Now, a quarter-century later, it’s difficult to imagine a time when women were, at least to a certain degree, outdoors outsiders.
Sure, women were in the outdoors mix long before Becoming an Outdoors Woman came along in 1991. But, thanks at least in part to BOW, women are embracing the outdoors like never before, and that likely will only continue. Outsiders, indeed.
BOW, which was founded right here in the Northland — in Wisconsin in ’91 — is among the featured pieces in Northland Outdoors’ summer magazine, which will be out at the end of May (subscribe for free for future magazines at www.northlandoutdoors.com/subscribe/).
In that piece, the women who continue to grow the program in the Northland talk about how BOW has helped build confidence for women in the outdoors, ultimately alleviating a good amount of the intimidation factor that can exist with hunting, fishing and the like. Because, for example, if you’ve never handled a fishing rod, never fished, the thought of doing so can be daunting, no matter who you are.
And so it is that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with input from BOW, has created an outdoors skills program, with Minnesota’s iconic Gunflint Trail as its backdrop.
The three-day program for families with teens and college-aged children was designed to provide introductory experiences for these families in the outdoors. Sessions include fishing, canoeing, outdoor survival skills, horseback riding and zip-lining, among other activities. It’s all about getting these families outdoors in a comfortable setting — and in one of the premier backcountry places in the Northland.
And, fittingly, with an assist from the BOW.
“Minnesota’s outdoors has so much to offer,” said Linda Bylander, Becoming an Outdoors Woman coordinator in Minnesota. “This program aims to give families the skills they need to enjoy the state’s lakes, forests and more.”
Bylander said the focus on older youths and young adults reflects the fact that many young adults do not fish or hunt, and as a result, their children are less likely to do so as well.
“Families that learn skills together tend to apply them together in the future,” Bylander said.
The program runs Friday, June 24 to Monday, June 27 at Gunflint Lodge and on the Gunflint Trail that leads toward the northern Minnesota border from Grand Marais. Cost of the program ranges from $600 to $700 per family, which includes a deluxe cabin at the lodge for each family. Registration is required.
For more information or to register, contact Bylander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-203-4347.
A week earlier, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department announced it was taking registrations for a similar to-do — the Becoming an Outdoors Family event, scheduled Wednesday, July 27 to Friday, July 29 at Pickerel Lake Recreation Area near Grenville, S.D. (www.northlandoutdoors.com/2016/04/27/in-s-d-the-making-of-an-outdoors-family/)
In a release last week, the SDGFP said the event is designed for beginner camping families, families who want to try new outdoor activities and those who enjoy the company of like-minded families. Sessions include paddling (canoe, kayak, paddleboard), GPS/geocaching, outdoor yard games and Dutch oven cooking. (For more information or to register, go to gfp.sd.gov/outdoor-learning/BOF.aspx or call 605-773-3391.)
“Becoming an Outdoor Family is an opportunity to try different activities, learn new skills and spend a weekend outdoors with your family,” said Emilie Miller, program specialist for South Dakota state parks.
Yes, with Becoming an Outdoors Woman and, now, Becoming an Outdoors Family, the outdoors is becoming that go-to place for anyone.
Brian S. Peterson is the director of content for the Northland Outdoors Network (www.northlandoutdoors.com) based in Brainerd, Minn.