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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Wilderness and Urban Survival Skills

SpunhungenI always looked at survival a little like I approach first aid - I update my knowledge regularly in courses and if something goes wrong then I know how to manage it until someone more qualified comes along.  I wouldn’t, however, go out and practice first aid regularly on my own or with a group of friends - instead I’m happy to include first aid scenarios in my risk management, practice in a longer course every couple of years and try to avoid it happening in the first place.  Similarly, survival skills are a great thing to know about, I always carry a small survival kit on wilderness expeditions and, of course, do everything in my power to avoid being stuck in a survival situation.  The skills are enjoyable to teach and, in the event of ‘Survivor’ and other such programs, kind of cool.  I wouldn’t, however, go out into the bush without a tent, sleeping bag, matches and food to test out my skills.  This is where Lorene Wapotich and Mary Sweeney differ!

Lorene and Mary are enthusiastic survivalists who teach a course for women called ‘Wilderness and Urban Survival Skills’ through their organisation, Her Feet on the Earth.  The two women do go out into the bush to practice their survival skills and have both attended a course run by the famous American survivalist Tom Brown (prolific author of many survival books).  I met them in Boulder, Colorado for GO! Girls Outdoors, and when they heard I would be in Colorado at the time of one of their courses, they kindly invited me along to see what they do and why they do it.

Making fireThe course description says that the weekend is “a unique opportunity for women to deepen their connection with nature, themselves and the ancient wisdom of their ancestors”.  Mary has an extensive background in Psychology and in particular Ecopsychology (using nature and the outdoors to help people address psychological issues); Lorene is an extremely experienced outdoor educator and a qualified herbalist.  Both women are extremely passionate about the importance of attitude and awareness, both in the outdoors and in an urban setting - these are the skills that you need to develop a connection with the natural world, something that we have lost the knack for in our current society.  These were the skills that the other women on the course and I would be learning throughout the survival weekend.

I rode to the course with Lorene and Mary, nestled in the back of their car amongst a baffling collection of baskets, sticks, cartons of food, boxes of bones and various other bits and pieces.  The other four women on the course were students in their early 20’s (the course can be done for credits at the local university) with a varied amount of experience in the outdoors.  The course was held by the side of a beautiful river and beside a cliff, and being Colorado, there were of course people paddling down the river and climbing on the cliffs all weekend.

Chilly Debris ShelterAttitude and awareness, Lorene and Mary told us, is essential in a survival situation.  There are many stories that illustrate how important a presence of mind is in a survival situation, and that without awareness you can fail to notice the resources that are available to you.  To that end, they taught us how to control our attitude and increase our awareness through a series of skills.  First we learnt how to ‘fox walk’, which is a way of feeling the ground with your feet and smoothly moving through the bush.  They told us to have ‘owl eyes’ to increase our visual awareness, ‘raccoon hands’ to increase our sensual awareness, as well as ‘deer ears’, ‘wolf nose’ and ‘snake tongue’.  In addition, if we needed something like a good place to build shelter, we would sit in a place and use our heightened awareness to ‘ask’ where such a place might be.  Interestingly enough, all five of us were drawn to different places when we did this.

As well as learning the practical skills of shelter building, making fire, finding water, cooking over the flames, aidless navigation, gathering plants for tea, making animal traps and many other survival skills, we also learnt how to be camouflaged and invisible.  By blending into your surroundings and occupying the places where people don’t look, you can become invisible just by staying still and calm.  Mary said that one of the best places to become invisible in an urban setting is by standing quietly between two Coke machines!  People will be so focused on the machines that you won’t be noticed.

Where there's smoke...We only had a short amount of time to practice our survival skills, but I got an excellent appreciation of the depth of knowledge you can acquire in this field.  Lorene and Mary said they try to go out on practice trips without too much equipment - just their knives, a water bottle, maybe a sleeping bag and a little food just in case - and practice living off the land in a survival situation.  They make themselves a bow drill set (to make fire), build shelters, find food growing on the land and spend time in nature.  They say if you gain confidence in relating to nature in a survival situation, you increase confidence to relate to a wide variety of situations, which they say is extremely useful for women in today’s society.

I left the course with an appreciation of just how hard it would be surviving for a long period of time by that little river, under the cliffs - especially after it snowed on the last day!  However, I also left with lots of new knowledge, including an idea of why I love the outdoors so much.  I’ve always known that I feel better after spending time in nature, and now I have some idea why.  On the course we worked on obtaining increased awareness and a good attitude, but these skills didn’t feel new to me so perhaps I absorbed the lessons just by being out in nature a lot.  Whatever the case, if you’re after an interesting and informative time in (and with) nature, visit Lorene and Mary in Colorado and enrol in one of their courses.

Lorene and Mary run courses through their organisation, Her Feet on the Earth.  Visit their website for course descriptions and the current calendar.

Her Feet on the Earth is also the subject of a profile on GO! Girls Outdoors.  For more information about Lorene, Mary and the objectives and philosophies of their organisation, please visit the profile.

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