Becoming an Outdoors Woman

Several years ago we saw a BOW flyer posted on a bulletin board in a West Virginia Forest Ranger's office. BOW - Becoming an Outdoors Woman, is a weekend workshop for women. The program offers classes on all kinds of outdoor skills. Since that time, I have checked in every state we have stayed in for any length of time to see if they have a BOW program. Alaska offers BOW through Alaska Fish and Game. I signed up for the program and was accepted.

The BOW program began Friday morning at Lost Lake Boy Scout Camp. Accommodation choices were cabins or bring your own tent. I opted to take my tent and was assigned to the Coldfoot camping area. Coldfoot was the premier camping area - there was a shelter, real bathroom facilities including hot showers, a fire circle with benches and individual platforms for tents. The first event was lunch - prepared by a chef and his staff and served in the camp mess hall. There were about a hundred participants and about sixty volunteer staff. After lunch, our first class started.

My first class was called Pond to Pan. The class was about filleting fish, preparing the fillets to be frozen or canned and cooking fish. After watching the instructor fillet two fish, we got our chance to practice on salmon. Each participant filleted two large salmon and prepared the fillets to be frozen. We also made several salmon dishes - two dips, two grilled salmon dishes and deep-fried halibut chunks. We couldn't let this food go to waste so we ate them. The fillets we prepared for the freezer were frozen for us to take home on Sunday.

Class lasted until happy hour - which was held by the dutch oven class. There were fifteen dutch oven dishes for everyone to try. Dishes included bear, moose, elk, local berries and fish. Dinner immediately followed happy hour - at this point I had eaten the things we cooked in Pan to Pond and the dutch oven happy hour food and now it was time for dinner - oh my poor stomach.

After dinner we learned ten skills in five minutes each - everything from moose calling to fire building to identifying edible and non-edible berries. The mini skills lessons were followed by evening activities (it does not get dark in Alaska so evening lasts a long time). Evening activities included a hike, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and a few other choices.

Breakfast was at 7:00 AM on Saturday. Each participant had a class before lunch and a second class after lunch. My first class was an introduction to fly fishing and my afternoon class was fly fishing on a lake. I cannot believe how much I learned. I know how to purchase fishing equipment, tie fishing knots, and select flies. In the afternoon we put on waders and floated around on the lake fishing. It was a beautiful sunny day and the waders kept us warm and dry. Happy hour was more dutch oven food and was followed by dinner. After dinner there were team events. It was fun and I learned a lot.

Sunday started with breakfast at 7:00 AM followed by our last class (spin fishing for me) and lunch. I learned about the different lures for spin fishing and how to use a spin rod to fly fish along with many other things. We went out in a boat and fished.

When it comes to hands on learning, BOW is as good as it gets. They provided all equipment and materials along with excellent volunteer instructors. I left feeling confident that I can fish independently and prepare a meal from the fish I catch. What a great adventure!!!!