The idea of a prissy girl hiking in heels, shrieking at the site of a bug, and carting a suitcase of beauty supplies on a camping trip — once portrayed as the norm — is now known to be the exception. Our generation has been quick to embrace the bare-minimal appeal of the #digitaldetox, #keepitwild, #in2nature-life. In fact, a recent study by outdoor master REI shows that most women feel freer and happier outside, and a whopping 73 percent say they’d like to spend more time in nature. Still, most of us didn’t grow up MacGyvering our way through childhood. While the idea of hightailing to the mountains is appealing, it’s also intimidating (what gear do I need? Where should I go? What’s a 14er? Can I do this alone? Should I?). Luckily, companies are stepping in to break the barriers through educational events led by women for women.
One of our favorites is Outessa, which runs three times throughout the summer in dreamy locales across the country. Hosted by REI, the summit draws everyone from experienced trail mavens to beginner nature-curious gals eager to learn more about the world and themselves from the greatest teacher of all (Mother Nature, y’all!). Ready to expand your repertoire with some out-there skills? There’s still time to sign up for the September summit at the stunning Waterville Valley Resort set in the 770,000-acre White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. Go with friends or head out solo to make new ones! But first, scroll on to see what you could learn and do in three days.
1. Master a scary sport. Practically any outdoorsy activity you’ve imagined tackling — from rock climbing to mountain biking to kiteboarding — you’ll find at this adventure summit, where women who have been where you are (starting out) and know what you need (a comfortable saddle, please?), lead the way. There are no judgments, no one-upping each other, no reservations in asking any and all questions. In addition to getting the basics (or advancing your abilities); you’ll also learn other things related to the sports, like how to pack a backpack for long hiking expeditions, bike upkeep, or buying and fixing gear, so you can feel confident in all areas of your newfound passion.
2. Hold your own. Fire-starting and tent-pitching may not be skills you need on a day-to-day basis, but these days you can never be too prepared. Besides, how cool is it to be the person who can get things lit at your next bonfire or s’mores party? We recommend the Wilderness Survival session, in which you’ll learn about locating and accessing drinking water, how to prioritize in an emergency, finding shelter, and other life-saving skills.
3. Work with your hands. Outessa isn’t only for die-hard adventurers; they also have artsy activities for a more laid-back experience. Sign up for DIY sessions in which you can make lei crowns, mandalas, and water-inspired paintings, or hone your hula dancing skills.
4. Become a master phonetographer. We know our phones’ cameras can deliver shots that come close and maybe even top some thousand-dollar models, but our pics still don’t come close to matching those iPhone 7 ads. It’s clearly not as simple as just point and shoot. Through several sessions with top talent, you can develop an eye for finding and setting up the frame, tricks for getting the most out of what your phone can do, and light editing tips to take your IG to the next level.
5. Become a better cook. You wouldn’t think you’d be going out into the wild to improve your kitchen chops, but no matter where you are, you gotta eat. In addition to hosting mini workshops in making bars (the energy kind, not the drink cart variety), coffee, and other handy snacking basics, you can also sign up for a camp cooking session in which you’ll get hands-on time making full-on meals with minimal equipment. If you can make it in a forest, you can make it anywhere.
6. Hammock & chill. It’s not all about doing. Part of the magic of the outdoors is in laying low and soaking it all in, AKA letting nature do its work. Outessa participants are encouraged to hunker down in one of the hammock enclaves scattered throughout the site. Or bring your own and set up wherever you want.
7. Find yourself. The map and compass navigation class is one of the first to fill up, probably because most of us are seeking a little direction. Amid the flurry of options that surround us everyday, there is something thoroughly grounding about going back to basics and learning how to get around without technology.
What do you love about the outdoors? Tweet us at @BritandCo!