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Women Are the Outdoor Community’s Next Thought Leaders

Take a good look—this is what the future of the outdoor community looks like.

By: Amanda Ciesielczyk + Save to a List

What happens when you invite 16 of the outdoor community's spirited and ingenious women to a high-alpine backcountry hut for a weekend?

Incredible things.

Long conversations about sustainability and conservation. Passion for a new sport you never thought you'd try. Diverse perspectives on what it means to be a woman in this industry today. Motivation to start new ventures. Newfound confidants. Lifelong friendships. For real.

And 16 enlivened souls, driven to conquer any endeavor imaginable.

We hiked. We ran. There was morning meditation, afternoon yoga, elk scouting, hammock lounging, campfire conversing and Bananagrams in between. And after an energizing and exhausting two day and two nights up at Opus Hut, I’ve never felt more empowered and motivated in my life. The surprising thing to me, was how everyone else felt exactly the same. I’m sure, there was something in that high country air.

But more than that, a tremendous allegiance for one another and our passions was harvested from a brief weekend hut trip and quickly became a catalyst for new momentums in our outdoor community.

“You've got women who are championing outdoor advocacy, redefining the retail space, pushing the limits of their sport, fighting to save wild places, and doing it all through incredible storytelling and community building.” says Katie Boué of Outdoor Industry Association. “Having a seat at this table is a humbling, uplifting gift and I can't wait to watch this bright future unfold.”

After being primarily surrounded by an industry dominated by male creatives, athletes and leaders, what did I learn from a weekend at 11,600 feet with the next generation of leaders—women who I’ll never forget?

Women Have Big Ideas. From brilliant new business ventures to advocacy for our local non-profits and our public lands, women aren’t just talking about doing things. They’re getting up and making it happen. Take Jainee Dial and Lindsey Elliott of Wylder Goods, a new marketplace for women, highlighting the best outdoor gear while blazing a trail and a voice for social change—a revolutionary kind of e-commerce. These ladies, are truly driving change.

Women Are Focused on Important Issues. I’m not talking “we need colors other than pink” issues (although, that would be great). I’m talking diversity, equality, sustainability, social responsibility. Women like Maddie Carey who are building bipartisan coalitions through WildEarth Guardians to protect our wildlife and places. And Katie Boué, bringing fresh ideas to the Outdoor Industry Association and championing the most worthwhile campaigns like #ElPrezatElCap and Parks4Kids. And Caroline Gleich, using her strong voice to lead conversations about global warming with Protect Our Winters and protecting cultural lands like the Bears Ears Coalition. The women in our community are continuously asking the hard questions. The ones some of us choose to ignore. Like, why does the outdoor industry “look and feel” so Caucasian? Why did our hut trip lack ethnic diversity? And how can we help lead this change?

Women Are So Strong. Dawn patrol peak bagging? Check. Alpine tundra running. Check. Steep scree field scrambles. Of course. We all know women in our community are badasses on the trail, but, wow, are they badasses at life too! Meeting so many incredible women and hearing their unique, truly transformative stories was unbelievably inspiring. Everyone has a story. Everyone has had something to persevere through, a challenge to meet—and the drive the women in our community have to meet that challenge with a smile and determination to conquer it, is truly something. Today, women have never had more of an opportunity to be independent, thought-leaders paving new paths for themselves and the next generation. And that, is something I want to get behind and nurture in every way possible.

Our beta camp was a huge success but now we're ready for more. We're ready to grow further, foster more relationships and adopt some excellent feedback to truly progress ourselves and our community.

So, what exactly is Wild Women’s Project and how do I get involved?

A primordial soup of the next generation of ideas for the outdoors—one part modern entrepreneur/leadership session, one part forward-thinking women’s retreat and one part outdoor industry summit, Wild Women’s Project is an invite-only alpine hut experience driven to challenge mind, body and soul of the amazing women in our outdoor community.

If you’re interested in learning more about Wild Women’s Project, visit wildwomensproject.com and sign-up for our next hut trip invite. Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram, @wildwomensproject, as we’ll be choosing several of our next attendees from the platform as well!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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