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Girls Rock Camp co-founder Lysh Haugen tells us all about the cool kids’ solution to summer boredom.

These days, summer camp involves less sitting around singing campfire songs and more face-melting guitar solos. At Girls Rock Camp, your kids can live the dream by forming a band, writing songs and performing live in front of their very own fans. We chatted with the co-founder of the Toronto-based program, Lysh Haugen, about why rock camp rules.

Why should parents send their kids to rock camp?

Not only do kids get the experience of getting to play music in a band, but their self-confidence skyrockets over the course of the week. Last year we had this 8-year-old who played the bass — her name was Grace. We called her Grace of Bass. When she first came in, we said “Hey, how’s it going?” and she just looked at the floor. By day two she was talking into a mic in front of the whole camp. Four days later, she was playing a bass solo with her leg up on the monitor. A week after that, she did her first TV interview. The sense of self-worth campers take away from hearing their voices echoing in a room or hearing their guitar through an amp is pretty powerful stuff.

Do kids need to know how to play an instrument to come to rock camp?

Not at all. The cool thing about playing rock music is that you learn three chords and you’re pretty much set. Most of our campers last year were beginners and it was cool to see the songs they came up with. Watching girls who had never played an instrument before rocking out in their band . . . You can see it in their eyes that they feel like they can do anything.

Aside from rocking out, what kinds of activities happen at rock camp?

We do workshops on things like media literacy, how to set up your band merch, making buttons and cool art projects. The focus is on rock music, but we try and have it so the camp incorporates everything you’ll need to start your own band. We also have dance parties everyday when the kids come in.

Have any campers gone on to form bands after rock camp?

A couple of our campers were in bands when they came to rock camp and those are still going on. A couple of campers have a band called Unfinished Business, and they’re playing Totstock in Sorauren Park on Father’s Day. We have others who have been writing solo stuff.

What kind of kids sign up for rock camp?

We have a lot of shy kids who come to rock camp. Some of them are still shy when they leave, but you can see them standing a little straighter by the end. We also have a ton of really outgoing campers, so a whole spectrum, really.

Photos by Alisha Trigatti 

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