The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 10, 2013

Bob Garrett's column: Girls, get outdoors

Daily Item

---- — "A girl in the out-of-doors is as natural as a tree in the forest."

So what's your point? Without a doubt, that would be my sister's reaction to a statement such as: "A girl in the out-of-doors is as natural as a tree in the forest."

My response to my sister and to just about anyone else who is reading this article is that it's perfectly natural for girls to enjoy the outdoors and everything that nature offers. From mountaineering to recreational archery to Olympic shooting sports to extreme waterwater kayaking, women of all ages are showing that they have what it takes to be an "outdoorswomen."

Simply stated, the reason fewer women participate in hunting, fishing, backpacking and canoeing is because they have not had an opportunity to learn the outdoor skills that are necessary to enjoy these activities. Unfortunately, boys had gotten most of the opportunities to participate in these types of activities until recent years.

The non-profit organization known as Pennsylvania Women Outdoors just celebrated its 30th anniversary last weekend while kayaking on the Susquehanna River near Shanks Mere. Starting in 1991, the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" program that is fully endorsed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and dozens of sportsmen's organizations offers day-long outings for girls and women.

Clearly, women of all ages are interested in learning outdoor skills and when the opportunity is offered, they are lining up in growing numbers for the chance to be involved.

The Buffalo Valley Sportsmen's Club that's located north of Mifflinburg is hosting their 3rd annual Ladies Day on Saturday. Jay Bowersox who is coordinating the day, along with Les Johnson, told me that the club is very interested in growing the participation this day-long event.

"We try to provide a wide range of activities that will draw as many women and girls who are 15 or older," is how Bowersox explained the mission for Ladies Day.

A wide range is an understatement because as Bowersox described each of the stations that will make up Ladies Day, I couldn't think of too many outdoor activities that won't be part of the day. Ladies Day at the Buffalo Valley Sportsmen will begin in the morning with a quick orientation to the day's events and a short safety briefing. Then the participants will choose small groups who they will travel with around the club grounds as they learn-and-do at each station. Every twenty minutes or so, a horn will blow and the group will move to the next station.

These stations include firearms of many types, archery, fishing, kayaking, water safety and master gardening. At the firearms stations, the women will learn the full cycle of firearm selection, cleaning and maintenance, shooting and defensive uses. The actual firearms that the participants will shoot include .22 caliber rifles and pistols, cowgirl-style revolver, trap shooting with several makes and models of shotguns and even a chance to fire-off a muzzleloader.

While visiting the club's large pond the participants will learn about fish species, fishing gear and lures, fish spotting and then they will get to try their luck at catching a fish or two.

Given that Saturday is the first day of bass season, maybe some of the participants will head out right after the event is over to see if they can catch their supper? Also on the pond, there will be a kayaking demonstration and a water safety discussion. There could be plenty of time for everyone to get a chance to paddle around the pond a little bit.

The archery events include recurve, compound and crossbows. Archers will shoot at both 2-D and 3-D targets. A local master gardener will be on hand to discuss tips and to offer a few garden-fresh samples.

This entire event, including lunch and drinks, is open to women over the age of 15 and the cost is just $10 per participant. Bowersox said that the club members are interested in sharing their outdoors enthusiasm and knowledge with the ladies by offering a day of experiences that are presented by patient and supportive instructors. All of the stations will be taught in a very "hands-on" way. The whole day will be in outdoorsy atmosphere, but very comfortable. The participants will all share in the success of each group member as they learn new skills. The day will be a noncompetitive situation where each individual can learn at her own pace.

To register for Ladies Day you just need to give Jay Bowersox a call at 570-966-3667.

By the way, you might be wondering where girls who are under 15 years old can participate in an event such as Ladies Day. Well, the Buffalo Valley Sportsmen have a perfect day for them too.

The Jakes-Youth Field Day will be held on the club grounds on Saturday, September 14. You can count on reading lots more about this event as the date for the field day gets closer.