We asked Ellie Moore, leader extraordinaire and brain child of the new Young Women’s Leadership program, to write about the inspiration for the trip. If you have any questions about the trip, please feel free to call the office at 800.939.9839.
When I was thirteen my mother took me backpacking into the Sierras of California. We hiked each day, carrying on our backs everything that we’d need, taking in the amazing expanse that is that part of the world. That it was my mother, not my father, teaching me wilderness survival skills and self-sufficiency was immensely influential. At a very impressionable age, I learned to look to women as models of integrity and confidence. Almost as a mirror, I could see my own potential reflected back through my mother.
The inspiration for a Young Women’s Leadership course came after speaking with Donna (Stein, director of The Road Less Traveled) during staff training last year. Together we realized that of all my experiences working with youth, leading both service learning and adventure trips, the time I saw the most incredible individual growth and sense of community was in leading backcountry trips with groups of young women.
This trip is both a break from the distractions of teenage life, and a celebration of the powerful leadership potential in every young woman. There’s nothing that builds community and self-confidence quite like the wild outdoors. The leadership skills that come from learning to take ownership over trip planning, setting up camp, cooking meals on camp stoves, navigating the daily route, and encouraging one’s peers, are invaluable and stay with you through high school and beyond. I believe that young women could benefit from seeing their peers (and by extension, themselves) as sources of inspiration, encouragement, and leadership, rather than just their elders. After acting in a strong leadership role in the wilderness, guiding one’s peers through physical challenges, leadership in the “front country” becomes much less daunting.
I’m very excited about the prospect of this trip in the beautiful wilds of Washington state. Between kayaking in the San Juan Islands, backpacking in Olympic National Park, and rock climbing on Fidalgo Island, there is a great wide world for us to explore, and we women have much to accomplish!