*As seen in the Montecito Journal page 22
Summer Camp. The words alone evoke a feeling of freedom, exhilaration, happiness and excitement. When I was young, (Jeeze, did I just say that?) the thought of going to camp each summer meant meeting new friends, sharing adventures together and finding new activities that I enjoyed, without the worry of my over-protective parents showing up at any moment. The summer camps I used to enjoy were mostly sort of a wilderness thing, with a few fun activities in between, with my favorite part being the evening campfire sing-along. In hindsight, I think that is the only thing I really remember and it reiterated how much music and song made my heart happy.
If someone would have told me there was a summer camp for girls that was based on music… learning and instrument, creating a band, writing songs, making buttons and band T-shirts, performance training, music history, along with activities like swimming, climbing, exploring, movie nights and self defense classes; all set in the majestic mountains of Ojai at a private campus just outside of town- I would have said- sign me up! Sadly back then, a camp like this did not exist for myself, but thankfully today it does, for my daughter.
Girls Rock is one of Santa Barbara’s newest treasures for our community of blossoming girls and for the last few years, has become one of fastest growing non-profits with not only a huge gamete of year long after school music, photography and journalism programs for girls of all ages, but now for it’s second year- the Amplify Sleep-Away Summer Camp program, that was so wildly popular and successful last year for just two weeks, has now been extended to four weeks from July 4th to July 30th and registration is NOW OPEN!I met Executive Director Jen Baron two years ago, just after Girls Rock Santa Barbara was created, fell in love with the inspiring program and in awe of all that Jen does for her cause. Based after the original Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls out of Portland, Oregon, Jen was inspired to bring her love of music to the girls of SB and in the past few years GRSB has exploded in it’s programs and popularity. With their motto to empower girls* through music, promoting an environment that fosters self-confidence, creativity, and teamwork, it’s an amazing program that I can feel the electricity and positive energy radiate from Jen’s warm heart, when she talks candidly about it.
For those about to rock, We salute you
“We challenge gender stereotypes, encourage collaboration and tolerance among peers, and provide a comfortable space for girls of all backgrounds to express themselves. Through music lessons, workshops, group activities, and performance, girls learn skills that help guide them throughout their lives.” Jen explains the program as a whole but goes on to say that the Amplify Sleep Away Camp is all that and more. “It’s life changing… for the girls and our amazing group of teachers. This safe environment we created gave the girls so much more than learning an instrument- it was a blossoming of self confidence that could be visibly seen in each girl at the end of the week and the one comment that we got over and over as feedback last year was that it only lasted a week and they wanted more! So this year instead of girls only being able to attend one week, they can sign up for all four weeks if they like.” Jen continued, “I was amazed by the interest we had last year, with girls not just from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles but girls who flew in from all over the country. I realize that we have created something that no one has and it makes me so excited for this year’s camp to begin. I’ve been forever changed by this powerful experience- the girls are truly amazing.” If Jen’s enthusiasm doesn’t get you, then one look at the girl’s faces will. With a whole new spin this year, Jen has added a Photography and Journalism Sleep Away Camp that will coexist and overlap into the Amplify program, offering a first hand view to all the future media masters of America, getting their articles and photos published in publications like the Independent and the Sentinel.
Last year, with the help of giving sponsors like the Santa Barbara Bowl, Nashville’s C.M.A. and Lynda.com, the Girls rock program was able to raise over 14 financial aid scholarships for girls from all walks of life, creating lasting memories to those that normally, could not afford to attend. “This was the game changer. To watch some of the girls that came from foster care, be able to bond in a very safe environment, creating a family experience- they may never had felt before. The girls form an undeniable bond when they form a band. Creating music together, writing a song, making t-shirts. It’s a full journey for them.”
Dream until your dream comes true
Girls Rock Amplify Camp is held in the mountains of Ojai, California, at the gorgeous campus for Ojai Valley High School, which boasts one of the best views in Santa Barbara County. The girls have access to all instruments their little hearts desire, have private, air-conditioned residence halls, a private pool, a movie theater for evening films, and delicious meals provided (vegan, vegetarian, lactose free, they offer it all). Dormitories are supervised by dorm "parents” and campers will typically share a dorm room with one other girl. Each day they will have music lessons (as they typically have chosen their instrument before they begin camp,) band practice- where they will work at playing as an ensemble and writing a song, daily workshops- on fun topics like screen printing and Beatboxing, along with lunchtime performances by female fronted bands with a personal Q and A after each show- it is a wonder the girls can sleep at night for all the excitement of the day to follow. Their final day is Showcase time, where each band performs their original song live at the amphitheater for family, friends and fans.
I have to tell you that when I learned about this camp, it made me yearn for my youth (just a bit) and made me wish I could have attended a camp like this. It was about then, when I pondered this aloud to Jen Baron, she smiled wickedly and said that I could attend too. This year for the first time, GRSB is offering a Ladies Rock Sleepaway Weekend, to kick off the Amplify Summer Series. From July 1-3rd, for any gal ages 18+ with no musical experience necessary- you too can enjoy a mini version of the weeklong activities, crammed into one wild rock n’ roll weekend.
Ding, Ding, Ding! Am I playing your tune? If so, I could not urge you more to explore Girls Rock Santa Barbara, as this article only scratches the surface to such an all around inspiring, year round program. For more information check out the website at: www.girlsrocksb.org or call them directly at: 805-861-8128