Brooke Whipple says she basically came out of the womb wanting to be an adventurer.  “I like hard work, I like to be physical, and I like to take stuff to the edge,” She says.

No one could argue with that. From spending 28 days completely alone in Mongolia with only 10 tools for the History Channel’s Alone television show in 2018 (after competing with her husband on the show the year before on Vancouver Island in Canada, where they made it 49 days alone), to building a cabin by herself this summer in Michigan with her own two hands, Brooke is clearly not afraid of challenging herself. Growing up in rural Michigan, she hunted, fished, trapped and embraced all things outdoors.

At age 23, she took off to Alaska, with no plans, no job and no place to stay, simply because she had become intrigued with the state in a previous visit. She quickly found work and fell in love with Alaska (and also eventually her husband). Between that first summer in Alaska to today, she has done everything from serving as a wilderness firefighter to singing in a band to operating a YouTube channel with 260K-plus subscribers. And yes, Girl Campers, she once even rebuilt a decrepit 12-foot trailer with her husband years ago, where they lived with their two then-young kids while they built a cabin.

Whether you’ve heard of “Girl in the Woods” Brooke through television, her YouTube Channel, one of her books, or for the first time in these pages, you cannot help but feel inspired by her unrelenting urge to push herself.

Boundaries are for the breaking.


When I was 23 and left for Alaska with just a backpack, my dad was not happy,” Brooke says, laughing. “My dad is a cop. I got where he was at. He was very discouraging. But I had to make a decision. I had to believe in myself. I crushed it and had an amazing summer. Now, he’s very, very proud of me.”

Believing in herself is clearly how Brooke moves through the world, as in a desire to challenge herself and other women. “I know I’ll figure it out. If you let fear dominate, you’ll never do anything. See how far you can take yourself,” she says. “You are more capable than you think. You can do way more than you think you can. Stand at the edge of the cliff. Having a safety net is probably what’s holding you back. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. People need to hear that. There is no right time to do anything. The time is now.”

Inspiring Women


When Brooke isn’t busy filming or building, she does speaking gigs and occasionally leads wilderness workshops for women. Her Michigan overnight course helps women build skills and feel more confident in the outdoors, with activities like learning how to build a shelter, finding clean water, practicing fire-making and discussing survival psychology. She has also led five-day intensive courses for women in the Alaska backcountry, teaching survival skills like bow drill fires, hand line fishing, shelter building, predator protection, identifying wild edibles, and how to find and prepare food and water.

“Women sometimes need permission to be brave,” she says. “I see a real lack of confidence in lots of women. If you give them some [outdoor] skills, it empowers them to do other things. The outdoors can be a catalyst for strength and confidence. There is so much power in that.”

Building Shelters

In Brooke’s videos, viewers can see her building all sorts of things, from outdoor showers to cabins, but what we at Girl Camper find fascinating are her “debris” shelters. And we found out that she has more than one of these simple shelters scattered around the wilderness.

“In Michigan, I have five I keep up with in secret places,” says Brooke. “I go to state land. It’s wonderful being a kid and building a fort and this is like adult forting. It’s really magical to create a place from your own hands that you can sleep in.”

She constructs these forest dwellings with anything she can find around her, including sticks, leaves, moss, pine needles, bamboo and grass. “It’s possible to be warm and cozy,” she says. “There is one I’ve had for about five years. I just replenish it with sticks and leaves. It’s a rite of passage to go sleep in the woods alone and it feels good to have something around you. Mentally, it’s huge. It’s quite a process, just gathering things.”

Furthermore, like everything else, Brooke isn’t limited to one kind of shelter. “Canvas tents are my gig. Wall tents make me kind of giggle,” she says. “You can put it up yourself and make it however you like. You can knock out a beautiful, cozy, canvas cabin and they are bright and pretty dreamy.” She also uses bell tents. “Those are wonderful, too,” she says. “I use these in the winter a lot. I can whip that up in 10 minutes alone.” She’s even put a wood stove in the one she’s using to live in while she builds her A-frame cabin.

Life on Camera with Girl in the Woods


“I got interested in film making in 2007 and started documenting our lives for family far away,” says Brooke. “It kind of evolved. YouTube was new. I did a documentary called The Mount Marathon Experience, a film about Alaska’s most extreme mountain race.” Oh, she also ran the race while filming!

“It sparked a desire in me to share interesting things on the edge,” she says. “Then the Yukon River Run [a show on the National Geographic Channel] came about and Alone just reinforced the camera training. Being on that show really ramped it up. It was part of me at that point. I really love film making. I love to craft a story with passion and inspiration.”

Brooke had used the “Girl in the Woods” name as everything from the title of a newspaper column she wrote, to her eBay handle for years, so it was natural fit to use it as her YouTube channel. Her tagline, “Get Outside and Get Happy,” is clearly no throwaway line. It’s a mantra, a way of life and one she wants to share with everyone.

Mongolia

Brooke was allowed to take 10 items on her survival journey in Mongolia. This is what she picked. What would you have chosen?

1. Axe
2. Saw
3. Sleeping bag
4. Fishing line and hooks
5. Ferro rod (fire starter)
6. Multi-tool
7. Pot
8. Bow and arrows
9. Food rations
10. Trapping wire

Get Social with “Girl in the Woods” Brooke Whipple

Find her online at brookewhipple.com;on YouTube at youtube.com/user/alaskagirlinthewoods and
on Instagram @girlinthewoodz.

This article “The Girl in the Woods” by Kim Foley MacKinnon was originally published in Girl Camper Magazine.

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