Iowa's Outdoor Journey for Girls (OJ) camp introduces outdoor skills to 12 to 15 year old girls of all backgrounds and knowledge levels where they have an opportunity to try things hands-on under the watchful eye of trained instructors.
The three day, two night workshop teaches a variety of outdoor skills, including canoeing, orienteering, fishing, archery, shooting rifles/shotguns, conservation, water safety, camping, game care, fur harvesting, fish identification and fish cleaning and cooking.
The second day is devoted to certifying the girls in Iowa's hunter education program.
The experiences at OJ can form a common bond between campers. Megan Wisecup with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau who coordinates the camp said it is common for some of the girls to keep in touch for a few years after the camp.
"The girls really seem to form a bond rather quickly with other campers in their cabin, which is nice because many are a little nervous heading in to the camp," Wisecup said.
Campers are encouraged to contact their local Pheasants Forever chapter to see if they have any scholarships available to pay for registration. Other organizations provide scholarships, as well.
The 2011 camps are scheduled for June 15 to 17 at Springbrook Conservation Education Center, near Guthrie Center, July 12 to 14 at Black Hawk County's Hickory Hills Park, and Aug. 3 to 5 at Springbrook. The July and August camps fill rather quickly so early registration is encouraged. More information is available on the web at http://www.iowadnr.gov/oj/index.html.
Outdoor Journey for Girls began in 1993 with the purpose of offering girls a similar experience to outdoor camps already in place for boys, and so far, more than 2,000 girls have gone through the camp.
Iowa's Outdoor Journey for Girls has been featured in Newsweek and Pheasants Forever magazines, across the state and country on television (including Nickelodeon), and in newspapers.
OJ instructors are Iowa DNR conservation officers and biologists, County Conservation Board naturalists, and representatives from other agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa State University. Many of the presenters are women professionals in natural resources, including several conservation officers from the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau's who instruct annually at the program.
For information on the workshop, in southwest Iowa, contact Shawnel Richter at 712-249-2844. In the Dubuque and Bellevue area, contact Stephanie Penniston at 563-340-4528. In Waterloo, contact Lori Eberhard at 319-269-6705. In northwest Iowa, contact Ginger Walker at 712-225-6709. In southeast Iowa, contact Jackie Gautsch at 319-205-8501. In central Iowa, contact Rhonda Fowler at 515-205-8709.