Developing and Nourishing a Sense of Self in Outdoor Affinity Spaces: Testimonial

A testimonial on healing, confidence, and transformation from an attendee of the AdventurUs Women Escape in Boulder, Colorado.


After a long dark winter and the passing of my father, I received an email invite to attend the next AdventurUs Women Escape. I was over the Moon excited as this was the kind of retreat I only ever dreamed about. I quickly accepted the invitation and shared the news with my family and close friends. That same day I tried to visualize what the retreat might be like but then decided that wasn’t a good idea as it might trigger some anxiety. I decided to stay in the moment and pray for the next two months to go by smoothly so I could make it to that retreat!    


“The confidence I gained at the AdventurUs Women Escape cannot be measured or matched by any other experience.”


The day finally arrived, I loaded up my bag, and drove to Boulder A-lodge for an AdventurUs Women’s Escape! Everything had worked out perfectly but I was a little nervous to meet new women. Somehow, I forgot that I was a likeable person and I was worried about it. I was also a little afraid that I wouldn’t be “in shape” or “fit” enough to participate in the activities. Although I was given plenty of notices and packed my clothes accordingly, I was still afraid I didn’t pack right. Overall, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. But when I arrived I was greeted with love and kindness and gifts! Not to mention Boulder A-lodge was a fantastic location full of soul giving energy. Oh wow! My hotel room was divine! 


“My anxiety was taken over by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude”


Normally, I don’t get too excited about material things but I was so ecstatic about the Fjallraven backpack, MiiR water bottle, chair, yoga mat, and many nourishing welcome gifts. I know it might seem shallow but my anxiety was taken over by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. It’s been so long since I received a gift that I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt so loved and appreciated that I just wanted to do my best to fit in wherever I could. From that moment on, I knew that I had to stop being scared! I told myself “Enjoy the moment.” After checking out all my cool stuff, I peeked out the window and saw all the other women arriving. 


All the women were really sweet and seemed happy to be there. For the opening ceremony I enjoyed sitting around the fire with all the women. I was pleasantly surprised to see Native Women's Wilderness, an organization of women who share stories of the ancestral lands we all love to explore. They acknowledged the history of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and countless other tribes who once dwelled in Colorado areas. Their speaking at the opening was a good way to begin our weekend. Then we heard from the incredible instructors who were encouraging and enthusiastic about the weekend and they helped me feel safe and comfortable. At this moment I was truly able to relax into the weekend. 


“I only ever compete with myself and I feel like that mountain bike ride made me a winner!”

The rest of the weekend was fabulous. I enjoyed insightful conversations with other nature loving women. My list of activities included; yoga, hiking, painting, mountain biking, delicious food, a wilderness survival class, fly fishing. Not to mention I was able to borrow the most amazing shoes from Salomon. I really enjoyed all the magical moments with the amazing photographers as well. I am still smiling about how uplifting that whole weekend felt. I will forever cherish those memories. 


The highlight of my weekend was the opportunity to ride an expensive, fancy, mountain bike up a very steep hill to the most beautiful forest. I used to think mountain bikers were mad because it looks like such a dangerous thing to do. But after learning how to ride this type of bike as well as push myself up and down a mountain I now know why people love it. I would love to go back to that very same trail and complete it again. I only ever compete with myself and I feel like that mountain bike ride made me a winner! 


Developing a sense of self in outdoor affinity spaces


I am a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe from the Pine Ridge, South Dakota. I was born on the reservation and all of my extended family live in that area. I’ve been living in Denver for the past fifteen years and I've recently been hired to learn and teach Lakota Language at a middle school and growing high school. My experience with AdventurUs Women was a highlight of my year. My big takeaway is seeing how uplifted I was by being supported by other women. I want to continue my life journey building healthy strong relationships with other women and support them in every way possible.  

For the past three years, I’ve sent my daughters on backpacking trips with Native Women’s Wilderness. Each time they go, they come back with so much more love for the natural world as well as a stronger sense of self. When they return home they have an admirable higher level of confidence and self awareness. My weekend with AdventurUs Women came close to giving me that feeling. 


AdventurUs Women gave me a chance to build my character by giving me the opportunity I could never afford to give myself financially or experientially and I will forever be grateful. One of my only insecurities is not wanting to share my experience with my family and friends back home on the reservation (via social media) because I don’t want them to feel sad for never having the same opportunity. I believe more women, like myself, will benefit from this great experience. The confidence I gained at the AdventurUs Women Escape cannot be measured or matched by any other experience.