Twice a year I volunteer at the Becoming an Outdoor Woman events in Florida as a volunteer instructor. I get to teach many different outdoor skills over the 3 days of each workshop but I have learned that the women attending learn more than just what we are teaching them in class.
This year was wet….I mean really wet – rained like crazy the first night. Then, as is usual the rain was followed by cold. No, not the kind of cold they have north of us. I know you are laughing “Cold in Florida means you can’t wear flip flops…” Well we had cold by our standards and the dampness from all the rain would not wear off till Sunday afternoon, the last day of the event.
Many of the women who sign up for these workshops are new to being outdoors types. They have the opportunity to stay in “boy scout” cabins, meals are prepared and they learn skills like kayaking, archery, shooting, primitive chef and fishing from instructors with years of experience. As I said in the beginning, they also learn more.
Setting up camp for the first time can be a challenge for those choosing not to stay in the cabins. Many of the instructors camp also so tips are shared and help is given. Why use a ground- cloth, insulating the underside of a hammock and wearing the right layers were just some of the tips that were covered.
As always I bring extra layers (I do not like to be cold). There were many times over the weekend I would lend out a jacket to those that just could not get warm or that needed to run out in the rain. Having quality gear on hand I am able to share the benefits of choosing the right clothing for the weather. I like helping these ladies understand that saving a buck is not always the best long term solution and this was a practical lesson. Whether it be in buying fly rods, Dutch ovens, a new set of binoculars or the right clothing for your activity, quality gear will help make your outing more enjoyable.
Each workshop, on the last night, they offer a silent auction to raise funds for the scholarship program to help women attend that may not be able to attend otherwise. Mountain Khakis has been supporting this cause for the past 2 years and when their products show up on the table the girls are lining up to be the one to win the prize! We had many ladies walk away happy this year!
As we all gathered and showed off our winning items the girls expressed with joy and excitement all that they learned over the weekend. Participants stories included one that took her first kayak lesson and fell in the water, They did not quit but got back in and kept learning – cold and wet. We heard a young lady speak on being brave – encouraging others to step out of their ‘box”. Another fabulous lady recovering from cancer treatments encouraged us all just being there. From her camo jumper dress and ball cap to hold in the heat from where her hair used to reside to her enthusiastic approach to all she had learned she showed us what it means to live life to its fullest and never stop learning.
Each year I come away from this event touched. Meeting all these fearless women willing to try something new, being brave, making new friends, can’t help but inspire. They may not be ready to climb mountains or head into the back country on a month long trek, but they are brave. Sometimes just taking those first steps is the hardest part of the journey and I am glad to be there to help make those first steps safe and enjoyable.
So what will you do this year to spread your wings? Will the winds of change give you lift or keep you grounded? Will the storms in your life keep you hiding in shelter or will you be brave and face the thunder with a roar of your own? Don’t sit humbly by and let life rush by you. Get out and try new things! Have new adventures! Get a little dirty and wet and cold or hot. You will build memories that will never be forgotten and you may just find it was time for you to make a turn on your life’s road and start heading in a new direction.