I believe with all my heart that magic happens when you get a group of women together in the outdoors. And while I also want to be clear that I have amazing supportive men in my life, and some of my most trusted teachers and mentors have been men, getting out with women is just different.
EMPOWERING WOMEN: YOU GOT THIS!
The people who know me know I love helping others discover how to be independent in the outdoors. In particular, I enjoy introducing women to outdoor sports, because for a long time, activities such as climbing, mountain biking, and backpacking were not considered feminine pursuits. Through my experiences learning outdoor skills and passing those skills on to other women, I was inspired to start AdventurUs Women.
There is real value in all-women outdoor learning environments. They are less intimidating and more empathetic. Learning from female guides is empowering and inspiring. Throughout my own journey, I have chosen to improve upon and learn new skills in all-women environments, including an ice climbing class and an intro to backcountry skiing hut trip with Chicks Climbing & Skiing. This company is owned and run by amazing women guides, and they are dedicated to empowering women through life-changing experiences in the outdoors. I loved my time with these incredible women, and my capabilities improved dramatically under their careful guidance.
FOR WOMEN BY WOMEN: WE GET IT
If you have experienced an all-women hike, camp-out, class, or adventure then you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t then you should… but be prepared. During my first women’s outdoor adventure, I was concerned that there would be competitiveness, cattiness, and judging. Oh, how wrong I was. Rather, there was laughter, tears, hugs, vulnerability, and strength. Making the choice to join a community of women means signing on for a personal cheering squad, the opportunity to support and be supported, impromptu dance parties, likely a glass (or three) of wine, and new friends in your phone for future adventures, big and small. I can’t lie – this was a surprise to me, even after having spent six years at an all-girl junior high and high school. Aside from my school years, I had not experienced many, if any, all-women learning or work environments.
I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of fun outdoors. Most of these experiences have been positive, some have been life-changing, all have taught me something. Of these experiences, some of the most fun, meaningful, and satisfying moments have been those that take place when it is just women. For example:
- The only time I have come home from teaching with sore abs was from laughing so hard during an all-women intro to climbing class.
- One of my fondest backpacking memories is of a “failed” trip where we weren’t going to make a planned summit so we spent a perfect afternoon by a super cold alpine lake. We stripped down to our underwear and jumped in, read, napped, and made a solemn pact that none of the swimming photos would ever be posted anywhere!
- Ironically, some of the most personal and impactful one-on-one conversations I have had about why women want to get outdoors and the barriers that they face have been at all women’s events with hundreds of women.
- One of my best career experiences was working with the most outstanding team of women I know putting on large scales all-women retreats across the country. Each of us was so different and had our own strengths that we brought to the team. Together, it felt like we could accomplish anything.
THE BENEFITS OF ALL-WOMEN LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: WHERE DO I START?
I could go on at length about why I believe all-women learning environments can be so beneficial to individuals, but my greatest takeaways from these experiences are the power of the village, the community, and the other women who are part of the experience.
What I know is that we are better together,
when we can support and be supported,
when we can uplift and be lifted,
when we can laugh until we cry and cry until we laugh,
when we can listen, and be heard,
when we can be fearful and fearless,
when we can love, and be loved, and
when we can truly be ourselves… together.