Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls




Who is Willie Mae?
Our organization is named after Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, an early blues and rock performer and songwriter who was one of the first women to play the music that came to be known as “rock n’ roll”.

Is rock n’ roll the only kind of music you do at your programs?
No! We call it “Rock Camp” because we think girls and women rock! Camp is a place for all kinds of music, from types that exist already – like hip hop, punk rock, and salsa – to any kind you want to invent.

Do I have to bring my own instrument to your programs? Do I have to have experience playing music?
No, Willie Mae Rock Camp provides the musical instruments. You can bring your own if you want, but you don’t have to. We even have a Gear Loan Program, which allows you to borrow camp’s instruments so that you can practice at home. And you don’t need any experience – all you need is a desire to rock out!

Why are your programs just for girls & women?
A) Because it’s fun. B) Because girls and women should be HEARD, not just seen. C) Because it’s time for more girls and women to play instruments, write music, work the soundboard, direct music videos, DJ, run music companies, produce records, and do anything else they want to do in music. Or any other field, for that matter. D) Because making music makes you feel good about yourself. E) Because (insert your reason here).

How did these camps get started?
Rock ’n’ Rock Camp for Girls started in Portland, Oregon in 2000. More information is available at www.girlsrockcamp.org.

Can you recommend a music teacher?
In the fall, Willie Mae Music Lab will be offering group lessons for many instruments, for girls ages 8-18. Please join our newsletter list to hear about when we launch Registration for the fall semester.

We also have a small private instructor database and are happy to make recommendations. You can write to us at info@williemaerockcamp.org. Please include age and skill level, and whether you want someone to come to your home or you want to travel to an instructor.

Where are some cheap practice spaces?
Willie Mae Music Lab is a great resource. We have a Resident Band program, open to applicants who have volunteered at Rock Camp or attended Ladies Rock Camp before. We are sometimes able to offer hourly practice space to members of our community (volunteers, campers, Ladies Rock Campers, and after-school students) on an ad hoc basis. If you need space, shoot us an e-mail at info@williemaerockcamp.org and we might be able to arrange something.

How can I start a Rock Camp in my area?
We encourage newly forming camps to get in touch with the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. The Girls Rock Camp Alliance provides resources and networking opportunities for its affiliate camps, and promotes the establishment of like-minded institutions worldwide. For more on the GRCA: http://www.girlsrockcampalliance.org

Are you hiring music teachers?
We are not currently hiring music teachers. Currently, our paid teaching positions are only open to people who have volunteered at Rock Camp. To learn more about volunteering at Rock Camp: http://williemaerockcamp.org/support/volunteer/

Are you hiring, period?
All of our job openings are posted on our Employment Opportunites section. You can also join our newsletter list to stay in the loop.


What is Girls Rock! Camp?
Girls Rock! Camp is a one-week summer day camp. Campers learn how to play musical instruments, write songs, perform their own music, attend workshops, make band T-shirts and buttons, and generally rock out. For more information, read here: http://williemaerockcamp.org/program/rock-camp-for-girls/.

What happens at a typical day at camp?
Every day, campers go to instrument classes (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals, or DJ/turntables) and workshops on different topics, from songwriting to poster-making. At lunchtime, there are performances by visiting bands and artists. On the first day, campers form bands, and the bands have practice time every afternoon. During band practice, the band members work together to write a song and practice playing together. The day ends with a brief wrap-up assembly. At the end of the week, the bands perform at a special showcase concert.

There’s more than one instrument I’m interested in. I can’t decide which to pick!
First of all, you’ll have a lot of chances to try different instruments at camp. We ask you to focus on one instrument for instruction for the week, but you don’t have to play that instrument in your band – you can study drums in your classes and play guitar in your band (if your bandmates are cool with that). Also, remember that camp is only one week long – you can start a band with other campers after camp, or with your friends from school, and play a completely different instrument.

Who are the teachers and counselors?
Camp classes and workshops are taught by musicians who volunteer their time to help campers learn about playing music. Counselors are also there to lead activities and help campers.

