The Sound of a New Generation: RCRC Transitions

We are experiencing so much change in our world right now, and oftentimes big shifts are necessary for essential growth, rebirth, and innovation. A foundational strength of RCRC is our responsive, adaptive nature, and we certainly are no strangers to change; we’ve changed our name, rewritten our language, built and rebuilt policies, shifted and added locations, and welcomed new voices and leaders, just to name a few! As the founding Executive Director of RCRC, along with the dream to build this organization also came the dream to one day be equipped to let it fly on its own. I am deeply proud and honored to announce that this summer I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Rain City Rock Camp, and moving into my role as super fan.

Gratitude

I am forever grateful that I was supported in my efforts to start RCRC in a time when I was a young person myself. My peer co-founders and founding board members believed in me and cheered me on in ways that I learned to emulate, so that I could cheer on others who were struggling to feel that they were enough. I am humbled by how much I have been supported along the way to try, fail, try again, and at many times succeed as this organization’s leader. RCRC has helped me to find my community, my voice, my purpose, and my creative outlet. Being a part of RCRC has given me a space where I can laugh, cry, dance, scream, and make a difference all in the same place. I am endlessly grateful to our campers of all ages for cheering alongside me and challenging me to make RCRC a more equitable and justice-focused organization.

To my family, friends, and bandmates, thank you for allowing me the space to dive deeply into my passion for Rock Camp for the past 13 years, and for actively supporting RCRC’s work. I have missed weddings, funerals, birthdays and holidays, but you’ve reminded me that my work matters, and you turned around and signed up to volunteer so that you could spend time with me. I’ll never forget it.

Natalie Walker dancing with exuberance during the camp song at Summer Camp 2010.

In 2008, inspired by Portland’s Rock n’ Roll Camp, RCRC founders and founding board embarked on our journey to launch our own Seattle program and nonprofit organization. What followed was a tidal wave of growth, creativity, community engagement, volunteer hours, minor chords, and joy of social revolution. RCRC offered our first ever Summer Camp session at The Fremont Abbey Arts Center for 40 campers, ages 9 to 16. When parents arrived at the camp venue on Monday morning of our first camp, we froze momentarily in disbelief that people were actually trusting us with their kids! But we proved to ourselves that we could do it- our camp enrollment was at capacity, campers and volunteers were drawn into a community, and the campers’ final showcase performance at The Vera Project sold out with more than 400 family, parents and community members in attendance. The rock camp rocket was officially on full blast.

Now, in 2021, RCRC has served over 3,000 youth and adults and formed nearly 600 new bands. Our programming includes South Sound Rocks!, two weeks of Seattle Summer Camp, multiple sessions of Adult Rock Camp, a year-round paid leadership program, Amplified Teen Voices, Advanced Music Program, Rain City Rock School, virtual adaptations of all programs, and even more in the works. We have an amazing 9-person staff, dedicated 9-person board of directors, hundreds of teaching artists and volunteers, and serve more than 350 womxn, girls (cis and trans) and gender expansive folx every year.

South Sound Rocks stage warm-ups with the staff crew.

Highlights

Here are some more highlights of my 13 years with RCRC:

Team building, hiring staff, and growing shared leadership structures: Building a team is like band formation. Every part is equally important yet individually unique. Developing employment practices, establishing living wages, providing health benefits and paid holidays, growing our volunteer leads program, paying our youth ATV leaders- it all has been a huge step in our growth to rock the talk. 

GRCA movement building: Hosting the international GRCA board retreat in Seattle was a mountaintop moment. Getting to mentor and encourage rock camp founders in other states and countries served to positively impact countless other young people and adults around the world. The mentorship has always been reciprocal, and the relationships built across camps are everlasting.

Partnerships with incredible organizations like KEXP, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Teen Tix, MoPop: RCRC is collaborative to our core, working with like minded organizations has grown our programs, our reach, and enriched our curriculum.

Winning BECU Member Volunteer of the Year Award: Receiving a community-based award that celebrates volunteer commitment is the most mission-aligned grant I could possibly imagine. What a joy and honor!

Running Camps virtually during a pandemic: Staff, Board, community, donors and participants connected online and reminded all of us the importance of the space to connect, play, dream, and encourage. 

