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The Dish from an “Outdoors Diva”

Sep 10

Written by:
9/10/2012 11:38 AM  RssIcon

(Editor’s Note: For the past two summers, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Centennial Center for Wildlife Education has offered the “Becoming an Outdoors Diva” camp for girls ages 12 to 17. Madeline Rickard, 14, participated both years. Here, she writes about her experiences. She is in the middle of the photograph.)

The days were jam packed and exhausting, and oftentimes sweaty, but it was so much fun that I didn’t even realize how tired I was until I was falling asleep on the ride home every day.

That was Becoming an Outdoors Diva camp, and it was a great experience for all types of girls, even ones who prefer to stay inside. The camp was actually split pretty evenly between being inside and outside, so we had plenty of chances to cool off and rest. We were always moving on to something new and trying out a lot of different activities, so you tried a lot of cool things that we might not ordinarily be able to do.

We learned about how to use a bow and arrow, the difference between hunting with a bow and arrow, as opposed to a gun, and we heard firsthand experiences about hunting with each. The experiences we heard were from both a man and a woman. Not only did they talk about the differences between using a bow and arrow, and gun, they also talked about the differences between a compound bow and longbow. 

Also, the speakers talked about safety measures for using any of these weapons.
We split into our four groups and went to stations: water gathering and debris huts, fire building, archery, and orienteering. In water gathering and debris huts, we learned how to build temporary shelters out of sticks, pine needles, and leaves for if we ever were lost in the woods, and also three different ways to collect water overnight with just a plastic bag, or bandana, or tarp and plastic container. Fire building taught us how to, first, light a cotton ball on fire with a pocketknife and a steel and magnesium block, then, how to build that flame into a fire by finding dry twigs, and, later, how to use sticks to enlarge it. At archery we were tested to find our dominant eye (to know which hand we will shoot more effectively with), then shot targets and fake animals at varying distances. The animals were all in different poses. There was a raccoon, coyote, fox and a deer. Each had small targets in vital areas to aim at. Most of the girls, including me, did an OK job. Of course some were better than others, but usually, we each shot two of the four targets. I improved slightly in my second year. Lastly, orienteering taught us not only how to use a compass, but how to find our way on a map, and, also, approximately how many strides it is to get to your destination, using the distance.

Each day was filled with new and different activities including trapping, setting up a scent station, identifying animal tracks, pelts, skulls and scat, cooking game and fish, fishing, knot tying, casting, baiting a hook and setting up a line, gutting and cleaning a fish, how to field dress a deer, laser shot, making nature journals, learning deer anatomy, following a blood trail, t-shirt decorating, and more. My personal favorite activities were the cooking and archery, but everything is fun, even if you don’t happen to be all that good at it, which I know I certainly wasn’t. 
Everything we learned in the week was building up to the “amazing race” on Friday morning, when our skills were put to the test, and each team competed, hiking through unknown woods using a map and compass.
I have gone to Becoming an Outdoors Diva camp two years in a row, so far, and I absolutely love it. Both years I have made new friends and expanded my outdoor skills. Having already done this camp the year before didn’t change anything this year. It was still exciting and fun, and I learned even more. This is a great camp that really teaches you a lot, lets you do new and exciting things, gets you moving over summer break, and is, most of all, just plain fun.

Madeline is a freshman at Northern High School in Durham. She is the daughter of Carolyn Rickard, a public information officer at the Commission. For more information on other classes the Commission offers, see here.

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