Born from the urban beat of Tacoma, the sprout of a girls’ rock camp has emerged. Inspired by the popular camps for girls that are springing up across the world, Harlie Carter and Casi Brown decided it was their turn to bring girls together with the power of music. From screen printing band t-shirts to creating an original song for a camp-end performance, Harlie and Casi aim to provide an environment of empowerment and musical education for up to 30 girls between the ages of 9 and 13.

hawks prairie casinoCasi, a 27-year-old from Bellingham, co-founded and organized the Bellingham Girls Rock Camp. She wanted to bring the same type of camp experience to Tacoma “to show girls that you can achieve your dreams, you can start a band and write a song. It’s possible.”

While participating in the Bellingham camp, Casi saw that anyone could achieve their musical dreams, no matter the personality or background. Casi saw “shy girls who have never played an instrument and girls that are more outgoing and excited to be on stage both excel.” Bringing this idea to her new home in the South Sound with the melting pot of personalities and walks of life was very important to her.

Harlie and Casi
Harlie (left) and Casi (right) are the faces of the Tacoma Girls’ Rock Camp. Photo credit: Shelby Beckwith

Being a native Tacoman and a guitar and ukulele player, Harlie was all for the idea of a rock ‘n’ roll-themed day camp. A highly creative woman with a passion for all things exciting, Harlie fit into the role of rock camp coordinator perfectly. From working in grocery stores to living in Mexico right after high school, she has lived a life of adventure. The colorful trail Harlie has blazed in her 22 years of life sets her up to be an inspirational and motivational leader at the Tacoma Girls Rock Camp. As a leader in the camp, Harlie hopes “to turn interest into a passion and provide an outlet for girls to express themselves through singing, playing and writing.”

During their stay, campers can expect the full experience of rock ‘n’ roll. Many activities are planned, such as practical instrument use, warmup activities and song writing. The girls at camp will also have the opportunity to learn screen printing to create their own band t-shirt design, and classes will be taught to educate the girls of the important role women have played in music history. At the end of their stay, each camper will play a key part in the formation of a band and the creation of an original song for the end-of-camp showcase. The showcase will be performed for friends and family on the final night of camp.

Tacoma Girls Rock Camp
Cutline “Our greatest hope is to provide a strong community where young girls can feel safe and supported to express themselves through music,” says Harlie. Photo credit: Shelby Beckwith

To become eligible for the camp, girls must submit an essay, letter or comic strip detailing why they are interested. The camp is designed for girls with a deep interest in music, those who may not typically have access to such programs and musically driven girls who want to be involved in a community activity over the summer.

Casi explained how she “really hopes that this camp will help empower Tacoma’s youth by giving them a platform to share their experiences and be heard. I think creative outlets can help people of all ages reflect on their thoughts and experiences and find comfort/therapy in the creative process of turning those thoughts and experiences into something that can be shared.”

For the future, Harlie and Casi plan to hold multiple camps per year. This will enable the girls involved to grow together both musically and through the bond of womanhood.

“As for the future, we hope to expand the program – do spring break camps, maybe winter break,” says Harlie. “I can see this project growing in size and what we have to offer the girls. It would be wonderful to have girls that want to come back every year and help with fundraising, getting the campers involved with the community.”  With those ideas in mind, the girls intend the camp to be free, but that dream is dependent on the amount of funds raised by the time registration begins in spring 2017.

Rock Camp Tacoma
The girls at camp will have the opportunity to begin learning many instruments including guitar. Photo credit: Shelby Beckwith

With donations from the community and the help of volunteers, the Tacoma Girls’ Rock Camp will be able to find a location, much needed instruments and other essentials to help the camp grow. The fundraising goal for the 2017 camp is $6,000 and money can be donated directly on their website or at the many fundraising events being planned for the next coming months.

Check out the Tacoma Girls’ Rock Camp website for registration, details on upcoming fundraiser events or to be considered for a volunteer position.

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