By Taylor McCuaig

Photo by Jessica Deeks

Although the name may have changed, the mission of Girls+ Rock Ottawa stays the same, and continues to expand its programming. Girls+ Rock Ottawa, formerly known as Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls, has developed a new camp for people who are non-binary, cis gender, and trans women over the age of 19.

Girls+ Rock Camp is a grassroots organization which is run by self-identified girls, and now also adult women. Girls+ uses their music programming to foster empowerment.

Tiffanie Tri, Girls+ Rock Ottawa board vice chair said part of the re-branding decision came from the need to be more inclusive and demonstrate their gender inclusivity more visually with the addition of a plus symbol  to their name. Tri also said calling the organization a girls rock camp didn’t feel accurate anymore because of the new and thriving programs. This includes the Womens+ Rock Camp, as well as the progression of their Jam Sessions.

Girls+ Jam Sessions began as a four-hour block of time once a month where alumni campers practice their instruments and jam as a band at Capital Rehearsal Studios. The sessions have now opened up to the general public, as long as they meet the criteria—identifying as women, and non-binary young adults between the ages of 13-20. Tri said Girls+ sees these Jam Sessions as filling a large need in the Ottawa music community.

Tri said a lot of people were looking for places to find other musicians and a place where they are able to jam with other women. The idea for the 19+ rock camp was bred largely from the amount of requests the group had from people outside of the original camp’s age range, and the parents of previous campers who wanted to something like it for themselves.

Tri said they’re also putting on the Women’s+ camps because women face the same challenges surrounding getting involved in music as younger girls. Womens+ Rock Camp wants to teach women what they’re capable of.

“It’s the benefit of playing an instrument . . . the joy of it, the fun of playing with other people,” said Tri.

The adult version of the camp will have a similar structure to its sister camp.

“It’s basically the grown-up version,” said Tri.

When registering, everyone is asked to indicate their top three instrument choices and proficiency. Based on their responses, each person is placed in a band. The band has a song picked for them which they learn over the span of the weekend.

In addition to the technical skills of learning a new song and instrument, campers will also get to participate in workshops, such as one on stage courage, put together with the help of a local improv group.

The camp will also incorporate a panel into the weekend on Women in Music. This panel will be a discussion surrounding the different components of what being a woman in music can mean. It will also give campers the ability to listen to local musicians discuss the next steps of being a musician.

Registration for the Girls+ Rock Ottawa’s Women+ Rock Camp is open until June 1. There have been a few registrations so far, said Tri, and they are already seeing a wide range in ages in their campers. The camp aims to create a safe space where a different generation of self-identifying women can feel like they are free to learn and develop new skills through commitment and dedication.

“It’s never too late to learn something new, to challenge yourself, to meet new people.”