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Girls Rock Camp North: An Ecosystems Approach to Summer Camp?

By Shayna Dolan


Recently, I’ve thought a lot about the role that art can play in issues such as climate change, sustainability, and social justice. I have explored the utility of using art to communicate large-scale environmental issues as a way to engage citizens to take action. In this blog post I want to tell you about an exciting opportunity happening in Prince George this summer and how it has led me to think about art as not only a method of communication, but also as a valuable process in itself that evokes many of the principles of an ecosystems approach to health.

GirlsRockCampNorthGirls Rock Camp North is a volunteer-run, week-long summer program for selfidentified girls and gender creative youth aged 9-17, operating out of Prince George, BC from August 21-25, 2017. Camp founders describe the camp as

“…a grass-roots organisation that cultivates self-empowerment and positive selfimage in self-identified girls and gender creative youth through music creation and performance, skills sharing and building, and peer collaboration.”

The week-long day camp includes workshops on song writing, zine and poster making, positive self-image, gear set-up, technical training and more. The cost of attending the camp is on a sliding scale basis depending on each camper’s financial situation. Organizers explain that this feature acknowledges differences in wealth, income, costs, and privilege and works to actively address the economic disparities in the Prince George community and society. The camp’s website states,

“We believe in the power of music to create personal and social change, and we aim to expand opportunities for girls, women and gender nonconforming individuals by equipping them with the technical, social, and self-advocacy skills to live by their own terms with integrity and respect for others. Simultaneously, we aim to increase the number of girls who wish to participate in various music scenes, and strive to end the gender imbalance and challenges that self-identified women and minorities experience in the industry.”

ShreddingGenderNormsIt’s apparent how the ecohealth principle of Gender and Social Equity is explicitly addressed by organizers of the Rock Camp through their acknowledgement of unequal and unfair opportunities for girls and women in the music industry. The above image make it pretty clear that the camp intends to “shred” gender norms and provide a safe and welcoming space for girls to explore themselves through music. In addition to Gender and Social Equity I would argue that the camp usesSystems Thinking in the development of the camp. The organizers envision the camp as

“a sustainable, annual project that will encourage community building, as well as provide mentorship and leadership opportunities in Prince George and surrounding area.”

The camp appears to not only exist as a method to teach girls music skills but also as an opportunity to connect people and strengthen community as those involved build capacity. Finally, this endeavor is a great illustration of Knowledge to Action. Camp founders come from a broad range of skills and disciplines and bring to the project a keen sense of both local and societal issues impacting the health of girls. This camp is an example of an initiative that is actively working towards improving the health and well-being of girls in the community of Prince George.

Prior to being introduced to the world of ecohealth and engaging with these course concepts I would have viewed this camp as a really cool summer activity that a small town kid such as myself would have LOVED to take part in. It’s been an interesting process to see how I now see concepts such as gender and social equity, systems thinking, and knowledge to action in places and processes I wouldn’t have a few years ago. I’m curious to know, have you been seeing events and opportunities differently lately?

Thanks for reading!