The Women’s Wilderness Institute: Empowerment in the Outdoors
by Tali Koziol
The first time I went climbing was with a boyfriend.
He said he would teach me, and he did. He taught me how to belay. Really well. Turns out my fella only wanted a Belay Bunny. When he let me try a route he was impatient and turned out to not be a great teacher. I didn’t climb again for quite awhile.
I was hesitant to ask any of my other climbing friends to teach me. That experience created quite a problem for that relationship and I didn’t want to have a similar experience with friends. Yet, I still had the climbing bug so I did a lot of online research. The Women’s Wilderness Institute (TWWI) kept popping up. Then, I finally went for it. I signed up for their One Day Intro to Rock Climbing and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.
I met the group at the TWWI office and then we carpooled to Boulder Canyon. The instructors and interns were great. We learned on the ground and then got on the rock. The experience was really special. It was all women and it held that sacredness that comes from being with an female-only group (without feeling hokey). In my opinion, some women’s programs feel like there’s a forced bonding, but not this one! The experience was authentic, empowering, and exhilarating.
From there I began volunteering with TWWI and I attended their Ladies Rock Camp in Wyoming. We camped, hiked, and climbed and I learned so much my head felt like I was learning a new language. I had a wonderful tent mate with whom I have stayed in touch–I even saw her a few weeks ago when she was in town. We both agreed that our TWWI experience was really uplifting.
What I love most about TWWI is that there are programs for adults and girls. The programs I have attended have had such a profound impact on my life and personal development that I can’t imagine how I would have been affected had I taken a course as a young girl. That’s when I recognized that I wanted to do more for the organization. So I hopped on the Gear & Cheer Committee (Gear & Cheer is their annual fundraising event). As an Event Planner (my career in a past life), it was a great way to use my skills, rally donors, and create a fun community event. I stayed involved with the event for three years and each year we raised around $23,000 to help the programming costs and provide scholarships for the girls’ programs. What a fun ride.
My volunteer time peaked with a year of service on the TWWI Board of Directors. I learned a lot about how nonprofits and Boards run and was able to get involved in the organization in a new way. While I had to step down from my duties when I began Yoga Teacher Training, I am still an avid supporter, fan, and promoter of TWWI. Their work continues to stay authentic and empowering. I know so many women who have been touched by this organization and I see the girls’ program alumni blossoming into amazing young women. I am so proud of TWWI and the important work they do.
Read more from Stonewear Ambassador Tali Koziol on her blog, Beauty That Moves.
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