Establishing an office space: Having a space where we can hold meetings, store our well-loved instruments, and hang our shout out wall is something I’ve been so grateful for, particularly after the early years of meeting in my living room and storing equipment in Board members’ garages.

In-school and out of school programming: Starting with our in school programs at Scriber Lake High School and Totem Middle School, all the way to our new Rain City Rock School, the beat goes on beyond the summer and into a more camp-infused lifestyle for many youth who do not have summer camp access.

Amplified Teen Voices program & trajectory: Launching the ATV program was a collaborative effort, and what has grown from it has been a beautiful mix of the many voices of the youth participating, the adult advisors, and the input from other youth serving organizations. After some important pay equity shifts, ATVers started receiving stipends for their participation as well. 

Natalie Walker with Board President, aNdi pUzL at RCRC’s Gala in 2019.

Future

RCRC’s future is incredibly bright, bold, and brave. The positive impact of this organization has resonated beyond my wildest dreams. This transition creates space for a new visionary voice as we head into the creation of a new strategic plan, and as our community embraces even more growth and possibility. 

RCRC Board President aNdi pUzL has immediately sprung to action and assembled a transition team of Board members, staff, and community. I am grateful to be an active member myself. The transition team has put in incredible work so far. A transition consultant was hired. One-on-one interviews have begun with staff, board, and youth. The team continues to outline timelines for transition and find ways that RCRC can shift power to focus our efforts towards equity. An extensive executive search will take place over the next few months, and the transition team looks forward to posting the job description in March. The Board and transition team will also be hosting a virtual town hall for community members and campers who would like to know more about the transition process, and ask any questions they may have about what has been planned, and what is still in the works. Just like everything at camp, this transition process is immensely collaborative and works to value the contributions of our diverse and engaged community. 

I cherish this community and I feel so endlessly grateful to be a part of it. I’m excited about the work that RCRC will continue to do, and the ways that we will continue to innovate, create, and earn the respect of the young people and adults we serve. I look forward to submitting an application to be a bass instructor at Summer Camp, making a cameo or two in the skits, and singing the camp song from the top of my lungs from the audience. I will be the biggest fan and supporter of this organization for the rest of my life. 

One Heartbeat,

Natalie

Danielle Crivello-Chang, Natalie Walker, and Michelle O’Connor predicting the future at RCRC’s 10 year anniversary party in 2018.

Rock It Like We Talk It: Black Lives Matter

To our campers and camp community,

As summer nears, the Rain City Rock Camp team has been in full swing preparing for a Virtual Summer Camp that will support and empower our community of womxn, girls (cis and trans) and gender expansive folks. But this week, we have paused camp planning. We are prioritizing our time to recognize what’s happening in Seattle and around the United States as we seek justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and collectively activate to fight continued systemic police violence and racism against Black people. 

The mission of RCRC is to empower girls, women, and gender non-conforming individuals to engage their creative potential through music, champion equity, and thrive in a community of allies and activists. Equity, allyship and activism are IN our mission statement. 

Maybe you are feeling anxious, angry, sad or worried about family, friends and community members. You may be wondering what you can do to stand in solidarity with protest efforts. And, we’re all still coping with a global pandemic that has uprooted many of you from your typical school and friend resources. 

We hope you’ll give yourself the space and time to process these emotions and take action. Rock Camp isn’t a bubble—it’s an incubator, a safe space to express ourselves and learn how to empower others to do so as well in preparation to make change in the wider world. Now is the time to go out—whether virtually or in person—into our local, regional, national and global communities with all the skills and confidence you’ve built up through RCRC. 

Last year’s camp theme was Rock It Like We Talk It. One way we do that is through collective action against inequity. It is that same action that ensures we truly have One HeartBeat. We will also continue sharing resources for taking action and materials for educating yourself and others on our social media. Below are a few reflection questions—taken from our Amplified Teen Voices program—to help get the conversation started and links to resources you may find immediately useful.

Please stay safe and make sure you have someone you trust to talk to about how you’re feeling. During revolutionary times, the Rain City Rock Camp community comes together. We’ve seen that this spring with COVID-19, and we’re seeing it again now. 

#OneHeartBeat
Natalie

Natalie Walker
Executive Director
Rain City Rock Camp

Reflection Questions

  1. Our Amplified Teen Voices invocation states that we “put words into action” and we know that we want to Rock It Like We Talk It. Are any of you thinking about, planning, or participating in ways to activate and support the Black Lives Matter movement? 

