Camp Rosie

Camp Rosie participant Maribel Rivera, 14 of Glendale, and other participants learn self defense techniques from instructor Nelson Nio at Pacific Community Center in Glendale on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / June 14, 2014)

A long-running camp hosted by Glendale’s Commission on the Status of Women that historically targeted teen girls is now subtly advertising to boys, too.

The latest city announcement about Camp Rosie, which is accepting applications for two weeklong sessions this summer, advertises the free program as one that gives all “teens skills to survive in the real world,” although the curriculum is catered to an all-girl audience.

The change comes after a San Diego nonprofit group called the National Coalition for Men complained that Glendale only offered self-defense classes for women and not for men. Their allegations that the gender-exclusive classes were violating the equal-protection rights in the Constitution led to the city scheduling a self-defense class specifically for men.

But when the City Council green lighted the male self-defense class in April, several said they didn’t want Camp Rosie to change its focus from teaching girls about self-confidence, financial literacy, leadership, body image and dating.

“We all know why we have Camp Rosie, why we have the Commission on the Status of Women: because today in the 21st century, in 2014, women are still treated unfairly,” Mayor Zareh Sinanyan said at the time.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman also defended Camp Rosie’s emphasis on girls’ issues.

“I don’t see the evidence that boys need it. They’re running all the corporations. They’re running the country,” she said. “I think it’s the girls that need that help.”

But Tereza Aleksanian, a Glendale executive analyst who works with the Commission on the Status of Women, said the camp has always been open to boys, but no boys ever registered. No boys have signed up so far for this summer’s sessions either, she said.

An advertisement for Camp Rosie from two years ago, though, states the camp was “developed for young women and girls” and a video on the city’s YouTube channel has many speakers who describe the camp as a program specifically for girls and a zoomed-in image of a camp folder reads “girl power.”

And if boys did sign up for the camp, Aleksanian said, the city would have to tweak the program’s curriculum.

Denise Miller, chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, said from her perspective, the camp is just for girls and has always been that way.

“From a commission standpoint, Camp Rosie is what Camp Rosie is. We clearly know the intent of Camp Rosie as well as our commitment to serve the needs of women and girls,” she said, adding that the city may be publicizing the class to all teens this year for legal reasons, but that doesn’t change the camp’s mission.

The city of Santa Monica offers a similar program as Camp Rosie called Rosie’s Girls. Santa Monica restricts the camp to middle school girls.

So far 10 girls have signed up for Camp Rosie’s first session and seven for the second. The city almost didn’t host a second session last year because of low-enrollment, but after increased outreach, enough girls signed up for the class to survive.

It costs the commission about $11,000 to run the camp. This summer’s cost is covered by donations from the operator of Glendale Memorial Medical Center and Soroptimists International, a women’s professional group.

Camp will be held at the Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave. on Monday through Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on June 16 to July 3 and July 7 to July 24.

For more information, email women@glendaleca.gov or call (818) 548-2000.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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