Omaha Girls Rock builds confidence in young girls through music

by Julia Veik

The Omaha Girls Rock (OGR) camp empowers young women and helps them find self-confidence and their own voice.

The 2017 OGR summer camp took place at The Holland Center for Performing Arts from July 10-14 for the 13 to 16-year-old girls and from July 17-21 for the 10 to 12-year-olds. The camp focused mainly on instrument instruction, workshops, songwriting and band practice, live performances from visiting artists and a showcase concert. The workshops campers participated in were taught by volunteers who are involved in the music community in Omaha, a list of which is available on the OGR website.

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Girls can change the world A group of girls gathers around a poster on which they each write down something that troubles them in the world. This exercise was designed to help them practice thinking big. Photo courtesy of Corinne Johnson.

The OGR camp was created by Stefanie Drootin-Senseney and is intended to help girls form strong values, confidence, self-reliance and original thinking.

The current director of OGR, Melissa Wurth, is a Marian alum of the Class of ’97. Wurth wants OGR to be prevalent in the Omaha community by reaching the lives of young women. For Wurth, the best part of her job is seeing the girls take part in the program and then apply what they learn at OGR to their own lives.

“There are young women, former participants in OGR summer camps who are now making a difference in their own schools, volunteering with other local community organizations, becoming leaders,” Wurth said.

For junior Corinne Johnson, OGR was her chance to find her own confidence. She started going to OGR and began playing guitar when she was 10 in the summer of 2011. She participated as an OGR camper for three years. Johnson spent her weeks as a camper surrounded by strong women who were a part of the Omaha music community.

“It made me so much more confident! When I first started the camp, I was very shy, but by the end of the camp, I was singing and rocking it. Being surrounded by so many inspiring women helps you to feel empowered,” Johnson said.

Another part of the experience as a camper that Johnson enjoyed was forming a band and performing at the end of the week.

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Strumming away Corinne Johnson practices the guitar. Music has been an integral part of her life for years. Photo courtesy of Corinne Johnson.

“It was so cool to create a song in five days and then be able to sing it at the Slowdown in front of so many people,” Johnson said.

Though she does not play guitar as often, Johnson returned to OGR as a workshop creator and leader. She led a workshop for 10 to 12-year-old girls about empowerment. In her workshop she talked about what it means to be empowered, how to become more empowered, how to build others up and how to make the world a better place.

The girls in her workshop did an exercise called “Mirror, Mirror” designed to make them think about specific features they like about themselves. The girls wrote statements about those features and then discussed if it was hard for them to do the activity and why or why not.

“My favorite part as workshop leader was being able to see the kids react to the activities that we were doing. It was really awesome to see my ideas and work come to life and to see the girls enjoy it,” Johnson said.

Becoming a workshop leader shifted her viewpoint of OGR. Johnson has become the person who is trying to empower the girls who attend OGR.

“I just have a completely different outlook on the camp than I did as camper. As a workshop leader, I am the one who is attempting to to empower these girls while as a camper I was the one being empowered,” Johnson said.

Johnson has recommended taking part in OGR to her friends and would recommend it to any Marian student.

“It’s a really amazing camp that makes young girls feel powerful and evokes so much self-confidence. It’s also really spectacular how many young girls have come out of OGR with their own voice through music,” Johnson said.

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