Archery, muzzle loading, raptor identification, and fly tying and casting—what better way to spend the weekend of Mother’s Day? For Gail Chapman, a mother and grandmother, this sounds like an ideal holiday.
Now the chairwoman of Wild Women of Washtenaw (WWOW), Chapman participated in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program in northern Michigan six years ago. “I was so impressed with the information, camaraderie and opportunities offered that two friends and I decided we needed to have a similar program in the Ann Arbor area,” says Chapman, the moving coordinator of leased space, Plant Extension, Space Information and Planning. Chapman, a member of the Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club, approached the board with the idea for a women’s group, and in 1998 it held its first outdoor women’s event.
The following year, one of the group’s instructors christened them Wild Women of Washtenaw. They anticipate 150 WWOW participants at this year’s outing who will be taught by volunteer instructors.
“Once instructors have participated in one WWOW outing, they are likely to participate in another. I can’t tell you who has more fun, the participants or the instructors,” Chapman says. “This is an exciting, encouraging, fun, empowering, knowledgeable, learning experience.”
Classes are offered in archery, shooting, raptor identification, outdoor cooking and more. Chapman says many participants return year after year to take classes they were unable to do on the previous outing. “The camaraderie, the confidence, the respect and the peacefulness are just some of the benefits we have realized by time spent outdoors,” Chapman says.
Chapman, who grew up in Detroit and has worked with U-M for four years, has been an avid outdoor person her entire life. “My husband is also an outdoors person and very encouraging and supportive of my activities,” Chapman says. “We taught our daughter the fun things in life in the outdoors, and now my husband and I are looking forward to sharing and teaching our 3-year-old grandson about the outdoors.” (Photo by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)