If you see a man at the event, you can safely bet he’s a volunteer. Like these dudes who manned gigantic grills throughout the weekend. The team barbecued more than 700 chicken quarters for Saturday’s lunch, with steaks for supper that evening. (Do they say supper in California?)
The Bakersfield Chapter has a motto for its Women in the Outdoors event — NO HUSBANDS. NO CHILDREN. NO PETS. The focus of the event is the women who come to participate.
“Make up is optional,” event coordinator Kristie Blaylock said in an interview with the National Wild Turkey Federation a couple years ago.
I’m pretty sure they don’t have to twist a whole lot of arms to get women to comply.
I may look tough on the outside, but behind the helmet, head-to-toe camo and super-charged gun, I’m just a sweet little cupcake — looking for paintball blood!
Participants range in age from 14 to even a spry 80-something-year-old this year. And with nearly 60 classes available — from the physically intense (mountain biking, paddle boarding, paintball, skydiving) to the low-key (basic fishing, horseshoes and a variety of crafts) to adventurous (hunting with hawks, field dressing game, RV maneuvering) — there are activities for all interests and ages.
“Our chapter is never afraid to offer a variety of new classes,” said Blaylock, who seems to hold the key to keeping the event fresh each year, which keeps women coming back. And what makes this an award-winning event.
The Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors committee has won numerous awards for this event from the NWTF. In 2012 alone, they scooped up three national awards: winning the best local chapter as well as two that recognized their knack for raising funds for the NWTF’s mission.
I learned how Native Indians lived back in the day — and that the teepee was the first American mobile home.
This event grows every year, like the suburbs of L.A., or perhaps Charlie Sheen’s ego. In 2001, when the chapter held its first event, they hosted 37 women. This year, 527 ladies swarmed a scenic Tejon Ranch valley, popping up tents, parking campers and rolling in cars, some of which had “Women in the Outdoors or bust” written on the windows with shoe polish.
“Planning and executing an event for more than 500 ladies is not for the fainthearted,” said Women in the Outdoors Coordinator Teresa Carroll, who has attended the event in years past. “The Bakersfield Chapter, a virtual army of dedicated men and women, were tasked with preparing and serving meals, leading raffles and games, coordinating and instructing classes — the many small tasks that come together for a big, outstanding event.”
Alex Ravenfeather, wild plants/native living skills instructor from the Survival Training School of California, has a fantastic knowledge of wild plant uses and applications. He showed us the elderberry and how it’s a trifecta plant, meaning you can eat it, use it to treat illnesses and make stuff with it.
A more than 30-person committee led more than 170 volunteers to entertain, instruct, feed and wrangle participants in an orderly event that still managed to maintain a laid-back California vibe.
“Although we stay on schedule, our event is relaxed,” said Blaylock. “Everyone just goes with the flow.”
Check out the Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors event on Facebook for info on this year’s event and updates on future ones.
Carrie Landen (left) was in two of my classes during the event. But I’ll forever remember her as the gal who suggested eating at The Lobster at Santa Monica Pier before leaving L.A.