MT. PISGAH - Deb Lawson of Springfield Township had a case of beginner's luck at the Women in the Wilds event Saturday at Mt. Pisgah State Park in West Burlington Township.

She took part in a shooting class, one of many areas of instruction offered at the park for the day.

Lawson said she never picked up a gun before, but on Saturday she was able to shoot a clay pigeon on her first try.

That was the whole intent of the day, said park naturalist and event coordinator Nicole Harris.

"I like bringing women together in a natural, outdoor setting to learn new activities," she said. She said the park setting "can't be beat." She said 247 women were registered for Women in the Wilds, sponsored by the Friends of Mt. Pisgah State Park. The Friends use the proceeds from Women in the Wilds for improvements at the park. Currently, they're making plans for a new pavilion.

Harris was thankful for the pleasant weather Saturday for the event. Last year, it rained. Counting all the participants and the volunteers who helped out, a total of 325 attended the 12th annual event, she said.

According to Harris, the Women in the Wilds program is the biggest event of its kind on the East Coast.

State Rep. Tina Pickett was taking part in Women in the Wilds for the first time. She attended the shooting and Dreamcatcher classes.

"I want to tell you shooting was easier," she said. "Building a dreamcatcher requires you to use your imagination, and it's hard."

"I can't imagine the organization that goes into this because it goes so smoothly. It's wonderful."

Harris said that she and others start planning the Women in the Wilds event in March each year.

Harris also pointed out that the event was eco-friendly, noting that they bought or got donations for locally sourced and produced vegetables, fruit and meat, which she said requires less petroleum to transport and produce.

People were commenting favorably about the pig roast lunch. The pig was bought at cost from Tina and Randy Kuhns of Springfield Township.

Harris pointed out that the pig was raised through sustainable agriculture methods and was raised locally.

"You know where your food comes from," she said. "That's important."

In addition, she noted that the materials used for dining were being composted. She said the composted material could be used in the flower garden at the park, saying the flowers could be used for next year's event for floral-related classes.

The women who registered for the Women in the Wilds event received a goody bag, which was a reusable grocery bag donated by the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority. There were several donated items in each bag.

First Citizens Bank donated water bottles, the Friends provided stainless steel coffee mugs, Pickett donated notepads, and Chemung Canal and Citizens and Northern Bank donated pens.

Tracy Charsky of Mountain Top, Luzerne County, attended with her mother, Carol Zuber of Troy as a mother-daughter activity.

Charsky climbed a rock wall where a National Guard instructor was on hand. It was 24 feet high.

"This is our third year, and we enjoy it," Zuber said. She clapped her hands as her daughter descended the rock wall.

"I think she did well. I wouldn't have done that. That's 24 feet in the air."

"It was fun," Charsky said. "One of the things I like about this event is you get to try things you've never tried."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: