I am going to trust this online community and be totally authentic with you. The last two months has been incredibly hard for me for 3 main reasons; I lost my job, spent the last month caring for my Mother in Law before she passed away and as a result of stress my body has been pretty unhappy. Yes, vertigo had me bed bound for close to 3 weeks. I struggled with the idea of even attending Camp Imadene’s Women Outdoor Adventure weekend. I can proudly say I pushed myself to go and had one of the most incredible weekends of my life. I went there one way and came out transformed, invigorated and inspired. And yes I met so many amazing women there as well. So here is my reflection on my weekend away from my family an opportunity to focus on myself and remember who I am deep down.
If you have ever traveled on a plane you will remember this saying well, “in the event of a change in air pressure, masks for oxygen will fall. Place your own mask on first before helping others.” I feel that women particularly struggle with this concept. I mean let’s be honest; support our husbands, raise our kids, keep our houses tidy and then we crash. It can be so overwhelming. I can admit being newly married and taking on a more domesticated role I have to continually remind myself to do things that make me happy. I don’t even know how single parents do it without a support system. You guys rock!
I heard about the WOA weekend for the past 3 years as my Sister in Law has been going and loving it. Her photos looked so rad, that this year I decided to tag along. As soon as registration opened, I signed up. I was blown away by all the mini courses offered throughout the weekend. There was everything from fine arts to high energy outdoor sports and downtime to just relax. Whatever you want to do.
My activities included; caving, repelling, outdoor sports and triple pack (archery, mountain biking and blaster ball). Due to the weather I actually did; caving, photography, triple pack and water color and wild flowers, which was a blessing. I increased my skill set and learned some new hobbies. Caving turned out to be my favorite activity.
Caving or spelunking is not for the faint hearted but also don’t psych yourself out because, I really truly believe anyone can do it. Honestly, I don’t like tight spaces and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Most of us have never been caving before so trying something new can be a bit intimidating. You just have to push past the uncertainty because, once you enter the caves it is the most amazing experience. Challenges involved in caving vary depending on the cave being visited. Initially when you enter the mouth of the cave, it can be wet, cool and of course dark. About 20 mins into our caving experience we turned our head lamps off and it was completely dark. I have never experiences pitch black before, where honestly if your lamp burnt out you would have no idea which way to go. So dark that even your cellphone flash light would only make a little dent.
You also have to be careful because, in some caves there can be water hazards. You will want to check that there is no danger of flooding as rainwater is funneled underground and can flood a cave quite quickly.
My big “aha moment” was after I had gone through my first tunnel my initial fear dissipated and curiosity took over! I was completely awestruck by these amazing structures. Every twist and turn was completely different and I had to bend my body in ways I didn’t even think was possible. (Yes it woke up stiff the next day, but I did it.) It was a completely confidence building activity. I faced my fear and proved to myself that I was stronger than I thought I was.
After our first cave, we were asked if we wanted to do another cave the only thing was we would be late for dinner. All the ladies looked at each other with big smiles and said yes!! We were addicted. The second cave was more challenging as there was a pool of water at the mouth of the cave that we had to climb over and a stream that ran through it. It was absolutely incredible and completely different from the first cave. It was a lot more open and not as tight but debris like trees had floated in with the rain and blocked some of the passages.Caving was a complete adrenalin rush and was a great start to our weekend.
Unfortunately that night the rain came. And when I say the rain came, it poured all night and all day. My activities had to be rearranged because, repelling would be unsafe in this type of weather condition. This turned out to be a huge blessing. As much as I wanted to go repelling, I had an opportunity to take a photography course.
With 4 other ladies in the group we learned how to take photos adjusting the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings. Wow how life changing. I have a beautiful camera and I now know how to use it. In the afternoon, I took archery, played adult blaster ball (aka like nerf gun) and climbed their rock wall.
Each activity provided an opportunity to connect with other women and to hear their story. I was amazed at how many women I met. When we all first arrived on Friday we were shy and quiet and Sunday when we left we were energized and had new friends.
This was one amazing experience and to be honest I can’t wait until next year!