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!

New Staff Member

Hello everyone,

My name is Iris Pavitt and I’m overjoyed to announce that I am the new Volunteer & Administrative Coordinator here at Rain City Rock Camp. I was a camper, intern, and volunteer for many years at Rock Camp in Portland, OR, and can’t wait to get to know the Rain City community. Being a volunteer at Rock Camp was an extremely formative and rewarding time for me, and I’m looking forward to ensuring that all our volunteers have an amazing (and maybe even life-changing!) experience at camp.

Before coming to Rain City, I was an AmeriCorps member with Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Employment and Service Learning Unit for nearly two years. Our summer and after-school programs for teenagers focused on youth-led advocacy, research, and action. The incredibly talented youth that I worked alongside conducted peer research on the impacts of the school to prison pipeline, used photography and a community mural to document gentrification in the Central District, and reflected on their life experiences to confront underlying causes of systemic injustice. The lessons I learned from this position about successful youth programming, the benefits of experiential learning, and mentorship will definitely inform the work that I do here at Rain City Rock Camp.

Until I get to know you all, here’s some more facts about me:

-I don’t currently play an instrument, but I’m hoping to learn the drums so that my girlfriend and I can start a surf rock band.

-I love all animals and have a cat named Foot Foot (named after the mascot from the Shaggs).

-In my free time I love making zines, working in my garden, reading, and taking walks around the city.

-I have worked for an organic farm, a family-owned bodycare business, the historical archives of my alma mater, and my hometown library.

I hope to meet you all soon; I just know 2019 is going to be a stellar year!

Affectionately yours,

Iris

Announcing Our 2019 Camp Theme!

Rock It Like We Talk it!

“This year is about allowing ourselves to fall, to get back up, and to keep going at it ‘till we get to where we want to be, moving forward, starting our own fire/rocket and keeping it lit.”

Adra Boo, Ladies Rock Camp Director

Alright, we are three months into 2019.  Last year we were all about how practice makes progress. This year we are challenging ourselves to take that theme even further and push ourselves to live out our beliefs.  We are asking ourselves to be impeccable with our word, authentic to our ethics, and genuine in our commitments.

Rocking it is being accountable to yourself. “It is being true to your word and following through with your plans.”

Carly Toyer, Summer Camp Director

Our theme focuses on action! It says, okay, we’ve talked about how were going to do this thing, now let’s go out and do it! Even if it seems daunting, even if we are afraid that we might not get it right, thanks okay, get out there and ROCK IT. Rocking it is bold.

Rocking it is “putting ideas into action.”

Danielle Crivello-Chang, Lead Youth Program Staff

We’ve talked a lot about how perfection isn’t our goal at rock camp, but it is still hard to shake that need to be seen a certain way, to be passive over active, to not ruffle feathers in the face of disagreement or speak up when you may be the only one to do so.  All too often our goals, our dreams, and our promises to ourselves and to one another can get lost in the chatter, in the over-analyzation, and in the need to perfect or control.

“It is tending one’s own fire or garden. It speaks to last year’s theme and
continues that mission forward.”

Stephanie Anne Johnson, South Sound Ladies Rock Camp Director

In these moments, we’ve got to give ourselves permission to ROCK IT. We want to remind one another that it is okay to make mistakes!  It is okay to get out on stage even if you don’t feel like your song is perfect! It is okay to stand up for what you believe in even if you are afraid! Go forth and rock it. What is important is that you are doing it.

“We are taking the things that we teach and learn at camp and applying it to our personal lives.”

Jeanne Mitchell, Activated Teen Voices

We are challenging all of us to check in with ourselves about how we are really integrating the lessons we’ve learned at rock camp into our lives. ROCK IT LIKE WE TALK IT.  Yes, we love the way it rhymes and allows for some fantastic future rocket puns (yep, they are coming) AND we are also holding ourselves to this mantra.

“It’s a temperature check for us all — anyone can say they’re pushing for change in themselves, in their lives, in the world but are we taking that next step?”

Sue Spang, Program Director

We invite you to reflect on this year’s theme and consider how you interact with your own values, ethics, and goals.  And we invite you to rock it in 2019 over and over and over again!

How do we rock it?
Like we talk it!

How do we talk it?
Like we rock it!

ROCK IT LIKE WE TALK IT!

Why Keys? Why Now?

Today, we officially announced the addition of keyboards to our instrument offerings at Rain City Rock Camp! Besides being so stoked to provide this option to everyone who’s asked about it over the years, I want to reflect on a few reasons why we’re launching this keyboard program this year!

First and foremost, we want to create more access for our programs. As many of you know, our camps fill up blazingly fast, and at their current size, our largest Summer Camps (20 bands or so) in Seattle require the work of around 100 adult volunteers a day to serve our campers, with each additional band requiring even more volunteers. By opening up a keyboard spot in each band, we can run programming for more campers while keeping the number of volunteers around the same, and providing better support for those volunteers and campers. Feels like a win-win to us!

