“Thinking Like an Outdoor Woman” best describes WOW’s 2011 participants at the annual weekend workshop September 16-18. These women – sincere in their goal  of functioning confidently in the outdoors – impressed WOW instructors with their hands-on determination to learn. With enthusiasm they practiced wet exits in Kayaking, no-match fire starting in Survival, paddled smartly on Lake Langlois, and were self starters with Dutch Ovens. They tied their own knots, got the 10 and 2 rhythm in fly fishing, made natural lip gloss, cooked wild foods, successfully maneuvered  a Map & Compass course and filleted a salmon. Archers hit the bull’s eye, would-be hunters talked preparation and strategy, and first time trackers found evidence of cougar.

The Saturday evening presentation by Survival instructor and clam enthusiast, Jill Eelkema, got everyone interested in visiting Washington’s clam beaches at low tide!  The Lost Art of Clam Digging showed the WOWomen how to identify, find, dig, clean and finally enjoy our wonderful Razor clams. Jill’s digital photography made all the difference in seeing the process and verifying how happy diggers use several ways of catching this elusive delicacy!

WOW offered 20 skills courses during the weekend but Sunday afternoon afforded time for two Breakout sessions. Back by popular request was Dr. Casey Kime and his very patient Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bart. Together they conducted another First Aid for Dogs on the Trail session. The American Red Cross generously shared instructor Bev Conrad who led a motivational session on Emergency Preparedness – a timely and important topic. Women recognized that many of the skills taught at WOW have a ‘carry-over application’ in emergency or disaster situations.

One surprise of the weekend was a presentation of the Governor’s Recognition Award to Director Ronni McGlenn. The framed certificate from Governor Chris Gregoire acknowledges WOW’s success in ‘equipping Washington’s women with outdoor skills and inspiring a renewed wonder in our state’s natural resources.’ The program, begun in 1998, continues to grow and reach women statewide.

Genuine interest marked women glad to be at WOW where curiosity about a skill invited actually attempting it.  This encouraged confidence and led to empowerment!  Tawanda!! Opportunity was matched with potential and hands-on practice was guided by WOW’s outstanding instructors!

We appreciate WOW’s 2011 Sponsors and the many workshop Donors and In-Kind givers who helped make this 14th year of the WOW program the best one yet!. Thank you to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) for its grant of 18 scholarships and to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for its grant of two more. The WOWomen of this workshop will be in the outdoors using and sharing their new skills with family and friends.  We are sure of it!