This month on Friday the 13th I found myself at summer camp on purpose. I know. I wasn’t there for purposes of making a horror movie come true, though, I was there to learn how to read a map and shoot a bow and arrow.
I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s weekend workshop and it was held at an honest to goodness summer camp. There were girls’ and boys’ dorms, a bonfire circle, a cafeteria and a gong to call everybody to meals. The camp was entirely filled with women who gathered to learn or hone outdoors skills. After listing my top choices for classes I realized that they would all apply to things I’d need to know in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse.
My first class was Map and Compass where I learned how to read a map, work a compass, account for declination and how to find myself on a map when I’m not quite sure where I am. I was surprised at how much fun it was, very much puzzle solving, and I might just get into Orienteering.
Next I took archery and I managed to hit at least somewhere on the target every time, which I counted as far better than what I expected going in. I even hit the very middle of the target once! I’m pretty sure it was a mistake, but it still counts.
My last class was Wilderness First Aid. We used oranges to learn to clean wounds and got the inside view on how to stock a first aid kit. I always suspected but now I know that those first aid kits you can buy aren’t worth it, you’re better off making your own collection.
The only bad part of the weekend was the dorm situation. I barely got any sleep and it made me a grumpy human. The trouble was that the bathrooms were in the dorms and those dorms held about 80 women and there was no way to shut out the noise of running water or industrial toilets flushing late into the night and very, very early in the morning. It was a huge downside to an otherwise amazing weekend. (The weekend was held at a different camp the year before so the reports I got from friends didn’t apply to this weekend. I’d much rather have been sleeping in a tent outside.)
Washington Outdoor Women is a great organization that uses experienced and enthusiastic teachers. For the map and compass class one of our instructors worked with Search and Rescue and had just finished hiking the Pacific Coast Trail at age 68. Our archery teacher had finished first in nationals several times and was able to talk us through all the different forms of archery for competition and hunting.
If you are interested in the outdoors I can definitely recommend looking into Washington Outdoor Women, it was great to learn new skills surrounded by supportive females. And you don’t have to live in Washington there were women attending from Oregon, Montana and Idaho. It was indeed like summer camp, only you didn’t have time to get homesick. See you there next year?