Every Memorial Day weekend, women from across the country come together for the Women Outdoors National Gathering: three wonderful days of fun and adventure at the Sargent Center in southern New Hampshire. Whether you are a hiker or biker, kayaker or swimmer, birder or star gazer, painter or poet, writer or reader, the Women Outdoors Gathering has something for almost everyone. Nature’s Classroom is now leasing the Sargent Center from Boston University so we are fortunate we are able to continue holding the Gathering in the place we have come to love.
Most of the activities at the Gathering are volunteer-led workshops. Some of the favorites include the hike to the heron rookery to see the fuzzy heads of baby heron, the wildflower identification walk, trekking up Mount Monadnock, and biking New Hampshire’s back roads. Members also offer workshops such as orienteering, knot tying, bicycle repair, camp cooking, drumming and first aid. (Special note: You'll receive a $30 discount on your registration fee if you sign up by May 9 to lead a workshop.) Some of the quieter offerings may include chi qong, yoga, painting and crafts. In addition, women can canoe or kayak in Half Moon Pond - we'll have about 14 kayaks available for use all weekend - and explore the many walking trails at the Sargent Center. The beach will also be open for sunbathing and swimming on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
This year's Gathering will feature the popular adventure element, the Climbing Tower. On Saturday morning, the Climbing Tower will be open to those who wish to challenge themselves on this adventure element. The Climbing Tower will be run by the trained staff at the Sargent Center and is free to Gathering attendees.
Fly-fishing for BeginnersOnce again, volunteers with New Hampshire Fish and Game will teach a beginners fly-fishing class (on dry land) on Saturday morning at the Gathering. They'll explain the basic purpose of this approach to the sport, demonstrate equipment and flies to demystify the "match the hatch" confusion, show how to cast, and answer all of our questions. NEW THIS YEAR - NH Fish and Game will offer an advanced course on the water on Saturday afternoon. You can test out your new fly-fishing skills. No NH fishing license required during workshop!
If Gathering attendees want to fish they can purchase and print a NH fishing license ahead of time. Temporary 1-, 3- and 7-day fishing licenses are available to non-residents. Dates for intended use will be requested at the time of purchase and the dates must be consecutive. One-day licenses are also available for NH residents. For more information, see New Hampshire Fish and Game and the 2016 License Prices.
Workshop on Owls
NEW THIS YEAR - NH Audubon will present a workshop on owls from 9-10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Owls, great hunters of the night, have fascinating adaptations to perfectly fill their niche in the ecosystem. In this program, learn about owls of New Hampshire and their unique adaptations and meet an NH Audubon Ambassador owl. Owl pellets will be available to dissect to learn about owl diet.
Our presenter will be Hilary Chapman, an educator for NH Audubon. She worked previously for the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in education and outreach. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala C.A. Hilary has a B.S. in Biology and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education.
Here are some of the kinds of member-led workshops we offer at the Gathering: Bike ride to Harrisville, Nature Walk to Heron Rookery, Receiving: The Law and the Spirit, Seeing Differently – A Workshop in Photography, Packing Safety Gear for Kayak Trips, Beginning Kayaking, Lantern Making Workshop, REIKI – Energy Healing Experience, Evening Birding, Wonders of the night sky, Native American Flute, Intermediate Kayaking, Paddle at nearby Edward MacDowell Lake, Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop, Intermediate Kayaking, Hancock Bike Ride, Making Celtic Knots, Quirky Races – Fun Competition Event for large group.
On Friday night, the Gathering opens with board game night. Enjoy some delicious snacks to start our weekend as you greet old friends and make new ones.
Saturday evening features the Women Outdoors annual meeting followed by a dance with a mix of music sure to please everyone. Back by popular demand - DJ Jodi! Jodi’s depth and breadth of experience make her a musical asset. Her style is energetic, friendly, engaging and professional. Get ready to dance the night away to Top 40, hip-hop, Latin, 80s, and 90s as well as your requests.
On Sunday evening, we have the keynote address followed by our always entertaining Coffee House Review – a talent show of Women Outdoors members. We end the evening with a campfire, s’mores and sing-along.
We're pleased to announce our keynote speaker - Patricia (Trish) Ellis Herr. Trish is the mother of avid hikers Alexandra (13) and Sage (11), and she is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure (Broadway Books, 2012). Trish, Alex, and Sage have been hiking New Hampshire's highest mountains year-round since 2008. They have completed several New Hampshire hiking lists: the White Mountain Four Thousand Footers (multiple rounds, including winter), Trailwrights 72 (Alex), and 52 With a View (Sage).
Other hiking accomplishments include the 500-mile Camino de Santiago, the 211-mile John Muir Trail, parts of the Great Wall of China, and 45 state highpoints. They are currently pursuing the "Grid" (NH's highest 48 mountains during every month of the year) to raise money for Global Fund for Women, and they will soon travel to Iceland and hike the Laugavegur trek. UP, Patricia, and her two daughters have been featured in publications including (but not limited to) The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times "Motherlode," CNN's "The Next List," CBS's "Author Talk," and CafeStir. Publisher's Weekly calls UP "a keen feminist fable for brave girls." You can follow the trio's adventures on www.trishalexsage.com.
Hawaiian Massage Lomi Lomi
Treat yourself to a massage this year by Linda Demaine. Linda's massage offers body wellness by blending the rhythmically flowing full body ocean wave strokes of Hawaiian Lomi Lomi with the light compression of Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique, SMRT, for a uniquely personalized session to address injuries, pain, stress, restrictions of movement, recovery from surgery, and to relieve discomfort during and after pregnancy for the restoration of the body's natural state of health, balance and harmony from within. Linda will schedule appointments on Saturday and Sunday. Separate fee applies.
Women Outdoors' own Alice Sherard of Wholistic Hands Massage Therapy will offer seated massages on Monday and possibly on Saturday and Sunday evenings. See Alice at the Gathering to set up a time. Separate fee applies.
Nature's Classroom operates the Sargent Center in Hancock, New Hampshire. Located in the Monadnock region of southern New Hampshire, the 800-acre camp features hiking and biking trails and a large lake – Half Moon Pond – for canoeing, kayaking, swimming and relaxing. Perhaps most important, the meals at the Gathering are fabulous.
Women have a variety of options for their stay at the Gathering. Cabins sleep 4 to 10 people in bunk beds and have a living room and a bathroom with hot showers. Dorm rooms sleep up to 6 people in bunks and have a bathroom with hot showers at the end of the hall. Cabins and the dorm are heated and have electricity.
Yurts sleep 4 to 6 people on cots in an open floor plan. The yurts are like round platform tents and are completely enclosed and above ground. There is no heat or electricity in the yurts. Women who want to camp can pitch their tent in the meadow. There is a separate bathhouse with hot showers for the yurters and tenters.
The Sargent Center prepares delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrées for each meal. Desserts are fabulous. Meals from Saturday breakfast through Monday lunch are included in the price of the Gathering. Friday night’s dinner is an additional charge.
Fees range from $135-$310, depending on the accommodations you choose and how many days you attend. We encourage all women to lead a workshop and receive a $30 discount. Please help to create an exciting program at our national Gathering by sharing your skills. Please register by May 9, 2016. After May 9, $20 will be added to all registrations.
Some partial scholarships are available. To apply for a partial scholarship to the Gathering, download this form and return your completed application no later than April 20 to the Gathering coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a complete list of fees, see the 2016 Registration page.