Partner Profile: Carve Designs

Did you get on the water this summer? SheJumps was thrilled to bring more water based activities to our communities thanks to our generous partner Carve Designs. Thanks to Carve, this summer SheJumps launched the Surf and Sup Series where close to 200 women tried water sports including surfing in Virginia Beach, sailing and SUP in Vermont, SUP Yoga in Bellingham, WA, and more paddleboarding in Massachusetts! Kicking off this partnership was a win-win since SheJumps love to support women owned businesses who care about the environment and give back to the outdoor community. Learn more about Carve! We’re already dreaming about more fun in the water and waves next summer!

What inspired your founders to start the company?

Carve Designs was born following a surf trip to San Pancho, Mexico, when lifelong friends Thayer Sylvester and Jen Hinton  lamented how hard it was to find board shorts for real women with real bodies – and a genuine passion for adventure. Started as a surf apparel company selling rashguards and boardshorts in 2003, Carve Designs has grown into a complete beach lifestyle brand; offering surf, swim, fitness, and lifestyle clothing.  Designed in California by female designers who test drive every piece themselves, the brand is dedicated to providing effortless feminine clothing that is as inspirational and versatile as the women who wear it.

What does being a “lady boss” mean to you?

Thayer and Jen are both career women and mothers, and consistent with the stereotype, believe that women are good listeners.  “As female bosses, we listen to our employees and pride themselves on their ability to provide a flexible work-life balance.  We hope to empower our employees to live their best lives both in and out of the office”. – Thayer Sylvester, Co-founder and CEO

What inspired Carve to support SheJumps and help more women and girls get on the water?

“SheJumps’ mission to increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities aligns directly with Carves Designs’ purpose to create versatile clothing for women with real bodies and a passion for adventure.  Carve Designs’ apparel is inspired by the calm content feeling of the beach, waves and water, and through SheJumps, we hope to inspire more women—of all ages, shapes and sizes—to engage in the water-based activities that fuel our passions.” –Allison Gigliotti, Marketing Director

At SheJumps, keeping our outdoor playground healthy and accessible is a priority. Is there anything you’d like to share about your environmental sustainability practices?

Along with a commitment to safe and fair manufacturing, Carve Designs is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, whose ethos to reduce environmental impact is reflected in Carve Designs’ business practices: from the use of 100% organic cotton in all knits, to sustainable, biodegradable Tencel and Modal in its lifestyle apparel line.

How else does Carve work to support the outdoor community?

In addition to SheJumps, Carve Designs supports additional community organizations including the Send It Foundation (https://www.senditfoundation.org/) and Brown Girl Surf (https://www.browngirlsurf.com/)

Ambassador Sarah Field Making a Difference in Denver

Ambassadors are the heart and soul of SheJumps. We rely on this special group of girafficorns to help us deliver our programs and bring the stoke to their local communities. We recently had a chance to catch up with Sara Crofton, our Denver area ambassador, who was willing to give us a glimpse into volunteer life. By trade, Sara is a hard working high school culinary arts and nutrition/food science teacher who also runs a student organization and culinary competition team. Crofton stepped into the ambassador role after being an active volunteer in Colorado and we are thrilled that she made the move!

How has becoming an ambassador taken your SJ game to the “next level”
I feel more connected to the community at large. By being an ambassador, I can see how what I am doing directly impacts other women. By organizing events and seeing the results, I am able to get that tangible feedback of how powerful SheJumps is.

What has been a few of your favorite events that you have put together for SJ?
I loved the yoga retreat earlier this summer. Having 20 rad ladies get together to advance their technical practice but also to self-reflect and really delve into the mental aspect was incredible. One of my favorites, though, was my first big event when I was a volunteer about 5 years ago. I put on a showing of Pretty Faces in Fort Collins when it first came out, and it was a hugely successful and fun event. That really solidified my love for SheJumps and my desire to become involved in a bigger way.

What advice do you have for someone who may want to become an ambassador or what type of person do you think would make a great SJ team member?
If you are interested, just make sure that you are 100% committed. This organization is so phenomenal and needs dedicated team members who believe in our work and are willing to help us expand our reach. The more committed you are, the more successful we are as a whole.

What are some SJ events coming up that you are looking forward to?
I’m pumped for the coming winter season! Avy 2 courses, International Women’s Ski Day, etc. YAY SNOW!

And a few fun questions…What’s next on your adventure to do list?
I’m going to Zion for some mud season playing! But first, Burning Man.

What is one of your favorite pieces of summer gear?
I’m obsessed with my Gossamer Gear pack – ultralight, functional, durable.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a SheJumps Ambassador? Applications are open through Sep 23, 2018. If you are interested in submitting an application please visiting the appropriate link:

Far North
Pacific Coast
Intermountain
Rockies
Midwest
Northeast
Southeast

Girls chart course in outdoor industry

Written by: Avril Wiers

“If we go for a second lap I’m going to faint.”

