Annual event introduces

females to outdoor activities

WEST BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP - In her recent past, retiree Bonnie Hall of Wellsboro took a kayaking class at the annual Women in the Wilds event in Mt. Pisgah State Park, found she enjoyed it, and later purchased a kayak for herself.

Hall's daughter, 46-year-old Michelle Laurence of Bungy, Pa., discovered archery at Women in the Wilds, which motivated her to purchase a bow so that she use it for target practice on her own.

Ruth Murphy, 83, of Athens has taken up fly fishing after learning how to make the lures that the sport requires at Women in the Wilds, an event that she has attended every year since it was founded 14 years ago.

Each year, Women in the Wilds, which is a one-day event that is sponsored by Mt. Pisgah State Park and the Friends of Mt. Pisgah State Park, gives women an opportunity to try out outdoors-related activities in the hopes that they will incorporate some of them into their lives, which will make for a healthier lifestyle, said Nicole Harris, coordinator of the event.

At the 15th annual Women in the Wilds, which was held on Saturday, 286 women each participated in four 1 1/2-hour classes of their choosing from a menu of 20 offerings, including bicycling, beekeeping, floral design, canoe/kayaking, archery, outdoor survival skills, gluten-free cooking, gun shooting, wildflower painting, and more.

The classes are taught by experts in the region, Harris said.

"Women in the Wilds is one of the greatest things for women in the county," said Carl Young, president of Friends of Mt. Pisgah State Park. The women who attend the event "all have a ball. They really do."

Murphy said she loves coming to Women in the Wilds.

"I like all the shooting activities, fly tying, and kayaking and canoeing," she said.

Bonnie Austin of the Troy area, who serves on the committee that organizes Women in the Wilds, said that she, along with two daughters and three granddaughters, all participated in Women in the Wilds this year.

Austin said her granddaughters, two of whom are 14 years old and the third, 19, had not wanted to take the gun shooting class, but ended up taking it anyway.

"They had a pretty good time doing it (taking the shooting class)," Austin said. "And they did it quite well."

The minimum age to participate in Women in the Wilds is 14.

Laurence said she and her mother use the kayak that her mother bought on Stephen Foster Lake in Mt. Pisgah State Park. Laurence said that, while boating on the lake, she has seen a bald eagle and had a beaver swim underneath the kayak. She said there is a place on Stephen Foster Lake where turtles will sometimes swim alongside the kayak.

This year, there was a record attendance at Women in the Wilds, Harris said. Each year, attendance at the event grows, she said. This year, the program filled up within a month after registration opened in May, she said.

Women pay $50 to participate in Women in the Wilds, which Harris said is "a value."

The admission fee also includes breakfast and lunch.

Numerous businesses also sponsor the event.

Mt. Pisgah State Park is mainly located in West Burlington Township.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: