You Are Who You Hike With

Photo from The Women's Wilderness InstituteToday we are going to introduce you to Lori, who is the mother of “Little L” who will be heading into her third summer in The Girl’s Wilderness Program at The Women’s Wilderness Institute in just a couple of months.

Continue reading to see Lori’s testament to the program – and how it’s changed her daughter. And if you missed yesterday’s post introducing you to The Girls’ Wilderness Program, you can check that out here.

Mother & Daughter

A Mother and Daughter’s Experience with The Women’s Wilderness Institute and The Girl’s Wilderness Program

Wow, what can I say? These women are amazing! When I grow up, I want to be just like them!

My daughter, an only child, goes to a prestigious private school for girls in the northeast.

We are very fortunate to be in that academic environment and benefit from all of the gifts it offers. There is a difference in class that is evident.  We cannot afford the luxuries that most of the families enjoy on a daily basis. I have the oldest auto in the car line. I grew up in this wealthy town, there’s not even a chance that I would be invited to the next Junior League Charity Ball.

It is where I grew up, left after high school, spent the next twenty years in the west.  I loved rock climbing and hiking in the canyons. I wanted my daughter to have that amazing experience.  I found out about the program through my favorite librarian.

I hesitated to call thinking, how was I going to afford all of that equipment? it’s crazy! Forget it.

But, somehow my women’s intuition led me to call, and Im glad I did.

My first call was with Lori Matthews who is a top notch professional. She gave me parent contacts to get the real low down (the parents were really nice too, one offered to pick my daughter up from the airport for me). Lori’s friendliness and knowledge about the program made me comfortable. I was impressed by her consistent follow-up and attention to details.  It was unbelievable we didn’t have to go out and buy everything! We could borrow sleeping bags, tents, jackets, hiking boots, etc.

I liked the fact they had a Latino program, a mother-daughter program, women’s program, etc. Their staff were fully certified in wilderness first responder very experienced and program had very little or no turn over.


The changes I saw in my daughter after her first summer with The Girls’s Wilderness Program…she definitely appeared more motivated in all areas of her life, more outspoken and with the courage to think and speak for herself!

After the second summer she continued building on prior skills and now appears to really understand natural consequences of her actions and taking initiative to change. She’s forming close friendships with her girlfriends, finding trust, and bonding in times of crisis.

This summer will be my daughter’s third summer with The Girl’s Wilderness Program. (And we will hear from “Little L” herself tomorrow! :))

The Girls’ Wilderness Program at TWWI

We are going to spend the next three days talking about our good friends at The Women’s Wilderness Institute. Today we are going to give you an introduction to who they are, and what programs they are running for girls this year. Tomorrow we will hear from Lori, the mother to “Little L” who is going on her third summer participating in The Girls’ Wilderness Program, who we will hear from on Friday.

So, what is The Women’s Wilderness Institute and what are they looking to help girls achieve this summer?

The program

The Girls’ Wilderness Program, offered by The Women’s Widerness Institute, is designed to build the strength and resilience girls need to effectively negotiate the challenges of contemporary female adolescence, and the leadership skills to create positive futures for self and others.

The visionary program model is designed to meet the specific needs, issues, and learning styles of adolescent girls as well as to develop the self-efficacy, self-confidence, leadership skills, and capacity for authentic relationships that have been shown to be significant protective factors for girls.

The program serves a racially and economically diverse population of girls, ages 8-18, on 1- to 12-day wilderness-based courses of backpacking, rock climbing, and expressive arts. Course activities are facilitated within a program model that builds courage, confidence and leadership skills, and helps each girl express her authentic voice.

The original model of teaching decision-making, designed to build self-awareness, critical thinking skills, and the ability to make self-affirming choices uses the many choice-points of a wilderness expedition to give girls the skills and self-awareness to make choices that are in their own best interest, and based on their personal beliefs and values rather than the expectations of others or impulsive decisions. This awareness and ability to express personal values and needs is directly related to girls’ ability to make positive choices in their life.

A key element of the program is the role-modeling component; caring adult women leaders with the capacity for authentic relationships. Research shows that modeling is an effective pathway to self-efficacy, and the degree of perceived similarity of the role model to one’s self (i.e. same gender) is a key factor.


Three outcome studies conducted by independent researchers have validated the efficacy of this program model. The first two found that The Girls’ Wilderness Program had a statistically significant positive impact on participant’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and ability to initiate action. The second study also found an increased positive body image and body acceptance. The third revealed positive changes in the girls’ sense of self including perceived academic competence and self worth.

The Women’s Wilderness Institute is committed to offering this program to any girl who wishes to have this experience, and serves girls of all races and economic backgrounds. In the history of the organization, no girl has been turned away for lack of funds. In 2011, TWWI will serve approximately 140 girls and anticipate that half of our participants will qualify for full or partial scholarships.

2011 calendar

What programs are available in The Girls’ Wilderness Program? Looks like some rock climbing, leadership courses, wilderness expeditions and MUCH, MUCH more. Click here to see all of what’s on tap for the summer of 2011!

