A Short History of Queer Rock Camp(s)

Queer Rock Camp began in 2011 in Olympia as a summer camp to empower queer, gender non-conforming, gender variant, and allied youth, and build community through music. It was the first ever camp of its kind! QRC focused on creating an inclusive community through music, do-it-yourself ethics, social justice, and fun. Queer Rock Camp held camp each summer for five years.

QRC was based on the Girls Rock Camp model – a movement that challenges sexism and gender stereotypes in music and beyond. Started in Portland, OR in 2001 with the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls, there are now hundreds of GRC’s all over the world.

In 2015 Queer Rock Camp ran two sessions of camp – one in Olympia and one in Seattle, which took place at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Seattle camp was a big success, with 30 campers coming from all over the Puget Sound area (and the world) to rock out for a week and perform an amazing showcase at the Vera Project over Pride Weekend!

Running camps in two cities was an experiment, and at the summer’s end we decided to move forward as two separate but allied organizations, in order to be more responsive to the different desires, needs, and cultural demands of the two cities (not to mention trying to balance meetings, budgets, and organizer’s time & energy across the two locations. :X)

And thus the Queer & Trans Youth Music Project was born! We are happy to join the ever-growing ranks of music programs for queer & trans youth popping up all the world – from Ruby Tuesday in Berlin, to QORDS in North Carolina, to Queer Rock Camps in Southern California and Portland, OR, and a new drop-in music program in Olympia offered by Stonewall Youth.

Although QTYMP is moving forward as a new organization, we share the history of Queer Rock Camp, and are committed to learning from both the successes and the challenges of QRC. QTYMP is dedicated to carrying forward the mission and values of Queer Rock Camp, including working for collective liberation –  by creating transformative environments and experiences, and by interrupting oppressions such as racism and transmisogyny in our communities and organizations. We took a year off from camp in 2016 to focus energy on building our new organization and re-designing our camp program to launch in 2017.

We hope you join us – together we can write the next chapter of our history!