OK, guys, most of the time I'm writing for everyone. But this week, pass this column along to some woman in your life, and I'll see you next week.
Now, ladies ... first of all, I know most of you read this column on your own without any encouragement from men. More than half of the emails I get are from women. Some ask questions about gear or where to go, but a number are about how to get started doing something outdoors. Those are my favorites, because it means someone is at least thinking about expanding their outdoor horizons. This column is specifically directed toward women ready to try something new.
Some people are lucky. They were introduced to the outdoors at an early age and it just comes naturally. Gender is immaterial. Others are introduced later. That's where the differences begin. Most guys who start later are introduced to the outdoors by their buddies. For women, it's more often a boyfriend or husband. My sweetheart, Marilyn, is a prime example. She had done some limited hiking and skiing before she met me, but had never gone camping, paddled a kayak, climbed vertical rocks or ridden a bike as an adult. Now she has. Sometimes, she questions whether or not that means she's been "lucky."
When a woman wants to do more in the outdoors, but has no one in her immediate circle to mentor her, where does she turn? It's especially tough in winter if you want to get away from groomed trails. Many people, who eagerly and easily play outdoors in the warm months, shy away from winter adventures. Good winter mentors are hard to find.
On March 1-3, the Hulbert Center in Fairlee, Vt., is joining with the Vermont Outdoor Guide's Association's (www.voga.org) Vermont Outdoor Women program to present ‘Winter Doe Camp,' a fun, safe and supportive environment for women to explore the outdoors in winter. Don't worry, you don't have to be from Vermont. All women over the age of 15 are welcome (minors must be accompanied by an adult). This would be a perfect Mother-Daughter, or "Girls' Getaway" weekend. The program starts on Friday evening with a gathering and presentation. Then, for the next day and a half, you participate in three different activities in three sessions, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Among the courses being offered are: Winter Fire Skills, Open Camp Fire Cooking, Animal Tracking, Principles of Winter Survival and Winter Clothing, Basic Map & Compass Skills, Lightweight Winter Camping, Introductory Country Skiing, Backcountry Skiing (for experienced Nordic skiers), Snowshoeing, Nordic Skating, Ice Hockey, Dog Sledding (they say to "Come prepared to fall in love with the dogs"), Skijoring (with your own dog--participants should have gear and feel comfortable on cross-country skis), handgun and rifle instruction, and ice fishing (Vermont fishing license needed).
Think about it ... you get a chance to try something new, or get better at something you do, in a setting where everyone is trying something new, or trying to get better. No attitude allowed.
If you're interested, there's more information at http://bit.ly/Vl6Oab or you can call Lynn Daly at (802) 333-3405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The entire weekend, Friday evening to Sunday noon, meals, programs and lodging is $290 or you can come on just Saturday ($150) or Sunday ($75). Registration is by fax or mail only and closes Feb. 24. C'mon, just do it. Life isn't a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!
Lightweight winter camping
Yes, Doe Camp is an all-women event, but my buddy, David Shedd, and I have been invited to present our seminar on lightweight winter camping. Just in case we start to get too testosterone-driven, Marilyn and David's wife, Susan, both experienced winter campers, will be on hand.
This is very hands-on; you get to try everything. After this course, you should be able to do your first backyard or roadside winter campout on your own, comfortably and safely. From there, you can progress in increments to full-on winter camping.
Other women's programs
New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, Maine and New York run regular "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" (BOW) programs. These started as a way for women to learn primarily about fishing and hunting, but now have expanded into many other areas of outdoor recreation.
Sadly registration is closed for the one-day New Hampshire "Winter BOW" program being held this weekend at the at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. For information on upcoming BOW programs in New Hampshire, go to www.nhbow.com
Massachusetts hasn't yet put out its list of 2013 BOW programs, You can sign up for email notification at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/bow/bow_home.htm.