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A resource for women in Outdoor Education and Recreation

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Gear Resources
Gear manufacturers have realised that lots of women like the outdoors and they're different shapes from men. Here's what's out there, and where you can buy it.

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Travel Resources
A selection of travel resources especially for women who love to travel. Includes a list of online communities if you do it yourself, or companies if you need a little help.

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Surfing Resources
Listed here are some links to resources from all over the world that cater to women who love surfing.

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Hiking Resources
Extended walks are great for the mind and spirit and lots of women love to take part in them. Check out these resources and get inspired to go on a walking adventure.

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Snow Sports

Snow Sports Resources
Skiing, snowboarding, backcountry, polar expeditions - all done in the snow and all done by lots of amazing women.  Check out these resources to find out more...

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Kayaking Resources
White water, surfing, sea kayaking, sprint racing, marathon racing, multisport, fishing...is there anything you can't do from a kayak? Explore these resources!

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Cycling Resources
A list of resources for all sorts of cycling - mountain biking, road biking, touring, racing, recreation and commuting - all specific to women.

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Climbing Resources
Women can (and have) achieved incredible things in climbing. Listed in this section are a collection of climbing and moutaineering resources that are useful and inspiring for all climbers.

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A list of organisations that cater exclusively to women, or run trips exclusively for women. A great way to find a women-specific adventure in your area.

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Outdoor Industry

Outdoor Industry Resources
Looking for resources to help you plan programs, companies and organisations that cater for women or organisations you can join? Look no further...

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Emmy Hendrickx - Wilderness Wanderings

Emmy with backpack

Emmy Hendrickx is a passionate canoeist, hiker and camper who has overcome many challenges and hardships in her life.  She now owns her own business,
Wilderness Wanderings, through which she runs outdoor expeditions in Ontario for a wide variety of women.  Emmy lives just north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and I met with her to talk about her business, why single gender groups work so well for women and what makes outdoor adventure so good for personal development and growth.

Girl Guides in QuinzeeEmmy is originally from Holland and has a background in horticulture.  She came to Canada at the age of 24 on an exchange program for young farmers, and problems with immigration led her to taking on volunteer work with Girl Guides in order to stay in the country.  Emmy has always loved the outdoors but her parents and husbands never really allowed her to do much of it.  With Girl Guides Emmy could spend time in the outdoors doing what she loved, and she has been involved with the organisation for over 23 years.   

Emmy portaging canoe
Emmy suffered physical and emotional abuse from both her husbands, eventually finding herself unemployed and homeless, living in a women’s shelter with her two children.  Wanting to build a life for her children and herself, Emmy enrolled in an empowerment program Making Changes, run by the Women’s Centre of York Region.  This led her to a program called Enterprising Women, a 5 month course funded by the Canadian Women’s Federation where she learnt what she needed to know to start a business.  She received funding from the Self Employment Benefit Funding when she finished the course and set up Wilderness Wanderings two years ago. 

 Emmy canoeing

Emmy came up with the idea for her business because of her own experiences in the outdoors. When Emmy left her husband, she attended a 9 day canoe trip as the only woman among a group of men.  She had attended a 21 day Outward Bound canoe trip as well as her own trips in the past, but felt that her experience level wasn’t as high as the men by hearing the way they talked.  However, Emmy canoeing 2when she got into the canoe with one of the men, she found out that she was the better canoeist and ended up steering in the stern of the canoe for the rest of the trip.  When Emmy realised that she had more experience than the men it was a big boost for her, and she thought that if she could do it, she could teach other women to do it too.  Now every year the men invite her to come back on the trip, knowing that she brings experience to the group. 

 Digging out the quinzee

Over the past two years Emmy has run many trips and expeditions for women beginners and Girl Guide groups, including courses for women who have suffered abuse.  In the spring and summer she takes women canoeing and hiking in the wilderness areas near Toronto, and in the winter she runs camping trips where the women go snowshoeing, toboganning and build a snow Toboganning 2shelter called a Quinzee to sleep in.  Most of the trips are two or three days long, not too far away by car and in the wilderness but close enough to civilisation to be less intimidating to beginners.  Emmy’s customers are generally women who have never experienced the outdoors before, although Emmy does take more experienced participants on longer trips into more isolated areas. 

