By Leigh Armstrong 

Skagway children hit the stage and lived out the dream of being a rock star during this year’s Rawk Camp from Oct. 18-20.

The Skagway Arts Council and Skagway Traditional Council sponsored the event that brought the Whitehorse-based rock band Speed Control to town to teach children how to play popular rock music in a band.

At the end of the camp on Oct. 20, the kids came together with Speed Control to put on a show for the community.

Speed Control, consisting of Graeme Peters, his brother Jody and Eric Holland, formed in 2010 and found a niche in doing workshops with kids aspiring to take the stage.

“We’ve done this a couple of years (in Skagway) and love it,” Graeme Peters said.

Beyond Skagway, Speed Control has taken its workshops across British Columbia to places like Vancouver, Fort Nelson and Kelowna.

“The premise of the Rawk Camp is to teach participants that there’s more to music than the Top 40 we hear on the radio, and that music can be a whole lot of fun,” Jody Peters said.

Part of what makes the experience 

special is that the kids get to play on the same instruments that would be used during a real rock show. Yamaha sponsors the camp series and provides instruments for the kids learn on.

“We haven’t had any of the kids break any in Skagway, but Yamaha will replace them if that happens,” Graeme Peters said.

Over 15 kids joined the group for the intensive camp that had them learning how to play multiple instruments for a three-song show that featured the children playing hits like “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard.

During the performance, children switched instruments between songs so they got a chance to perform in a variety of ways. 

The kids were divided into two separate bands of more than seven kids each, with some bands doubling up on keyboards or guitars.

In previous years, the event was held in the summer but Graeme Peters said it was great to get to Skagway during the fall, as it allowed for more kids to participate than had in the past. While previous shows were held at Seventh Pasture, this year’s show was at the Skagway School multipurpose room.

The band assisted the kids during the show, with Speed Control keeping the mood light, even if the students made mistakes.

In addition to prepping for the performance, the camp goes over the attitude and confidence that playing on stage requires. Both of the Peters brothers have had experience in education, with Graeme working with special needs and Jody teaching music, but they have since moved on to only performing and doing the Rawk Camp classes.