King of the Outdoors – or should it be Queen?
The machismo associated with bushcraft and outdoor survival means that they are more often than not associated with men rather than women. Such an assumption is not helped due to the dearth of female TV presenters practising these valuable skills and the emergence of celebrities like Ray Mears and Bear Grylls who have done so much to make the subject cool to the younger generation. This, in combination with the widely and perhaps incorrectly held belief that girls are just more at home indoors and in greater need of home comforts only adds to this view.
However, perhaps we are doing a disservice to the female of the species as a new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, More Than S’Mores, reveals that, girls who regularly spend time outdoors are likely to be superior to their male peers when it comes to seeking challenges, environmental stewardship and problem solving. The research has also indicated that outdoor experiences are also particularly beneficial to girls of comparatively low socioeconomic status (SES). Lower-SES girls who have regular exposure to outdoor activities through committed groups are likely to acknowledge such experiences as being crucial when they secure leadership positions in the future.
Additionally, outdoor team activities, such as camping, are advantageous to girls in their quest to develop leadership skills regardless of race or SES. Findings have demonstrated that the availability of outdoor activities are giving girls an avenue for escaping the damaging electronic and isolated lifestyle being pursued by many young people that would not otherwise have been open to them. Their appreciation for the environment and understanding of the need for it to be protected is also likely to be elevated as a result of the time they spend engaging in outdoor pastimes. According to the study, girls belonging to a group that regularly practice outdoor activities, such as the Girl Scouts are twice as likely as those with no such affiliation to admit to taking environmentally protective measures and that they have had a personal experience that has increased their appreciation for it.
Gail McNutt, chief executive of Local Council Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes in the US, is adamant of the benefits that outdoor exposure have for girls later in life, saying: “At camp, girls make unforgettable memories and leave for home forever changed".
“By teaching classic outdoor skills like building a fire, canoeing, fishing and horseback riding, we are able to connect girls to their leadership potential,” she added.
So, it seems ‘girl power’ is thriving and it looks like it is only a matter of time before we have a female bushcraft presenter adorning our TV screens to give Bear Grylls a run for his money.
At Greenman Bushcraft we don’t need to be convinced about the value of what the great outdoors has to offer. To those seasoned practitioners of bushcraft among you or if you are sampling the finer arts for the first time, we have a wide variety of accessories to suit everyone.