Empowerment, encouragement and Rock n’ Roll. Have you heard of Girls Rock Charlotte?  

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I always wanted to be the lead guitarist in a band, but since I never took guitar lessons, that dream is going to remain just a dream. For some very lucky girls in Charlotte, their dream of being in a band may become a reality thanks to Girls Rock Charlotte.

Girls Rock Charlotte is a summer camp for girls and gender diverse youth ages 10-16 years old. The camp is a weeklong, full-day summer music camp. Campers form bands, learn to play instruments, write an original song, and perform their songs for family and friends at a concert at the end of the week.

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Girls Rock Charlotte was founded in 2014 by Kelly Finley, a local mother, an instructor at UNC-Charlotte and just an overall cool person. Inspired by her daughter’s summer camp experience with Girls Rock NC (serving those in the Chapel-Hill/Durham/Raleigh areas), she decided to bring the program to Charlotte.

“When I saw my daughter on stage, it was the first moment I saw her, not as my child, but as the amazing person with fierce confidence she will become,” Finley said. “I had to bring it to Charlotte.”

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In addition to the band experience, campers also participate in workshops where they will learn about such topics as stage confidence, social media, body image and self esteem, managing money, band gear and tech talk, and how to design their own band t-shirt.

Girls Rock Charlotte is part of a national and worldwide alliance to educate and empower girls through music, creativity, and collaboration. The Girls Rock Camp movement began in 2001 in Portland, Oregon. Today there are nearly 50 Girls Rock organizations that together form the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. In 2014 nearly 1,500 girls participated in Girls Rock camps all over the world.

“The alliance allows us latitude to customize our program to fit Charlotte,” Finley said. “We are different from Asheville, Portland and Atlanta, but the alliance gives us support when needed.”

In April, Girls Rock Charlotte received 501(c) 3 non-profit status.

“Receiving this status gave us validity and legitimacy. We are also now able to reciprocate kind gestures and donations we have received,” Finley said.

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The 2015 camp will take place July 27-August 1. August 1 will be the end of camp concert and it will take place at the McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square. There are still spots available to attend the camp.

“All are invited to our concert and I encourage people to come and check it out. You’ll get to see these campers take the stage, own their music and rock out. It is so inspiring and gives hope for the next generation,” Finley said.

Due to its growing popularity, Girls Rock Charlotte has increased the number of campers this year. Also, in an effort to address the need to empower girls in our community, Girls Rock Charlotte plans to add more programs throughout the year to reach more girls.

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Want to get involved or help out Girls Rock Charlotte? The organization is 100% volunteer-run and is always looking for women leaders, musicians and professionals (especially accountants) to serve as mentors and role models for campers and volunteers. Also, since they provide instruments for the campers, Girls Rock Charlotte always needs donations of musical gear.

“Charlotte is awesome about partnerships and has a culture of collaboration, not competition, when it comes to nonprofits supporting our girls,” Finley said. “It’s all for the girls.”

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I would have loved to participate in a program like this when I was younger, but after talking with Kelly, I’ve realized maybe it is never too late to learn how to rock out and to find your own voice.

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Erin Maddrey
| @ErinMaddrey |
Marketing professional and freelance writer who strives to live, to love, and to work fearlessly.