Our 2021 Theme

KEY OF CHANGE! 

Some of you heard us mention it in our podcast with KEXP for International Womxn’s Day! Yes, our chosen theme is here. What is meant by Key of Change, you ask? We asked our Program Staff what this means to them and their programs.

Adra, Adult Rock Camp Director

Key of change, from my view, is looking at “how to be the” and “what is needed in the” you know… how do we level up to be the Key of Change in our communities, families, circles? What do we need to make sure that everyone is set up for success? And it also makes me look at what we’re changing. Being the Key of Change… changing the culture of camp, for example, to be one that reflects and includes every single body we serve, in common ground and differences, changing out of old habits that don’t serve us as individuals or as a people… changing the game to reassure that every individual can thrive, regardless of what you’re doing or where you are, physically or figuratively. This is where I begin my thinking around the Key of Change.

Mandy, Program Manager

 Key of Change makes me think of transposition and transformation. I see it rooted in music having the power to affect transformative change in communities, society, and individuals. In non-musical terms it can be a brass key to something: what is the key to unlocking change in yourself, in the world? After a year (Four years? Centuries?) where it’s clear that there is no “back to normal” and the way things were, the Key of Change is necessary to tune into and embrace imagining new futures.

Carly, Summer Camp Director

When this theme was optioned, I immediately thought about Stevie Wonder’s gorgeous, dynamic, revolutionary album Songs in the Key of Life. Our lives this past year have been all about adapting, seeing the truth about injustice in the world, and listening to our hearts tell us what we need as individuals, as a community, and as living beings connected by one heart beat. How do we change this world for the better? How are we going to make music as insightful, as action-driven, as eye-opening as the songs in Stevie’s album? How will we change through writing these songs, and how will the world change along with us, or even because of us? And this brings up even more questions for me- is music the key to unlocking change? Is community that key? Is it…us? The landscape for finding the answers to these big questions is what I think the youth, volunteers, and staff of RCRC are ready to explore this year. It can be daunting to embrace change, but when you do, you’re guaranteed to find a revelation, and maybe even a revolution.

ATV (Amplified Teen Voices)

 Our young leaders from Amplified Teen Voices, all of whom have participated in our programs for so many years, shared how they feel that this theme reflects the mission and values of Rain City Rock Camp. 

Here are just a few of the insightful and thought-provoking reflections that they had to share:

  • “Young people are key to changing the world.”
  • “Change can mean that everyone is learning and growing.”
  • “This key will unlock possibilities.”

Iris, Admin Coordinator & ATV Advisor

 Reflecting on what Key of Change means to me, I’m drawn to the immediate connotation of taking action. This phrase empowers us to fully consider how we want to reshape our world, our community, and this organization. I hope that this key is a tool to harness the power of our dreams, inspirations, and deepest wishes. Throughout my time at RCRC, I’ve seen our staff, volunteers, and campers display an astounding amount of flexibility and willingness to grow towards positive change. From on-the-spot-decisions that make camp run smoothly to the long-term planning that keeps RCRC on the path moving forward, we have the experience and vision to create the future that we want to see. I’m so excited to hear and see what our campers do to bring this theme to life!

Dani, ATV Advisor & South Sound Rocks! Camp Director

 STEVIE made me say it! Songs in the Key of Life has given me life over the years and has pulled me through some hills and valleys. When we were brain dumping about the theme, I was instantly taken back to many moons ago when my friend made me a mixed-tape called “Songs in the Key of Danielle Bernadette” (that’s me, by the way). Each song on that mix had such deep meaning was filled with emotions that made my heart soar and my soul glow. THIS is what we do at Rain City Rock Camp… make hearts soar, souls glow and strengthen the collaborative community to change the world, one program, one event, one donation… one camper at a time. Change. Together we hold the key(s) to making this happen. Key of Change embodies so much of what we do and inspires so much of what we need to do. Key of Change is who we are. Key of Change is our kuleana (responsibility).