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear from Lori about the decision to send her daughter to The Girls’ Wilderness Program, and check back on Friday to hear from “Little L” about how each experience in The Girls’ Program has been a life changing event!

Testament to Chicks via Outdoor Women’s Alliance

Anne on Physical Graffiti, Photo by Dawn Glanc

Last week the Outdoor Women’s Alliance featured Chicks Climbing with a week of articles dedicated to our organization.

Through the *magic* of social media (which we LOVE, naturally!), one of the participants of our recent Red Rock Chicks Rock! clinic found the Outdoor Women’s Alliance on Facebook and sent them a message about her time at the clinic.

The Outdoor Women’s Alliance published Anne’s letter (which we are also sharing below) along with this note: “This message is a testament to the organization’s ability to teach every skill level in a personalized way and keeps you motivated to keep pushing yourself long after your time with them is done.”

Here is Anne’s story:

The years were slipping by, the gear was waiting, taking up valuable real estate in a cramped New York City closet, the shoulder surgery was five years ago, plans were made to climb again, plans were cancelled. The expiration date on calling myself a rock climber was fast approaching, the only choices left were to leave my rack and rope on the doorstep of a deserving, ambitious ,yet under-cammed trad aspirant, or get my aging feet on some friendly rock and work out my fears, my quads and my deltoids with some enthusiastic strangers.

Chicks Climbing to the rescue. What better place than Red Rocks, Nevada -my favorite venue, where I was schooled over twelve years ago on how to follow, how to lead and how to race back down the canyon at sunset to the car in order to avoid a ticket? As I packed my bags for the Chicks Climbing clinic, any trepidation I had about being older, being out of shape, about not being a rock climber started to fade away. My new harness, new helmet and new shoes were testament to my renewed commitment, my old, trusted gear was a reminder of who I wanted to be again. I was ready for the harsh reality that bruises were coming to my knees, my shins and my ego. I didn’t care. I just wanted to tie in (providing I could remember how) and climb.

Everything was going to be great -that was my initial feeling as soon as I sat down with our group and our Girly Guides at the camp site near Red Rocks. And it was great. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more supportive, loud mouthed group of climbing chicks. All of them inspired me. Kitty and Dawn were amazing. Not only did they offer encouragement and coaching, they were remarkable in their ability to understand just how best to give each individual climber feedback in a way that was meaningful to her. We were not there to be hauled up the cliff by expert guides, we were there to be taught technique, safety, respect for our sport and its ethics. Each day was thoughtfully planned to build our skills and boost our confidence on the rock.

I am sure that every one of us grew as climbers, and I know that I will hear a no-nonsense, South Carolinian accented voice in my ear, urging me to take on the hard challenges and climb on every time I rope up from here on out.

Thanks for sharing Anne, it’s so great to hear your story and share it here 🙂

And of course thank you to our dear friends at the Outdoor Women’s Alliance for the big feature. We love to support their mission of promoting outdoor education and opportunities for all women in the great outdoors! (Outdoor Women’s Alliance Twitter, Outdoor Women’s Alliance Facebook)

Go Camping with Marmot!


Go camping with Marmot!  Marmot and Chicks is having a contest. The winner will win the following gear.
Eiger 35 (or we can make it a Diva 35 if you’d like)

Limelight 2P Tent

Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag

Entries will be received in Twitter format.  Details to follow.

Update! Congratulations to Carrie Thompson who was the winner in our Go Camping With Marmot contest!

Here is her winning entry: “Gravity pulls Babies from my womb, wrinkles my eyes, breasts from youth.Yet my spirit rises, smile emerges,legs step higher in spite of you.”

You Tube – NBC Today Show

Chicks on the Today Show

Chicks on the Today Show

Watch Chicks with Picks on YouTube. The NBC Today Show and Nightly News: featuring an interveiw with Chicks alumni Amy Boebel.  Learn what ice climbing has done to help this cancer survivor overcome her fears and embrace life with new a passion.

Mt. Everest Mind Camp Interview

Kim Reynolds

Kim Reynolds

I want to share a recent interview posted on The Mt. Everest Mind Camp website, which was founded with a simple yet powerful mission: to inspire people to take conscious & empowered action to achieve their personal & professional goals. I am honored to be chosen as their featured guest for June and have the opportunity to share my passions.
Life is full!  Happy Summer, Kim

The Mt. Everest Mind Camp:
Our Number One Goal is to inspire YOU to take conscious and empowered action to achieve your personal and professional goals.

To get started, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions.
Commitment: Is your goal tangible and specific?
Development: Will the journey to achieving your goal require you to grow as a person?
Integration: How will achieving your own goals help your friends, family, or community?

To learn how the worlds most accomplished mountaineers, philanthropists and self development leaders found their own answers to these same questions, visit our monthly Featured Guest page.

NBC Weekend Show

Chicks on the NBC Weekend Show

Chicks on the NBC Weekend Show

Check us out on the NBC Weekend Show!  Click Here