I have celebrated Earth Day’s in some epic fashions, like river rafting through the Grand Canyon. And in simple ways by promoting recycling at places I worked. What got me excited about nature was two-fold. First, when I was eight years old, I went to “Brownie” (Girl Scout) Camp for 5 days, where we stayed in cabins, in a forest and near a lake. Our camp counselors had woodland names like “Willow” and “Bambi” and I remember the damp rich smells of the forest long afterwards, and the giant slugs. Then, when I was nine, we moved near a city lake and zoo which was wooded and offered many bike rides throughout the connecting parks. It always felt like a peaceful refuge. I live in a beautiful part of the country where we are surrounded by natural spaces, so we don’t have far to go.
Just as the women in this documentary, my life was enriched by my time spent among the trees and shores of rivers, lakes and oceans. In fact, I took a 6 day course called “Women at Sea” where I learned the “ropes” of sailing and reading charts and markers around the inland Salish Sea islands. As a bona fide “tree hugger” I will be out again this year, picking up trash, and planting bee and bird friendly flowers and herbs.
How have you been changed by your time spent away from civilization and in nature? What is your favorite thing to do? Enjoy your Earth Day! You’ll be glad you did.
BY CAROLINE GERDES
February 28, 2018
Classrooms, boardrooms, the voting booth: until relatively recently, these spaces were often closed to women, or they came with caveats. But there is another, perhaps more surprising place that was also frequently off-limits: the great outdoors. Up until the 1960’s, most girls were not encouraged to explore the outdoors, get dirty, hunt, fish, hike and canoe. But in 1965, the inaugural Outward Bound course for girls in the Minnesota wilderness garnered national attention and broke down barriers.
Women Outward Bound is a new documentary. It tells the story of 24 young women who were part of the inaugural program in 1965. The film follows the women as they meet again nearly 50 years later and discuss the way the program altered the course of their lives. One woman influenced by the 1965 Outward Bound program is Bellingham , WA resident Elizabeth Kilanowski.
Kilanowski says Outward Bound altered the trajectory of her life. She was born in Minnesota, and after the program she traveled the country working at outdoor education centers before pursuing an art education degree. She noted that it was difficult to find work in education, so she worked in the open pit mines of Northern Minnesota as a welder. She moved around for other jobs before going back to school and getting a degree in geology from the University of Minnesota in 1998. This, and a passion for sailing, eventually brought her to Bellingham, where she has lived for about 20 years.
While it may be hard to see how this fascinating journey could be influenced by a single summer in 1965, the path is clear to Kilanowski. She recently discussed the program and the documentary in an interview with KCTS 9. Hear what she had to say about Women Outward Bound, the importance of the outdoors and how the experience taught her to dream about her future.