. In 2008, as part of a Music Business class I took at University of the Arts in Philly, I created a music camp on paper for an assignment in the class. In the Spring of 2012 I helped lead a Music Intensive at Steller Secondary in Anchorage and continued with that project and led their Rock Band and Songwriting Intensives at Steller for 3 more semesters. I also graduated with a Master’s in Music Education in May of 2012 with most of my thesis work focusing on engaging beginning students and wondering why we have a generation of kids more interested in buying music than playing music.
In the summers of 2012 and 2013, I volunteered at the Rain City Rock Camp For Girls in Seattle, which I heard about through a professional musician friend who grew up in Talkeetna and now lives in Seattle. Their camp model was very well organized and they connected me to a larger network of people involved in putting on rock-n-roll camps all over the world. We formed our Non-Profit Board of Directors in January 2014 and in June of both 2014 and 2015 we had our first successful summer camps in Anchorage.
The 2016 Anchorage summer camp will start June 6th of next year and we will nearly double our capacity for that camp. We are also expanding our programming to other supportive Alaskan communities and offering year round programming for girls, boys, and families starting this fall.
How Has The Response From the Music Community Been So Far?
Monica: We have had a ton of support from the local music community. Last year, for our first camp, we had to borrow most of our instruments and I was really impressed with the folks who stepped up and let us use their professional quality gear at a camp for kids. (And on that note I would like to add that these kids have not yet dropped a single instrument, and they have to haul their own gear twice a day!)
I honestly thought I would get a lot of people asking, “Why is it only for girls?” in the beginning, but instead I had lots of dads and moms writing me and asking me if their daughter was old enough to attend yet!!
It’s easy to understand why we do what we do once people look at the statistics about women in music and media or hear about how girls often get bullied out of playing the “big, deep” instruments in band class in public school. I did get one disgruntled email shortly after our website first went public, saying that we are being sexist because we don’t allow boys. I looked at it as an opportunity to try and explain our reasoning better on the website and at public events and thanked the person for writing me rather than just grumbling amongst their friends. Continued