In Spotlights

Back to Earth Outdoors is an inspiring Bay Area organization dedicated to introducing wilderness to people who have not spent much time in it, or for those who have, strengthening that connection. The organization strives to facilitate experiences of connection with the Earth that inspire lasting change in how we conceive of our relationship with the planet.

One of the Back to Earth Outdoors signature programs is the Intro to Backpacking for Women trip. The purpose of the program is to train women in backpacking skills so that they can organize and lead their own trips, and overcome any intimidation in doing so. The outing also aims to connect and empower women to have a positive relationship and impact with nature.

Back to Earth trips can alleviate any fears women may have about spending time in the wilderness, or planning their own outing, says Dashielle Vawter, the organization’s director. She thinks the connection with nature helps remove some of that fear and any obstacles that could be standing in the way. The trips contain a stewardship aspect and are designed to build participant’s kinship relationship with nature. Dashielle believes that part of being a woman is connecting with nature, and that for too many years the earth and women’s bodies have been a battleground for those in power. Yet women have a unique relationship with the environment, with a rich experience as traditional nurturers and caregivers, and that relationship should be cultivated

A longtime outdoor enthusiast, Dashielle had a calling to protect nature and help engage other people. She has a strong belief in creating personal relationships with the outdoors and that we all can become more powerful in the ways we relate to nature. It ultimately boils down to making the relationship your own, incorporating concepts of fellowship, community, and empowerment.

The women’s backpacking trip involves a range of activities, from map reading to building leadership skills, and along the way showing participants how they can complement each other’s strengths and inspire one another.

Are you ready to go? Check out their website for full details. The next Intro to Backpacking for Women trip is scheduled for this coming June, in gorgeous Sequoia/King’s Canyon National Parks.

And special thanks to WEN member Kathren Murrell Stevenson, who led a Yoga, Arts and Ecology Backpacking Retreat trip last year with Dashielle and BTEO and wanted to share this incredible experience with other women!