The 22nd annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) workshop was held last weekend at the 4-H camp near Halsey, NE.
I write about this event every year after the workshop, not because writing is part of what I do, but because I am passionate about every aspect of the weekend and empowering women to get outdoors and experience all the wonderful activities and beautiful things in nature – all in hopes that they will pass their new knowledge on to others.
Nestled in beautiful fall colors and very cool temperatures of the National Forest the BOW program is a place where women of all backgrounds and ages gather to learn more about the outdoors in a non-intimidating, friendly environment. It is a weekend of hands on experiences, learning new skills, making new friends, renewing old friendships and having a great time.
The workshop was a weekend home for over 100 women including mothers, daughters, wives, teachers, women with no outdoor experience and those who are active in the outdoors – all there to share and learn about the outdoors.
This is such an inspiring program for any woman, not only because of the information gained during the three day workshop, but because of the confidence, self-esteem, knowledge and friendships gained. It is very fulfilling to see how much these women grow not only mentally but spiritually from this workshop.
Money cannot buy the look on a woman’s face the first time she breaks a blue rock with a shotgun or hits the target with a .22 rifle, or paddles down the river on a frigid day in a kayak or canoe. It is that very look that makes me proud to be a part of this program – giving women the courage and knowledge to do outdoor activities on their own.
Last weekend was a cold weekend, one that we have not had during the workshop for several years – Kudos to all the women and instructors that toughed out the weather and, might I add, had a great time doing it.
All the instructors at the BOW workshop are great at sharing and teaching the women participants about the outdoors – always eager to answer questions with patience and respect. This program would not be what it is today without instructors such as these – always ready to spread the good word about the outdoors and all the great experiences that can be had outdoors.
Our BOW committee received a letter from one of our participants this year; she turned this in to her local newspaper as a letter to the editor:
Someone got it right; a state government agency to boot.
This last weekend the Nebraska Games and Parks sponsored “Becoming an Outdoor Woman” workshops (BOW) at the Halsey National Forest. The workshop offered a large variety of classes: fire arm safety, trailering, cleaning game, shot gun, rife, muzzle loading, archery, kayaking, bow fishing, fly fishing/tying, photography, geocaching, and many more mini classes. The instructors were talents in their own field, laid back, easy to talk to, fascinating to listen to and genuinely helpful. From my observation as a participant; the weekend was a great success in spite of the weather.
Imagine 115 women gathering together in a 4-H camp, 20 women per cabin; sleeping in bunk beds; and the weather wasn’t pleasant: 32 degrees; 50 mile an hour winds, rain/sleet with no cancelation of outdoor activities. And here’s the shocker: The women WERE NOT GRIPEING about the weather! Or politics either. Instead of moaning and groaning there was camaraderie against the wind and cold; instructors and campers offered or exchanged warm gear with strangers as they moved from the hall to the windy outdoors and back in.
There was some concern for getting back home (after the weekend), but for the most part the women were talking about the class they just had or were about to go into; along with sharing their goals for the weekend with strangers at the breakfast tables or in class. The quick changes in classroom arrangements; trying to move as much indoors as possible; was taken in stride. From the camper’s point of view the weekend came off smoothly. It was a community of learning; people who loved their area of interest and loved sharing it with eager participants.
At the beginning of every class the instructors would genuinely ask: Why did you take this class and want do you want to do with it? It was a time where the women could be vulnerable and say: “I don’t know crap about this area and I want to know more . . .” The patient instructors were a blessing; it was okay to fumble around during practice times. More experienced campers were given personalized attention with lots of new tips and connections.
On the way home, the over whelming response in our van was: I learned a lot and “Two thumbs up”. For me it was exactly what I was looking for. In the last 5 years I have not been able to enjoy most outdoor activities due to a minor disability. I wasn’t sure what new “sport” or activity I could actually manage; where or how would I learn to do it and how would I need to adapt? At BOW I was able to select several areas where I had little previous experience and came out confident that I have enough information; hands on experience; and adaption tips to know whether I want to pursue learning more.
Thank you, NE Games and Parks for an uplifting weekend of encouragement and learning.
For me that letter says it all – it truly is about making a difference in someone’s life every day.
Julie Geiser out of North Platte, is a public information officer for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Regional Editor for NEBRASKAland magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-535-8025.