I was standing in a parking lot, rallying a group of 14 girls from all over the county, getting ready for another try at mountain biking. Our inspiring mentor for the day had since departed and lunchtime food coma was making us sluggish. Clouds loomed in the distance and, if you listened carefully, you could hear a slight rumble of thunder blowing in over the lake. If we didn’t get going soon, we were going to be stuck on the trail during the storm.

The program was Trailblazers, a new initiative of Careerline Tech Center, a career and technical school that is a part of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District in Holland, Michigan. The goal of the program is to introduce girls to careers in the outdoor industry by engaging them in outdoor recreation activities with industry mentors. The time is right–in June of this year, Michigan announced the creation of an Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council, a group of business people and conservation leaders that will advise the Department of Natural Resources on how to improve access and economic growth in the outdoor recreation sector. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Michigan accounts for $26.6 billion of consumer spending annually. Yet, outdoor industry is a career path that is often overlooked, especially among women. Trailblazers is out to change that.

During the course of the week, the Trailblazers hiked 6.9 miles, mountain-biked 8.2 miles, kayaked 3.5 miles, and completed 30 rock-climbing routes. Every day had career exploration activities and leadership and teambuilding games interspersed with outdoor recreation that was, for many of the girls, more strenuous than anything they’d ever done before.

When asked what impact Trailblazers had on their career aspirations, girls agreed: “It has made me seriously consider a career in the outdoor industry.” Comparing pre- and post-program surveys revealed that, after participating in Trailblazers, over half of the girls were interested in careers in outdoor industry ranging from parks and recreation to bicycle manufacturing.

Camber Outdoors, a Boulder-based nonprofit organization working toward gender inclusivity in the outdoor industry, has cited a lack of female role models as a major roadblock to advancement in outdoor industry for women just starting out in their careers. To combat that, they introduced a professional mentoring program whereby manager-level women are mentored by executive-level women. By connecting girls with mentors working in outdoor industry, Trailblazers hoped to accomplish a similar goal–inspiring future outdoor industry workers early.

But the program didn’t only change girls’ life goals, it also boosted their self esteem. “I realized that if I push myself out of my comfort zone, I can do more than I think I can,” one girl wrote after her first time in a kayak. “I learned that I can reach my goals even if I’m scared,” another reflected about her first experience in a bouldering gym.

“Are we there yet?!” one girl yelled as we turned another corner on our mountain bikes. I felt a raindrop. Then another. Then it began to downpour. The girls let out a little scream, but they didn’t stop pedaling. We rounded three more curves and came to the parking lot, where the girls quickly hopped off their rental bikes and tossed their helmets in the hamper, making the final sprint to the bus.

I finished rounding up the gear and got on the bus myself.

“Avril, look at all my mud!” one girl cheered. I breathed a sigh of relief. Summer camp is, after all, supposed to be fun. Even if it is preparing these girls for their futures.

SheSurfs w. Bigfoot Surf School in Westport RECAP

Check out the video that capture.share.repeat made of this event: https://youtu.be/IrLz3XjQGoE

Our first SheSurfs event was a huge success!  22 ladies of various ages learned how to surf in the sunshine and rain in Westport, WA.

Some of our participants had never swam in the Pacific Ocean before the event.  Female surfers in the community supported this event by registering local girls to participate. We were given awesome swag for our participants donated by Roxy, Bigfoot Surf School, 33 Degree Surf boards, and The Surf Shop of Westport.

Bigfoot Surf School made this event possible with their 4 awesome surf coaches ensuring everyone had the right gear, knowledge, and coaching to get out there and rip in the waves.

It is safe to say we made some lifelong girafficorn surfers last weekend.  Be sure to look for more SheSurfs events next Spring and Summer!

 

Wild Skills Mountain Adventure: Crystal 2018

On Friday, August 17, girls ages 6-17 and their families joined us for a Wild Skills Adventure at Crystal Mountain. SheJumps Wild Skills Adventures are open community events where parents/chaperones participate with the girls. Throughout the adventure, participants are introduced to a range of technical and survival skills girls need to get out and adventure.

The event start was a rolling one with groups showing up as they want between 9:30 am – 11:30am. At registration they received a specialized Wild Skills Journal & Adventure map which guided them throughout the event. Here’s a look at the event starting at the base area with the gear check:

10 Essentials & Leave No Trace Station

Location: Base Area

Partner: Clif

 

First stop of the day was 10 Essentials & Leave No Trace at the base area presented by Clif. SheJumps ambassador, Cheryl Kochevar, and volunteers did a gear check with each group, loaded them up with Clif Z bars, GoGo Squeez snacks and a journal as well as taught them how to protect the beautiful places they visit along the trail. After completed, they mosied over to the gondola for a ride to the summit.

