BENEFITING: COLORADO OUTWARD BOUND SCHOOL
Save the world? Psshh casual. Just let young women go feral in the woods for a few weeks. They'll come back ready to lead, challenge injustice, and protect our wild places!
I am hiking Te Araroa Trail, a 3,000 kilometer (+1,800 mile) trail that runs the length of New Zealand, starting next November. I will be using the trek to raise money for the Gruffie Scholarship Fund, which is specifically for young women ages 16-25 who would like to take an Outward Bound course in the Colorado Rockies or southern Utah.
I have worked at the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) for three years now in many capacities. COBS is a non-profit that works to change lives through challenge and discovery. We take our students into wild places, give them the tools to survive and thrive together as a team, and then push them beyond their self-imposed physical and mental limits. By the end of a course they've gained self-confidence, leadership abilities, and a greater sense of compassion. Although the gender ratio for field staff is roughly 50:50, the ratio of male to female students is 80:20. As an instructor, I know how much richer our courses are when young women participate and how much more every student seems to learn from the experience.
That said, encouraging young women to get outside and get dirty is a more personal than professional cause for me. As a 16-year-old, I spent a month in Wyoming with program similar to COBS backpacking, climbing and kayaking. The experience changed my life; most importantly, it taught me that I could lead my peers and it helped me develop a healthier relationship with my body. It was my first encounter with wild places and the subsequent soothing of my usually stormy internal landscape. I discovered how narrow I considered my abilities compared to how expansive they could actually be.
Being a young woman is hard! We are told to close the gap, shatter the ceiling, un-fix our mindset, out-perform, have it all and lean in. Oh, and while we’re at it, better look good but not try too hard, work more than anyone around us but not sweat, eat but not poop, and embrace our compassion while not showing emotion. Navigating—let alone changing—this contradictory and unforgiving world takes tenacity and self-confidence. Grit, if you will, that is not easy to come by in a culture that coddles young women in all of the wrong ways.
Thru-hiking is painful and joyful and lonely and gorgeous and uncomfortable and rewarding, etc. This trek and related blog are my small push back at what I feel are prevalent and damaging expectations of young women to stay quiet and stay clean. My hope is to inspire young women to get out and adventure, and then offer some of them the means to do so.
I am funding the trek itself on my own. ALL OF THE MONEY I RAISE HERE WILL GO TOWARDS THE SCHOLARSHIP FUND! I AM NOT ASKING ANYONE TO HELP ME FUND MY ADVENTURE!
Adventuring in wild places offers young women the unique opportunity to test themselves and fail beautifully, to lead and stand confidently in their own sense of compassion and justice, to find their voices and use them.
Your donation to this scholarship fund is not static, it will ripple through this world through the courage and kindness of the young women you support. THANK YOU
You can follow my progress: https://wildwomaninthewoods.wordpress.com/
and on Instagram: @wildwomaninthewoods