By Jess Nessler, Guest Writer
Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) started at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point back in 1991 by a woman named Dr. Christine Thomas. It was held at Treehaven Field Station in Tomahawk, WI. After 32 successful years, BOW now spans across 40 different states and several Canadian provinces.
What is BOW?
What is BOW, you ask? It is an organization for adult women to attend hands-on, outdoor workshops in a safe and friendly environment. You name the outdoor activity, there is a probably a workshop for it. If there isn’t, I’m sure they can create one.
I attended my first ever BOW weekend on February 3-5, 2023, with approximately fifty other women (from all over the country) at Treehaven in Wisconsin. I went alone, but don’t ever let that deter you from attending! You are never truly alone during this workshop. Everyone is there to learn and have fun.
Holy cow, it was cold.
Friday, February 3, 2023: It was -20 degrees F windchill. I arrived before noon and was the first to check-in. I got my room key and settled in before my first class. A few minutes before 1:00 PM, I bundled up in my many layers and headed to Winter Ecology. The instructor taught us all about animal tracks, plants, bird hunting (that was his personal hobby.. he even brought his dog!), sense of direction, and “reading the trees.” We proceeded to hike the trails at Treehaven and completed 5-6 miles in the subzero temperatures. With my many layers, I was toasty warm. That’s probably my biggest piece of advice: wear layers! You can always peel yourself like an onion as you warm up. After Winter Ecology, we met in the dining room for a classic Wisconsin-style Friday Fish Fry and marinated chicken. The food at Treehaven is FANTASTIC!
Winter Survival Class
Saturday, February 4, 2023: Breakfast was early, but you need to fill up before the potentially strenuous day ahead, which I was ready for! My first class was a Winter Survival workshop. We learned all about gear, clothing, and shelters. With outdoor temperatures still below zero, we actually had decent snow conditions to build our quinzhees (snow huts). Four women actually slept in the quinzhees we built. I opted for my heated dorm room. After Winter Survival, we ate a delicious lunch (choice of brat or burger.. I went with a burger, French fries, and soup).
I was looking forward to Outdoor Photography
Next up was the class I was probably looking forward to the most: Outdoor Photography. We had a crash-course in photography (ISO, white balance, shutter speed, etc.) and then hit the trails to take some pictures. With temps lingering around zero, we still managed to do 4-5 miles. I got some amazing shots of the property. Treehaven is such a beautiful spot. After Outdoor Photography, we had social hour followed by a steak and pork dinner. After dinner, we had an educational seminar about prairie chickens.
A lighter schedule, and then packing up to go home.
Sunday, February 5, 2023: Again, a filling breakfast for the day ahead, but today’s schedule was a little light and not so strenuous. I had a Sewing with Fur class where I made my own coyote trapper hat made from a real coyote pelt! So cool! We also learned about how the pelts are prepared and where they came from. After four hours of sewing, I completed my hat and was ready to pack up, grab lunch to-go, and head home.
During the weekend, there was also a silent auction, live auction, and raffle. They do these to raise money for future programs and scholarships for BOW. I won the highest bid in the silent auction for two (real) fox pelt drink koozies. I probably spent more money than I intended, but it went to a great cause.
A wonderful experience.
Everyone at BOW is so friendly and welcoming. Although I went solo, I never felt alone. I felt included. I made memories that will last a lifetime. This was my first BOW weekend and it won’t be my last. This also sparked new ideas to incorporate into Girl Camper. Stay tuned for new, exciting, fun events!
Connect with me!
Theresa “Resa” Leppert
Guide, Iowa & Wisconsin
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