    Things to consider:
    • Yes, it’s important to take action at this historic moment to make change happen. However, we also need to plan to do this work for a long time; what are sustainable ways that we can fight against oppression in our daily lives now and in the future?
    • How do our rock camp values relate to the work that we do? We need to make sure that everyone’s voice is amplified, especially those who need the loudest mic in order to be heard. Our ATV agreement to “turn up, turn down” is a helpful tool to remember.
    • How can we include our friends and family in these conversations? We are all stronger together, and the more information and support we can share—the better!
  1. If you identify as white or a non-Black person of color, what does allyship mean to you right now? “How to Tell If You’re Being a Good Ally” by 16-year old Native activist Hallie Sebastian is a great place to start thinking about what allyship can look like. 
  1. What power do you have as an individual, especially if you identify as white, that you can use to show up for marginalized communities? This could include an understanding of social networking platforms, networks of friends/family/followers, free time to spend learning and taking action, access to technology/internet, musical/songwriting skills, etc. 
  1. How am I using social media? Can you “turn up” the mic for others, especially Black leaders or Black-led organizations who are sharing information, reflections, or observations? Also, be sure to check your sources if you can; misinformation is easy to spread and can be harmful.
  1. What changes can I suggest that could make Rock Camp—and other schools, clubs, and camps in my community—more racially equitable spaces? 

Action and Education Resources

  1. Support the work of Black musicians and artists. She Shreds magazine is one great resource to start with, and many of Rain City Rock Camp’s instructors, coaches and counselors are local Black womxn and gender nonconforming musicians
  1. Check out these scaffolded anti-racism resources.
  1. Check out one of these YA books on social justice topics, and start a book club! Two relevant books on this list are Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell—the sister of a RCRC volunteer! (Unfortunately, libraries are still closed due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. For now, you could learn more about these authors, read book reviews, put together a reading list for the future, or do independent research on the subjects in the books.) 
  1. Learn 12 Things to Do Instead of Calling the Cops from the Community Resource Hub. 
  1. Visit You Grow Girl and access their leadership and behavioral health resources.

An Update on Our Summer Programs

Every spring when the temperature starts to warm up, my heart starts to flutter with excitement about the upcoming camp season. What new volunteers will I get to meet and connect with? What earworms will the campers write (and how long will they stay on repeat in my head)? And most importantly, how will we bend and shape each other’s perspectives in exciting and challenging ways?

This year’s spring has brought mixed emotions with the uncertainty of the current situation in every aspect of life, including our camp traditions. Every conversation that has taken place over the past two months with staff, board, volunteers, families and participating youth has been around finding hope and possibility in this situation.

While uncertainty still abounds, it has also become more and more clear that gathering in person, no matter what the size of the group is, will be an immense safety and logistical concern for this year’s programs. Our every heartbeat as an organization is dedicated to providing safe spaces for RCRC’s youth, volunteers, staff and community. Because that safety is not possible in the analog world at this time, we are moving all of our summer programs for this year to a virtual platform.

For the past 12 years, Rain City Rock Camp has been my life. I know I am not alone when I find myself crying over this news. There is a huge sense of loss, and likely a grieving period for many of our youth and community members. I am also remaining hopeful and optimistic for our community’s resilience. It’s like playing a minor and a major chord at the same time—just like at camp. 😉

The creativity of our campers’ lyrics every year is one of the things that inspires me the most. Where do these ideas come from, and how do our campers author such unique realities? Magical talking food, animals in unlikely situations and solutions for world peace. It is with that creativity that we are now approaching our programming for this summer.

We’re looking at ways to bring in additional dimensions to the virtual experience so that our campers can interact with sound exploration and creative collaboration while continuing to nurture connections with one another. We also need the creativity of our campers, interns and ATVers to co-create a space with us that resembles a RCRC band song—There might not always be a clear verse and a chorus, but there are always smiles and cheers at the end.

In order to collaborate together, we’re asking for the input of our campers, camper families and volunteers to respond here with your ideas, input or suggestions. Our hearts beat together, even when we are apart. We might be physically distant this year, but emotionally we band together as a camp community. I can’t wait to connect with you all and create new traditions!

