WHAT IS IT: Every summer, girls and non-binary youth from ages 8 to 17 come together for a week-long day camp in Miami where they join a band, learn to play musical instruments, and write songs with the help of professional musicians. They also participate in workshops by different nonprofits and watch performances by live bands.
At the end of the week, the camp bands perform the original songs they wrote in a showcase concert at a local music venue in front of screaming fans and family members.
HOW IT CAME TO BE: Miami Girls Rock Camp is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance and was founded in 2015 by three friends: Steph Taylor, vocalist and keyboardist of local indie pop duo The State Of, Emile Milgrim, a drummer and managing partner of Sweat Records, and Heather Burdick, a Miami teacher and activist.
They had all heard of other girls rock camps in different cities, and thought it would be a great idea to bring it here to Miami.
WHY IT’S MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Steph says the camp is about more than just learning how to play music, it’s about creative expression and building friendships and self-esteem.
“We teach [the campers] skills that they might not have had and to not over apologize for themselves,” Steph says.
They have a rule at camp where if someone says “I’m sorry” in a way that’s not warranted they have to rephrase it and say “I rock.” Steph says they use these tactics to help the kids find their true authentic selves and to not be afraid of making noise.
And it gets results. Steph says that by the end of the week, girls who were shy are eager to get on stage. They dress differently, carry themselves with more confidence, and make lots of new friends.
“It really is an incredible process to watch,” Steph says.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROCK CAMP: The camp has been so successful for kids that they’re launching a rock camp for adults this October called Miami Girls Rock Camp: XLR.
MGRC: XLR will be an intensive 3-day-weekend version of Miami Girls Rock Camp, with the same summer programming concentrated into just a few days. Adults will receive instrument instruction, form a band, and work together to write an original song in just three days, regardless of skill level. Then the bands will get a chance to perform their songs live at the iconic Churchill’s Pub.
The adult version of the camp is also meant to be as inclusive as possible as the XLR stands for non-binary (X) and “ladies” rock (LR). The camp’s organizers are encouraging all women and femmes who are 18 and older to join in on the music making.
The session will happen from October 11 to 13 and applicants don’t need musical experience. The camp will also provide instruments for attendees.
To apply for next summer’s kids camp, to volunteer, or to donate to the cause, visit the Miami Girls Rock Camp’s website. And check out the final showcase concert on Aug. 4.