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The Women's Wilderness Institute

Our backpacking and rock climbing courses for girls result in increased self-esteem, healthier body image, and greater leadership skills. Support our scholarship fund for girls who would otherwise not have access to this kind of life-changing opportunity!

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Girls' Wilderness Adventures Program

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
Female Children (5 - 14 years)
Female Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged/Indigent
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

The Girls' Wilderness Adventures Program is an innovative strengthening and prevention program designed to develop the self-efficacy, self-confidence, leadership skills, and capacity for authentic relationships that have been shown to be significant protective factors for girls. The program serves a racially and economically diverse population of girls, ages 8-18, on 1- to 14-day wilderness-based courses of backpacking, rock climbing, and expressive arts. Courses activities are facilitated within a program model that builds courage, confidence and leadership skills, and helps each girl express her authentic voice.

In 2016, 93% of girls surveyed felt that, become of what they learned and experienced on course, they "feel more comfortable being themselves." 98% felt more confident and capable of accomplishing difficult things because of their experience on course. 100% reported feeling "more connected to nature and the outdoors."

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Evidence of Program's Success

Three outcome studies by independent researchers have confirmed the effectiveness of Girls' Wilderness Program courses. A 1999 study found that eight-day course graduates showed significant positive changes in self-confidence, self-esteem, and the ability to initiate action . Another study in 2001 replicated those results, and also found a positive increase in body image and body acceptance . Self-reporting indicated that course graduates do significantly better in school; this finding was confirmed with a 2003 study on whether a Girls' Wilderness Course has an impact on academic attitudes. This study found significant increases in participants' perception of their academic competence, as well as positive changes in perceived self-worth .

Girls Lead for Life

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Children (4-12 years)

Description

Girls Lead for Life is a curriculum-driven, after-school climbing and leadership program for girls in 5th through 7th grade. The majority of the girls who participate receive need-based scholarships and would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in a program like this. Girls Lead for Life helps girls build upon experiences and lessons learned in our summer expeditions, and it prepares girls new to our program to take on greater challenges by participating in the summer program post-GLFL graduation.

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Evidence of Program's Success

This program has had over 85% retention rate of girls participating between session 1 and 2. Girls' program evaluations have shown an increase in self-confidence, positive body image, and ability to take on challenges.

Trailblazers: Women Identifying BIPOC Outdoor Program

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Blacks, African Heritage
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Females
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Native Americans

Description

Trailblazers developed out of a desire to increase the presence of BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Women of Color) in the outdoors while also providing training to support positive, safe, and successful hiking, backpacking, and camping experiences in outdoor environments. Through completion of Trailblazers, participants will: Develop greater comfort and confidence in the outdoors; Gain competence in the outdoors through supported and facilitated outdoor activities and specific skill-building classes; Practice taking on leadership roles within each program to apply to future scenarios; Create a cohort of other developing outdoors-women, from which to share experience throughout the program and beyond; Have access to post-program mentorship for people wanting to pursue employment within the outdoor industry.

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Evidence of Program's Success

In 2018 a group of women completed the inaugural 7-session program, culminating in a successful overnight backpacking adventure.

Queer Wilderness Project

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Gays/Lesbians
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

The Queer Wilderness Project is a nature connection and community group for LGBTQ individuals, ages 18 and up, of any (a)gender. The mission of QWP is to create a space for earth-based queer community that will promote health, healing, and connection. Ecological literacy is a vital and often overlooked part of the healing and wholing of populations who have been systemically silenced and marginalized, such as the LGBTQ population, and especially trans and queer people of color. Ecological literacy is deep relationship building with living and non-living earth systems through naturalist knowledge, so-called 'survival' skills, natural crafts, and local cultural/natural history.

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Evidence of Program's Success

One participant reported that this was their first experience attending a program specifically for the LGBTQ community. Other participants said that they had wanted to engage in nature skills for a long time but had not found a space they felt welcome or safe to do so, until this class.

"My experience with the Queer Nature workshops is that they are a sacred and unique space - a sanctuary for queer people to be with ourselves, each other and our collective ancestors as we learn ways of communicating with and connecting with the earth."
RP, Firecraft and Pine Needle Baskets participant

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