Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a volunteer-led non-profit that teaches music to children through the lens of gender equity and social justice.
“We use the music as a tool for empowerment,” said GiGi Miedema, a former camper who now serves as a camp director and board member.
Summer camp is the organization’s largest annual program, held in two week-long sessions. The rock band “crash course” is open to girls, non-binary and transgender children, ages 9 to 16.
This year’s program was scaled back in size and held outdoors at Camp Sertoma, precautions of the coronavirus pandemic. About 35 campers split into seven bands each week. Bands are comprised of a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, keyboard player and drummer.
No musical experience is required and instruments are provided. By the end of the week, campers will be able to perform an original song written with their bandmates.
“A lot of campers learn how to advocate for themselves and be confident. I think even just holding a large instrument does a lot for one’s confidence,” Miedema said.
“But we also talk a lot especially about consent and how to problem solve and resolve conflict, because conflict happens.”
Artistic workshops and educational lessons are booked between music lessons. The group might tie dye T-shirts and learn about women in rock and roll history one day. They might design a band logo and learn how access to menstruation products is a social issue the next.
Each session ends with a Saturday showcase concert for family and friends, held this year at Healer, a music and arts venue on Indy’s southeast side.
Jenna Watson is a visuals journalist for IndyStar. Follow her on Twitter @jennarwatson.