Empowering women and girls to get outside is a passion of mine. A passion that started early in life, as a teenager while most of my friends were reading Dolly magazine I had my head stuck in the adventure magazine Wild. My part time job wages were spent buying hiking boots, a tent and simple camping gear.
During High School, I miraculously found myself in a group of multi-age friends who embraced the outdoors. We hiked, biked and camped our way through our teens, mostly a group of girls we learnt confidence, positive body image and had faith in our own abilities. It really was a girls own adventure! We laughed all the way, at our mishaps and wins. We could confidently navigate from a map, set a route and cover some serious kilometres with heavy packs. Weekends were spent overcoming challenges; leeches, cold nights in tents, hard uphill sections and mentally challenging long walks. However, the resilience I built up during these activities only promoted me to keep going both in the bush and in everyday life. The confidence I had in my physical ability to walk, scramble and climb was considerable. Body image was more about if I felt strong enough to get up the mountain than how I looked in my jeans. When I was physically and mentally able I was happy. Fundamentally, I believe the skills I leant in the bush gave me a solid foundation for the challenges of being a teenager and becoming a woman.
These physical and emotional capabilities have become cornerstone to my life, still in the bush is where I am most alive. Scrambling through the last few years of finishing a PhD, starting a small business and life uncertainty has been tumultuous. However, just like when I was as a teenager, the outdoors has got me through it. Earlier this year my partner Matt and I set off on a 35 day hike, walking the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It was a challenge for us emotionally and physically, while both experienced walkers this was the longest we’d been out on the trail for. The huge days up mountains, carrying up to ten days of food at once, injuries and walking 10 – 40km a day were some of the best experiences of both of our lives, and we know we will go back!
While the outdoors is not an antidote to modern day society, it is a chance to slow down the pressures, be and do something different. You don’t have to head off for days or weeks into the bush. Small snippets in our everyday lives are also really beneficial. Nature offers the opportunity to be mindful, show gratitude and focus on our wellbeing. This upcoming holidays we are planning something special, a day just for 12 – 15 year old girls.
A day outdoors with supportive female mentors; walking, journaling, stretching and creating could be just what your teen needs. We’d love to have as many girls along for our leisurely walk of the Kiama coastal track with many pitstops along the way. While for some it may just simply be a great day out and a chance to unwind, for others it may spark an interest in the outdoors and the beginning of a life of adventure. The day is suited to all interests and abilities, every teen girl is super welcome! Expressions of interest are invited by replying to this blog or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
See you out there!