#OneHeartBeat
Natalie

P.S. If you’ve already signed up for one of our summer programs, you should have received an email from us about next steps. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do! We’re still accepting applications and would love for you to join us on this journey of creation and exploration!

#OneHeartBeat!—in Good Times and Bad

The last couple of weeks have been tough times for Seattle as the coronavirus spreads. It’s been a reminder of how essential it is that we support each other.

We are strongest when we come together as a community. At Rain City Rock Camp, we see this strength every day as volunteers, donors, participants and staff come together to create inspirational moments of learning and empowerment. This year’s theme—One HeartBeat!—reminds us of the power of community to amplify passion and action. Our hearts each beat strong, but they beat strongest together!

We asked our ATV youth leaders what One HeartBeat means to them and they told us “a safe space for all,” “a community of love and support always,” and “we’re all here to support each other.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of resources for musicians who are being affected by the coronavirus outbreak. If you know of more, drop us an email at [email protected], and we’ll add them to the list!

No one knows what the next several weeks hold for Seattle. What we do know is that the RCRC family will do what it does best—come together. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be exploring ways that we can strengthen our bonds as a community as we navigate the challenge of the coronavirus. We’d love to hear your stories of how your people have lifted you up in hard times or how you plan to be there for your community in the coming days. #OneHeartBeat!

Still have questions? Learn more on our coronavirus response FAQs page.

New Position at RCRC

Join our dynamic music and social justice organization! Rain City Rock Camp for Girls seeks a full-time Administrative Coordinator to support all aspects of the organization’s operations, from office tasks to program-related support and volunteer coordination. See below for job description and qualifications, and instructions on how to apply. The deadline to apply is Feb 1st at 5PM, 2019.

Administrative Coordinator Job

Thanks!
The RCRC Team

LRC Community Fund

It has been an incredible summer of programming here at RCRC, and we are so excited to launch into the fall and start up with a new fundraising initiative. For many years now, there has been a small group of individuals who have helped to fund one-off Ladies Rock Camp scholarships for folks to attend the program who otherwise would not be able to afford the tuition. In an effort to make LRC more accessible (and largely in part to our new strategic plan goals), RCRC made LRC sliding scale, as well as offering the possibility of full aid when needed. The new LRC Hype Committee (explained more in this guest post) took up the idea of community fundraising for this equitable pay system… and ran with it! With their energy and commitment, and the generosity of an anonymous matching donor, we are very excited to announce the new LRC Community Fund!

And now a message and explanation from Hype Committee members themselves:

Get ready to mark your calendar, because you don’t want to miss the upcoming launch party potluck for the brand new LRC Community Fund! You heard right: Party, LRC, Community Fund. We need you to celebrate with us on Sunday, September 17 at 5pm at Coyote Central (2300 E Cherry Street). Be there!

What? You’re still reading? You have questions, perhaps. Questions like,

  • What is LRC?
  • What is LRC Hype?
  • What is the Community Fund?
  • What does it have to do with me?

LRC stands for Ladies Rock Camp, a day camp for grownups that compresses the musical instruction, empowerment workshops, band formation, original song composition and live performance challenges of Rain City Rock Camp into a three-day weekend. LRC happens twice a year and serves as a fundraiser for the summer rock camp programs for girls and gender nonconforming youth. Do not let the word fundraiser mislead you; this is no weekend car wash and bake sale. Lauding the incredible experience that LRC offers women and gender nonconforming adults is beyond the scope of this post. Very briefly, LRC is transformative for many participants. It has literally changed people’s lives.

Now you know what LRC stands for. Hype stands for “Help Your People Engage.” LRC Hype is a committee of RCRC made up of LRC community members and volunteers who have a shared mission to bring people to LRC to experience its transformative power, to bring people into the LRC community to support their continued transformation, and from there, to bring them into the RCRC volunteer community to contribute to the transformation of others.

RCRC’s week-long summer camps are a critical part of RCRC’s mission: empowering girls, women, and gender nonconforming individuals to engage their creative potential through music, champion equity, and thrive in a community of allies and activists. Succeeding at this mission requires RCRC to be accessible to as many people as possible and to include people from as many different backgrounds as possible. If you are a girl or gender nonconforming youth, you belong at RCRC. To make that possible, summer camp offers a sliding scale, including full scholarships, partly funded by LRC. LRC supports the summer camp in another way as well; a good number of the adult volunteers who make the summer camp possible enter the RCRC community via LRC.

