The basement of First Unitarian Universalist Church featured a blend of drum beats, guitar strumming and keyboard synchronization on Wednesday morning during the third day of Queen City Rock Camp.
Twenty-six campers ranging between ages nine and 18 are attending this year’s day camp, which aims to create a safe space for girls, transgender and nonbinary youth to build confidence through music.
Amethyst Graham, 17, has attended Queen City Rock Camp since its inception in 2014. Graham said she’s returned to the camp for the last nine years because she enjoys having a safe space to learn how to better play her instrument, the bass, and meet up with friends she’s made in years past.
The camp started on Monday and concluded with a graduation ceremony on Friday. After checking in each morning, campers enjoyed a variety of activities, including music history presentations, instrumental instruction with their preferred instrument, do-it-yourself workshops, like zine-making, printmaking and videography, and daily afternoon band practice.
Each year, the camp is divided into small group bands that perform at the Queen City Rock Camp Showcase, which is held after the camp concludes. This year, there are five bands: Sour Owls, Band No. 2, Tino Dinos, Patchwork Moth and Nine Lives.
Campers decide on their band names, write and practice one song throughout camp and even design band merchandise that is available at the showcase. This year’s showcase is at the Springfield Art Museum on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. In addition to the live music, zines and a video project created by the campers will be on display.
Kai Mobley, 14, lives in Texas and has spent the last two summers with their father who lives in Springfield, attending the week-long camp. Mobley plays the keyboard in Band No. 2, which will perform a four-minute song about an astronaut crashing onto a barren planet at the showcase.
In Tino Dinos, Graham said she and her bandmates will perform an ’80s ballad about a lizard and dinosaur.
Camp coordinator Jahnavi Delmonico has been volunteering in some capacity with Queen City Rock Camp since 2018.
“These kids are really cool and we just want to give them space to breath and experiment,” Delmonico said. “Especially with the showcase on the horizon, it can be a little high tension, but I think that it’s just really cool to see them just get out of their comfort zones and make just really cool stuff.”
Capped at 26 campers each year, Queen City Rock Camp cost $200 per camper. The camp offers tuition assistance and since its establishment, 41% of campers have attended for free, according to the Queen City Rock Camp website.
The camp’s tuition assistance program is made possible by community donations, which can made on the Queen City Rock Camp website. Tuition assistance helps pay for facility rental, insurance, food and art supplies. The camp also accepts donations to help fund the annual showcase and instrumental gear.
Greta Cross is the trending topics reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.