Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) means becoming more competent, more confident, and more aware. BOW is an outdoor skills program that offers women a chance to grow. 20,000+ women attend BOW events every year.
More than 80 weekend-long workshops are held all across North America annually. The workshops introduce women to a variety of activities equally balanced between hunting and shooting, fishing, and non-harvest sports like canoeing and camping. Participants choose from a list of over 20 activities.
The program began in 1991, offered through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The first workshop, held at Treehaven Field Station near Tomahawk, filled to capacity with over 100 participants. This successful program, founded by Dr. Christine Thomas, has become popular in more than 40 states, several Canadian provinces and New Zealand.
The growth of BOW means we are reaching more women and providing them with a venue to learn not just outdoor skills, but also more about themselves, says Director Peggy Farrell. Women all across the country have told us, BOW has changed my life. That's a powerful endorsement telling us the program is even bigger than learning how to set up a tent or tie a fly.
BOW program coordinators are also expanding to offer Beyond BOW events that include actual pheasant, turkey or deer hunts, guided fly fishing, caving excursions, sea kayaking, horse packing trips and more. The Beyond BOW concept was spurred on by requests from women who wanted to take the next step in learning following their BOW experience. For example, Farrell says, BOW might teach a woman how to shoot a shotgun. After that where can she go to learn more specifically about pheasant hunting? A Beyond BOW pheasant hunt can fill that need.
In March 2003 and again in 2004, BOW took a jaunt over the ocean to offer a Beyond BOW in the Bahamas. Participants learned snorkeling, ocean kayaking, deep-sea fishing, and more on this island adventure. We've organized and hosted three trips to Alaska, one to Hawaii, and a wilderness trip to Wyoming. In February 2008, 12 lucky participants will travel to Costa Rica for a special BOW Destinations workshop.
Specialty programming like BOW and Beyond BOW have become successful due in large part to important on-going research related to women and outdoor activities conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources.
With the help of funding provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Wisconsin Environmental Education Board, and other organizations, BOW launched several projects that assessed the needs, attitudes and participation of women in outdoor activities.
BOW also researched ways to better welcome women with disabilities to outdoor recreation. We know that women who attend BOW workshops gain self-confidence and self-esteem in addition to outdoor skills. We want to make sure women in underrepresented groups are included in this unique program.
BOW welcomes women from all backgrounds to enjoy camaraderie with other women in a supportive, non-competitive learning environment. Participants span the ages of 18 to 80+. In addition to learning new activities, BOW participants are also treated to a variety of evening entertainment including outdoor clothing fashion shows, bird shows featuring live hawks and owls, outdoor storytelling, raffle prizes, and more.
BOW workshops are generally held at camps or resorts. Participants stay in heated cabins or lodges that may be rustic, but have basic modern amenities including hot showers. Meals are provided and cooked by the camp staff. The focus for the weekend is learning in a comfortable atmosphere.
Special thanks to the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman group for permission to post this information!