Just like the youth, if you are a woman or gender nonconforming adult, you belong at LRC. Lack of money should not block anyone’s participation. Prioritizing financial accessibility for an endeavor that is a fundraiser is a tricky business, which is why we are so excited to announce the LRC Community Fund. Donations to the Community Fund will support the organization’s ability to provide sliding scale access to the program and will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $5000, by a generous donor from the LRC community.

A word from our $5k matching donor:

As a longtime Ladies Rock Camper and volunteer, I am so excited to help power up the LRC Community Fund with a matching gift, in order to activate the collaborative spirit and values of our community. I believe that we are enough, together, to provide access to LRC for everyone who wants it, and everyone who needs it. I’ve had my life changed by LRC, and I think everyone who wants to attend should be able to attend, without the added barrier of financial limitation. That is why I’m getting fierce and giving back. I am pledging to match the community’s gifts to the LRC Community Fund up to $5,000. I am doing this to encourage you all to give in a way that feels meaningful to you, as this is what feels meaningful to me- inspiring you all to give back! I know that together we can do it, because united we band, right?!

Our goal for donations is donor reach rather than a specific figure. That’s where you come in. We hope that everyone in the community donates an amount that is meaningful to them individually.

By making LRC accessible to the widest group of people, thereby bringing people from a wide variety of backgrounds into the RCRC volunteer community, we can, as a group, provide the youth of RCRC the opportunity to open their minds and hearts even wider. These kids are our future leaders and inspiration. Let’s give them all the help we can, and take care of ourselves along the way. See you at the party!

 

Shout Out! Seattle is back!

SOS2015
Our annual fundraising benefit show is back, and just in time to ramp up for Summer Camp! Join us on Saturday, June 6th for this ALL-AGES show at Chop Suey (from 5-8:00PM). This is your chance to reunite with your friends from Summer Camp and raise money for your favorite organization! 😉 Get your photo taken in our costume photo booth, buy tix for cool raffle prizes and get a sharpie tattoo while you listen to amazing bands!

Time: Doors at 5PM, show STARTS at 5:30
Date: Saturday, June 6th
Cover: $10 pre-sale, $12 Day of Show

Get your tickets here! http://chopsuey.strangertickets.com/events/25108656/shout-out-a-benefit-for-rain-city-rock-camp-for-girls

Bands include:
TriSiren (CAMPER BAND!)
Skates! (SUPER SUPPORTERS!)
Another Perfect Crime (VOLUNTEERS!)

And your hosts… RCRC Camp Directors! We can’t wait to see you there!

Power Up: Activate!

It’s that time of year again – are you ready for our new theme?  Last year, United We Band  rapidly took root in our hearts and blossomed in our everyday lives.  Make a Scene and UWB have become so vital to to our ever-growing and thriving community, we want to continue to build on those themes as we surge forth into 2015.

When we we unite and power up together, our synergy empowers us to create space and action (i.e. a scene) that is so much bigger than we could ever imagine.  That is why this years’ theme is…drumroll please….Power Up: Activate!

Plug in“Powering Up” can look and feel many different ways. It can start with connecting with family, friends and allies for support and energy. It can take form in meaningful discussions, inspiring learning, and heartfelt gratitude. Sometimes it will mean connecting with a marginalized community to really listen to the issues and challenges they face – not to fix or change, rather to be present and demonstrate solidarity. Powering up can mean taking time for reflection, self-care, and self-love. We do these things to build an internal source of energy so when we go out in the world to Activate! for what we believe in, we have the strength and stamina to see our action and advocacy through to creating sustainable change.  The change we activate can be very personal and start within the spheres we inhabit, AND it can evolve into something monumental, like building a worldwide movement.

“Activation” is activism, a word we haven’t fully unpacked the meaning of within RCRC, but we’re really looking forward to talking about how it supports our mission and the ways it can take shape within our community.  At camp, we are going dive into using music and art as activism. In the day to day at RCRC headquarters, we are already plotting and planning for our rockin’ girls to take over the world! Get ready for another amazing year. Time to Power Up: Activate!