• Hayden Seder

No Boys Allowed Part 2: Women-Only Outdoor Rec in Boise, Idaho


Women’s-only recreation groups are on the rise, providing a safe space to learn and communicate, enjoying being surrounded by women—or just getting away from the gaze of men. The outdoor industry and outdoor groups have started to target women more to ensure participation from women, a category of outdoor enthusiasts that has historically participated less than men. A report from the Girl Scout Research Institute cited that preschool girls are 16% less likely to be taken outside by their parents to play than boys their age. Research by the Outdoor Foundation found that women’s participation in outdoor activities from the age of 26 on begins a steady decrease to as little as less than 20% by age 66.

To combat this, several women’s-only recreation groups in Boise invite women to come out, learn a new skill and meet a community of like-minded women.



Dirt Dolls

The female mountain biking group Dirt Dolls was started by three passionate women: Amy Cox, Cacia Lewis and Tesh Coles. What started as a small group of riders in 2010 has grown now to include roughly 400 members.

“When I first moved to Boise, I was looking for a group similar to Dirt Dolls but couldn’t find anything,” said Lewis, who has been biking her whole life. “So I conned my friends into starting to ride bikes and realized throughout the process of getting more and more intrigue from friends and their friends that it was something needed in the Valley.”

Dirt Dolls offers several rides for varying skill levels on Mondays from early May through September, as well as skill-building events and clinics. Rides typically finish with a “tail-gate” of snacks and drinks.


Lewis said that the weekly rides have anywhere from 40-60 women each week. Originally the rides were mostly for beginners to get a safe introduction to the sport, but over the years, the women in Dirt Dolls have progressed enough to require rides of varying difficulty every week.


“We even have women who race professionally just because they like the community,” Lewis said. “It’s just to meet people and have a good time.”

In addition to rides, Dirt Dolls participates in events like Trek’s Dirt Series camps and local clinics by Cycle Right.


“I think a huge part of it is taking the intimidation out of these hardcore sports,” Lewis said of the female-only aspect of the group. “Women learn differently; it’s a women-specific approach to learning and teaching and creating that warming environment that sometimes doesn’t happen with men around.”



Vertigals

For those women inclined toward winter outdoor recreation, there’s Vertigals, a women’s-only ski/snowboard group that meets Wednesday mornings January through March at Bogus Basin. The group, which has been around for about two decades, is described as a “social group, not a group lesson.”


The group, which is hundreds of women strong, was started by a few moms who decided to go skiing while their children were in school, Vertigals is now hundreds of women strong. Since its inception, its community of women has grown to include all ages and skill levels.

And these ladies know how to have fun. Each season ends with the Corn Snow Charity Prom, an event to raise awareness and raise funds for a charity designated by the reigning prom queen. The group kicked off the snow season with a skiwear fashion show and prizes, bringing awareness to another one of Boise’s long-running women’s outdoor recreation groups.



SheJumps

SheJumps is a national organization that serves girls ages 6 and up, and women 18 and older who want to get involved in outdoor activities and learn new skills. The “jump” part of the name comes from its mission to create opportunities to “jump in, jump up, and jump out”; the “jump in” refers to learning something new, “jump up” refers to improving your skills, and “jump out” to becoming a mentor and passing on your knowledge to the community.

Kristen Brevik, a SheJumps ambassador to Idaho, has been with the group since last spring, but participated in the past with the organization’s Boise events.


“I loved going to events and I loved having the group of women,” Brevik said. “I’d recently come to Boise and it was a great way to meet women who liked doing similar activities.”

SheJumps events range from hiking, biking and fly fishing to wilderness first aid and backcountry skiing. Brevik just hosted her third event in November—wax-and-tune clinic at the Boise Gear Collective that had 10 women learning hands-on how to wax and scrape. The month before, Brevik took 15 women to the Boise Gun Club to learn trap shooting, one of SheJumps’ most popular events, according to the ambassador. In the summer, she also hosted a bike maintenance clinic at the Boise Gear Collective where the women got hands-on experience changing tubes, fixing brakes and learning trailside maintenance.


“We’re obviously not man-haters, but there’s just a totally different atmosphere with a group of women,” Brevik said. “It’s always intimidating when trying something new but with a group of women, it feels more supporting. Women have better snacks, too.”

SheJumps has worked with other groups including Dirt Dolls, which came to the SheJumps bike maintenance clinic last summer. At the trapshooting event, women were led by five or six women who were instructors.


“I’ve always felt really supported with a group of women,” Brevik said. “We’re not trying to compete with each other, we’re just trying to learn and teach each other.”


This article originally appeared in The Boise Weekly.


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