“Girls Rock” in summer camp

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July 15th, 2011

Omaha, NE- University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Strauss Performing Arts building was full of rock n’ roll this week, thanks to some pint-sized and teenage rock n’ rollers. The very first Omaha Girls Rock! Camp prepared for their final showcase Saturday night.

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A little reminder for the girls of The Jellybeans. (Photo by Josh Korth)

It’s been five days of broad education for the girls of the Omaha Girls Rock! Camp: ranging from self-esteem workshops, yoga, screenprinting and of course–making music.

“Basically, it’s about rocking out and having some fun,” said 8-year-old Gabi. She is the keyboard player of the newly formed girl band, The Jellybeans. Singer Isa, 8, said they plan to take their name quite literally during their gig tomorrow night.

Girl band Urban Scrunchies jam out with their new musical skills. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“We’re going to have packets of jellybeans and we’re going to throw them at the crowd, because we are The Jellybeans, afterall,” said Isa.

This enthusiasm is all part of the mission of the all-girls rock camp founded by local musician Stefanie Drootin-Senseney. Girls aged eight through 18 form bands, come up with band names, write a song, learn how to play an instrument, promote their band and learn all about girl power in five days.

Drootin-Senseney was unsure about just how much could get accomplished in one business week. “I’m amazed, it’s insane watching these ladies and the amount of change and progression in their instrument playing and just coming out of their shells,” said Drootin-Senseney.

Volunteer band manager Sarah Bohling wondered, “Can we really make something listenable in this short of time? Can they even learn the chords in a week? But, they have made such progress…it’s kind of like the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

Pandas of Peace show off their rock n' roll attitude. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

Drootin-Senseney says the current social climate for females is why camps like hers are important to educate and empower young girls.

“In the media, there’s so much portrayal of girls being sex objects or sex symbols. We’re just trying to show them that you’re more than a pretty face, you know, you can do anything.”

Serena, an 11-year-old camper and band member of Urban Scrunchies said, “I like seeing that there’s no guys here judging or telling you what to do.” Many of the others girls at Omaha Girls Rock!Camp agree, including The Jellybeans.

“Yes! A lot!” said the band in unison. “It’s great having all the same gender, being all the same gender, it’s just wonderful. If there was a boy here, it would probably be like big huge arguments because because we’re girls and there’s a boy here.”

The Jellybeans' lead singer, Isa, belts out the band's new song. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

But the most important part about Omaha Girls Rock! Camp is not about the lack of boys. It’s the experience of picking up an instrument and bonding with other female band mates.

14-year-old, Jessica, is a member of Urban Scrunchies. “I like music a lot,” she said. “I like that they just get a whole bunch of girls together and you can learn about each other and learn not to be shy and come out of your shell. I like that we can get together as a band and make our own band and just use our creativity together.”

“I’m hoping to learn how to jam out on a bass!” said fellow band member, Serena.

“We just learn more about ourselves,” said Gabi. “And to be your inner star,” said Isa.

The girls said they enjoy bonding with their female band mates. (Photo by Josh Korth)

Tomorrow night starting at 6:30 at the Slowdown, all the bands will perform live in the final showcase with their new musical talents and rock n’ roll attitudes. Proceeds go to next year’s Omaha Girls Rock! Camp.

Listen to The Jellybeans
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Listen to Urban Scrunchies
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