Key of Change is going to move us forward, as one heartbeat, into new ground, into new possibilities, into a new year of programming that we can’t wait for you to be a part of. We encourage our community, from board members to campers to those who just love what we do in general, to explore the concept of Key of Change within your families, workplaces, and anywhere you see fit to uplift and call to action the matter of positive change for all!

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.

Ladies Rock Camp is Now Adult Rock Camp

An Update from Your Captain, Adra Boo

YES, YOU ARE READING CORRECTLY! LRC is now, and for the future, ARC, Adult Rock Camp, or if you’re fancy, Rain City Adult Rock Camp! We asked the community what they thought about the program, from top to bottom, and the overall response was “Why not just call it Rain City Rock Camp, periodt?!” So, we are listening to you all! As you may or may not know, we serve those who are female-identifying as well as gender-expansive and non-conforming folx, and that isn’t changing, but our name has changed to reflect just that- the community we serve, and the folx who make this camp amazing… YOU! You belong here, bebe! 

And what about 2021, you ask? We are staying virtual this year. Until we are sure of what’s happening with the pandemic, we are prioritizing the safety of our community. The bonus is that you can pretty much attend camp from wherever you are, pacific standard, east coast, or even Hawaii-Aleutian standard time! 

Fast Facts:

  • PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN! If you can afford it, yes, pay full price, but if you can’t afford it, so what- attend anyways! And if you can sponsor a camper, do it! 
  • ARC is now stretched across TWO WEEKENDS: May 7-9, 14 & 15! We’ve made the first weekend’s days a bit shorter, and now, you have time in between to make absolute magic, including formulating a video to put to your music selections for the 2nd weekend’s showcase! Maybe it’s a slide show, or maybe it’s each of your bandmates playing their instrument! Either way, it’s going to be AMAZING! 
  • If you’re attending in Seattle, and you don’t have access to an instrument, WE GOT YOU! We have instruments that we can either arrange to get to you or have you pick up!
  • NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED! You just gotta have the want to be here with us, learning a new thing and sharing space with a diverse group!

Okay, I’m done yappin’ your ear off, but lastly, I’ll say COME TO CAMP! It’s CAMP! It’s fun, challenging, and an open-ended opportunity… and if you’re like me, never having that camp experience as a kid, THIS IS IT, y’all, the grownup version of the awesome program we have for our youth!

Apps open March 1st! Black and Indigenous folx and POC folx are highly encouraged to attend! Again, this space is for all, Periodt!

Join Us at Virtual Summer Camp!

A big part of our work for racial justice lies in our commitment to redoubling our efforts to ensure our programs center and uplift womxn, girls (cis and trans) and gender expansive folks of color, are accessible to all communities, and educate participants about the systemic racism faced by people of color—particularly Black womxn and gender non-conforming musicians—in the music industry and beyond. These goals have been integral to our planning for our summer programs.

We’re excited to share our plans for a Virtual Summer camp that will be every bit as empowering and meaningful as our in-person camps. And, we hope you’ll join us on this new adventure of self expression! 

What you can expect from Virtual Summer Camp:

  • Online workshops, assemblies and dance parties 
  • Music instruction and songwriting
  • Live performances from guest bands
  • A balance of screen time and real-world activities and interactions
  • Camper Power-up Pack complete with Tour Guide, lanyard, t-shirt and crafts to make the camp experience come to life
  • Tons of staff support—We recognize that technology can present problems for campers and families, and we’re here to help make it easy and accessible!
  • Five days of programming, Monday to Friday
  • A virtual showcase on the final afternoon where campers can show off their new skills

Summer Camp has always been about creating an empowering, safe space where campers can express themselves authentically and fully. Usually that space exists under one roof, but this year we’re building it under many. Our virtual space grows bigger and better with each person who joins Virtual Summer Camp! If you have any questions about signing up to participate or volunteer at Virtual Summer Camp, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at [email protected] or 206-437-2365. You can also check out our Virtual Summer Camp FAQs. We hope you join us for Virtual Summer Camp!

#OneHeartBeat
Mandy

Rain City Rock Camp
Program Manager

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.

