“I feel like if everyone in the world could go through OGR, they should.”Ollie, OGR camper of nine years
Alums and volunteers remember where it all started: a shadowy classroom tucked in the back corner of one of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s empty halls. The group was smaller in 2011, with only 20 girls, some eight years old, others about to graduate high school. Volunteers doubled as band coaches, instrument instructors and sandwich makers, cutting ham and cheeses before packing them into lunch sacks. After five days of drum beats, guitar noodling and vocal runs, the campers took the Slowdown stage, surprising themselves and the audience with their creativity and ability.
Fast forward 11 years to the summer of 2022 and the scene is remarkably different. Instead of a drafty classroom, 30-plus campers mill about the Holland Performing Arts Center’s recital hall. Volunteers straighten instruments in their instruction studios while others organize materials for the day’s workshops. While the homemade sandwiches were made with care, local non-profit Omaha Girls Rock now enjoys catered lasagna and walking tacos for lunch. But other things haven’t changed.
“There’s this natural component of how camp is run. It allows, celebrates and welcomes campers, volunteers, lunchtime performers, etc.,” OGR executive director Halley Taylor said. “Anyone who comes in contact with our programming, [is] allow[ed] a very unique space to be authentically [themselves.]”
The Reader wanted to see this firsthand. We spent a week with the 13-16-year-old campers this summer, learning what music means to them. We watched them learn an instrument, form a band and write an original song to perform to a live audience in just five days.
We documented it in this new podcast for Reader Radio, “Omaha Girls Rock: Musicians With Ambition.”
Listen to Reader Radio Wherever You Find Podcasts
Or listen to the episodes on our website:
- Episode 1: Formation
- Episode 2: A Conversation with Halley Taylor
- Episode 3: Introspection
- Episode 4: A Conversation with Kat Ludwick
- Episode 5: Inspiration
- Episode 6: The Showcase