The girls’ smiles lit up like fireworks when they sat in the chairs of local city leaders, their minds bursting with ideas about the future.
Monday was the first day the YWCA of Glendale hosted Camp Rosie.
Named to honor World War II cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, the program is a two-week summer day camp for girls that lets them learn new skills and make connections with women in various professions.
The program was previously run by the the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women. In November, the commission transferred the program to the YWCA.
The organization will provide workshops on building healthy relationships, yoga and bystander intervention.
The current session will end July 20, with a second group taking part from July 23 to Aug. 3. Applications for the second group are open until Monday.
“It’s really nice to be in a camp that encourages you to be in more male-dominated fields like an entrepreneur or a politician,” said 15-year-old Simone Nguyen.
The previous incarnation of the camp is still intact — girls 12 to 18 years old are given a diverse curriculum that includes training on financial literacy, self-defense and healthy relationships.
“We want to keep girls active, but our main mission is to build leadership skills and empower them, to make them feel connected to their community,” said camp director Devon Malick.
The campers come from different backgrounds from Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.
“They all see they are experiencing the same thing,” Malick said. “Being a girl does not have to be isolating. It is a community experience.”
To build empowerment, the girls must see themselves in jobs they once thought were exclusively male.
Glendale City Councilwoman Paula Devine greeted the campers in the council chambers and talked about her career and what they can do to be good citizens.
Then she asked the girls to sit in the council members’ seats to know what it feels like. When the girls were asked about the identity of Yasmin Beers, the city’s first woman to be city manager, one girl’s hand shot up immediately, indicating she knew the answer.
“You’re all in very important seats,” Devine told the girls.
During a tour of the Glendale Police Department, the girls were taken to the Verdugo Regional Crime Laboratory to meet forensic scientists.
Inside the laboratory were all women, who explained how they use DNA to identify suspects.
The forensics laboratory visit was a popular one for the girls. A chorus of questions awaited forensic specialist Cynthia Lopez after she discussed her job.
“This is one of my favorite things to do.” said Glendale Police Sgt. Dan Suttles about the tour. “I like getting these questions because we’re going over the basics.”
Suttles led the camp through the rest of the four-story building quickly because he knew the forensics lab would captivate the girls’ attention.
For Anna Bluestone, 12, the forensics laboratory was fascinating.
“It’s crazy how you can just find someone with a strain of DNA,” she said.
Bluestone said the first day of Camp Rosie was fun, despite some initial reservations she had.
“It wasn’t a big fear, but I don’t like talking to people. It has been nice to go to a camp and face this fear that I have,” Bluestone said.
Nguyen walked away from Monday’s tours encouraged about her future.