Accessibility in the Outdoors & The Camp Kit’s Role

What does making the outdoors accessible mean? This question was on my mind when I co-founded Wild Wilderness Women almost two years ago. We wanted to build a group that would empower more women to get outside, and do so in an intentional way that wouldn’t leave any women out. As we’ve grown, it has been a question our board has returned to again and again. How do we make sure we’re fostering an inclusive environment where socio-economic status, race, sexuality, and the variety of other characteristics that a diverse community of women may identify with don’t inadvertently prohibit them from feeling welcome outside?

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The urgency of the question for me only grew as our board began planning our inaugural Babes Off the Beaten Path trip—an annual opportunity for Wild Wilderness Women to come together and build community while having an exceptional outdoors experience. For this first year, we’d be taking eight women into the backcountry of Glacier National Park for four days. Three of these women had never been backpacking before.

My mind immediately turned to cost, and the stress I remember feeling around obtaining all the gear I needed when I started diving into the world of backpacking. The truth is that it’s expensive to get started backpacking. Just the cost of the basics adds up fast.

  • Backpack: $200
  • Sleeping pad: $60
  • Sleeping bag: $150
  • Tent: $175
  • Stove: $50
  • Headlamp: $25
  • Total: $660

The cost of gear shouldn’t be what stops a woman from trying out backpacking for the first time, and we certainly didn’t want this to be the case for the women who were courageously throwing their fears to the wind and coming with us on this wild ride to Glacier. This is where The Camp Kit came in.

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For far less than the price of buying all new gear, The Camp Kit offers easy rentals of everything a newbie may need to try out this great love affair we call backpacking. And, unlike some rental companies, it only sends high-quality gear—the type that you would want to buy for yourself. As a first-timer, this is important. Using gear that is old, smelly, heavy, or otherwise unappealing can affect the way a beginner internalizes the experience.

When Tara first joined Wild Wilderness Women, she didn’t have much experience camping. Day hikes, paddling on the Potomac, or biking along local trails were more up her alley. But, strapping a pack on your back, sleeping near wild animals, and spending multiple nights in a tent? She had some hesitations. However, when we announced our trip to Glacier, Tara excitedly signed up. She quickly embraced the opportunity to push her limits in a way that so beautifully encapsulated the ethos of our group’s mission. This was something we wanted to champion.

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Photo Credit: Nicole Lesnett

Tara headed out on the Dawson-Pitamakan Trail with us this past August thanks to a 1-person backpacking kit from The Camp Kit. She got to experience what backpacking was all about without committing to dropping hundreds of dollars on gear. And, I can’t imagine what our trip would’ve been like if something like the cost of gear had held Tara back from joining us.

Tara brought incredible spirit to the group—encouraging all of us when we began to feel tired, letting us share in her excitement of seeing her first moose, and being the first to want to learn new skills, such as bear bag hanging or backcountry dishwashing. I asked her at the end of the trip if she thought backpacking was something she’d do again, and, guess what? Even with aches in the feet and stinky armpits at the end of the trail, her answer was—yes!

Accessibility in the outdoors is important across a variety of spectrums. For me, the financial barrier of getting started is one I feel particularly passionate about breaking down. I’m grateful for options like The Camp Kit that help do just that.

XO—Korrin, Co-founder & President

Header photo credit: Nicole Lesnett

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What is a Babe?

What is a babe?

This is the question we found ourselves asking after our group of over 40 adventurous women voted to name our annual adventure “Babes Off the Beaten Path.”

Was this setting the wrong tone? we wondered. Shouldn’t the backcountry be one of the places where a woman can truly escape from the constant barrage of societal expectations on her appearance? Can’t we be hairy and stinky and rugged and not have to worry about whether we’d be considered a babe?

I was once at an outdoor store perusing women’s apparel when I came across a display of women’s backcountry underwear. They were trimmed with lace and offered in seductive colors. The packaging read, “Technically Sexy!”yellow sun PNG

Technically sexy.

I felt so suddenly filled with rage. Really? I had to be three days unbathed and still worry about being sexy and wearing the right panties that would make me attractive to men? And that “technically” part—so that bit of lace is all that’s holding me back from being an otherwise undesired blob of unattractiveness? But, hey, all while being moisture-wicking, lightweight, and breathable, at least! Sigh.

Later, our group was discussing an article about women’s outdoor apparel where the author lamented, please stop making women’s activewear pink! 

Well, what’s wrong with pink? I thought. The point is that there should be options. We should be able to embrace the color, fabric, adventure in which we personally feel the most comfortable. This thought led me back to “being a babe.”

