When Mai Oseto joined the product team at Ticketfly last year, she learned that Flyers get 3 days of volunteer time off (VTO). She instantly knew how she was going to use it. Back when Mai first moved to San Francisco from Hawaii, she was introduced to Bay Area Girls Rock Camp (BAGRC). The organization and concept immediately reminded her of “Girls Rock!,” a documentary about a rock and roll camp for girls in Portland. The rest is rock history.
Last month, Mai was able to use her 3 days of VTO (plus 2 of her paid time off days) to volunteer at the third and final session of Bay Area Girls Rock Camp 2015. Founded in 2008 by Carey Fay-Horowitz, the camp provides a safe space for girls of all backgrounds to express themselves, while promoting tolerance, challenging gender stereotypes and creating positive social change. It also rocks out really hard. The camp holds 3 week-long sessions during the summer, as well as after-school programs during the school year for girls ages 8-18 in the Bay Area.
The camp’s days across sessions follow a similar structure—mornings are filled with music lessons of the campers’ chosen instrument (guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, or voice). In the afternoon, they break up into their bands for band practice. Throughout the day, the girls participate in workshops on topics like “Women in the Media,” “Women’s Music Her-story,” “Gender Empowerment,” and “Screen Printing.” The campers are split into two different age ranges—younger campers ages 8-11 and older campers ages 12-18.
The organization relies on volunteers to take on different roles such as instrument instructors, band managers, band coaches, roadies, workshop leaders and more. Mai got to wear two hats during her week at BAGRC—one as an instrument instructor and one as a band coach. In the mornings, Mai taught guitar with a co-instructor to the younger campers and then the older campers. For many of the girls, especially the younger campers who sometimes had little to no experience with a guitar, it was back to basics with a wide-range of lessons like guitar tuning. The older campers, having a little more experience under their belts, gave Mai some constructive jam out time, complete with learning new songs and even re-learning solid classics like “Stairway to Heaven.”
As a band coach, Mai spent her afternoons with a group of 12-14 year old campers who named themselves “Midnight Riot.” The bands, which are put together on the first day of camp, are given one week to come up with a name, a hand-drawn logo and write an original song that would be performed at the BAGRC showcase at the end of the session. The showcase gives all the campers the opportunity to perform at a real venue (The New Parrish in Oakland, CA a venue Mai herself hasn’t even performed at) and live for their family and friends.
The entire experience left Mai mightily impressed, not only with the creativity of her band and their final project, but with their musical knowledge. “I loved seeing how confident and supportive they were with each other. They grew and learned so much in that week! It was so great to see all the kids being themselves and not worrying about what other people or society think or tell them. I wish I had a place like BAGRC when I was their age. I encourage everyone to volunteer and sign their kids up! Volunteering at BAGRC gave me so much hope for the future. It was empowering.”
For more information on Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, including how you can get involved to help out with this great cause, check out their website here.
Full-time Flyers receive volunteer time off (VTO) benefits, affording them time to volunteer and participate in great causes. Check out open positions at Ticketfly.