GO! Girls Outdoors

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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Her Feet On The Earth

HFOTE TinderIf you were stuck on a desert island , what are the ten books you’d take with you?  What about the ten music albums you couldn’t live without?  These questions might be difficult to answer, but they’re not the sort of questions that concern Lorene Wapotich and Mary Sweeney - not as part of their working lives, anyway!  These women are much more likely to ask questions like, how would you calm yourself in such a stressful situation?  Or, if you were going out into the wilderness, what is the most important piece of equipment you should carry just in case you get lost or stranded?

Her Feet On The Earth Fire!It sounds like something from one of the reality television programs that seem to be so popular these days, but there is much more to Lorene and Mary’s courses than just “good” TV!  Her Feet on the Earth was started by Lorene in 2003 as a series of skills workshops for women.  This skills series developed into a nine month apprenticeship program, and Mary was part of the first group that completed the training.  Since then Lorene and Mary have run the programs together, combining their extensive experience to create in-depth training programs that teach traditional survival skills, the skills that were used by our ancestors in their daily living.  They run programs exclusively for women and girls that range from weekend trips to long-term mentoring programs for instructors, most of which are situated in their home state, Colorado.  

Lorene and Mary call the skills they teach ‘wilderness thriving skills’ rather than ‘survival skills’, because their objectives are to connect people with nature and encourage them to build a close relationship with the natural world.  Lorene and Mary are both extremely passionate about the importance of connecting and developing a relationship with nature, especially in today’s society.  These days we have become so hyperconnected that we’ve disconnected with our natural environment, something that Lorene and Mary are unhappy about and seek to change through their skills workshops and programs.  

Lorene WapotichLorene’s background is in Outdoor Education and she has an extensive range of experience in the field.  She is also a qualified herbalist and is currently completing graduate school, looking at girls’ development and the importance of girls’ programming in Outdoor Education. Lorene started Her Feet on the Earth because she wanted to see women being mentors and role models, letting them feel comfortable about taking their children (both boys and girls) outside.  She says that most child rearing is done by mothers, and if children are given good experiences in the outdoors from an early age then the next generation is more likely to develop a connection with the natural world.  For girls, especially, the experience is even more powerful if that role model is a woman.

Mary SweeneyMary brings her experience as a Psychology Professor and her knowledge of Adventure Based Psychotherapy and Ecotherapy to Her Feet on the Earth.  In her teaching, Mary works with Psychotherapists who are interested in bringing nature into their work, and she is very interested in the value of connecting with nature on a deeper level through the development of awareness skills.  She also believes that she is a role model for older women who are interested in the outdoors - she’s better at that, she says, than being a role model for teenage boys!

Both Lorene and Mary have both attended numerous classes at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School (Tom Brown Jr. is one of America’s best known survivalists), and recently they helped out cat biologist Sue Morse with some cougar tracking.  They practice their survival skills regularly, either going out armed with just their knives and a water bottle or by working on specific skills, like making fire with a bow drill or tanning hides in the traditional ways.  They are extremely passionate about developing their skills and sharing their knowledge with others.

Debris ShelterTo heal the planet and ourselves, Lorene and Mary say, we need to live a life that is rooted in the rhythms of the natural world.  They both love the outdoors, and especially the spiritual component, which they refer to as a transpersonal experience.  A transpersonal experience is a shift in consciousness, where you get in touch with something that’s beyond or above yourself.  Originally the term referred to the effects of hallucinogens, but Lorene and Mary say that you can have the same experience in nature.  They say that having the ability to expand your perceptive abilities and take in the environment around you is an essential part of being human that we have lost as our society moves further and further away from nature.  This is in particular Mary’s passion, and she firmly believes that the ability to expand your perceptions is a skill that can be useful in all aspects of life - which is why one of their courses is called ‘Wilderness and Urban Survival Skills’ (a course that I attended and is the subject of a profile here - link coming soon).

When people have a transpersonal experience in nature, Lorene says, they are much more likely to carry their experiences home with them.  In this way the courses and programs that the women run through Her Feet on the Earth allow the participants to take home with them and utilise everything they learn while in nature.  

TinderSo why only women?  Lorene laughed when I asked this - in a field that has less women in it, and where there are more barriers to participation, why on earth would you run programs for women and girls?!  Clearly, she says, she’s not in it for the large market - and sometimes they do run co-ed classes and thoroughly enjoy it.  However, the primary focus for Her Feet on the Earth is on effective programs for girls and women, and they believe that it is very important to provide a single-gender environment for women who haven’t done much in the outdoors.  Mary and Lorene say that when they talk about their experiences at tracking school, a lot of women are interested but are intimidated about going into that environment.  Lorene says that women are more willing to take risks in a single-gender environment, and less likely to be passive and pass on the tasks that are perceived as ‘masculine’, such as lighting fires or carrying large loads.  Women are also very interested in relationships, connection and support, so they do better in an environment that is based on communication and support rather than an environment where competition is a motivator.

Making fire with a bow drillWhy are Lorene and Mary’s survival skills so important in this age of technology and the accompanying disconnection with nature?  For anyone who goes out into the wilderness and gets stuck, it might mean the difference between life and death (or at the very least, comfort and discomfort)!  For girls, it’s a way of connecting with nature and teaching them to develop a sense of who they are, and for women, it’s a way of rediscovering that sense.  For Lorene and Mary, it’s the best way to teach people to revive our connection with nature, in a way that can be incorporated into life and passed on from generation to generation - just like it used to be in ancient times.

For more information and to find out about upcoming courses with Lorene and Mary, visit the Her Feet on the Earth website.

I attended a Wilderness and Urban Survival Skills program while I was in Colorado - read the profile of the course here (link coming soon).

For more information, you can read Tom Brown Jr.'s books - he has written an extensive range, including The Tracker and Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival.

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