Origins

Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls

For the love of rock guitar

The original Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls was founded by Misty McElroy as part of her community service project as a senior undergraduate requirement at Portland State University in 2000. Having worked in the music industry for nine years, McElroy drew on her personal experiences to provide an opportunity for as many girls as possible to possess something that she never had as a child: a sense of entitlement to her own voice and place in the world. Therefore, this college requirement provided the ideal opportunity for McElroy to apply an empowerment model she had created for girls a model to translate that vital need for self-reliance within an innovative rock context. Transformative combinations of self defense and power chords = Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls.

New to the Portland area in 2000, McElroy spent that first year mobilizing strangers to come together to form a global community of musicians and activists to volunteer for the first original rock camp for girls. Registration was $20 per camper - with grassroots support and no mainstream backing, the inaugural application pool totaled over 300 applicants. PSU allotted her space for 100. She immediately caught international press attention, so with an obvious revolution launched from that first camp, McElroy soon obtained 501(c)3 nonprofit status and worked various jobs while volunteering to learn how to run a social change organization with ferocious momentum. McElroy's commitment remained locked on serving marginalized communities of girls who otherwise felt excluded or without opportunities to attend traditional summer camps.

Over the years, she taught herself how to write grants, some amazing musicians eventually turned their amps in the Camp's fundraising direction, she won a few community awards, and that small college requirement is now being replicated around the world. The Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls' model is now itself being taught in colleges as part of a larger social discourse. Who knew?! Four years of volunteering and a fifth year to draw a decent paycheck = lots of nonprofit lessons learned. For five years, McElroy nurtured the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls and cherished the international community of both musicians and non-musicians of girls and volunteers that grew together from their Rock Camp experiences. Each summer, McElroy relied heavily on hundreds of volunteers who were attracted to the Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls from around the world, many who had also started volunteering year-round after McElroy secured a rental warehouse space for the Rock Camp in 2003, at first supplying it with her own personal furniture and music gear. Now bands had more options than being mentored by McElroy in her basement now volunteers could share their love of rock music with girls in makeshift classrooms, a space where girls personally carved their own youth culture into the social landscape. It was in that same warehouse that McElroy launched many programs, including an after-school program (Girls Rock Institute), Ladies Rock Camp, a junior camper intern program, a record label, and a safe space to keep the community of the Rock Camp alive and accessible throughout the year. By the end of 2005, her mission had reached its limitations within the original nonprofit vision she created, and she resigned her position as Executive Director.

Rock Power For Girls

No longer based in Portland, Misty now devotes much of her time to Rock Power for Girls in many capacities, traveling to serve an international community of men and women who support the rights of our underserved youth culture. Evolving beyond the limitations of the rock camps for girls she first created, she often travels to communities in need to reach out to those unable to come to the Pacific Northwest. Working directly with children and adults, often in schools and on college campuses, McElroy creates tailored, innovative music seminars and workshops for all ages, and also speaks to adults about wide-ranging personal topics such as how to cope with the effects of women sabotaging one another, child predators, and the challenges musicians face within the music industry. McElroy continues to do most of her work on a volunteer and a sliding-scale basis.

Inquire about Misty McElroy's availability and programming

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