Girls with Grit

In May, we had the first of four programs in our summer series Girls with Grit.  This four-month program, which can be signed up for all at once or a la carte, is designed to offer teenage girls the opportunity to learn skills for outdoor independence.  Each month we meet to learn a new outdoor skill.  In May, the overall topic was “Outdoor Skills.”
The day started off chilly and rainy, so we took over the classroom space to learn some basics, starting with knife safety.  Each girl was given a pocket knife and shown how to open and close it safely.  The benefits of “lock backs” were discussed, and then everyone got to practice how to sharpen a knife.  As we all know, the most dangerous knife is a dull knife.
From there we moved on to knots!  Knowing how to tie a good and solid knot is extremely important.  Not all knots are the same.  We had a lot of fun trying to figure out left from right, which part of the ropes went over or under, and what goes around where.

Knot-tying ended up with each girl making a “survival” bracelet out of paracord.  The purpose of said item is that one always has an emergency stash of 6-8 feet of rope at hand.

After lunch, we moved on to fire.  If one is stranded outdoors, it is good to know how to build a fire, both so one can have warmth and light, but also so one knows how to do it properly, without burning down the whole forest!

To make it fun, the girls teamed up and had a competition to see which team could boil over their can of water first.  Sadly, we had a difficult time getting enough tinder together to keep the fires going long enough for the larger twigs to ignite.

Finally, everyone got to try her hands at the classic hand drill.  This primitive tool, which is easy to make, is a great way to start a fire, provided one has the staying power to produce enough ashes to generate a glowing coal.  Our goal this day was to get smoke…a good place to start.  Adding thumb loops to a hand drill helps immensely in keeping the downward pressure on the drill, allowing one to really get some good friction going.

We had eight girls participate in our first session of Girls with Grit – it was a success!

Our second session, in June, found us partnering with the Armory Bike Union in downtown Jackson.  The goal was to teach the girls independence in cycling:  how to care for one’s bike, make some basic repairs, and then take a ride through the city, from Art 634 down the Martin Luther King Jr. Trail (formerly the Inner City Trail) to the Falling Waters Trail at Weatherwax Road – 4 miles.






It was a great day out!

Our next Girls with Grit is coming up:  July 18.  We are meeting at Quiet World Sports on Vandercook Lake, where Kat Kulchinski will be teaching the girls how to kayak!  If you are interested in joining us, visit our website, stop by or call to register before next Friday!

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