I don’t get too many opportunities to mentor the young of the pack, so I was unreasonably chuffed to be invited to participate in a panel at the end of this year’s Girls Rock! Chicago, a day camp covering the nitty-gritty of rocking for girls ages 9 to 16. The panel I’ll be on focuses on careers in the rock biz that don’t involve being a musician. A DJ, a sound engineer, a booking agent, a photojournalist, and an entertainment lawyer are also on board, possibly with more to come.

The idea behind the camp, it seems to me, is that in many places and times, the social interactions that lead to music-making and band-forming are difficult for girls to take part in. They begin at the infamous Cootie Stage of development (which, for some guys, extends well into their 30s), when boys and girls see each other as alien species and can’t quite fathom the notion of snoring beside one another on a hard floor or in an Econoline van. But surely there’s no reason why girls who so willingly bond over chanting “Bloody Mary” into a mirror and putting their compatriots’ training bras in the freezer at slumber parties can’t channel that same energy into making some joyful noise. If you can operate a curling iron (something I never mastered), you can work a distortion pedal.

But work with me a little. What would you tell a young girl who might want to be a music critic someday? Please keep the discussion PG—and don’t say, “Have a trust fund.”