Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls

Mission & History

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is a non-profit music and mentoring program that empowers girls and women through music education, volunteerism, and activities that foster self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Statement of Purpose

The organization brings together girls and women from diverse communities and encourages them to explore self-expression through music, hone their critical thinking skills, build meaningful alliances with other girls and women, develop confidence in making healthy choices in their lives, and effect positive change in their communities and in the world.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls operates a summer day camp, after school programs, and community events in New York City.


Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls was founded in 2004 by a group of New York City women musicians as a grassroots effort. Since 2005, the organization has served more than 1,000 girls in 58 NYC zip codes through a variety of programs.

The inaugural camp session in 2005 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan. 66 girls attended. In 2006, the program expanded to include two sessions, and a total of 160 girls attended. The 2006 camp season took place at Brooklyn Friends School. From 2007 to 2011, Rock Camp was hosted by the Urban Assembly School for Music and Art in Downtown Brooklyn. Other summer camp locations have included Blue School in Manhattan’s Financial District, Cathedral High School, The Co-op School in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and Brooklyn High School of the Arts.

Over the years, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls’ program offerings have grown significantly in response to continued strong demand. The summer program more than doubled in size in its second year, and now runs at full capacity; one-third of applicants are turned away each year. In response, in 2008, the Board of Directors moved to expand the organization’s offerings to include more year-round programming. Rock Camp realized this goal with the opening in fall 2009 of Willie Mae Music Lab, a community music facility offering a wide variety of affordable music programs and resources for girls and women.

The camp is named after Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, a blues and rock performer/songwriter who was one of the first women to play the music that came to be known as “rock n’ roll.” The camp grew out of the Portland, Oregon-based program Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls, which was founded in 2000.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national and/or ethnic origin, marital status, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, or gender identity or expression in the administration of any of its educational programs, admissions policies, scholarships, and other Camp-related policies and programs, as well as volunteer and employment-related policies and activities.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls welcomes campers who self-identify as female, trans, and/or gender non-binary. Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls also welcomes individuals who self-identify as female, trans, and/or gender non-binary to apply for leadership volunteer positions at camp. Non-leadership volunteer roles are open to individuals who self-identify as female, male, trans, and/or gender non-binary. For more information, see the job descriptions for volunteer positions.

A special note to male-identified allies: Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is primarily led by and for women and girls. We also value diversity, inclusion, and sensitivity towards all individuals, regardless of gender identity or expression. The organization welcomes the support of male-identified allies, and expects male-identified allies who would like to volunteer to respect the importance of leadership by women.

Financial Information

Tax ID #: 65-1237021

NYS Charities Bureau Registration Number 21-58-92
Form 990 2013 WMRC

Tax Exempt Form

Photos on this website were taken by:

Cassie Corrigan
Kate Engelbrecht
Jena Cumbo
Mary Dickerson
Amanda Farah
Edwina Hay
Karina Horsti
Jeanette May
Melanie McLean
Kate Milford
Syd London
Justina Villanueva