Mt. Rainier Animal Station

Location: Top of Green Valley

Partner: Mt. Rainier National Park Education Department

 

After the laid back gondola ride, participants were treated to a full view of Mt. Rainier from the summit of Crystal Mountain topping out at an elevation of 6,872 feet. This was a unexpected treat seeing as the days before were filled with smoke from the wild fires. After soaking up the view, they traveled the ridge to the top of the Green Valley chair where Ranger Catherine was waiting to teach them all about wildlife in our area. This station was presented by Mt. Rainier National Park’s Education Department.

Sound Mapping Station

Location: Powder Pass

 

This was a self directed station where groups found a directional sign, colored pencils and the sounds of nature. Participants were instructed to record all the sounds around them – interpreting the sounds and drawing images in their Wild Skills Journal.

First Aid Station

Location: Lucky Shot Bowl

Partner: SheJumps

 

Groups followed the Crystal Mountain Trail route to the next station: First Aid. Headed up by Wild Skills Coordinator for Washington, Kristen Kochevar, the first aid station helped girls understand what they can do to stay safe on the mountain as well as what to do in an emergency. Reviewing how to safely assess a scene, do a complete body check and call for help as well as learning useful splints and how to properly tie a sling.

Water Purification Station

Location: Elizabeth Lake

Partner: Yukon Trading Company

 

Halfway down the summer trail, groups encountered a small trail leading up to Elizabeth Lake where the Water Purification Station presented by Yukon Trading Company was located. When you first arrived, Amy Cook & Megan Davin, gave you the breakdown of why we filter water and clearly represented all the bad stuff that can reside in water. Next, the girls got to filter water with Ultra-Light purification water bottles, a genius product from Grayl that easily does the process for you. After filling water bottles, the girls learned how to use Jet Boil stoves to heat water and create their own hot chocolate treat. Special thanks to Yukon Trading Company for going above and beyond with this rad station that was a favorite of many I talked to!

Shelter Building Station

Location: Henskin Lake

Partner: Arc’teryx Seattle

 

The Shelter Building Station presented by Arc’teryx Seattle located at Henskin Lake was the last technical station the girls came across. This ended up being a great place for many groups to take an extended break – enjoying lunch and even some swimming. After recharging with snacks, they were greeted by the volunteer team who handed them a mixed bag of items and tasked with building a survival shelter. Each group worked from the information in the Wild Skills Journals and was given tips & tricks by volunteers throughout the building process. There were many creative solutions!

Wrap Party!

Location: Base Area lawn

Partner: CLIF, Crystal Mountain, Y.E.T.I & SheJumps

 

The remainder of the trail passed through old growth forest, an old mining camp, waterfalls and even traverses a ski run called Gold Hills which participants could catch a glimpse of the wrap party. After completing the trail, girls were greeted by the giant inflatable CLIF arch, high fives, face painting, treats from CLIF, lawn games and food! Upon completion of stations, girls received a sticker marking they did it, at the end of the trail girls turned in their maps for a chance to win prizes. The free drawing included fabulous prizes from Arc’teryx, CLIF, K2 Sports, She Emerges and more of our rad partners!

Wild Skills at Crystal Mountain was made possible thanks to our generous partners and by our dedicated and hard working PNW team of volunteers who gave their time to help make this an event the participants will never forget. Thank you to all who helped make this such a special event for these young ladies and their families!

Biggest thanks to our Presenting Partner: CLIF

Special Thanks to our Adventure Stations Partners:

Crystal Mountain Resort

CLIF

Mt. Rainier National Park

Yukon Trading Company

Arc’teryx Seattle

Additional snacks provided by our friends at GoGo Squeez!

 

Wild Skills Mountain Camp: Rainier

Written by Wild Skills Director, Christy Pelland

We hosted our first overnight Wild Skills Mountain Camp July 29-August 2 at Mt Rainier National Park thanks in part to our partners Clif, Y.E.T.I., Bight Gear and RMI Expeditions. This unique camp experience ranged from learning camping best practices to mountaineering skills needed to climb big peaks to creating art during your adventures.

On Day 1, Sunday, July 29, campers met up with our team in Des Moines, WA for a gear check prior to packing up into the van and heading out to Mt Rainier National Park. They spent the drive creating a team playlist with everyone’s favorite songs and learning more about communication techniques. After a hour wait at the park’s entrance, we arrived at Cougar Rock Campground where we constructed our basecamp and discussed Leave No Trace principles and other camping basics.

