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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Meetings and Inspirations - San Francisco

tn_P3100310.JPGWe’ve been staying in San Francisco with Kara and her family, husband Eric and two kids Chloe and Bodie.  Kara saw the website through a US based Listserv that connects women working in the outdoor industry and very kindly offered her downstairs flat for us to stay in.

Kara is currently completing her PhD, which is looking at how programs are quantitatively evaluated before and after the program takes place.  Quantitative means that she is looking at using numbers and figures to measure success, as opposed to qualitatively, which is using words.  She’s working with James O’Neill (of Wilderdom fame) and is looking to finish her dissertation by the end of the year, despite having a baby being sleep trained and an energetic three year old to look after!

Kara and I compared notes on the Outdoor Education systems in Australia and the USA.  It seems that in the US, there are very few programs that occur within the school system.  Instead students take on outdoor activities through summer camps or companies like Outward Bound, and this tends to be the students from a high socio-economic background - which in cities like San Francisco is predominantly white students.

Our system in Australia, on the other hand, seems to be based more on the British system of outdoor education, where the programs are incorporated into the schools.  The extent to which this occurs in Australia ranges from periodic camps out in the bush to full blown Outdoor Leadership programs that are part of the school’s curriculum.  Often schools attract students by publicising the outdoor adventures that their students can have, and it’s starting to become accepted that students can get a lot more from outdoor programs than just a camp with their mates away from home.  They can learn leadership skills, team work, conflict management and goal setting skills (to name a few), as well as social skills and an appreciation of the environment, at the same time as going out on an outdoor adventure.


To find out more, I visited a couple of organisations in San Francisco.  My first stop was the Women’s Building in the Mission district of San Francisco, where I visited GirlVentures.  GirlVentures runs programs specifically for adolescent girls.  Some of their programs are like the programs run internally in Australian schools, where they go into a school and lead a group of girls through a program of outdoor activities.  GirlVentures is a non-profit organisation and they are also trying to involve a wide range of girls in their programs - for each course there are a third each of full fee paying students, partial scholarship students and full scholarship students.  They run a wide variety of programs including all sorts of activities, specifically for girls.  There is more about GirlVentures in a GO! Girls Outdoors profile here!

pmk_300.jpgAt GirlVentures I met with Priscilla McKenny, a program director for the organisation.  Priscilla is a woman with an incredible energy, twinkling eyes, a ready grin and an amazing amount of experience in the outdoor industry, including a lot of experience with women and girls programming.  We talked about GirlVentures and Priscilla’s path in the outdoor industry, which has recently included a couple of research articles about girls’ outdoor adventure programming.  Why, she asks, do people assume that what women say about outdoor adventure (there’s been a fair amount of research on this) also applies to girls?  Priscilla and her associates have been collecting data from girls who are involved in different programs across the country, and have written up their conclusions in a research paper which will be published soon.  Make sure you read more about Priscilla and GirlVentures in the GO! Girls Outdoors profiles coming soon.

I also visited Oasis for Girls, which was a little different from GirlVentures.  They also run programs specifically for adolescent girls, but instead of an outdoor activity focus they have an arts focus.  The girls learn about current issues, leadership, relationships and the arts through the organisation’s programs.  For example, in one of the programs last summer the girls created a performance that focused on truth telling in the media and the war in Iraq using the medium of aerial dance.  Jessica, who kindly agreed to meet with me to talk about Oasis for girls, said that adolescent girls have a lot of energy and respond really well when this energy is channelled into activity - whether that activity is creative arts based or outdoor activity based.

In San Francisco there are quite a few organisations that cater to just young girls, both tn_P3050178.JPGoutdoor activity based and otherwise.  Is this unique to the US or unique to San Francisco itself?  Have these organisations sprung up because of the lack of outdoor education in the school system or for some other reason?  Why girls specifically, and are there an equal amount of programs for boys?  Why has John Farnham taken up selling real estate in San Francisco?  Whatever happened to his singing career?  The only way to find out is to keep travelling and find out more!

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