Maybe some day Barbie will come with an electric guitar. But until then, girls who want to live out their dream of becoming a rock star will need another springboard for their imaginations.
Luckily for local girls, there’s a movie playing in Port Orchard tonight that will introduce them the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls.
Called “Girls Rock!” the documentary follows four girls as they spend a week at the camp in Portland, Ore., that was created to boost their overall confidence as much as their musical abilities.
Tonight’s showing will be introduced and hosted by Blaine Ewig, a 14-year-old Marcus Whitman Junior High School student who has attended the camp religiously since she was 9.
“She came running up to me (that first year) to show me this tiny ad she found in a ‘Women Who Rock’ magazine,” said South Kitsap resident Jenyfer Ewig, Blaine’s mother, describing an ad about the “size of a fortune cookie” for the camp. “She said, ‘I want to go to that!’”
Since Blaine was about 6, Ewig said she had been asking for an electric guitar, an interest she attributes to the “really good music we played in the house.
“We never played Barney,” Ewig said with a laugh, referring to the large, purple dinosaur who sings decidedly simple, innocuous tunes. “Instead, we played Joan Jett and we’d say, “See, she plays guitar — isn’t that cool?”
Today, Ewig says her daughter is the camp’s “longest-running camper,” though that first year it looked like she might never be able to go.
“It’s a day camp, if you can believe it,” Ewig said, explaining that to be able to drop Blaine off at the Portland camp and pick her up in the evening, she and her husband Doug rented a hotel room for the week. “It was a miracle she got to go that year.”
Despite the cost, Ewig said the family continued their caravan to Portland for the next couple of years until Blaine was old enough to stay with a host family.
It wasn’t easy, she said, but it was definitely worth it.
“There’s a lot of growth going on there — it’s a journey,” she said of the camp, describing it as environment that not only nurtures the girls’ musical talents, but their self-esteem, as well, and expands their idea of what girls can and should do.
“They teach music like it’s a natural thing, and like it’s a natural thing for girls to be loud,” Ewig said. “Girls are normally timid, and they’ll tap a drum gently, and the instructors will tell them, ‘No, I want you to really hit it!’ And it feels really good to do that — I think it’s cathartic for them.”
Along with learning how strum, drum and sing with commitment, Ewig said the camp also teaches self-defense and body acceptance, something she said is often sorely lacking in the sexist environment of the music industry.
“They teach you that girls sweat — and who gives a crap?” she said, describing it as a refreshing and needed change from the idea that women’s only role in the music industry was to be hot and “go on stage in a beaded bra.”
For these reasons and more, Ewig said the camp has been great for her daughter, though for all the growth, she is still a teenager.
“She’s very private about her music — she won’t let us listen to her practicing,” she said, explaining that while her daughter won’t play “Jingle Bells” for the family at Christmas time, she will, however, get up on stage and play in front of 600 people.
“With strangers, there’s no judgment — and you don’t have to hang out with them afterward,” she said, adding that she still gets a kick out of seeing her daughter play. “I’ll turn to Doug and say, ‘Isn’t it amazing that she can do that?’”
Ewig said her daughter was at the camp while the documentary was being filmed, and will be hosting a question-and-answer session following tonight’s showing of the movie.