The girls were assigned to tent teams which consisted of 3 girls per tent, per campsite. Each tent team was lead by an adult chaperone who helped guide them through gear checks, dish duty, lessons in personal hygiene & space, respect, teamwork, conflict resolution, ridiculously silly games, and most importantly – choosing a team name, which included The Grounded Squirrels, The Llamacorns and The Mountain Goats.

That evening we attended the nightly Ranger Talk and learned all about owls. Campers were given the opportunity to dissect owl pellets which some thought was the coolest! After a full taco dinner and cinnamon roll dessert; we decided to head up to Paradise and take part in the Star Party that started at sun down. We arrived in the parking lot just before sunset and decided a mini-hike up the Alta Vista trail was in order.

On our descent, the group was abruptly stopped by the deer in the trail – this was quite the surprise for some! As we approached the parking lot we could see the group of at least 40 people waiting for the Star Party to start. Three female rangers led the discussion about the wonders of astronomy including how we enjoy the stars, light pollution, identification, and viewing techniques available that evening.

Day 2, started with breakfast and a yoga session with camp chaperone, Amy, who taught the girls the basics of breath, focus, and balance. This was a perfect way to start off the day of learning.

After packing up into the van, we travelled back down to Longmire where we met up with Ranger Catherine. She led us down part of the Wonderland Trail that follows the Nisqually River. During breaks she presented the girls with new topics and challenges relating to the geological history of the park and what would happen in the event of an eruption. The day’s greatest challenge ended up being the heat, as we struggled with record high temps in the park. Luckily, we remained covered by the trees for most of the adventure, the river was cold, and we had plenty of snacks!

That evening, after all had rested, we broke into two teams, one covering navigation and the other shelter building. In navigation we taught campers about topographic maps, directions, compass use and other forms of navigating. They wrapped up with a treasure hunt throughout the campground. In shelter building, we read through the Wild Skills Journal which lays out the basics of a survival shelter, and then tasked girls with building their own.

The girls also prepared a talent show, which they deemed ‘SheJumps Got Talent!’ They spent the early evening hours rehearsing for the show and inviting others in the campground to the event. Performances included comedy skits, complete with commercial breaks for companies the girls invented, Beyonce covers, and renditions of famous Broadways plays.

Day 3 started early with breakfast and the morning briefing, followed by a quick trip up to the Comet Falls trailhead. Prior to the campers waking up, our leaders determined that Amy would be the victim for the day, as we would be practicing First Aid skills throughout the adventure. We’d planned to have breaks during the ascent filled with educational scenarios, and then on the descent Amy would break from the group and we’d find her injured on the trail with dramatic bleeding wounds and a broken limb. We were all excited to ham it up and create fake injuries but that’s not what the day held.

We were approximately .3 miles from the waterfall when Amy was stung in the ankle by a yellow jacket. She played it off, we treated her on site and after a quick snack – moved up the trail. Within a few minutes we stopped again as we’d finally found a proper site to teach ‘Peeing & Pooping in the Outdoors!’ As I led the group in a conversation about the topic, Amy became progressively worse. I handed the group off to Talia and went to assist Kristen with Amy’s care. We laid out a sleeping pad for her to rest and kept her talking and laughing all while conducted a full body check and gauging breath & pulse. Every lead on this trip is trained in first aid & CPR care but Kristen has just about completed her nursing school degree, which brings ease to any patient’s mind. As Amy’s breathing became more restricted and hives broke out all over her body, we determined EMTs were needed. Talia ran down to alert rangers, as there was no service, and the rest of us carefully made our way down.

As we neared the parking lot, we heard sirens and I gathered the group again instructing them how we will act when we reach Amy. As we reached Amy and the 3 EMTs at the trailhead, all campers hurried past, following Talia to the van in silence. After a full medical assessment, it was determined that Amy was indeed going to live and they worked out a treatment plan with the EMTs. After receiving care in a nearby town, Amy returned to camp, despite the sweltering heat and unbelievably severe allergic reaction, to tough out the rest of camp. We monitored her condition throughout the afternoon as she rested, and upon returning to the land of the living around dinner time, we conducted a debrief with her and the rest of the team. After laying out the day’s most intense event, I asked what was the most important thing they learned from the experience. Without hesitation, Camille responded with, ‘you must stay calm’ – we talked in length about how the leaders acted in order to keep everyone at ease, including Amy, how they knew it was serious, and how decisions were made. We all concluded that Amy is a Wonder Woman for returning to camp and that this situation cemented just how important it is to have first aid skills.

Day 4, was the biggest physical challenge of the camp, and we’d been prepping the campers for it since the beginning telling them to mentally prepare for what is to come. That worked well as most campers later expressed they thought it was going to be much harder. The team started earlier than normal with a quick oatmeal & bacon breakfast, and travel to Paradise where we met up with RMI Expeditions guides, Gloria & Nikki.

