Recently, a friend of mine told me about a fundraiser she was working on to benefit the Willie May Rock Camp for Girls, a non-profit music program based in Fort Greene. "Rock Camp? In Fort Greene?" I thought. I chatted with Executive Director Karla Schickele about what they offer and about the upcoming benefit. 1. What exactly is the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls? Officially, it's a non-profit music and mentoring program that empowers girls and women through music education and activities that foster self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Unofficially, it's the funnest summer day camp in New York City... and a brand-new arts education center in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill.
2. Who is the camp open to? What age groups? The camp is open to girls age 8 to 18. No musical experience necessary, and tuition is sliding scale.
3. How did the camp end up in Fort Greene? We were looking for a year-round home where we could have our office, store our music gear, and most importantly, have a practice space so we could make music during the year. Two of us on staff have toddlers who go to The Coop School, so we heard the school was looking for tenants in their new building on Irving Place, and the space turned out to be perfect.
4. How many programs are offered? In addition to the summer camp, we do Music Club, which is a weekly after school program for girls here in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, a D.J. program at the Urban Assembly School of Music and Art, plus we offer lessons and practice space for youth bands.
5. What about grown-ups? Anything for grown up girls? Glad you asked! We do Ladies Rock Camp for adult women every summer, which is a long-weekend version of the summer camp -- instrument classes, band practice, and a big concert at the end. Wicked fun. And all the money goes to the scholarship fund of the summer camp, so it's a feel-good experience all around. We also do a weekly Ladies Jam drop-in session at our space that's open to all women! 6. Tell us about your upcoming fundraiser. Our annual ROCK N' ROLL AUCTION is next Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at The Knitting Factory. The hilarious Murray Hill will emcee and serve as auctioneer, Kaki King will perform, Erin McKeown will write a love song on the spot for the highest bidder, and camper bands Saffire and The Awkward Turtles will play. We have amazing items to auction off, including local stuff like party space at Still Hip, kid stuff like Big Apple Circus tickets, and grown-up stuff like a beer party for 40 at the Brooklyn Brewery. We're also doing an ebay auction of hot items like a mic signed by Tori Amos and a guitar signed by Sheryl Crow. For more information, http://williemaerockcamp.org/auction.html 7. How long have you lived in the neighborhood? What brought you here? I've lived in Brooklyn since I was 3, but I moved to Fort Greene in 2005, five minutes after I met my partner Kate. Now we have two kids and we're still in the same one-bedroom. The neighborhood is powerful like that! 8. If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be and why? Now that we have a bookstore? Hmmm....a Westbeth-style living place for artists and (ahem) non-profit leaders, to make it possible for us to remain in the community.
9. What's your favorite local hangout? Bittersweet! and Outpost!
10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why? Well, I don't know, but my son Emmet and I were playing ice cream stand at playgroup at the Lafayette Church yesterday, and he offered me an imaginary cone with what really sounded like "Sticker Shock Chocolate." So that's my new favorite flavor.
Who wants to do grown up Rock Camp with me?!
Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls 87 Irving Place Brooklyn NY 11238 (347) 599-0716 www.williemaerockcamp.org ROCK N' ROLL AUCTION Tuesday, Feb. 9 The Knitting Factory with Murray Hill and Kaki King 361 Metropolitan Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211