Where the Wild Women Are

Learning archery at a Becoming an Outdoors-woman workshop. Photograph courtesy of Becoming an Outdoors-woman

I wouldn’t be surprised if Katniss Everdeen, the hunting, foraging, ass-kicking heroine of the wildly popular young-adult book series and film The Hunger Games, inspires an uptick in young women wanting to learn archery and other wilderness survival skills. If so, the people at the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who organize the Becoming an Outdoors-woman (BOW) program will be very happy.

Since 1994, the DEC has planned low-cost weekend workshops for women on the whole range of outdoor recreational activities that the state, particularly the Adirondacks, has to offer. Participants gain exposure to or deepen their skills in, among other things, hunting with a bow and arrow, rifle or muzzleloader; fishing with a fly-rod or rod and reel; identifying wild edibles; solo canoeing; and orienteering. The goal is to close the gender gap that still exists in many of these activities.

A few years ago I wrote about my experience attending a BOW weekend at Silver Bay on Lake George. It was a lot of fun. I learned how to fish and use a map and compass, and tasted wild game—it was like summer camp for grown-ups, but without the homesickness or the tween social drama.

The next BOW weekend takes place June 29 to July 1 at Silver Bay. The $270–$290 registration fee includes shared accommodations, meals, instruction and equipment. The details, including the workshop schedule, are on the DEC website.

Several other Adirondack organizations also offer female-friendly outdoor classes. The Adirondack Paddlefest, May 18 to 20 in Old Forge, includes women’s and general-audience kayaking clinics. And YMCA’s Camp Chingachgook, on Lake George, presents several women’s weekends per year, with instruction in kayaking, sailing and archery. Massages and other pampering touches round out the schedule.

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