“By girls, with girls, for girls.” This was the theme of Saturday night’s show at Pressed, as well as for the Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls. ORC4G was founded on the vision of providing a space where self-identified girls and women can “enjoy a sense of empowerment, confidence, and stability” while exploring and discovering themselves within the Ottawa music scene.
Highlighted by past participants and current volunteers for opening up the accessibility for women and girls in the music industry. Creating a space where girls can be themselves, sharing a common interest of rock music. “It also opens them up to this whole network of women who are able to help and support their endeavours, which in turn helps to build and strengthen the community and the music community as a whole,” said Mandie Norton, an active volunteer and board member of the camp. Mandie plays an important role within the organization assisting with the implementation of the camp, as well as supporting and mentoring up and coming musicians in Ottawa.
Willa MacLean was a past camper, and now active volunteer, who took on the task of organizing the benefit show that happened last Saturday. Having an understanding of what it’s like entering the music scene, Willa carefully chose the venue to ensure that the show would be as inclusive as possible, including being open to all ages. Wanting campers past, present, and future to come out and have a fun night, all while raising proceeds going to a great cause.
The camp itself runs over the course of a weekend in November. It is open for any and all self-identifying girls between the ages 13-17. Campers gather at Capital Rehearsal Studios on the Friday night to meet each other, socialize, watch a documentary, as well as find out what instruments everyone will be learning over the next two days. Bright and early on Saturday the real fun begins, and the camp takes over CRS, occupying the rehearsal rooms in instrument groups, and learning the ins and outs of the instruments.
Time in between rehearsal sessions is broken up with mini-workshops on anything from band management to booking shows. Sunday is spent rehearsing with the bands, leading up to the end of camp showcase that happens on the Sunday night. “Sunday evening we all head to the showcase together and the girls perform with their bands from the weekend.” The weekend is filled with learning and support, while being very emotional as everyone takes a new step in their personal music journeys. “I have yet to make it through a showcase without bawling like a baby,” Mandie professed.
Saturday’s fundraiser was an excellent example of what this camp gives back to the music industry within the city. The bands featured were made up of past and present volunteers from the camp, and the main organizer, Willa, went through the camp herself. “It had been a dream of mine for so long, and music is something I’ve always been very passionate about…Thanks to the program it became a reality, and I’m so grateful for that.” She has grown immensely within the scene since her first experiences at ORC4G three years ago, and is now finding herself doing shows at local festivals like Ottawa Explosion, and of course, giving back through volunteering and planning fundraisers such as this one.
The ORC4G runs on the community support of volunteers, fundraisers, and donations. Events like this are critical to keeping the camp as accessible as possible for participants, helping with expenses, and allowing the camp to take place. This event was an excellent opportunity to get involved and support a wonderful cause and help jumpstart the next generation of musicians, so keep your eyes peeled for events to come, or reach out to the organizers!
*Both Mandie and Willa wanted to highlight the volunteers and mentors within the Ottawa community that are a part of making ORC4G happen, particularly Luke Martin and Capital Rehearsal Studios/Gabba Hey! for letting the camp take over the space each year, the very active board members who work all year round, and Willa wanted to give a giant thank you to Mandie for the support she received in planning this event! *