25 Years into the Dream
When the founders of Women’s Wilderness decided to provide new opportunities for girls to experience adventure, empowerment and leadership against the backdrop of nature, little did they know how impactful that vision would be 25 years later.
Kriste Peoples, executive director of Women’s Wilderness, attests to the strength of that vision because it’s been instrumental in her own personal and professional development.
At the invitation of a previous director nearly seven years ago, she joined the nonprofit as a volunteer and learned to rock climb. Eventually, she became an instructor in the Girls Lead for Life after-school climbing program.
“So many of the youth who entered that program came in with little to no experience and left with more skills than they expected to — just like I did.”
Women’s Wilderness prides itself on being a leader in serving girls, women and gender-expansive people. Significant gender barriers still exist in the U.S. when it comes to accessing outdoor recreation. Girls participate in outdoor recreation at significantly lower rates than boys (Outdoor Foundation, 2017). When you add in inequities caused by race, sexuality, socioeconomics and more, opportunities to be outside, feeling free and safe, are even fewer.
Women’s Wilderness (founded by Outward Bound instructors) designs its programs to be fun, empowering and challenging, creating safe environments where participants can grow stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually as they connect with themselves, others and the land. There is typically a fair amount of laughter and peanut butter involved, as well.
Author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams wrote: “Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” This sentiment eloquently captures why Women’s Wilderness does what it does.
“It’s my hope that 25 years from now, Women’s Wilderness will still be expanding on this mission and vision, even as we grapple with societal challenges on the journey to realizing those goals. But for now, we have our hands full with gratitude — and no small amount of peanut butter — as we continue to share the path and find our power together.”
Learn more about Women’s Wilderness by visiting WomensWilderness.org/25th-Anniversary.
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