Hunting, Fishing, Camping, and all things outdoorsey are skills many of us have lost connection with, and for women, are skills that they’ve often been told were not suitable for their gender. ”Becoming an Outdoors Woman” (BOW) is an open program for Newfoundland women that hopes to change this.
This past weekend, women aged 18 and older gathered in Bishops Falls for a weekend in the woods to hone their outdoor skills. Operating a few times a year out of various areas of Newfoundland and Labrador, BOW offers women a variety of classes and workshops in all things outdoors.
Its goal is to provide women the opportunity to learn skills and gain confidence in areas in which they are inexperienced and may not have had the opportunity to be exposed to previously. All the classes are taught by skilled instructors at the introductory level in a comfortable atmosphere.
The program has a fee off $240.00 (financial assistance is available for single parents and students), but this includes two nights’ accommodation, seven meals, instruction, and any equipment you may need for the classes.
According to one of the past weekends’ participants, the cost is well worth it for what you get out of the program. “…it was surprising and reaffirming to be surrounded by a large group of women with interests like mine, some of which are traditionally atypical for women.” says Sherri- Lynn Dogurga.
Ms. Dogurga sees this program as an important opportunity for women. ”The opportunity for this kind of engagement does not necessarily come up, I have learned, unless I have been willing to challenge, negotiate, or maneuver gender boundaries. At BOW the gender boundaries are removed, and that’s deliberate. It’s by design. We need more of that deliberate welcome of women into these activities/sports/spaces in our province.”
During her weekend in the program, Ms. Dogurga learned to tie flies and cast them, and learned how to safely operate a rifle and got to practice her shot.
“Many homes have hunting rifles in the province. Whereas prior to BOW I would have hesitated around the weapons and not have known how to deal with them safely, I’m now confident that I could secure a rifle and lock it away safely,” she says.
Other women who participated in the program tried their hand a whole other range of activities including; Outdoor Cooking, Archery, Map & Compass, Camping, Trail Running, Survival, Hiking, Kayaking, and Nature Photography.
BOW is not only an opportunity for skill building, it is a rare opportunity for women of various generations and many backgrounds to get together in a positive and encouraging environment and create connections.
“I attribute much of the richness of the program to the range of participants. There were women who had spent little, if any, time away from their rural homes throughout their lives. There were women who travel around the world as a part of their current occupations. Our common interest in outdoor activities in Newfoundland and Labrador brought us together,” describes Dogurga.
Sad you missed out on this? Thankfully this program has been in operation for years and will continue to do so. If you are interested in participating in the next Becoming an Outdoors Woman retreat, contact Brenda Pike at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 709-229-7811/7888. Or, read more about it at www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/snp/programs/education/outdoor_woman.html.