Miami Girls Rock Camp Cultivates the Next Generation of 305 Superstars

If you happen to come across a squadron of tween and teen girls armed to the teeth with guitars and drumsticks, fear not. Put aside your Children of the Corn nightmares, for it's probably only the Miami Girls Rock Camp.

"They tackle that challenge and come away victors."

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MGRC, a Miami summer camp where young ladies learn the finer points of rocking out, is on the second day of its second session at the Miami Beach Community Church, which will host a week of musical demonstrations, instrument lessons, band practice, and workshops. This is the camp's second year in operation. And it's not the first of its kind; Girls Rock Camps can be found across the nation, but until last year, Miami didn't have its own.

"Girls Rock Camps exist all over the world and have been in existence since the early 2000s," Steph Taylor, one of the camp's cofounders, told New Times in an interview last year. She, along with Emile Milgrim and Heather Burdick, decided Miami needed its own camp. "We were perplexed that South Florida hadn't caught on to this movement, so codirector Emile Milgrim and I started having meetings to make it possible."

The Miami camp's second year will culminate in the Grand Finale Showcase this Sunday, when each of the camp's bands will perform a song they've spent the summer crafting.

"The finale is an amazing event," Taylor says. "There is such exuberant joy channeled in their performances. We hope they feel powerful, self-expressed, and come away with a sense of triumph. Performing is scary, let alone in front of so many people. They tackle that challenge and come away victors. It's the perfect culminating experience. You have to see it to believe it."

This summer's session comes with a few changes, the biggest being an increase in the number of campers. Last year saw only 24 girls, grouped into five bands. But thanks to last year's success and some impressive accolades, this year's camp has eight bands with four to five girls in each group.

"Since completing our first year of camp, we were recipients of a Knight Arts Challenge Grant, and we also won the 2015 Knight Arts People's Choice Award," Taylor says. That netted the camp $20,000 to use however it wanted. "That experience has really increased our visibility and has offered us the funding to grow the camp in many ways, one of which was the acceptance of more campers. In addition to more campers, we also have more volunteers, who are integral to the growth of camp."

Taylor also diversified the curriculum for this year's session. "We wanted to have workshops that focused in areas of music, art, social justice, and self-defense. We are also adding in daily topics — talking about respect, togetherness, privilege, stereotypes, etc."

The camp's grand showcase at the Fillmore Miami Beach is open to the public. As a camp counselor of MGRC for the second year in a row, I had the chance to watch last year's finale with the rest of the camp's staff, proud and impressed with what these young women were able to accomplish in only a week.

"We are all feeling excited," Taylor says. "In addition to all the new volunteers and campers we have this year, there will also be a lot of familiar faces from last year. The volunteers seem to have just as much fun as the campers, so it's kind of like we're all going to camp."

Miami Girls Rock Camp Grand Finale Showcase. 4 p.m. Sunday, July 24, at the Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300. Tickets cost $10. Visit

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Junette Reyes is a Miami native multimedia journalist with previous writing credits at FIU Student Media, South Florida Music Obsessed, and WLRN. She generally prefers chilling with cats over humans and avoids direct sunlight to maintain her ghastly appearance.