Fishing skills

“Becoming Outdoor Women” aims to give Utah women outdoor skills

CENTER, Utah — Enjoying the outdoors can take special skills, but a new program hopes to educate more Utahns so they can.

Through “Becoming Outdoor Women,” a new-to-state nonprofit educational program, the goal is for Utah women to build confidence in these skills and, in turn, themselves.

Ultimately, women are wives, mothers, sisters and friends. The list continues.

Kristie Hurst, a BOW camper, ticks all the boxes as wife, sister, friend and mom.

“Recently married. I have seven daughters,” Hurst said.

With girls ranging in age from nine to 19, it’s a lot of fun and busy for Hurst.

That’s why she made this ascent, which is a first, just for her.

“I knew in my soul that I needed it. I was trying to find a way to start finding myself again,” she said.

Hurst said culturally, women tend to hold themselves to certain standards that aren’t always what works best for them.

“A lot of women, we were brought up with this stigma and this shame that self-care is totally taboo,” Hurst said.

She said a lot of women then start to wonder who they are in the middle.

“A lot of us get to the age where our kids are starting to graduate, and we’re like, who are we?” said Hurst.

According to Andrea Schmutz, BOW program coordinator and extension professor at Utah State University, these answers can be found when you get away from the noise.

“When you practice a skill like rock climbing, and it’s something you’ve never done, and you actually finish what you set out to do, you feel empowered. You can go conquer anything. what you face in life,” Schmutz said.

Schmutz said people relate to stories and his story began in South Texas.

“I grew up in a family of ten children with five brothers. We had woods around our house. Down the street there was no community pool. We had the swimming lake and the fishing pond,” recalls Schmutz.

Summer jobs outside, notably in Moab, brought her to Utah.

By sharing her love for the outdoors, doing research and asking questions, she discovered that although Utah is an outdoor state where families often hang out together, women aren’t necessarily the ones participating. themselves to activities or adventures.

“They were packing all the food to go camping, but the man or the bigger one, the son or their grandfather, was doing the work. I think it gives women a great place to do the things they’ve probably done their whole lives,” Schmutz said.

BOW included a variety of sessions with a plethora of experienced instructors to teach and offer advice to campers.

Some of the sessions I offered included first aid, hunter safety, knots and outdoor cooking.

Katie Wilder, a BOW camper, said she tends to lean towards cooking sessions.

“I can pretty much do anything in a Dutch oven that I make at home,” Wilder said.

She said that thanks to BOW, her confidence and enjoyment of the outdoors has increased exponentially.

“I texted my husband and said, ‘Honey, I think we need to invest in a Dutch oven. I think we need to start using the hearth more. I’m ready to go camping,” Wilder said.

Schmutz said stories like Wilder’s are why BOW is special and important to continue.

“I really believe in women being influencers, and I think women go out and do these things and come back feeling empowered and confident. I think that will translate into other parts of their lives. I think it will make them better people,” she said.

Becoming an outdoorswoman means the women of Utah are just getting started.

“It’s so safe. I feel safe in the learning environment. I feel like it’s really important to be around other women,” Wilder said.

The program director’s big goal is to see BOW Utah grow to the point of becoming a winter session where women can learn cold weather outdoor skills in another part of Utah.