Emmy and EloraEmmy says that the outdoors is good for people because it’s trying something new and unfamiliar.  She says that when you try something new you build confidence in yourself, and it’s useful for women to start in an all female environment.  Emmy has seen, on trips with both men and women, that often the men take over the more ‘masculine’ tasks like carrying the canoes on a difficult portage.  Although this isn’t always done on purpose, it does happen, and Emmy feels that women are more encouraged to take on new things if they are surrounded by other women.  She says that when women are together there is more bonding, leading to more support.  This encourages women to give themselves a chance and try something new which can lead to amazing results - building confidence, self esteem and empowerment.  If they can do it in the outdoors, then they can do it in whatever situation they are in later.

Emmy crawling with backpackWilderness Wanderings is Emmy’s full time job.  She says that her life and her relationships are much calmer now and much more fun because she’s doing something she enjoys.  Emmy is planning to open up Wilderness Wanderings to corporate and team building trips, and to men.  Owning and running the business has built up her self esteem and confidence, and although her most important cause is to run trips for women and to help other women, she is ready to expand the business and take on new things.

Romaine CrewHopefully what has worked for Emmy will also work well for the women she takes out on her trips with Wilderness Wanderings.  When I met Emmy she came across as a confident, passionate and focused person who was thrilled about working doing what she loved - being in the outdoors.  She has recently returned from a 30 day canoe trip on the Romaine River in Quebec, with a group of men and women filming a documentary as part of a campaign to prevent the river being dammed by Quebec Hydro (go to the
Alliance Romaine website
).  They paddled 325km and are hoping to do it again later in the year - 14 of Quebec’s 16 large rivers are dammed, so Quebec Hydro’s claims that 95% of rivers in the province are not dammed is a little misleading (this  95% must be the creeks and small rivers).  Like many people who love the outdoors, Emmy is keen to prevent her playground from being destroyed unnecessarily.

Portage path - Romaine RiverEmmy got in touch with the paddlers through being a member of Alliance Romaine, and when she showed up it turned out they were all younger than her and all from Quebec.  Although Emmy speaks three languages, French isn’t one of them!  It was also more intense white water than she’d ever experienced before, and sometimes they would only travel 2km per day, having to make a way through the dense bush with their canoes  (see
pictures from the expedition
).  Emmy is very positive about the experience - she is passionate about saving the river and said that she gained a lot of good experience that she will use when taking people out on Wilderness Wanderings trips.

 Emmy & kids on the Saugeen

Emmy’s two children also enjoy the outdoors.  Her daughter Elora comes along on Emmy’s trips as the lifeguard, and her son Derek loves to kayak so he may become her kayak instructor in years to come (he’s only 12 at the moment).  They have both been canoeing and camping since they were 6 weeks old - Emmy says they don’t know any better!  They are starting to go on their own trips away from Emmy, and Elora was the assistant director at a Girl Guide camp last summer.

Emmy Hendrickx
Emmy’s journey to where she is today has been long and difficult, but now she is doing what she loves as the owner of a small business.  She says that it can be difficult at times and a lot of hard work, but that it’s fun which is what counts.  So, to all those people out there who are afraid to follow their dreams and live their passion - let Emmy be your inspiration!

Make sure you check out Emmy's company,
Wilderness Wanderings - there are links on the website that will take you to more photos and details of trips.

Go and sign the petition to save the Romaine River in Quebec at the
Alliance Romainewebsite.

If you liked this profile and want to read more about women working in the outdoor industry, go and have a look at the profiles of
Priscilla McKenney, Amy Corcoranand Di Westaway- all on GO! Girls Outdoors!

Make sure you also check out the
Outdoor Industry Resourcespage, and start a topic or comment on the GO! Girls Outdoors forum.

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