...That's what I was doing last weekend.
I found out about BOW at the beginning of August and signed-up immediately. If you ask my co-workers, they'll tell you that I was bouncing off the walls with excitement the day I registered. If you haven't heard about it, BOW is short for Becoming an Outdoors Woman and is an international, non-profit organization which aims to educate women in outdoorsy skills and activities. They offer a wide variety of workshops from hunting and fishing courses to basic skills for hiking/wilderness survival, to sports like mountain biking, and kayaking and hobbies like geocaching and birding. There's something for everyone! More information and a full list of the workshops they offer is available here.
So much was packed into this BOW weekend, that it's taken me this long to digest everything. There's really so much I want to share, that I haven't quite figured out where to begin, and how to keep this post manageable without going on and on about how much fun I had, and how much I learned. Also, I wish I had more photos from the weekend, but sadly I was to busy to take pictures and only have a couple dozen to share.
I was really happy with my workshop choices this year:
1. Wilderness Navigation: learning how to read topographical maps, how to use a compass, and how to use both of these together, learning the difference between true north and magnetic north, how to calculate distance travelled. It was really, really fun and really quite empowering to learn these skills. I'm by no means an expert but it's confidence building to know that you have the skills to get yourself in and out of the woods with these tools. I'm definitely putting a compass on my Christmas list this year, if I can wait that long!
2. Mountain Biking: learning about the gear and parts of the biking, learning how to shift gears properly and use the gears for different terrain, and how to change a flat tire. I learned that I won't shy away from biking through the muck and puddles (that's the fun part about mountain biking), but that I quickly lose stamina going uphill, even in the lowest gear, and have to do the walk of shame up the hill.
3. Kayaking: This was a close tie with Wilderness Navigation for my favourite workshop of the weekend. We learned about the kayaks, paddles and the gear that goes with it all, body positioning and movements, paddlings strokes, how to recover from a capsized kayak (including some entertaining demonstrations). I started out in the tandem with a partner having never been in a kayak before and close to the end got to try out a single. I was not very stable in the single and was sure I was going to tip. It's a miracle I didn't actually!
4. Birding: This wasn't my first choice (I wanted to do the geocaching workshop as I still haven't figured out how to do certain things with my GPS yet), but I quite enjoyed it just the same! We learned about migration patterns of birds, about different species of birds and about the bird atlas for Nova Scotia, we learned about identification techniques and how to adjust binoculars (adjust the left lens first, then fine-tune the right), and we learned a great technique for attracting birds ("phish"ing: shpish-psh-psh). We spotted a couple species of vireos, grouse and finches, and of course were visited by curious chickadees. Also our instructor had a rather neat gadget that she uses to call birds - a tiny little speaker that plugs into her mp3 player and will play mp3s of bird calls! How neat!
The workshops were the main focus of the weekend, but in the evenings we had the opportunity to learn fly-tying or knot-tying. I chose knots and learned how to five knots: the bowline knot, the reef knot, the clove hitch, the handcuff knot and the monkey's fist. Now I just have to be sure to practice, so I will remember them when I need them.
On the second night the plan was to have an astronomy lesson but the weather wasn't cooperating (did I mention it rained the whole weekend?), so instead we had a demo of really neat software called Stellarium. You can type your location into the program and it will pull up the night sky, which you can then click and drag so it matches what you see from your exact location. Then, with another click the program will show you the constellations and the artwork that goes with the constellations. Really cool, eh?! And here's the best part - the software is free!
And, of course, no outdoorsy weekend would be complete without a campfire or two. Here's a picture of our second campfire, complete with planked salmon cooked by the fire!
If you're interested in hearing more about what the weekend was like, CBC's Phlis McGregor was there interviewing folks and here is her spot about BOW on CBC NS's Information Morning.