Erika Faulk and her cousin, Gale Robinson, could have met up for a weekend spa retreat or planned a shopping excursion, but the two middle-aged, suburban moms opted for weekend learning to shoot guns, build campfires and track deer deep in the Ocala National Forest.
Faulk, Robinson and about 100 other women were taking part in a three-day workshop called “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman.” The program began two decades ago in Wisconsin and has spread to 40 states and Canada as a way to teach women the skills needed to enjoy outdoor activities. In Florida, three workshops are held in different parts of the state throughout the year. Organizers say the sessions are so popular they usually fill up just days after they are announced.
Faulk’s 18-year-old-son laughed at her when she told him she was planning a weekend of camping in the woods.
“He said, ‘You are paying money to do this, go outside? You don’t want to go to a Ritz Carlton?’” Faulk said.
Faulk, who is from the Tampa area, took classes in archery, boating and firearms. Robinson’s schedule included a class in outdoor cooking. Robinson, who lives in the Atlanta area, had not been camping since she was child. But the two cousins, both in their 50s and in the pharmaceutical sales business, said they had a blast sleeping in bunk beds in a cabin shared with other women, hiking in the woods and experiencing the great outdoors.