Empowerment with a beat

  • Thu Apr 4th, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Iris Pavitt is rocking it!

The 2011 graduate of Orcas Island High School has been hired as the volunteer and activities coordinator at Seattle’s Rain City Rock Camp, a rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls in Seattle.

Rain City Rock Camp offers girls 8-18 years old opportunities to learn how to play a rock instrument, form bands, write songs and perform.

“I attended my first rock ‘n’ roll camp in Portland when I was 11,” Pavitt told the Sounder. “Though I never played an instrument, I sang in several choirs on the island. Mom heard of the camp and thought I would enjoy it. It was a transformational experience.”

Formed in Portland in 2001, the musically driven summer camps, known globally as the Girls Rock Movement, was originally developed by women in the music scene who, according to Pavitt, were tired of being told to be quiet. Since then, camps devoted to providing a place for young girls to develop self-confidence within the framework of rock ‘n’ roll can be found in 40 American cities, and globally in countries like Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Finland and Australia.

“The camps promote empowerment and social equity,” Pavitt shared, adding that the curricula also focuses on body image, privilege gender diversity and mutual support. “I want people to know that anyone who identifies as female (cis or trans), trans or gender nonconforming are welcome to be campers or volunteers in leadership positions,” she added.

Pavitt, who attended, interned and volunteered at several of the Portland camps, is enjoying getting to know the Seattle rock team.

“Though it’s my first experience with the Rain City team, it feels like I’ve come home,” she said.

A 2015 graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, Pavitt worked for almost two years with Seattle Parks and Recreation Youth Employment and Service Learning Center as a member of AmeriCorps, where she was involved in youth development programs that encouraged self-actualization. Before that, she worked on an organic farm in Massachusetts – one of several opportunities she relates directly to her experience growing up on Orcas Island.

“My island education gave me an opportunity to learn from people who dedicated themselves to the social good and work with mentors who encouraged participation in independent projects. I was lucky to be involved in the pilot year of the farm-to-cafeteria program that taught young people the value of agricultural sustainability. That experience, as well as my internship at the island’s library and the Orcas Island Community Foundation, exposed me to the power of knowledge and the strength of community.”

Pavitt wants people to know, too, that the Rain City Rock Camp isn’t solely for young girls.

“There’s a ladies rock camp later this year for any woman who wants to check it out,” she offered.

In a sweet twist, Pavitt has encouraged her mother, Hannah Parker, to attend. A budding musician herself and member of the “living room band Crab Bait,” Parker giggled at the idea.

“Whether or not I attend, I couldn’t be happier that Iris has found the perfect job for herself. Everyone will benefit from her experience and her big heart,” Parker said.

Registration for Seattle’s 2019 summer camps for girls began April 1. Visit RainCityRockCamp.org for more information.

This year’s theme is Rock It Like We Talk It. It would appear Iris Pavitt has done just that.