PSU student rocks girls’ worlds

Imagine 100 12- to 18-year-old girls at a rock and roll show. Now imagine that they’re not the fans, not the screaming, giggling adolescent girls of our stereotypes. Instead imagine that the girls are the stars. This dream comes true this summer for Portland State student Misty McElroy, a recent transplant from Atlanta, Ga. who founded the Rock And Roll Camp for Girls organizing committee.The Rock and Roll Camp for Girls is a volunteer-powered day camp that celebrates and empowers girls through rock music, zine writing, spoken word and self-defense workshops. The power chords will blast here at Portland State this August 20 through 25.

McElroy’s vision began eight years ago when she lived in Atlanta. The camp is “what I wanted when I was an adolescent girl,” she said. “The camp is to get girls to the forefront of writing and playing music, and is a reaction to the lingering stereotypes of females in the music industry.”

The kids will be divided into three different levels by musical ability, but prior musical instruction is not needed. McElroy said that camp organizers were going to rely heavily on the punk rock approach, only three chords are neeeded.

The committee is seeking donations of time, money and equipment for the camp. Loans or outright gifts are needed of guitars, amps, drumsticks, mic stands, drum kits, earplugs and microphones. The committee is not-for-profit so the donations are tax deductible.

But more than equipment, the committee needs cash. In order to keep the event open to girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds the committee offers sponsorship of one camper for a $75 donation. They are also seeking corporate sponsorship, but are waiting for spring break for fundraising.

PSU’s women’s studies department has helped develop the idea from dream to incipient reality and it is also sponsored by KillRockStars, Smart Choices and the Girls Initiative Network.

When asked if it’s necessary to teach self defense in the context of rock and roll, McElroy responded, “If you’ve ever been a girl in a mosh pit, yes.” She said that music and self defense has been empowering for her.

McElroy credited Portland’s attitude of respect for organizing and feminism for her idea’s acceptance. She also credited student Megan Wyckoff, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney for their help.

People interested in helping out with donations of equipment or funds are encouraged to contact McElroy at (503) 771-4789, or by e-mail at [email protected]. Keep your eyes and ears open for registration information. The group maintains a Web site at

“They don’t have to wait in line for an autograph, they can play it themselves,” said McElroy of camp participants. “We’ve got to save people from the Britney Spears’s of the world.”