LA PORTE CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – Hunting, kayaking and surviving in the wilderness — they’re important skills to learn, and this week, a group of 29 girls are getting a shot at them.
It’s all a part of a three-day camp called, ‘Outdoor Journey for Girls.’ The camp is celebrating their 28th year. It’s geared toward girls ages 12 through 15.
For many of the campers, they’re leaving home for the first time, making it a fun, exciting experience.
The overnight camp is held at Hickory Hills Park, a 723-acre piece of land tucked away in the cornfields of rural La Porte City.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials visit the camp and present on a variety of topics. The girls spend all day outdoors, learning about everything from canoeing, to water safety, camping survival, archery and fishing. At the end of camp, the girls are familiar with handling guns. They get certified in hunter education and shoot a 20 gauge and a .22 rifle.
Lori Eberhard is an organizer for the camp. She also works for the Iowa Women in Natural Resources. She said the goal is to prepare the girls for real-world situations. They leave with a better understanding of their environment.
“If you do get into a situation, ”How do we handle it?’ ‘How do we take care of ourselves and make sure we’re not in a worse situation?’ So I think having those little exposures — it might not seem like a lot right now, but you know, when you find yourself in a similar situation, [those skills trigger],” she explained.
Eberhard said her favorite part is seeing the campers grow in just three days. She said studies show girls are more likely to try something new or different when they’re with a group of their friends.
“If it’s the first time they’ve ever shot a bow and arrow and hit the target, you know, first time they go fishing and catch a fish, or they’ve never been in a kayak before or canoe, and they just realize it’s not that hard,” Eberhard said. “Anybody can do this.”
Izzie Birker, 12, attended the camp for the first time. She said she believes girls can do anything boys can. She plans to use the skills she’s learned when she hunts with her grandfather.
“I would say this isn’t really stuff that a guy would do or a girl would do, it’s really stuff that anyone can learn how to do,” she said with a smile.
There is one more camping session this summer from July 31 August 2 in Clover Woods near Madrid. For more information about the camp and how to sign up, visit: https://www.iwinr.com/outdoor-journey-for-girls