What if I don’t live in New York City?
You don’t have to live in New York City to come to camp, but you do need to make your own plans for where to stay if you’re from out of town. We try to match campers in need of housing with local families who express an interest in hosting a camper, but you need to make your own arrangements with potential host families.

What are the dates for Girls Rock! Camp this year?
For this year’s camp dates, please visit the Programs section of our website. Applications open every year in February.

If you want to be notified of camp dates when they are released each year, you can sign up here.

Can my really mature 7 year old come to Girls Rock! Camp?
No. Unfortunately, 
every camper must be at least 8 years old at the time of Girls Rock! Camp in order to attend. If your child is 7 or younger, don’t worry, she will have 10 years’ worth of opportunities to attend Girls Rock! Camp in the future! In the meantime, please check out our new summer program for girls aged 4-7, Rock Camp Jumpstart!

Why does my camper need to make an Express Yourself piece? What if it’s not very good?
We ask that all prospective campers take some time to communicate why they want to be a part of Girls Rock! Camp by creating an “Express Yourself” piece. It helps us gauge more about each applicant, and if accepted, they are shared with her counselors at camp, so they can get to know her better. We only ask that she put an effort into what she creates. If she does, we are confident that it will be good!

If my child did not get in last year, why should I apply this year?
Applicants who are not accepted one year are given high priority the following year.

Why didn’t my child get in?
Our goal is to create a well-rounded camper group. We look at many factors when creating that group. Some of the factors include age, instrument, ethnicity, income, and access to extracurricular activities. If your child was not accepted to camp this summer, it in no way reflects poorly on her, her application, or you as a parent. We encourage her to apply again next year!


Can I play keyboards [or banjo or violin or flute or…]?
We offer guitar, bass, vocals, and drums at Ladies Rock Camp. If we have enough requests for keyboards, we may offer it as a class, so feel free to list it on your Registration if you are interested in that. We do not offer classes in any other instruments, however, you can play whatever instrument you want in your band, as long as it’s cool with your band.

Are there scholarships available?
Tuition for Ladies Rock Camp is sliding scale. That means we offer reduced tuition and full financial aid by application.

We are also always accepting scholarship donations for our Girls Rock! Camp and Ladies Rock Camp. Please contact us at info@williemaerockcamp.org if you’d like to be a sponsor of a scholarship.

Are there payment plans available?
We are happy to work with you to create an installment plan. All of tuition must be paid by the first day of camp.


What happens at after-school?
We currently offer lessons in guitar, drums, vocals, keyboards, and an ensemble program by application only. Ensemble is a band practice format, while instrument lessons are group classes for different age groups.

I can’t get my daughter to after-school in time for class. Can she come late? / What should I do?
We try to begin classes at a time that makes sense for most families, however, we are not always able to accommodate everyone’s needs. If the semester has not yet begun, making your request known could help us better shape the classes. Classes start punctually and if your child is not yet present, she may miss part of the class or band practice.

Do you offer classes for boys, too?
No. Our mission is to serve girls and women.


What is the Gear Loan Program?
When our gear isn’t being used at summer camp, we rent it out for the duration of the school year to Rock Camp Community members.

Who is eligible for the Gear Loan Program?
Anyone who has ever participated in our programs: Volunteers, Campers, Ladies Rock Campers, Willie Mae Music Lab students and Willie Mae Music Lab teachers.

Is it still possible to rent gear through the Gear Loan Program?
Yes. Our Gear Loan Program is available September through June, and you can start renting the gear at any point within that period. All gear must be returned to Rock Camp in June, as we need the gear for our summer programming. Email info@williemaerockcamp.org for more information.

How much does the Gear Loan Program cost?
There is a $75 rental fee for loans of one month or longer, plus a deposit. Rates vary for shorter rentals. Drum kits and P.A.’s require a $200 deposit. The rest of our gear requires a $100 deposit.

What gear do you loan out? What is not included?
We loan out full drum kits (rug included), guitars, basses, keyboards, amps, gig bags, guitar and keyboard stands. We do not loan out the following items: microphones, mic stands, turntables, ¼” cables, XLR cables, tuners, guitar/bass straps, effects pedals, or drum sticks.