The group divied up gear, including ice axes, crampons, helmets, gaiters, avalanche transceivers, and harnesses. Once everyone was set, we made our way up through Edith Creek Basin where we happened upon many creatures, including marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The climate was colder than the previous days, which was such a treat and made for easier travel conditions.

The team happily travelled up the many switchbacks and kept conversation flowing throughout. After a hearty snack, which included rainbow sprinkles that somehow ended up in my bag (hehe!), the team strapped on the crampons and learned how to walk in them.

We didn’t spend long on this topic as the snow was softening quickly and crampons weren’t needed. Next, the team geared up in their hard shell jackets and pants in order to work on ice axe skills and self arrest techniques.


We wrapped up the mountain school with a lesson by Nikki in how avalanche transceivers work. She explained why they are used, how to use them, and led the girls in a mock search.

The point of these courses is for young girls to connect with the outdoors, gain skills, and spend time with the strong women of the mountain community. Huge thanks goes out to Nikki & Gloria for hanging with us for the day! You are SOLID GOLD!


In order to give the girls the full mountaineer experience, we had a variety of Mountain House meals for them to try, including the top rated Beef Stroganoff, Spaghetti, and Chili Mac with beef. We finished off the experience with Mountain House ice cream bars, which none of the girls had tried before! Campers and leaders alike were tired from the day’s adventure and we capped off the evening with games of Uno and storytelling.

Day 5, our last day of camp focused on Art & Celebration. The campers slept in as we prepared a lavish brunch and sandwich bar for them. After eating all we could eat including the last of the Eggos and two packages of bacon, we cleaned and packed up camp.

We rolled out of the campground by noon and parked at the Carter Falls trailhead, where we crossed the Nisqually River and set up our nature art studio. The first project we tackled was rock decorating, creating favorite moments from camp or patterns that remind you for the experience. These personalized rocks (which were brought from Kirsten’s personal home #LNT) were then placed in macrame necklaces the campers weaved.

Project two was sketching and watercolor painting the mountain, although it eluded us during this time so the girls had to create pieces from memory and sample photos we provided. After applying watercolor to the paper, they laid them out to dry in the sun and later applied ink and colored pencil to enhance lines and shape.

After creating unique pieces of art based on their experiences throughout the week, we gathered around in a large circle for one of our final camp activities. Each camper had a clipboard with their name on it, when the leaders said pass they’d pass the paper to the left and that camper would write something positive about that person. We switched until everyone had contributed to each paper and the camper was holding their own again. It was a wonderful way to build each other up, kind of like camping yearbooks. The leaders then presented each camper with glowing praise of their achievements throughout the week and a super rad camp certificate.

After a quick ice cream break in Eatonville, we made our way back to camper pickup in Des Moines and all returned home after a magical week in the mountains. Thank you to all campers and parents for participating in this camp – it was the first of many overnight experience SheJumps plans to offer through the Wild Skills program. Extra special thanks to our partners who support this vision! And finally my most heartfelt, gushing praise to our volunteers: Amy, Kristen and Talia who made this happen. SheJumps runs on the efforts of dedicated volunteers like you. Thank you for sharing your skills, humor, time and patience with our campers – I am so very grateful for humans like you!

Learn about events first by signing up for the Wild Skills newsletter here.

Special thanks to our partners:

Presenting Partner: CLIF

Program Partner: Bight GearWhittaker MountaineeringRMI Expeditions

Nonprofit Partner: Y.E.T.I.

SheJumps Force of Nature Program: Opportunities for All Girls

Last summer, SheJumps was awarded $25,000 from REI as a grant for the Force of Nature program. REI committed $500,000 towards it’s goal to “advance gender equity in the outdoors and encourage millions of its members to embrace the outdoors as “the world’s largest level playing field.”” You may have seen some of our posts on social media about it.

REI’s grant to SheJumps enabled us to materialize our vision for a more inclusive and diverse outdoor community. This program challenged the barriers that prevent a more diverse population of girls from the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities.

We started by developing a strong relationship with a community organization in Salt Lake City, Utah, called Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families (HC4YF). HC4YF serves a diverse community in West Valley of Salt Lake City through after-school and soccer programs. SheJumps provided 28 Hartland girls (of whom identify as non-white, immigrant, or refugee) with a year-long series of outdoor educational experiences, supported by more than 45 volunteers who submitted applications to be a part of the program.

Wild Skills Basics (a national SJ program) teaches basic First Aid, as well as navigation, shelter building, Leave No Trace, and the 10 Essentials.

