Girls just want to rock out

A week-long camp experience gave confidence to girls ages 8 to 18 and an opportunity to improve their musical chops.

Put in your ear plugs, crank the amplifier to 10, and let your inner Gwen Stefani run wild. That's what many would-be rockers ages 8 to 18 did during a week at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls here. [Editor's note: The original version mistakenly said the girls did not use ear plugs.]

The camp, held from Aug. 8-12, is named after Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, known as one of the first women to play rock 'n' roll.

Each day, more than 60 girls noisily filed into the Society for Ethical Culture building next to New York's Central Park to learn the ins and outs of the rock industry. Besides music lessons, students were taught song writing, sound engineering, and rock history. Amid the clamor of guitar, bass, and drums, the classes aimed to promote self-expression and self-reliance. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the number of campers.]

While most of the instruction is done in groups, the girls can seek individual attention, too. The 60 volunteers at the camp come from a variety of backgrounds: Some are currently in bands, others are college students, and a few are local schoolteachers. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the number of staff.]

On the final day of camp, each group performs original songs for the rest of the campers. Tickets are sold, with the proceeds going toward next year's scholarships. Camp fees range from full scholarships to $500, depending on the financial situation of each camper. At least half of the campers receive scholarships. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the cost range of attending camp.]

Plans to expand the camp, including after-school programs, are now in the works. The Willie Mae camp is an offshoot of the nonprofit Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Ore, founded in 2000, which holds year-round classes and concerts.

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