One of the many hats I wear is that of the Coordinator for Hoigaard’s Outdoor Women, fondly known as HOW. As a women’s outdoor program it is unique in that it is sponsored and supported by a family owned specialty outdoor retail shop. Started in 2005 as a means of creating, inspiring and supporting the female outdoor enthusiast it has grown to a membership of over 2000 today.
HOW is an opportunity for women to enjoy the outdoors in a fun, safe and social environment. There is no fee to join, most activities are free and we even provide the equipment. We do seasonal outdoor activities: paddling, hiking, camping, Nordic Walking and biking in the summer; cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter. We also have educational clinics and social events at the store.
We recently had some Fireside Chats to create a vision of HOW for the next five years.
The women shared what they love about HOW:
- The weekly email with it’s updates. It seems we also have many women who read the email and have not come to HOW events but are inspired to get outside to play through the email.
- The connections to other women who like to be outdoors
- The variety of events and programs, the welcoming of all ages, experience and skill levels, and the freedom to drop in
- No fees, being able to try new activities with equipment provided
- Both week night and weekend activities
- Good leadership and guidance
- The opportunity for women to develop their skills and pass it on to others
They shared visions and ideas for the future of HOW:
- An actual calendar to make it easier to track activities
- Daytime activities for “stay at home” mom’s and retired women
- In place of a weeklong trip do 2-3 seasonal weekend events
- More camping, hiking, biking – possibly weekends that include all of it
- HOW members taking leadership roles for activities and events
- Hoigaard’s continuing to be a leader in women’s programs
- “get back out there” programs to encourage women who have not been active to come out with us
- HOW Facebook page to enable members to get together outside the calendar of events and activities
- HOW programs that include families and children
I am inspired and motivated by all that they have shared. Here’s to a bright future for HOW!