This evening I am going to a meeting, and I was thinking about how lucky I am to be involved in this organization. I wish Rain City Rock Camp for Girls had been an option when I was a teen.
My interest in music was met by few female role models. I can’t think of any girls in my school doing anything musical outside of band or choir or piano lessons, and there seemed to be few opportunities to make my interest an activity. (See this great interview with RCRC Executive Director Natalie Walker touching on this very topic!) So I consumed what others created. I did ultimately find ways to make music a part of my life (rock photography, band management, and finally working with RCRC) but it was not until I was an adult and could find those opportunities for myself, and until I was confident enough to take risks to try the things that seemed impossible.
I found out about RCRC while working for SIFF, and had the privilege of driving some former campers to a film screening about their experiences at the Portland Rock n Roll Camp for Girls. Seeing that movie was inspiring, and seeing those girls experience the World Premier of the film about their lives was unbelievable.
About 2 years later, I happened to see an ad for volunteers for a camp in Seattle. I wrote an email asking (begging?) to be a volunteer. I hosted a fundraising party before the camp to raise funds for a camper scholarship, then worked the entire week at camp as camp support staff, and was then asked to chair the development committee and join the Board of Directors.
At our most recent Board retreat, an 8th grade camper joined us to speak to the Board about her experience at our camp. Not all board members are involved in the day-to-day operations of the camp, so the presentation by this camper was really meaningful. She played a song on the guitar for us, then led the Board in singing our amazingly rockin’ camp song, and spoke to us about her experiences being bullied in school, not fitting in, and having few “safe places” in her life.
She said “I didn’t know a week could make such a difference.” She spoke about how amazing it felt to be “fitting in with a group of people who stand out”. Camp had become one of her safe places. She spoke about how she returned to school this year with more confidence and was able to stand up for another girl who was being bullied. She now doesn’t let other people’s insecurities, manifest in bullying, bother her.
And this is exactly what we want to cultivate - community, safety to take risks, a sense of self confidence.
This month we were blessed with a bittersweet gift. The family of a woman who committed suicide last year raised funds to have her music recorded - she had hours of music on her computer, and her family wanted to create an album. They set out to raise enough to record, and ended up with a greater outpouring of generosity, and thus more funds, than they had expected. They decided to invest the money in non-profit organizations that Carly would have supported, and chose to support RCRC with 10 camper scholarships for this coming summer.
A gift like this allows us to support the girls who need this experience, whether or not they can afford the fee. As we welcome 80 girls this year, 10 of them will carry Carly’s spirit through the week, and will hopefully carry what they learn about themselves and the importance of community into their peer interactions.
Carly’s life, while ended too soon, will be honored by her family, friends, and now by Rain City Rock Camp - for her spirit, her caring, and her passion. Each girl coming to camp will have had the opportunity to build self confidence and succeed in a safe environment, and perhaps giving her the strength to keep going, even when things seem impossible.
I hope that my Pie has the opportunities to explore her interests in a meaningful way, and not to be a consumer when she wants to be a producer. I hope that the generosity of Carly’s family encourages the growth of community and kindness in our youth.