if only i knew then what i know now!
I am pretty confident one of the main reasons I ended up going to an all-girls junior high and high school was because I came home one day in 6th grade after our preview day at the local junior high and happily exclaimed, “did you know you can get credit for cheerleading!?!?” I am sure my parents would tell you that the decision was made to provide me with a quality education and an environment where girls were encouraged to become leaders without the competition and distraction of boys. They were right of course, but at the time I did not appreciate their decision to deprive me of cheerleading and boys. I most definitely did not appreciate the importance of an all-girl environment… not like I do now. Here I am, decades later loving, fostering, and embracing the collective power of all-women environments and fully appreciating the impact women have in my life.
why all-women outdoor events are important?
These in-person real-life events are important because so much of our connecting today happens in a digital space where reality is what we make it and often reflects what we want to be not who we are. Retreats, adventure camps, meet-ups, hikes bring women together and provide fun and supportive environments where women of all experience levels can learn new skills, allow time to connect with each other, and take time for themselves.
One of the good things I see happening on social media is the rise of women supporting other women in the outdoors, setting examples of what it means to be a women in the outdoors… all colors – all backgrounds – all shapes – all sizes – all orientations – fully clothed – buns out – van lifers – weekend warriors – moms – wives – partners – daughters – sisters – confident – raw – vulnerable – imperfect – women being brave enough to put themselves out there to be a beacon for others. But finding time to step away from our computers to find connection and sisterhood with like-minded women is still so important. The Escapes were created to provide a space where women could come and experience the outdoors together, in-person, without filters or editing… just come as you are.
Mirna Valerio, the author of A Beautiful Work in Progress, wrote about the importance of women retreats recently in this article and I was honored to be included. I admire the work that she is doing, the influence she is having on so many women, and the ways she is changing the perception of what it means to be a bad-ass athlete simply by being herself! Mirna and I share a common belief in the importance of getting women outdoors, providing spaces where we can show up as ourselves, and have fun doing it!
“SIMPLY PUTTING YOURSELF IN ENVIRONMENTS THAT GIVE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH PEERS AND GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AND SHARE EXPERIENCES CAN BE A GAME-CHANGER. AND CHANCES ARE, IF YOU MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS, THEY ARE ONES THAT WILL LAST A LIFETIME.” – GAIL TIFFORD, CHIEF BRAND OFFICER OF WW
This quote came from a recent Forbes article “Power of the Pack: Women who support women are more successful.“ We LOVED this Forbes article by Shelly Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient. Shelly writes about how a woman alone can have power, but collectively we have impact. While the article focuses on women in the workplace, the lessons translate to the collective impact women can have in any setting.
Over Mother’s Day of this year, we had an AdventurUs Women Mini-Escape in Bend. We brought together a group of women most of whom didn’t know each other. They quickly found connection and camaraderie encouraging each other up the rock, chatting on the trail, and in the quieter moments during meals and around the campfires. We went rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking many trying these things for the first time. After the weekend we asked them what about the weekend was unique or unexpected and why having all-women events are important. Here are some of the answers:
“Feeling comfortable enough to make some deep personal connections with strangers and noticing other women who were stepping out of THEIR comfort zone to make that connection was the most unexpected experience. And that by the end of the weekend, we all felt safe in this vulnerable space with one another was the most unique experience.” – Jacq L.
“I think women generally want to have a safe, nonjudgmental space in which to be themselves and even if they are competitive, they want to avoid the energy men can bring when they’re doing sports activities. Events like these give women more freedom to be themselves–and they empower them to take more chances and try new things.” – Nadia A.
“When there’s only Women present (no boys), it creates a special supportive environment where we can break out of our comfort zones. I believe that Women have the ability to lift each other up, inspire, and empower each other.” – Kim K.
These women came to the event as strangers and left as friends. We are now thrilled to see them encouraging and supporting each other up mountains and on social media when the distance is too far to connect. The AdventurUs Women Escapes provides an environment for women to discover what they are capable of, connect with like-minded women, support one another, and leave feeling empowered.
SO… IF ONLY I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW!
I wouldn’t have waited this long to finally be a cheerleader. I would tell my younger self to be a cheerleader, but be the kind of cheerleader that…
- encourages the women in her life to find their own journey,
- supports women in being confident about who they are and what they want to be,
- celebrates the unique qualities that make each of us special,
- recognizes helping other women succeed ultimately helps us all succeed,
- doesn’t have pom-poms and is definitely NOT standing on the sidelines watching, but is on the field passing us the ball to their teammate to score.
when women support women anything is possible!