Active Outdoors: Doe Camp makes winter more wonderful

  • The best place to learn and practice winter skills is in a safe environment with proven instructors, like this camp setup class at Doe Camp in Vermont. TIM JONES PHOTO / For the Monitor

  • Doe Campers who take the Winter Camping class learn how to sleep warm in a tent, even if the temperature is below zero. TIM JONES PHOTO / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sorry guys, unless you have a woman in your life you’d like to gently encourage to enjoy the outdoors, this column’s not for you. My advice: Hand it to her without comment and come back in a couple of weeks.

One of the highlights of every winter for me is the Vermont Outdoors Woman Winter Doe Camp, which is held every winter at the Hulbert Center in Fairlee, Vt. This year’s Doe Camp is March 2-4.

Ladies, I know you don’t need some man pushing you into doing something you don’t want to do. But, on the other hand, if you WANT to try something new, here’s an opportunity. I’m telling you about it now so you still have plenty of time to decide if it’s right for you, sign up if you want to, and get the courses you want most. Some courses typically fill up quickly.

You simply can’t imagine (unless you’ve been there) how much fun it is to put anywhere from 75 to 100 enthusiastic women into a fully-supportive setting where everyone can safely try new endeavors under the guidance of a couple of dozen equally enthusiastic instructors.

I hear over and over again from the women at Doe Camp that they’ve never had an opportunity like this. Frankly, I see more genuine smiles per square foot at Doe Camp and hear more laughter than at any other time of year.

My EasternSlopes.com partner David Shedd and I have been teaching at Doe Camp since 2013, and I hope to keep the tradition going at least another 20 years. We have to offer classes; Doe Camp is too much fun to miss and guys are invited only if they teach.

So there it is, a chance for a weekend away by yourself, with your girlfriends or daughters, and try something you’ve never done before. Hope I see you there. Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy.

Doe Camp classes

Not all the classes offered at Winter Doe Camp involve being active outdoors, but, if the reactions I’ve seen from participants are any indication, all are fun. You can see full course descriptions here.

In case you are wondering, on Friday afternoon, David and I are teaching Introduction to Backcountry Skiing (at Dartmouth Skiway, about 30 minutes from the Hulbert Center). This isn’t a learn-to-ski class, but rather an introduction to the Alpine Touring and Telemark gear and techniques that allow you to ski anywhere there’s snow.

Our most popular class is usually Advanced Snowshoe Technique (which we even taught on snowshoes in 2016 when there’s wasn’t a speck of snow anywhere). We take you off the trails, onto the steeps, and show you how much fun backcountry snowshoeing can be. We always break the group up according to fitness level, but this is one of the more physically challenging of the classes offered at Doe Camp.

The class we started with is Lightweight Winter Camping, which actually lets you set up winter camps and offers the opportunity to sleep out on Saturday night in a tipi with a woodstove.

Other women’s programs

The dates haven’t yet been set for VOW’s Fall Doe Camp (we teach there, too), but you can get information here.

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.

New Hampshire offers a one-day program at the at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness on Feb. 17. This program, too, fills up quickly. For information or to register go to nhbow.com.

Massachusetts has a number of BOW programs focused on hunting and fishing. You can sign up for email notification here.

The AMC offers a host of women’s programs, many through their local chapters.

EMS Outdoor Schools, L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools and REI all offer women’s learning experiences.

Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com