Our mission is to support girls, women, and LGBTQ+ in finding their power and connection to each other through outdoor experiences and community building.
Women’s Wilderness began as an effort to create gender equity in the outdoors and in society more broadly In service of that goal, we created programs specifically with women and girls in mind. Courses and retreats for female-identified people, led by women.
We know the power of outdoor experiences can have on improving our health and wellbeing. Despite this, many people continue to be excluded from outdoor spaces and the outdoor industry. As stewards of outdoor programs, we are responsible for advocating, elevating, and creating pathways into the outdoors for underrepresented people so that they can experience the transformative potential the wilderness provides. A crucial part of this work for us is Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. (Girl Immigrant Refugee Leadership Series), a program designed to serve immigrant, refugee, and asylee girls.
What is Outdoor G.I.R.L.S.?
Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. is an after school program for Middle School girls who identify as immigrants, refugees, and asylees. Over the course of the year, participants (starting in 6th grade) will connect with each other and experience outdoor and outdoor-related activities, ranging from nature walks to bird watching to rock climbing. No experience is necessary. We provide gear, transportation, instruction and inspiration.
Participants: 6th graders who identify as girl, female or gender+ youth
Cadence: Weekly after school meeting during school year (subject to change in response to school and COVID policies) plus a week-long camp in the summer
Features: Regular outdoor experiences, capstone or big trip at the end of the school year
Location: Various, based out of The People’s Building, 9995 E Colfax Ave, Aurora
What girls will get
- Connection – to each other, to folks who share their experiences, to adult role models, to young adult leaders
- Comfort in nature and outdoor spaces – feel safe (emotionally and physically) in outdoor spaces / nature, knowing what is needed to spend time outside, and more
- Break from other demands of life
- Community events for girls and families
- Outdoor skills such as using a camp stove, fitting boots and other gear, packing a backpack, using a map, and more
We are seeking older youth and young adults (ages 16-25) who want to get leadership skills and experience by being cultural and linguistic translators working with instructors and Women’s Wilderness staff. Youth leaders attend all after school sessions with participants, as well as separate leadership sessions (an additional ~1 hour a week). This is a great chance to explore career opportunities in the education and outdoor industries.
Context: Why Outdoor G.I.R.L.S.?
Today, we are in the midst of one of the greatest migration crises the world has ever known. Immigrants and refugees often flee violence and untenable living circumstances to arrive at destinations that can be unwelcoming and unsafe both interpersonally and institutionally. This has hugely negative impacts on the physical and mental health of migrants and access to support services, especially for those who are undocumented, is confusing if it exists at all.
Physical activity is associated with a variety of positive health outcomes related to these risks and disparities, including decreases in depression and obesity and increases in pro-social connections and self-esteem. Significant research documents the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of connecting with the natural world. Given our strength and expertise as a facilitator of intentional outdoor experiences, we see a vital need to use our resources and connections to facilitate immersive time in nature that will be the site for skill-building, leadership development, self-actualization, and more for migrants and their family members.