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'I can do anything a boy can do': Girls learn carpentry skills, more at summer camp

July 21, 2014 at 9:29 AM ET

Welding, carpentry, auto repair — it's all part of a day at summer camp for "Rosie's Girls."  

Unlike a typical girls' camp, Rosie's Girls teaches pre-teen girls entering sixth, seventh and eighth grade new skills and the confidence to do things they might not have thought possible. NBC's Maria Shriver went to Santa Monica, California, to visit one of the day camps, which have locations in Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio and California. The camp is named after the iconic Rosie the Riveter, the symbol of female power who represented women working in factories during World War II. 

"The camp has really taught me that I can do anything a boy can do, and maybe I can even do it better,'' one camper told Shriver. 

The camps aim to build self-esteem by having the girls learn traditional male activities in everything from carpentry and welding to electrical wiring and fire-fighting. There also are arts activities like collage designing and silk screening as well as physical activities like swimming and learning self-defense techniques. 

Video: The chain of camps is boosting girls’ self-esteem through traditionally male activities, like carpentry and welding, encouraging them to reach new heights. NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver reports.

"I think it means that you're more independent, you're really brave and you don't give up,'' one camper said about being a Rosie's Girl. 

Story: 7 things I wish I knew before sending kids to sleepaway camp

A camper named Sarah, 11, went from being overcome by shyness and fear to rappelling out of windows and making friends only two weeks into camp. 

"I feel stronger and more confident,'' Sarah told Shriver. 

The camp also aims to encourage girls to build one another's esteem up at an age when many look to tear it down. During group activities, the girls will share their insecurities and then validate one another. The lessons are absorbed not only by the campers, but also campers like Jakie Yapkowitz, 16, who was once a camper herself. 

"I learned that it's OK if someone has prettier hair than I do, or better skin, or has a prettier smile because I'm special in my own way, too,'' Yapkowitz said. 

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