BOW. Stands for Becoming an Outdoors Woman. It is an educational weekend that is organized from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. And it is just what it sounds like, cool workshops to try out some outdoors type skills. This adventure for woman of all ages was the weekend of September 13, 14 & 15.  I can tell you it is one of the best things I have EVER done. Let me tell you about the weekend and let me tell you why it was so important to me.

I had heard about BOW but I recently invited Emily MacCabe, who works to coordinate the educational efforts of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to and do an interview about the program. It was Emily who helped me to get on board for the BOW weekend. In hind site, Emily and everyone involved did an amazing job of putting this weekend together.

I will be honest I was scared on my drive to Winslow to Camp Caribou to attend my BOW Introductory Skills Weekend.  I never went to camp, I am an only child and in my day to day life a bit of a longer. So sleeping in a cabin with a bunch of strangers and ‘being social’ are things I do very well.   But I really wanted to do this, so it was time for my big-girl panties and do face a few fears.  Talk about needless work. I was fine.  As for sleeping, I brought along a camp mattress and ear plugs. And as for ‘being social’ there were a lot of others who just went in did their own thing.  You do whatever you do as your comfort level. I was just fine.

Our first day was Friday the 13th.  It was a very rainy afternoon and I need to apologize to my fellow campers for the rain.  The weekend before I went to get rain boots, rain gear was on the packing list. SO, after I got my boots I was hit by a fork lift. So the fact I had the boots that helped me get hit I feel brought the rain. My boots were cursed. But, I digress.

It was rainy, but hey, what the heck. I did an outdoors skills class. We learned about packing for a hike, short and long, camping trips and a lot of great information. Including a chat about being lost in the woods and the fact the most people are found in a day or so, if not sooner. Stay calm.  Then it was out to the rain to set up a tent with a broken support.  We fixed it with an oar and duct tape.

Saturday was BEAUTIFUL!  It was sunny and warm. I had two workshops. My morning one was primitive skills. I will get back to that soon. The afternoon was back yard foraging.  The foraging class was cool.  We were able to walk about talk about the ‘weeds’ in the grassy area and how trees can be a source of nutrition as too! Who knew?

The primitive skills workshop had a huge impact on me. The class was led by Lou Falank from Mountain Bear Programs and Guide Services. He also did that back yard foraging class. He talked with us about, what I think is the most important skills of all; awareness and calmness. Add in a little preparedness and creativity, the odds are in your favor.  Lou is a great guy and I wish I could have spent the whole weekend learning from him. What I did learn is that there is so much to be learned about survival skills and so many ways to go about something; it’s a varied and personal journey.

Saturday night was camp fire night.  The Camp Caribou staff set that up and helped to make that whole camp fire experience exactly what you would expect at camp. There were stories and song and yes, the stuff for s’mores.

The last day was a half day and for me it was fly tying!  I have wanted to try fly tying forever. I have been drawn to the creative and skill to making them. Nancy Taylor was the leader of this adventure. Nancy knows her stuff. I had a ball!  I knew I would be good at this and well, I am, if I do say so myself.

Now the cabins were fine. I slept well and the water was hot for the showers. And then there was the food! The food at Camp Caribou in Winslow on Pattee Pond was A-MAZ-ING.  I am a vegetarian and they did a wonderful job of making alternative entrees for those of us who opted for the vegetarian option and they were SO nice about it.  I adore them for that.

It was not until I later on Sunday afternoon after I had been home for a while, when it hit me how much I missed BOW camp.  The setting, the learning, the supportive environment, the other woman, the teachers, BOW is kind of amazing.

I WILL be going back next year. I already have the dates marked on the calendar. I will branch out even more. I want fly fishing and I really want the ropes course. Face a few more fears!