Maybe being a babe isn’t an objectifying thing. I contemplated. Maybe it just needs a more vocal group of advocates to speak its true definition.

As the gutsy gals of Wild Wilderness Women kept chatting about this topic, we realized just how perfect our trip name actually was. It would give us a chance to reclaim “babe.” It would give us a chance to explore its true definition. It would give us a chance to provide visual, verbal, and written evidence to the world of just how diversely bodacious being a babe really is.

In just over a month, eight of us head out for our inaugural Babes Off the Beaten Path annual adventure. We’ll be spending four days in the great wilderness of Glacier National Park—being total babes.

And, leading up to it, we’re bringing our exploration of “babe-ness” to you! Both our group’s members, and the wild wilderness women of our broader communities will be sharing their stories and art of what it means to be a babe—and we hope you’ll join us!

Interested in submitting a piece to our blog? Head over to our contact page and email us your pitch! Would you like to help our first eight babes in this August journey? Please consider giving a donation toward our trip, so that we can ensure this adventure is as accessible as possible.

Finally, make sure to check out this educational video from our Annual Adventure Maven, Allison Strauss, who has been critical in making this upcoming trip a reality. It’s a little lesson in babe-dom.

Thanks so much for following along on our wild ride—we can’t wait to hear and share in your stories!

XO—Korrin, Co-founder & President

Header photo credit: Mika Weinstein

 

Welcome to the WWW Blog!

Just thinking of the beginning brings a smile to my face. A year ago, Liz and I sat in the divey basement level of Bier Baron Tavern in Washington, D.C., sipping microbrews and cracking jokes while excitedly sketching out plans for a women’s wilderness group. I look at my notebook now, and it’s filled with manic scribbles representing dozens of our ideas and next steps from that night.

Once we’d decided to establish this small group of wilderness sisters, weyellow sun PNG made a list of the initial 10 women we planned to contact to see if they wanted to join. We also talked about plans for an annual extended backcountry trip, what we could do as a first outdoor activity, thoughts on a potential book club, ideas for empowerment activities, and more. On the second page of my notes, I had a list titled, “Things in Stone.” The only thing written under this list by the end of that soul-filling night was, “Name: Wild Wilderness Women (WWW).” The rest, we knew, would solidify in time.

Over the next several months, Liz and I worked together to co-found Wild Wilderness Women, and that process alone was a treat. I learned that great things happen when women partner. There was a comfort in knowing that when my life got busy, I could lean out while she stepped in, and that when she needed time for what life was tossing her way, she could take a step back, while I picked up the weight.

A year later, we’re over 30 members strong, and we’ve been cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, orienteering, paddleboarding, biking, and camping throughout Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. We’ve also expanded beyond outdoor activities to acknowledge the full beauty of what makes us each wild, meeting to discuss documentaries, literature, and more.

In addition, we’ve established a leadership board to guide our growth and mission. Each one of the women who serve on this board is unique, strong, compassionate, driven, smart, and wild. I couldn’t be luckier to have such a committed team. It is a joy to share this movement with them, and leave our monthly meetings inspired by the feeling of knowing everything that is possible and everything that we’re capable of being.

Our growth in the coming year will include the creation of local chapters of WWW outside of the D.C. metro area, and the organization of our first big backcountry trip together through some of the spectacular public lands of the United States.

A year ago, I never realized WWW would develop into something bigger than our initial gathering of gutsy gals. However, as we’ve grown, WWW naturally shaped itself into something far beyond our own selves. WWW is about women everywhere and how we verbalize and visualize our population. It’s about creating a space for women to explore and learn, to push beyond what they believe to be their limits, to find catharsis and understanding through community, and by doing so, give other women everywhere permission and support to join in and do the same.

This website was created to be an extension of WWW’s mission to be a visible encouragement for other women to get outdoors and engage meaningfully with one another. It is a resource for every heart out there waiting to let herself be wild.

We plan to fill these pages with tips and tricks for starting your own group of adventurous women, commentary on a variety of issues facing women today, helpful gear reviews, photo essays and event recaps to inspire your next trip, and more! These posts and resources won’t just be coming from me, or any one voice. This site will highlight the many independent voices that form our whole.

WWW is one of the greatest initiatives I’ve ever decided to put my time toward. The experience has been nourishing in a way that only happens when beautiful, badass, talented women come together.

Thank you so much for being here—we can’t wait to share this journey with you!

XO—Korrin, Co-founder & President