Starting with a Wild Skills: Basics course where we taught first aid, Leave No Trace, 10 Essentials, navigation, and shelter building, the Force of Nature program went on to explore climbing, skiing, camping, and hiking. We did a total of 13 excursions with the girls: indoor climbing (4 times), introduction to camping at REI store, skiing at Alta (4 times), hiking, yoga, Wild Skills day camps (2 times), and a 3 day camping trip to Canyonlands National Park. Part of this program was also funded by the Outdoor Foundation’s initiative, Parks4Kids.

SJ Force of Nature volunteer Kayla Bobzien helps a participant understand the value of chalk when climbing.

Momentum climbing in Sandy generously hosted four indoor climbing sessions for our Force of Nature program funded by REI.

Introduction to camping night at REI was a great way to get introduced to gear and passionate outdoor women.

Learning from the team at REI during our Introduction to camping session.

The idea for how this program would work—and how we plan to replicate it in our other regions—stems from our intention to increase diversity in the outdoors. Our vision is to build enduring relationships with community organizations already focused on diversity and inclusion. Many community organizations like HC4YF do important work in our communities, but lack the resources to provide outdoor education, outdoor activities, and opportunities to engage with their natural surroundings.

Berenice Yanez (left) is a graduate of our SheJumps into the Canyon ski program and has since become a dear friend and supporter of SheJumps. It was incredible to have her attend the camping trip as a leader and a woman of color.

Finding some shade in the desert with friends. L to R: Leslie, Xitlali, and Yasira.

The Census Bureau projects that by 2042 there will be a majority minority population in the United States. According to the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association participation report, 73% of outdoor participants are Caucasian, while only 10% are Hispanic. These are factors that contribute significantly to the future of the outdoors (especially preserving our national spaces) as we know it. James Edward Mills, author of The Adventure Gap writes: “If outdoor enthusiasts are mostly white, then a shift to a “majority minority” population in the United States could mean bad news for the conservation movement.” Essentially, if we don’t do something now about the lack of participation in the outdoors from diverse communities, outdoor communities as we recognize them today will not only shrink in size, but so will the influence and sentiment protect and conserve natural spaces.

Mesa Arch: our first desert hike as a team!

The vision SheJumps has for building a bridge with these organizations and communities is to provide consistent mentorship from volunteers in a multitude of activities. This exposure to the outdoors is crucial to spark passion for outdoor activities, instill the importance of environmental awareness and sustainability, as well as inspire young women to pursue a career in the outdoors through access to positive female role models.

Volunteer Beth Lopez celebrates a powder day with her new friend from the SheJumps Force of Nature program.

It’s not as if SheJumps or REI were the first entities to declare that there was a lack of diversity in the outdoors, and obviously it’s still a problem today given the participation report from the OIA. It’s inspiring and pivotal to see groups and media outlets like Native Women’s WildernessOutdoorAfro, Natives Outdoors, Brown Girls Climb, Latino Outdoors, and Brown People Camping (just to name a few). Claire Smallwood, our executive director who wrote the grant, penned the several-page application over a span of several weeks and says, “I felt a lot of emotions while applying for the funding, including fear of failure. I was constantly re-evaluating what would be a realistic use of funds while still providing tangible opportunities. It was daunting at the time and I wanted to be sure that this program was not just a one-off experience for the girls, and would actually set them up for a lifetime of outdoor adventure.”

10th Annual SheJumps into the Canyon youth skiing program. We offer the program to Boys & Girls clubs of Salt Lake as well.

We are in the process of applying for an additional REI grant and we know that this is just the beginning of this story.

We are using this partnership (and what we learned from it during this past year) to develop the groundwork for collaborations with more organizations who specialize in supporting diverse communities in other areas of the country. One of our organizational goals is to be the leading provider of free and low-cost outdoor education for women and girls across the country. We believe our programs must be available for everyone, and that our work is not completed until all women are represented regardless of their race, background, ethnicity, or ability.

If you are a woman of color or interested in supporting our efforts towards a more diverse and inclusive outdoor space, please contact claire@shejumps.org 

A rainy Saturday in May we took the Force of Nature team to Lisa Falls, showing that sometimes you can’t let a bit of weather stop your adventures.

We took inclement weather and lack of snow for snowshoeing and turned it into an awesome introspective yoga experience—the first time for many to try yoga!

Claire (executive director) and Erica and Josie washing dishes in the desert during the Moab camping trip.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit” —Edward Abbey

 

Winter Throwback: Grand Traverse Ski Race

Written by: Julie Nania

We spent months preparing for the Grand Traverse: long backcountry training days; scouting the course; buying all new lightweight gear; talking with experienced GT veterans. In the days leading up to the race, we spent hours preparing for the what-ifs. What if our skins failed? What if our bindings iced over? What if one of us got too tired to continue?

