My Weekend at Introductory Skills Weekend, Maine BOW

Packing the backseat of the truck with my gear was almost as difficult as stuffing my husband’s extra long sleeping bag into its stuff sack. The weather forecast called for a warm and humid day, a cooler but still humid day, and a day in the 50*s with a chance of showers so I packed the appropriate clothes…and then some. I wore sneakers but took boots. I had a nylon jacket, rain coat and two fleeces. Then came the cast iron Dutch ovens, fry pan and cover, charcoal, lighter fluid and everything else necessary to co-lead a workshop called Campfire Cooking. Outdoor Writing & Blogging, the second workshop I’d lead at Becoming an Outdoors-Woman in Maine’s Introductory Skills Weekend, didn’t require much space thankfully. After arranging and rearranging, the donations for the silent auction and raffle fundraisers fit in the backseat, and I could still see out the window through the rear view mirror. I needed a Packing For BOW workshop!

Four hours and a few stops after leaving home, I arrived at Camp Caribou, home away from home for four days. As a member of the board of Friends of Maine BOW, I work a day early with other board members to help set up the raffle and silent auction, add information to folders and get whatever else needs to be done finished before the first participant arrives Friday morning.

The first car rolled in a little after 9 am Friday. The registration table was set up outside in the sunshine. The first woman was checked in and the fun began. At the height of check in three full-sized pickups moved loads of luggage from parking lots to cabins. A school group moved back and forth between the ropes course, cabins and the lodge while we were checking in. We kept everyone safer by loading a few trucks and eliminating a large number of cars moving through the facility. There’s a lot of luggage to move when 106 women arrive packed for a busy weekend.

The first session ran from 1-4:30 pm Friday. The lodge was suddenly quiet without the laughing and conversation between participants, Camp Caribou staff, instructors and everyone else involved in the day’s activities.

Craig Gerry teaches Map & Compass. Photo courtesy of Maine IF&W.

During a few minutes of down time I walked with Erin Merrill, a fellow board member and Thoughts from a Tree Stand blogger, to look for mushrooms. After supper and announcements everyone spread out in the lodge and outdoors for mini sessions. Each woman chose two sessions from a list of 10 available. Sue Wickson, another Friends of Maine BOW board member, helped me with a session on game cameras. Some of the women are hunters looking for more information while others will place cameras in their backyards to see what’s there. Or, as in a couple of instances, who is there.

Erin Small leads a workshop in firearms safety. Photo courtesy of Maine IF&W.

A combination of not sleeping well Wednesday and Thursday nights, a lightweight camp mattress and wanting to go over my notes for Saturday morning’s workshop helped me decide to go back to my cabin for some sleep. I skipped the campfire.

My Saturday workshop was Campfire Cuisine with co-leaders Steve Vose and Lou Falank. I’ll write about that next time.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.