First published in the July 28 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
By Jenilee Borek
Special to the Outlook
In a gym at the YWCA Glendale/Pasadena location, 14 girls sat at tables as they focused on filling out a template of a resumé.
They worked intently, and at times they turned to their neighbor to ask a question or show something they had written down. A couple of girls even volunteered to share what they had written at the end of the activity, and then opened up about the professions they were hoping to pursue once they reached adulthood.
This was one of the activities that the girls had a chance to learn from on the first day of Camp Rosie, which is a popular girls’ empowerment summer camp, for girls 10 years old and older, that had three weeklong sessions.
The camps were back in-person this summer for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic had an impact on the girls, even though the program continued in an online format.
“Although it gave the girls a chance to connect online, it wasn’t the same. They didn’t feel that same level of bonding and connection that allowed them to find support with one another through the year,” said Jomie Liu, program manager.
Being back in person had a positive impact on the girls who attended.
“We measure the pre- and post-outcomes,” Liu added. “Over the past two years [during] the pandemic, although we see growth in confidence levels in all of these areas [of] workshop series that we go through, from beginning to end, we’re seeing the girls come in at a lower confidence level.
“Being back in person, we see the girls being able to connect, being able to make new friends, to see one another. There’s so much social-emotional learning that we see in person that we didn’t get online.”
What was different about this year’s camps were that they included the YWCA’s “Strive for Teens” component. YWCA Glendale and Pasadena was one of only five YWCA associations across the country to receive the YW “Strive for Teens” $45,000 grant from the Starbucks Foundation.
The YW “Strive for Teens” portion of the program focuses on developing the girls’ business, digital and interpersonal skills, so that they can be more prepared for jobs during their teenage years and careers in adulthood, where they can become leaders and innovators.
“All of the programs are really designed to help young women transition from being young women to productive, successful, healthy adults,” said YWCA Glendale and Pasadena Board President Jessica First.
“I think [YW ‘Strive’] is really focused a little more on life skills. How do you represent yourself? How do you present yourself on paper? How do you talk about yourself? And how do you secure opportunities for yourself? So, the idea, even though that camp has a different name, in many ways is similar, but it’s really about empowering and providing knowledge and critical competence to those girls,” she said.
“Our hope is to provide a mix of different things,” she added. “It’s designed to build confidence, build skill sets, and open the aperture for these young women, in hopes of allowing them to commandeer the future that they want for themselves.”
Giulia Dye is a 13-year-old from Pasadena who attended the camp. During the resumé activity, she shared that she wants to have a career in acting. She had certain goals that she wanted to achieve during her attendance.
“I’ve been actually trying to get a resumé for smaller parts, and this really helped me. Usually, I don’t speak up like this, but I feel like it’s already helped me — just talking to new people and helping each other out,” Dye said.
By the end of the camp, she wasn’t the only girl who was impacted.
The overall goal was to create a supportive environment and help adolescent girls along their path to becoming successful young women.
“I think the idea there is that you can have the ability to make change, you could have the ability to try new things and be supported along the way,” First said.
The camp was free for most of the attendees, and those who didn’t qualify only paid a small fee. YWCA Glendale and Pasadena will continue to provide year-round girls’ empowerment programs for youth throughout the community.
For more information, visit ywcagp.org.