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Girls with guitars and 'tude: Welcome to camp

For one noisy week, girls screamed, banged, strummed, danced and sang. They learned about hip-hop and Tejano music, explored their vulnerabilities and hit the yoga mats. This wasn't your typical summer camp.

Conformity was discouraged, and apologies were taboo. Any "sorry" was met with a response - "You rock!"

Twelve-year-old Alize Simon felt empowered.

"I love this place," she said.

Girls Rock Camp St. Pete, hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg last month, is part of an international network of more than 80 organizations, according to its website. Some groups have expanded to year-round programming, but many - like the one in St. Pete - only hold summer camps each year.

Volunteers and sponsorships give girls ages 7-17 the chance to play instruments and compose music and lyrics.

"Original music," said director Rachael Sibilia. "No covers here."

Each girl was given a week to learn how to play before they came together at Jannus Live for a showcase, where the empowerment theme came full circle. Individual bands were sponsored by businesses owned by women.

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