Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "WOW" Factor; Women Soak Up Outdoor Skills in Washington

Below is a first-hand account of an RMEF employee, Sales & Marketing Assistant Kirsten Johnson, who took part in a recent RMEF-sponsored camp in Washington.

RMEF scholarship recipients and Eastern WA Regional  Director
Barry Nilson (Photos courtesy Stephanie Pelham)
More than 150 women ranging in age from 18 to 72, from more than 75 different cities, recently came for the Washington Outdoor Women’s (WOW) Fall Workshop. Since 1998, WOW has taught women outdoor skills through hands-on experiences. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is an avid supporter of WOW’s mission and endorses its vision to help women access the outdoors and gain confidence in their skills to do so. From year one, WOW received RMEF funding to provide scholarships for first-time attendees. Each year about a dozen scholarships are awarded to women that may have otherwise not been able to attend. This partnership connects like-minded women from around the Northwest and fosters the growth of generations of respectful, outdoor stewards.

Fly casting anyone?
The workshop offered a variety of clinics like backpacking 101, soap making, fly tying, after the catch, fresh water fishing, tracking 101 and big game hunting. Those are just to name a few! Tucked away in the green forests of Washington at Camp Waskowitz in North Bend, the gathering took place on a State and National Historic Preservation site with the south fork of the Snoqualmie River running adjacent to the camp and Rattlesnake Lake only a short drive away. Early risers and night owls even had the opportunity to watch elk roam through the camp site. It was the perfect setting to ignite everyone’s interest in exploring the outdoors.

Fresh water fishing course
I ventured to WOW from Missoula, Montana, to spend three days participating in this weekend workshop. Participants had the chance to sign up for three different sessions, all taught by volunteers from around the state of Washington. I had the opportunity to develop my fresh water fishing skills, learn how to plan and pack for a backpacking trip, and even tried fly tying for the first time! I had a wonderful time interacting with all the awesome volunteer staff and eager women all ready to learn how to enjoy the beauties of the Northwest. 

Backpacking 101
On Saturday evening, WOW surprised participants with an incredible guest speaker, Helen Thayer! Thayer was the first woman to travel solo to the North Pole. At the age of 50, she pulled her sled through the storms and bear-infested territory of the Artic with her devoted bear dog, Charlie. Her story was terrifying yet magnificent and portrayed just how far you can push your body with proper planning, training, and mental prowess. Her message left all WOW participants energized and determined to push their limits as “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Neale Donald Walsch).

First attempt at fly tying
In all, this weekend truly was an experience of a lifetime. I am appreciative to have participated in a program with such a vital mission for women and send my sincere thanks to all the volunteers that make it possible. WOW and the RMEF make a great team! Together we have the ability to impact the lives of many more women to come, all while protecting the wilderness and wildlife for many more generations to enjoy. 

If you are interested in participating or volunteering in this weekend workshop or other clinics offered by WOW, check out their website

For more opportunities to get involved with RMEF in Washington, contact Eastern Washington Regional Director Barry Nilson and check out the RMEF Washington State Chapters Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Bruce McGlenn

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