Girl Scouts Ambassador organizes "Run the World" spring break camp for Longfellow Middle School girls
“We are the weaker sex, yes or no?” Officer Menell Orosco, a 16-year veteran of the San Antonio Police Department, asked the 40 Longfellow Middle School girls fidgeting in the sub-cafeteria at Jefferson High School on Tuesday.
“No!” they replied.
“Actually, yes we are, because men are bigger and stronger and they can overpower you,” Orosco said back. The girls stopped fidgeting and giggling and sat silent as she continued with her explanation.
Orosco was delivering a lesson on self-defense for the girls participating in a spring break camp called, “Run the World,” organized by Clarisa Medina, a 17-year-old senior at Jefferson High School.
Orosco wanted the girls to understand that men are physically stronger than women. But she also showed the girls how they can use self-defense techniques and knowledge to fight back. Attackers, she said, do not want to have to fight their victims and choose victims they think will not fight back.
“You have two possible reactions when someone attacks you,” Orosco said. “You can freeze or you can do something about it,” Orosco said. “Attackers are expecting you not to do anything about it.”
She showed the girls where to strike a man to stun him and create a moment to escape (in the Adam’s apple). And she showed girls how to turn a pencil into a self-defense weapon.
Orosco is one of several speakers visiting the spring break camp this week. Medina organized the camp as a Girl Scouts project to gain the Gold Award, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn in her scouting career.
The “Run the World” girls’ empowerment camp was the product of 1 ½ years of work, 13 years of Girl Scouts training, and personal experience, growing up as a Latina in San Antonio’s inner-city, Medina said.
“The reason I wanted to do the camp was because at Jefferson, I saw a lot of minorities and women are a minority, getting pregnant or getting caught up in drugs or in the wrong relationships or in abusive relationships,” Medina said.
During the self-defense session, girls described having been sexually assaulted, as well as having been physically abused by relatives.
“I realized that through my middle school career, I had nobody taking the time to push me," Medina said. "I had the morals and values that my parents instilled in me. But I didn’t hear it from anybody else and I didn’t see it from anybody else. I just felt that this was a time in my life when I could have used that extra push or that extra oomph to get me motivated to go to high school and to get me to go to college to understand how serious this was. That’s why I wanted to address middle schoolers.”
Medina is one of eight children and said she could have fallen through the cracks. What made a difference in her life, she said, was the fact that she continued to participate in Girl Scouts and enrolled in the Upward Bound program at St. Mary’s University. Through Girl Scouts, Medina became close with Anna Maria Chávez, who was the CEO for the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and now is the CEO for the Girl Scouts of U.S.A. Participating in Upward Bound for three summers, Medina said she met Oliver P. Garza, the ambassador for Honduras, and Jacqueline Dansby, a professor and the director of Upward Bound at St. Mary’s.
“A lot of things have contributed to my success, my parents and my older sister, but also my grandparents and my mentors, like Anna Maria Chávez and Ambassador Garza and Jacqueline Dansby,” Medina said. “Any girl in general, they just need someone to guide them, to be their friend, to help them along the way, to be a positive influence, letting them know that they can do it and they can overcome and they can achieve things, no matter what.”
Medina’s mentors helped her secure speakers and the $10,000 that made the camp possible.
The spring break camp includes motivational speakers from the five areas in which Medina thought middle school girls could use some bolstering: morals and values, math and science, world issues, self-defense, and self-awareness.
Hannah Ramirez, a 12-year-old sixth grader said she appreciated the effort.
“I would be doing nothing. I would just be home bored,” Ramirez said. “They’re bringing people in to educate us about how real life is and what’s going on. And they’re telling us their stories. I like it.”