Athens Rock Camp is back to empower girls through music    

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Harper Fickle hits the hi-hat, snare and bass drums with confidence.  

She didn’t know how to play a drum set until she came to this summer’s Athens Rock Camp for girls.  

I have always wanted to learn drums. I just thought it will be fun to do so,” said Fickle. 

She is one of 16 girls at the weeklong day rock camp at Ohio University. 

Harper Fickle learns how to play the drums at Athens Rock Camp for Girls.
Harper Fickle learns how to play the drums at Athens Rock Camp for Girls. [Betty Kankam-Boadu | WOUB]

The girls first meet mostly as strangers. They form bands, write original music and then perform for family and friends at the end of the camp. 

That’s not all. They also learn other skills such as stage presence and body movement.  

The rock camp is returning after a four-year hiatus because of the pandemic.  

“Finally, we decided there was enough support in the community and enough need in the community we were personally ready to take it on this year,” said Keely Harper, the camp coordinator. 

Started in 2011, the rock camp’s mission is to empower girls and build connections through music. 

“What they learn are things that will help them build futures in the music industry and keep themselves safe and educated about making those moves on their own,” said Harper. 

Campers learn how to sing and play the electric guitar, electric bass and drums. No musical experience is required before joining, but some already know their instruments. 

“They were really good at meeting each level of skill and teaching beginners,” Fickle said. 

Elle Pyle and her band mate at a band practice.
Elle Pyle and her band mate at band practice. [Betty Kankam-Boadu | WOUB]
Elle Pyle played the bass guitar before coming to the camp. Beyond honing her skills, she is grateful for the new bonds she is forming with some of the girls.   

“I don’t really have a lot of people that I hang out with,” Pyle said. “I made a lot of new friends and re-met people that I haven’t seen in while.” 

Harper says some past campers have gone on to pursue music professionally. 

“We have a couple of girls who have gone on to make amazing music,” said Harper. “We have a past camper, her name was Aubrey Riley. She is in Nashville as a solo artist. Locally, we have a girl named Cora. She played at the Nelsonville festival last year.”   

While not everyone at the camp will find musical success, Harper says the girls will leave the camp with something more valuable. 

“It takes a lot to get up on stage and I really hope that they take away the feeling that that gives them and the confidence that that gives them,” she said.