March 9, 2018
The struggle of gender equality in the outdoor industry is nothing new. Age-old stories of men climbing mountains, fishing streams, or making fires have long overshadowed the stories and accomplishments of outdoorswomen.
But, to all the parents out there, and young ladies who dream of climbing mountains, fishing big rivers, and lighting campfires, we want you to know that gender equality is an integral part of Wilderness Adventures.
As the mother of four children (three girls and one boy) and an avid outdoorswoman, this is an important issue for me, made even more so by my role as director of Wilderness Adventures. I often think about the importance of teaching all of our children to try new things, take risks, and fall in love with nature.
Powerful role models who taught me these important lessons from a young age shaped my childhood. Using the great outdoors as a teacher, I came to embrace wilderness and adventure from a young age. Specifically, I love to fly fish. It is not lost on me that fly fishing is often portrayed as a man’s sport, although I only found this out later in life, as some of the best anglers I knew as a child were women.
Every year as a child, I would look forward to Easter when the snow melted and the fly rods came out. On our lawn, my mom would help me to practice casting in preparation for our annual Memorial Day fishing trip with friends and family. I would get my rod out and string it up with a huge grin on my face. My dad would be the judge, placing hula hoops out in the yard as targets. My sister and I would have contests for hours. Every now and then my mom would ask for a rod. I would give her mine and she would cast perfectly into the hula hoop and hit the target every time. I remember the grin on her face. The grin that was showing her two girls that, yes, you can be this good too. She taught us that to truly be the best women we could be, we would need to practice and have confidence in ourselves – something we recognize today as the ever-important grit.
At the end of any successful fishing expedition, I remember my dad getting creative in the kitchen and putting together a delicious supper for our family. A stellar angler himself, my parents always operated as a team – sharing in the joys (and challenges) of raising five independent children.
I still fish with my mom, and now I am proud to fish with my daughters. Most importantly, I am proud to work with Tom to teach our children how we, as husband and wife, co-directors, and co-trip leaders, share leadership roles. We are a team, showing each other respect, compassion, and celebrating each other’s strengths. We are also proud to see WA trip leaders modeling similar behavior for our students and empowering them to break down barriers to become the best version of themselves– the version that allows them to try new things, practice new skills, take risks, and believe in their own wisdom and strength.
In the coming weeks, you will be hearing from some of the leaders at Wilderness Adventures who are empowering young women and men.