What we did not contemplate was a last-minute blizzard sweeping through the region and laying down over a foot of new snow, accompanied by serious uncertainty over whether the race course would be altered due to snow conditions. At the pre-race meeting, race Director Andrew Arell announced that the safety team didn’t yet know whether they could send us over Star Pass, the most dangerous part of the course. It wasn’t until five hours before the race that we learned we’d be embarking on an infamous Grand Reverse – an out-and-back trek from Crested Butte to Star Pass and back. Everyone was bummed we wouldn’t be skiing the full course to Aspen but grateful that race management was prioritizing our safety.

One hour before our midnight start, the storm moved out and the skies cleared. As we stood at the starting line, straining to hear the Blessing of the Freeheelers, the crowd was buzzing. We vowed once again to set a relaxed pace on the initial climb up Mount Crested Butte. With the crack of the starting gun, we clamored forward with 400 headlamp-lit racers, up the mountain and into a starlit night. Despite the late hour, spectators lined the ski run and a couple of naked pranksters skied through the throngs of racers.

The first few hours of the race were pretty social. The course was crowded and hectic during the climb up the ski area and the steep descent off the back side of Mount Crested Butte. After crossing the East River and putting our skins back on, we got caught in a virtual conga-line, single-file river of headlamps. We followed a side-sloping, bushy skin track. Snow was sparse, making passing difficult for about 4 miles. But after we turned up the Brush Creek drainage and started climbing toward Death Pass, the crowds thinned out – we even found ourselves passing a few teams as we headed up the Continental Divide. It was a perfectly calm night and frost crystals started to precipitate on our packs as we pushed up to the Friends Hut checkpoint.

After a brief pause at Friends Hut to refill water and have a snack, we powered up the short, steep climb to the turnaround point. At about 6 a.m., in the darkest and coldest moment of the night, we ripped our skins for the fun descent back down Brush Creek. The new day came slowly in the deep, forested valley. Our spirits rose as we made our way back toward Crested Butte, then dropped again when we were told by race volunteers that we had a six-mile bootpack to get to the finish. Hours later, we emerged from a labyrinth of singletrack trails on to the slopes of the Crested Butte ski area and Girafficorned our way across the finish line.

There were some delightful surprises along the course. Nearly a foot of fresh powder had accumulated at the top of Star Pass – our first turns on the way down were some of the deepest snow in a sparse season. At sunrise, Whetstone Mountain was bathed in pink light. By the time we skated our way back to the end of Brush Creek Road our friends were at the checkpoint with hot coffee.

At other points in the race we flailed. At the top of Star Pass as the temperature plummeted towards zero both of our waters froze (even though we had sewn them into the front of our shirts to take our body heat). Trying to shed speed, Julie deviated five feet off the course and was sent soaring by an obscured stump (there’s now a chunk missing from her touring gear). Sarah’s skins iced so bad they repeatedly peeled off; we brought seven pairs of skins and ended up going through six pairs. Variable course conditions meant that five miles of the race were either bone-dry, bootpacking conditions, or a thick mud. By the end of the race our feet were wrecked from hiking for miles in AT boots while we carried our skis.

The Grand Traverse is tough and at times relentless. We were prepared to suffer and at certain moments we did. What we didn’t anticipate? How much fun it would be. Sarah’s husband Paco jogged to the Ambush Ranch checkpoint in the middle of the night to shout words of encouragement. SheJumps’ Online Event Coordinator, Sierra Cucinelli, and Sam Higby greeted us with hugs and hot coffee after a night of no sleep. The support we felt from our friends, family, and SheJumps team during the race was overwhelming – and together we raised over $3,300 to get more ladies out there. We’re thrilled to have crossed the finish line as girafficorns!

RECAP: SheJumps Whitewater Rafting in Richmond, VA

Article by Alicia  Monahan, Southeast Region Ambassador

We were stoke to hold a Whitewater Rafting event in Richmond, VA, especially since there was so much interest in doing a whitewater rafting trip via the Facebook group. There was stoke, as well as hesitation, as some wanted to raft, but did not want a crazy and intense adventure. This trip was perfect for those who wanted an intro to rafting, and/or to simply experience the James River.

Over a week out, the forecast was calling for rain, but we still had participants registering for the event. I mean, you’re going to get wet anyway, right? May as well dance and play in the rain!

The morning that the event was planned turned out to be a downpour, the forecast was correct. SheJumps Ambassadors arrived on scene and set up a pop-up tent so we could have a place somewhat dry for participants to sign in, and look at merchandise to purchase, if they chose to. We were hoping to have a more social intro to the trip, but the rain kind of rained on that parade…pun intended.

Once the rafting company vehicles arrived, it was time to load up and hit the river! All the SheJumpers loaded up onto one bus and we headed to the river. There, we were given a safety briefing, and the equipment needed to get down the river, helmets, PFD’s, and paddles for all!