We Need Your Support Today

Last year we asked you to Give Big because we believe the work Rain City Rock Camp is doing to empower womxn, girls (cis and trans) and gender expansive folks through music is essential. This year the world looks a lot different, but we’re asking you to Give Big again, if you can, because our work is more important now than ever.

Give Big to Rain City Rock Camp!

RCRC’s programs create a safe space for campers to express themselves freely through music and to connect with peers and mentors who are fearlessly authentic as well. Our camps are more than music camps. Don’t get us wrong—we rock all the way out! But, even more important, we build a supportive, empowering community where participants discuss media impact on self-image, learn how to set boundaries, explore basic self-defense tactics, and practice body positivity, teamwork and problem solving. The experience has a lasting impact on campers’ lives.

Rock Camp has been one of the biggest parts of my life for as long as I can really remember, no exaggeration. ... I don't think anyone could really ever truly know how important this camp was to me, especially as a queer teen—and a neurodivergent one! I met a lot of people like me, and a LOT more people unlike me, and they made me realize the type of person I really wanted to be and the things I really wanted to put out in the world. ... [C]oming out at camp to my annual camper friends was one of the most amazing and welcoming coming-out experiences of my life. I constantly wish that RCRC was year-round because it truly gives campers like me a sense of belonging, adventure, and spontaneity, all at once. I couldn't imagine the person I would be without it.

Annalise, RCRC Intern

It’s a tough time to ask for your support because we know that a lot of people are struggling in the midst of the pandemic. If you can’t give right now, we understand completely. But if you are in a position to offer your support, would you donate today?

Support Rain City Rock Camp Today


Your support means that we can adapt our programs so that our community can gather together virtually this summer. It means that after COVID-19 is long past, we’ll still be empowering womxn, girls (cis and trans) and gender expansive folks. But, we can’t do it without you!

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!

It’s a Mash-up Moment!

Hello Rain City Rockers!

I am so stoked to share the Camp Song video mash-up with you! When brainstorming with the RCRC staff how we can stay connected during this difficult time, it became clear that finding a way to come together and make music has never been more essential for us as a community.

As I listened to all the seriously awesome submissions from folx, the message of the song stood out more clearly than ever (maybe also because it is now permanently stuck on loop in my head). We’re here to rock and we won’t stop! So crank it up, jump around, and maybe just for a moment, let yourself imagine you’re at the Showcase singing with the entire Rain City Rock Camp family.

WE ROCK! #ONEHEARTBEAT

Mandy
RCRC Program Manager

Let’s get together online!

The health and safety of the Rain City Rock Camp community is our priority right now—and that means emotional and mental well-being too! We may not be able to gather together in person during the COVID-19 outbreak, but there are lots of other ways we can continue to support you.

We have some ideas, but we’d like to know what you think! How can our RCRC family stay engaged during this difficult time?

Click as many answers as you like, and don’t be shy about adding your ideas!



Join in With Our Camp Song Mash-up!

It’s a hard time to be apart right now, so we thought the RCRC community could do what it does best and come together to play music—specifically the Camp Song! Submit a video of yourself singing and/or playing the Camp Song on your instrument of choice by Tuesday, March 24. We’ll cut the videos together to create one amazing video of all of us playing music together while apart. 

Send your video (ideal format is MP4) to [email protected] by next Tuesday, March 24. WE ROCK!

How do I participate?

Need some inspiration to get you started? These two are rocking the Camp Song!

Wait, I still have questions!

Do I need special equipment?
Nope, use your phone, computer, or whatever device you have access to! If you have an audio interface, feel free to use it, but it’s definitely not required.

What if I don’t have the song memorized?
We got you! You can access PDFs for all of the instrument parts here, and listen to a complete recording to remember how it goes.

Should I just submit vocals?
We’re asking for all the instrumentals for the song! If you want to sing AND play guitar/bass/drums/keys, that’s great, or you could just play your instrument of choice.

Should I play the backing track while I’m recording?
If you’re able to listen to the backing track (guitar and click track) using headphones, that will help get a cleaner audio on the video for your instrument/vocals. If you’d rather not use the backing track, the key is C Major at 150 BPM.