Second, we are so excited to provide new opportunities for our returning campers and volunteers. So many of our returners have experienced camp so many times — and while we are always finding new ways to keep it fresh, the introduction of a whole new curriculum and instrument will totally change how our bands sound and the way our instruments work together, as well as provide another learning opportunity for more experienced folks. We are SO excited to hear what everyone will come up with. Are you a volunteer who wants to teach keyboards at LRC or Summer Camp? Let us know!

Third, thanks to generous donors and grants, we have an expanded gear budget that will allow us to begin purchasing the necessary equipment to offer consistent, effective education and confident performance for our campers on keys. Based on our other instrument teaching models, we’ll need about twenty identical keyboards to serve our current camp size and model, as well as cases, amps, and other associated equipment. We are exploring sourcing these as we speak, while keeping in mind that we are also maintaining and replacing other program gear.

We’re on our way, but your donations, as always, make it possible for us to keep offering innovative, supportive, empowering programming for youth and adults — if you would like to support the new keyboard program, or our programs more widely, please don’t hesitate to click on the link below.

And with that, we are SO excited to be embarking on this new chapter at RCRC! Do you have questions about our keyboard program or anything else at RCRC? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

Sue

Message from Mama Mo

Dear Rock Camp Family,

After 8 incredible years serving the organization, I am leaving the Rain City Rock Camp staff. It has been an absolute honor to work alongside all of you to help advance our mission to empower girls, womxn, and gender non-conforming individuals to engage their amazing potential through music. We have accomplished so much together!

What I love most about this organization is the thriving, loving, talented, dedicated community we have built. I have been so inspired by the way the Rock Camp family has grown and shown up for the cause. Together, we have made a huge impact and I’m so darn proud of what we have done so far. This is a pivotal point in the RCRC timeline, and I can’t wait to see the great things this heart-filled organization and fantastic community will do in the future!

Leading the discussions around Body Image in our programs over the years has been revolutionary for me, and has shaped who I am as a person. Through those workshops and the support from this community, I have transformed my life, growing from an eager intern to a Director of Community Engagement that stands tall, proud, and comfortable in her own skin. I am forever grateful.

I am now pursuing an opportunity in coaching, where I can pay it forward and cheer folks on one-on-one.

Thank you,

Michelle O’Connor

Aka: Mama Mo

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

New Year, New Theme!

This year marks Rain City Rock Camp for Girls’ TENTH year as an organization. That’s ten years of summer camp, ten years of radical thinking and community building, ten years of troubleshooting programs and figuring out how to best carry out our vision.

Over the years, we have tweaked, adjusted, pivoted, changed our method—changed our name, made mistakes, taken risks, tried new roles, formed committees, counted on many, and marched on together. In the throes of hard work or in moments of struggle—as a volunteer or staff member or supporter—we always came back to our mission: 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.

For 2018, we dreamed of a theme that would embody this sentiment: the value of committing time and energy to make positive change in ourselves and in our community. Thanks to our Teen Leadership Crew, Amplified Teen Voices, that theme fell right into our laps. Without further ado, we present our theme for Rain City Rock Camp’s TENTH year of programming …

Practice makes progress.

This year we are asking ourselves, what does it mean to practice? What is my practice? And, what are we practicing for? We are challenging ourselves to take that thing in our lives – the one that has been subject to procrastination, put on the back burner, or too intimidating in the past – and put it into practice. Knowing that it starts with just a small step, that we might not get it right at first, and at some point we may feel as though we are failing. That is okay. We aren’t striving for perfection. The point is to keep trying—to keep playing that riff, having those tough conversations, or pushing yourself to look in the mirror and say, “you are strong, and you got this.”

In the words of ATV,

“Practice Makes Progress is setting goals, and thinking about what I CAN do.”

“It allows room for error, knowing that progress is not always a straight line.”

“It is making the choice to learn.”

“Practice Makes Progress is making a difference no matter where I am in my process.”

“It is how I set the bar for myself.”

“It is about taking steps.”

“Practice Makes Progress is bringing out into the world what I practice at camp.”

When we practice something, we are choosing where to apply our attention and focus our energy. A practice is a commitment to our beliefs, and a dedication to carrying out our values. We practice to break into habits, see what we are capable of, and actively follow through on our ideas. It takes our time and energy, but we are investing in something bigger. When we commit to our practice, we are committing to ourselves and what we stand for. Why? To witness our growth. To be agents of change. To make progress.

Our first camp had only 39 participants.

By the end of this year, because of the way our community has collectively practiced our mission, we’ve will have served over 2000 women, girls, and gender non-conforming individuals. THAT feels a lot like progress.

Thanks to ATV for the great theme, and happy 10th birthday, RCRC community!