I spent this past weekend with a group of about 40 women at Georgia’s annual “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” workshop. The workshop is three days of outdoor recreation education. BOW is an experience like no other. It’s a sort of camp for adult women to learn and gain confidence with outdoors skills from expert instructors and experienced volunteers. The unplugged, natural environment of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center lends itself to fantastic learning opportunities for the participants.
Lodging at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
The conference center at Charlie Elliott is a beautiful campus set among the trees. The dining hall is where we met morning, noon and night for our meals and socializing. A large room, with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, it brings the beauty of the outdoors into the meeting.
The lodge rooms are much like staying in a hotel. For Georgia BOW, we were three strangers sharing a room with a full bed and twin bunks. I had the pleasure of being on top bunk, which was surprisingly comfortable. There’s a full bath and a heating/air conditioning system. Some things you won’t find are televisions or internet connections. It’s definitely an unplugged environment to get away from it all. We had a busy schedule that kept us outdoors most of the day. But, it was sure nice to go back to a warm bed at night. Although, I wouldn’t have been unhappy waking up in a tent near the lake.
Let me tell you that the staff really outdid themselves. All our meals were included in our costs and it’s a good thing. There’s quite a drive before you’ll find any fast food around Charlie Elliott. As it was, we were provided breakfasts, lunches and supper. For each meal, we served ourselves at a buffet filled with salad fixings and different entree options that cater to any type of diet. They even included dessert. Excellent food for busy days outside.
As an introvert and a sort of self-described, “loner,” I don’t think I’ve ever felt as comfortable among a group of women in my life. They were all very open and caring, receptive to learning and excited to be a part of this experience. Going into this, one of my biggest concerns was sharing a room with two of them. But, I had nothing to worry about. We got along famously. No one is making any attempts to one-up another and all are very supportive and helpful. Everyone seemed very natural and relaxed.. not much putting on airs or makeup.
Georgia’s BOW – Becoming an Outdoors Woman Programming
Let me be the first to say that the brochure is overwhelming. There are so many interesting sessions, led by experts and volunteers, that it is difficult to choose between them. Hindsight is 20/20 and I realize that all the sessions are totally worth the time, which makes the decision even more difficult for next year. I narrowed my sessions down to Fishing 101, Fly Fishing, Wilderness Survival and Reading Wildlife Signs. I also attended some sessions available to all like Firearm Safety and Georgia Wildlife. I was not disappointed.
All the sessions are led by knowledgeable instructors, kept to a small group of students and had enough volunteers for one-on-one support. Each of the instructors took the time to get to know the students in class and why they wanted to learn these particular skills. It’s a very personal connection and I really appreciate all the thought and careful planning that goes into each presentation. The hands-on learning environment gave me the opportunity to learn and practice with the instructors for hours. I left each one with enough confidence to go out and be successful trying these things on my own. Some of the other opportunities that I did not have the pleasure of attending were shooting, archery, tree identification, backpacking, scuba diving, and lots more. It’s truly a life changing experience that I believe every woman should attend at least once in their life.
I have nothing but awesome things to say about this phenomenal program. The collective opinion, among women who’ve been to other regional workshops, seems to be that Georgia BOW is the best! As a Georgia gal, this doesn’t surprise me! Go Georgia! For more information about the annual Georgia BOW, click here.
Many thanks to Jody Rice, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, and Georgia BOW Volunteers for all their hard work in organizing the event and approving my scholarship to attend. I will definitely be back and I hope to bring some fresh faces with me.