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Active Outdoors

Active Outdoors: Winter Doe Camp a learning experience – but only women allowed

  • Dogsled: If you love dogs, learn how to hitch up and drive a dog team at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

    Dogsled: If you love dogs, learn how to hitch up and drive a dog team at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

  • Doe Camp Skijoring: Bring your dog and learn how to skijor together at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

    Doe Camp Skijoring: Bring your dog and learn how to skijor together at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

  • First Time XC: A supportive environment like the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3,  is the perfect place to try something new. (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

    First Time XC: A supportive environment like the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, is the perfect place to try something new. (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

  • Winter Fire Skills is one of the half-day courses you can choose from at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

    Winter Fire Skills is one of the half-day courses you can choose from at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

  • Dogsled: If you love dogs, learn how to hitch up and drive a dog team at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)
  • Doe Camp Skijoring: Bring your dog and learn how to skijor together at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)
  • First Time XC: A supportive environment like the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3,  is the perfect place to try something new. (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)
  • Winter Fire Skills is one of the half-day courses you can choose from at the Winter Doe Camp, March 1-3 at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont, March 1-3, (OutdoorsWoman.org photo)

Okay, guys, most of the time I’m writing for everyone. But this week, pass this column along to some woman in your life, and I’ll see you next week.

Now, ladies ... first of all, I know most of you read this column on your own without any encouragement from men. More than half of the emails I get are from women. Some ask questions about gear or where to go, but a number are about how to get started doing something outdoors. Those are my favorites, because it means someone is at least thinking about expanding their outdoor horizons. This column is specifically directed toward women ready to try something new.

Some people are lucky. They were introduced to the outdoors at an early age and it just comes naturally. Gender is immaterial. Others are

introduced later. That’s where the differences begin. Most guys who start later are introduced to the outdoors by their buddies. For women, it’s more often a boyfriend or husband. My sweetheart Marilyn is a prime example. She had done some limited hiking and skiing before she met me, but had never gone camping, paddled a kayak, climbed vertical rocks or ridden a bike as an adult. Now she has. Sometimes, she questions whether or not that means she’s been “lucky.”

When a woman wants to do more in the outdoors but has no one in her immediate circle to mentor her, where does she turn? It’s especially tough in winter if you want to get away from groomed trails. Many people who eagerly and easily play outdoors in the warm months shy away from winter adventures. Good winter mentors are hard to find.

On March 1-3, the Hulbert Center in Fairlee, Vt., is joining with the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association’s (voga.org) Vermont Outdoor Women program to present “Winter Doe Camp,” a fun, safe and supportive environment for women to explore the outdoors in winter. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be from Vermont. All women over the age of 15 are welcome (minors must be accompanied by an adult). This would be a perfect Mother/Daughter or “Girls Getaway” weekend. The program starts on Friday evening with a gathering and presentation. Then, for the next day and a half, you participate in three different activities in three sessions, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Among the courses being offered are: Winter Fire Skills, Open Camp Fire Cooking, Animal Tracking, Principles of Winter Survival and Winter Clothing, Basic Map & Compass Skills, Lightweight Winter Camping, Introductory Country Skiing, Backcountry Skiing (for experienced Nordic skiers), Snowshoeing, Nordic Skating, Ice Hockey, Dog Sledding (they say to “come prepared to fall in love with the dogs”), Skijoring (with your own dog ... participants should have gear and feel comfortable on cross-country skis), Handgun and Rifle Instruction, and Ice Fishing (Vermont fishing license needed).

Think about it ... you get a chance to try something new, or get better at something you do, in a setting where everyone is trying something new, or trying to get better. No attitude allowed.

If you’re interested, there’s more information at alohafoundation.org/hulbert-outdoor-center/adult-programs/vermont-winter-doe-camp/, or you can contact Lynn Daly at 802-333-3405 or lynn_daly@alohafoundation.org . The entire weekend, including meals, programs and lodging, is $290, or you can come on just Saturday ($150) or Sunday ($75). Registration is by fax or mail only, and closes Feb. 24.

C’mon, just do it. Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!

Lightweight winter camping

Yes, Doe Camp is an all-women event, but my buddy David Shedd and I have been invited to present our seminar on lightweight winter camping. Just in case we start to get too testosterone-driven, Marilyn and David’s wife, Susan, both experienced winter campers, will be on hand.

Here’s our course description: “Have you ever dreamed of winter camping with your family or friends, exploring the beautiful winter wilds on skis or snowshoes, then watching the sunset from your tent ... but thought it would be too cold, the gear too heavy? The staff of EasternSlopes.com will show you the lightweight gear, clothing and accessories (even packable woodstoves that run on little branches you break off trees!) for safe, easy, comfortable winter camping. Together, we’ll set up two complete winter campsites, one with a heated tipi and one with a conventional tent. Safely and comfortably ease into winter camping as you grow your confidence and skills. We’ll teach you step-by-step, how to stay warm, dry and comfortable, even in unexpected weather. Bring your own gear, and we’ll help you assess whether it’s appropriate for winter use. Come dressed for several hours outdoors! Saturday’s participants will have the option of spending the night in one of the camps we set up; contact us in advance about space and what personal gear to bring.”

This is very hands-on; you get to try everything. After this course, you should be able to do your first backyard or roadside winter campout on your own, comfortably and safely. From there, you can progress in increments to full-on winter camping.

Other women’s programs

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York run regular “Becoming An Outdoors Woman” (BOW) programs. These started as a way for women to learn primarily about fishing and hunting, but now have expanded into many other areas of outdoor recreation.

Unfortunately, registration is closed for the one-day New Hampshire “Winter BOW” program being held this weekend at the at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. For information on upcoming BOW programs in New Hampshire, go to nhbow.com.

Massachusetts hasn’t yet put out its list of 2013 BOW programs. You can sign up for email notification at mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/bow/bow_home.htm.

Maine’s BOW programs are listed at state.me.us/ifw/education/bow.htm.

New York has a number of BOW and “Beyond BOW” programs scheduled almost year round. Go to dec.ny.gov/education/68.html for details.

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

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