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Three lucky participants even had the special privilege of paddling a bucket boat down the river, with Southeast Ambassador, Alicia Monahan, as their guide! Most of the rafts are self-bailing, meaning the water from the waves is able to get out of the boat on it’s own…this lucky crew had to bail the water out of their boat using their helmets. Teamwork!

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The group had some smaller rapids to warm up, before paddling hard through Hollywood Rapid, a well known Class III+ rapid which is located right next to Belle Isle. By this time, I think most of us had forgotten it was even raining, as it had definitely slowed down to a drizzle.

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The group got to experience the city of Richmond from a vantage point only those who paddle get to see, floating past the city skyline at the pace of the water.

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We stopped at an island called “Blackbird,” where we refreshed with water and pineapple slices, and got to swing off a rope swing. Weee!

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After that we headed downstream, where we were promised, “Surf’s up!” What fun that was! Much different than our beach surfing event earlier this summer!

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The trip was a blast, and at the end, we paid homage to the river gods for a safe journey down their waters. The great thing about whitewater rafting, is it’s a team endeavor. Everyone had to work together with their guide to get safely down the river. As with any SheJumps event, remember these words from the Maori tribe of New Zealand, “He waka eke noa,” meaning, “We are all in this together.”

We are currently planning to have another whitewater rafting trip in the late Spring/Early Summer, which will hopefully bring higher water, and a greater adventure, so those who enjoyed this trip and want more, will have a completely different experience if they come back, and those who want an awesome ride, sign up if you missed out on this one!

The Right Kind of Sunscreen: Do Your Part

By Tessa Samuels and Tiffany Thio

Imagine, just for a moment, plunging deep into the most biologically diverse ecosystem on earth. You sink 150 feet down through blue water that flickers and catches the light that only the shallow areas of the ocean can catch, coming to stop by a bright calcium carbonate structure. Millions of bright, spotted, striped, speckled and patterned fish swim by, their bodies moving sand away from the surface of the coral revealing the billions of coral polyps that make up this brilliant ecosystem.

Coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor yet are home to more than 25% of marine life. They protect coastlines — and many coastal towns — from waves and tropical storms, they are vital to the world’s fisheries, a source of medical advances, and help with carbon and nitrogen fixing. While the Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world, there are hundreds of small reefs that play an equally important role in nutrient recycling and providing habitats for many marine organisms.

Something that is becoming common knowledge is the endangerment of coral reefs. Global warming, overfishing, nutrient-rich fertilizer runoff, hot water run off from power plants, pathogens, and trash alongside many other cases has impacted coral bleaching — when the water is too warm and corals expel the algae living in their tissues which places them under stress and increases the vulnerability of the populations — and the loss of our coral reefs. Another potentially dangerous activity to coral reefs is the use of sunscreen. NOAA estimates that 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes off our bodies and into our coral reefs every year.

There are two categories of sunscreen you may have seen at your local store: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens function by first absorbing the energy of UV rays, then re-emitting them as energy of longer wavelengths that are less harmful to skin1. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, utilize inorganic ingredients such as zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) to simply reflect UV rays.3 You may say, these sunscreens work in different ways, but they achieve the same outcome, don’t they? Well, not exactly. Physical sunscreens tend to be better for the marine environment that you swim in.

Many popular chemical sunscreens contain either oxybenzone, which absorbs UVA-II (320-340 nm) and UV-B (290-320 nm)1,3, or octinoxate, which absorbs UV-B2. The presence of these two compounds in marine habitats have been linked to a whole host of detrimental environmental effects.

Research done on this issue has also informed recent policy-making. In their 2018 legislative session, the state of Hawai’i passed a bill prohibiting the sale and distribution of chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.5 The listed effects on coral reefs include, but are not limited to, decreasing the resiliency of corals toward climate change, detrimental impacts on endangered species, and increasing reproductive diseases, endocrine disruption, and causing deformities in embryonic development for certain species.5

If you are working or recreating near reefs, or in a marine habitat, choose to purchase sunscreens such as Stream2Sea instead of those containing harmful compounds. (Note: Using sun protection is extremely important for the prevention of skin cancer.) Beyond sunscreen, pollutants such as waste discharge from ships, industries, and coastal cities all have a massive impact on these coral communities. Additionally, the issue that is currently causing the most damage to coral reefs is not sunscreen, but climate change. As such, voting, working within and outside your communities to advocate for these issues, and changing the way we consume are all ways that we can change the current trajectory of the environment.

We’re grateful for Stream2Sea for donating to SheJumps. 10% of proceeds from your purchase will benefit SheJumps when you use the code SheJumps at checkout. Go to: Stream2Sea.com