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Young, Wild, and Female: Gendered Experiences at an Outdoor Adventure Camp

Dooley, Jessica
The outdoors and activities associated with them have historically been the domain of men, and studies have shown women to face unique challenges both to entering and continuing their participation in the outdoors. This is unfortunate given the fact that such a novel environment provides numerous benefits for both people in general and women specifically. This study examines the experiences of women as outdoor leaders in a conceptually and physically male dominated environment. Using a method of covert participation at a large outdoor adventure camp, this research demonstrates the special challenges that female staff members face, how they tackle these challenges, and the ways in which they navigate this gendered setting. These challenges include the experience of being a woman in a highly masculine environment, sexist remarks, and campers' expectations of gender roles to be carried out. Both gender conforming and nonconforming techniques were displayed by individual female staff members to navigate these obstacles. This work adds a unique perspective to the current body of research in the field of gender and the outdoors, and it increases our understanding of what exactly individuals must deal with as women in this particular environment and how their challenges can be confronted and overcome.
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