Girls Outdoors

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
A female park ranger teaches rappelling at a Girls Outdoors workshop held in East Tennessee. While there won’t be rappelling this weekend at Henry Horton, girls from 12 to 16 years old will get a chance to experience the outdoors and learn about the activities and careers available to them outside.
Photo by Heather Spiva, courtesy of Tennessee State Parks.

The outdoor spaces at Henry Horton State Park will take on a decidedly feminine feeling this weekend.

The park is hosting a Girls Outdoors weekend on Friday and Saturday.

This is the first time that the program, for girls ages 12-16, has been offered at Horton. Katie Wisniewski, who is a Park Interpretive Specialist in the Nashville office of state parks, said the response has been very positive from the other two state parks who have hosted the weekend, drawing participants from up to an hour away.

“We just want to create an environment where these girls can feel comfortable outdoors and explore the careers that are available to them outside,” she said.

The girls won’t just be exploring outdoor activities, although the overnight camp out does involve workshops on astronomy, paddling, and biology. The group will use the ropes course at the park as a leadership and teamwork building tool, and a karate instructor will be presenting lessons on self-defense.

Learning about careers available in science, such as biology and ecology, as well as outdoor recreation is also part of the weekend.

Female park rangers, like Horton’s own Julia Cruce, state naturalists, science graduate students, and other females involved in the outdoor science fields will be leading and presenting over the Friday and Saturday camp sessions.

Wisniewski said that in her own experience that she wasn’t aware of all of the possibilities for women in the fields even into her college years, much less high school.

The deadline for registration has already passed for this session, but Wisniewski said that she hopes to begin offering the program more often in the state parks, aiming for twice in the fall and in the spring.

“We just want girls to be able to experience all that the outdoors has to offer,” said Wisniewski.