The local music scene is a staple of Athens culture. One can find live music in town seven days a week. To say that Athens has an established music scene is an understatement.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the scene is by everyone and for everyone — some find it unwelcoming. The solution: create a new one.
The Athens Rock Camp for Girls+ is an organization focused on fostering new musical environments. The rock camp was founded by Tessa Evanoksy and Cindy Crabb in the summer of 2011. Evanosky saw a need for the camp after experiencing frustratingly sexist behavior in the local music scene, Sarah Fick, a camp organizer, said in an email.
The Athens Rock Camp for Girls+ provides a safe space for creativity and comfort for young girls and gender non-conforming youth, ages 12-18, Kerri Shaw, a camp organizer, said in an email.
The rock camp is a week-long summer day camp, normally in late June and early July. The camp runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and concludes in a camp concert, showcasing original music the campers made.
“It's incredible to watch girls come in on Monday feeling nervous and, by Friday and Saturday, they are singing and supporting each other with amazing confidence and self-esteem,” Shaw said in an email. “Athens Rock Camp for Girls+ is music empowerment and a whole lot more.”
Ashley Wilson, a sophomore studying studio art, has been with the rock camp since the beginning. She attended the first camp when she was in third grade.
“My parents put me in it,” Wilson said. “I was nervous at first, but then I really loved it and ended up doing it a million times.”
Wilson is still involved in the camp, volunteering as a camp counselor. She helps create a healthy environment for the campers — that same environment that changed her life so much over the years.
“(The camp) was my first introduction to feminism,” Wilson said. “It’s what started my interest in it.”
The camp is a healthy environment that encourages campers to appreciate themselves, Wilson said. “Body talk,” or comments on appearances, is not allowed.
“We compliment the music you make or your character instead,” Wilson said. “We teach them to value themselves for what they do, not what they look like.”
Wilson also noted that prior music-related experience isn’t necessarily required. Campers come in with varying skill levels and leave with increased experience and confidence.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you can play,” Wilson said. “Everyone’s there for the same thing.”
As a charity organization, the rock camp puts on fundraisers leading up to the summer. One upcoming fundraiser is “Pints for a Purpose,” this Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Little Fish Brewing Company, 8675 Armitage Road.
“(It’s important to Little Fish to host a rock camp fundraiser because) two owners and myself are from Athens,” Beau Nishimura, the taproom manager at Little Fish, said. “We try to stay entwined in the Athens community as much as we can.”
Along with hosting its monthly charity events, Little Fish also serves as a music venue and has live music every weekend. For Nishimura, showcasing local music is important, but also showcasing up-and-coming musicians is valuable, too.
“We want to be a gathering place for local community members,” Nishimura said.
$1 of every beer served will be donated to the rock camp. Two local bands will perform at the Little Fish fundraiser, Velvet Green and Infinite Improbability Drive. The performances will be indoors in the expansion area of Little Fish.
Check out The Athens Rock Camp For Girls+ website for more information on volunteering, attending and donating.