I would have been ecstatic to attend Girls Rock when I was a kid. I barely had my braces strapped on and I wanted to be Joan Jett after seeing her loving rock 'n roll on MTV. But alas, I had to sing into my Radio Shack karaoke machine and pretend I already had a bad reputation.
If it had been 30 years later, Girls Rock could have made my popstar dream come true. Since 2013, the organization has provided week-long camps for girls and gender-expansive youth (there's also one for women) between the ages of 8 and 16 who want to explore the band life. Over the course of five days, they pick an instrument to play, learn to play it, create a song with their bandmates, name their band and perform on stage in front of an audience.
"Music education and performance are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Girls Rock MKE's programming. There is a deeper purpose that is concerned with empowering individuals who have been sidelined or marginalized in a variety of ways, and this purpose often has a more significant impact than the actual music instruction," says Girls Rock's Board Secretary, Hannah Pardee.
Currently, Girls Rock is attempting to raise $20,000 by the end of the year for the 2024 season. If they are unable to do so, the program could be discontinued.
The Girls Rock experience is $350 for the week, but no child is turned away because of inability to pay the fee. In 2023, Girls Rock provided $6,500 in scholarships.
The organization is run almost entirely by volunteers – it takes more then 60 per Girls Rock week-long camp sessions – but there are a few paid positions that require funding.
"Girls Rock and Ladies Rock campers are encouraged to stand up for themselves, to know their value, to cooperate and collaborate and resolve inevitable conflict and to build the world they want to see," says Pardee.
Wanna keep this fun and empowering camp plugged in? Here are a couple of Girls Rock events to swing by. Joan Jett, I'm certain, would want you to.
Indeed We Can
Tuesday, Sept. 19; 2 to 11 p.m.
Indeeed Brewing Taproom, 530 S. 2nd St.
Indeed Brewing Company’s Milwaukee taproom gives back on Tuesdays by donating 100 percent of proceeds to a local nonprofit. On Sept. 19, that organization is Girls Rock MKE so stop in any time during business hours and have a beer or two for the kids. More here.
Battle of the Bands – Girls Rock Fundraiser
Sunday, Sept. 24; 3 to 6 p.m.
X-Ray Arcade, 5036 S. Packard Ave.
Local musicians will attempt to raise $5,000 of Girls Rock's total goal via a digital peer-to-peer campaign and in-person Battle of the Bands fundraiser. The five artists who raise the most money during the digital campaign will each be invited to play a 20-minute set during the all-ages fundraiser event, and attendees will be able to vote for their favorite artist.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.