The Becoming an Outdoors Woman Experience

Jill M. Rohrbach
Remember that late 1970s advertisement for Enjoli perfume that said, “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.” Watching that as a little girl, I thought that woman on the commercial was so cool because she was strong, independent, capable, yet still female.

This past weekend I met some real women who are the essence of that idea at the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. There were about 130 participants.

A small, selfish part of me doesn’t want to tell you about it because first timers receive priority placement in the program. Then, if spots are still available, those that have been before get in. So the more women that know about it, the less chance I have of getting in next year. And I DO want to get in next year. But, truthfully, the unselfish part of me hopes you will read this and then register to go to BOW in 2011 to experience a weekend where your spirit feels released and empowered, and you meet a bunch of outdoor-minded women who are friendly and fun.

Arkansas 4-H CenterThe workshop focuses on learning outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but includes other outdoor pursuits as well. Here are the classes we had to choose from: introduction to firearms & firearm safety, basic fishing skills, high ropes course, outdoor photography, basic motor boat skills, GPS 101, introduction to scuba diving, stream ecology, duck hunting basics, beginning archery, basic fishing skills, bird watching basics, rifle markswomanship, beginning fly fishing, Dutch oven cooking, nature crafts, canoe & kayak paddling, pioneer woman skills, map & compass, watchable wildlife, ATV rider course, fly tying basics, shotgunning basics, basic camping skills, geocaching, outdoor survival, field orienteering, beginning bow hunting, turkey hunting 101, beginning backpacking, and wild plants and their uses.

If you are interested in any of these activities, this is the PERFECT place and program for you to give it a try. You will not feel intimidated, no matter your age, fitness level or outdoors experience. It’s a supportive atmosphere, and I felt like I never met a stranger.

What I found out from the chance to try my hand at archery is that I absolutely love it. I intend to buy a compound bow and target. I don’t hunt, but I’ll enjoy pulling back that string and letting that arrow fly toward the bull’s eye. I intend to get my kids and husband involved too. I know which bows to buy and how to teach them to shoot.

BOW is held annually at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Fernsdale, which is just west of Little Rock. It is a modern conference center available at reasonable rates for educational organizations, businesses, civic clubs, schools, church groups, government agencies and professional organizations. It is ideal for conferences, retreats, meetings, workshops, and training sessions.

In 2003, the Donald W. Reynolds Continuing Education Wing was dedicated. It includes a 500-seat auditorium, a computer lab and three additional conference rooms. Each room has the latest in meeting technologies.

The mostly wooded grounds are beautiful with trails to walk. You are not roughing it here, unless you consider not having a television in your room a difficulty. There is a common area to watch TV and there is Wi-Fi. The lodge has clean, nice motel-type rooms. You won’t go hungry either. We had soup and sandwiches, chicken and rice, full breakfasts, and a large salad bar at every lunch and supper, and desserts galore. Best of all was the fish fry on Saturday night. Thanks AGFC guys that slaved over those fryers for us! During each meal door prizes were given out.

Saturday night was also the night with a hospitality (adult beverages included), social hour before the fish fry. After dinner was the big giveaway of donated prizes, including a pink camouflage shotgun, compound bow, Dutch oven cooking set, GPS navigation tool, hunting blind, hunting stand, and much much more. After that you could enjoy line dancing to a DJ, or a campfire. Except, our campfire had to be cancelled because of a burn ban, which is how I ended up sitting on the banks of the lake laughing with a group of women as some of them night fished.
Did I mention that food and lodging is included in the cost? I don’t know if you can spend your money any better than on this program. And there was excellent outdoor wear designed for women for sale as well. I can’t encourage you enough to sign up next year to learn how to have great fun in the outdoors, or even how to bring home the game meat and cook it up in a Dutch oven.

I’d like to give a big thanks to the Arlene Green, director of the program for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and her staff for working so hard to give us one of the best experiences of our lives.

I also want to thank the sponsors that made BOW such a fabulous experience:
Steve Smith, director, and Loren Hitchcock, interim director, with AGFC
Susan Farrell with Hunter’s Refuge in White Hall
Sothern Outfitters in Sheridan
Ryan Bronson with Federal Ammunition in Anoka, Minnesota
Mike Taylor with Ocean Extreme Dive & Travel in North Little Rock
Jackie Love with Browning in Morgan, Utah
Greg Butts with Arkansas State Parks in Little Rock

A big thanks to these folks for donated equipment:
Don Bumgarner, ATVs
Ocean Extremes Dive & Travel
Res-Q, Arkansas 4-H Center
Arkansas 4-H
ATV Safety Institute
Artic Cat
American Canoe Association
4-H Camping Program
Heartland Honda of Springdale
AGFC – Enforcement Division

Thank you to these groups for the impressive raffle items – even though I didn’t win one:
Arkansas BOW Program
Aquatic Resources Ed – AGFC
Hunter’s Refuge
Southern Outfitters
Arkansas Game & Fish Foundation
Arkansas State Parks
War Eagle Mill
Buck Girl
Diva Hunter

And last, but not least, thank you to these international sponsors:
Bass Pro Shops
Ducks Unlimited
Federal Cartridge Company
NRA Women on Target
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wildlife Federation
Pheasants Forever
Pope & Young
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Safari Club Internationl Foundation
UWSP Foundation Inc.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources
Christine Thomas, dean UWSP college of Natural Resources

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