For a lot of young Brooklynites, getting shipped off to wilderness is just around the corner. However, a crew of lucky ladies won’t be going any further than the Urban Assembly School for Music & Art in Downtown Brooklyn this July, where Brooklyn’s very own Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is setting up shop.
To help support the program, the camp is throwing an entire weekend of activities for those young and old to benefit the camp, which brings in girls from all over the place to attend for a sliding scale fee. Full scholarships are available.
The benefit kicks off on May 28, when Parts & Labor headlines Union Pool. On Friday, check out Burnt Sugar and Sex Mob at Public Assembly; and on Saturday Pterodactyl headlines the brand new Bruar Falls venue. From 11am-5pm on May 30-31, check out the Rockin’ Spring Carnival at 163 Plymouth Street in Dumbo.
Upon hearing of this benefit, Brooklyn The Borough caught up with Willie Mae Rock Camp’s executive director and Fort Greene resident Karla Schickele. Ms. Schickele, 41, started the New York branch of the camp with a group of other women in 2004. The Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls was founded Portland, Oregon in 2000.
Brooklyn The Borough: How did you get involved with the rock camp for girls movement?
Karla Schickele: I heard about the Portland Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls on the radio, and dropped everything and went out there to volunteer. I taught bass. It changed my life.
BTB: Why is it important for girls to have a rock camp of their own? What skills do they learn at rock camp that are important in everyday life?
KS: Because it’s fun in a truly unique way. Because even after all these years, the music world at all levels tends to feel like rock camp for boys a little too much of the time. Because girls who write songs with other girls and get on stage with their band after only a week and completely rock it are more likely to be bold and outspoken in their everyday lives. Because it feels so right to everyone who’s there — campers, volunteers, parents — that they don’t find themselves even wondering about it after the first five minutes.
BTB: Are you training an army of riot grrrls?
BTB: What courses will the girls take at camp this year? Is there a battle of the grrl bands at the end?
KS: Campers will study songwriting, self-defense, history of women who rock, band art, media literacy and more. No battles, we are about collaboration and mutual support. Nothing against healthy competition, we just like to be a place where it’s not about that, where all the women cheer for each other. Believe me, the show has plenty of adrenaline, even without a competitive element.
BTB: Have any of your alumni launched rock careers?
KS: Yes, Joan Jett secretly attended when she was 8.