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Becoming an Outdoors-Woman

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Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) and Beyond BOW are programs designed to teach women outdoor skills. These programs provide women with information, encouragement and hands-on instruction in outdoor skills such as fishing, shooting, archery, hunting, trapping, outdoor photography, map and compass, survival, camping, canoeing, and outdoor cooking. Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops are designed primarily for women who have little or no experience with outdoor activities. These are three-day workshops that offer many different classes over the course of a weekend.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman student practices archery
BOW student
practices archery

Beyond BOW workshops are another opportunity for women to learn outdoor skills and are anything we offer that is not the traditional three-day BOW workshop. They may be "next step" classes for women who have completed a beginner class at a BOW workshop. They may be one day, one subject classes. They may even be an actual hunt, canoe trip, or camp-out.

BOW and Beyond BOW workshops are open to anyone aged 18 and over - past participants have ranged in age from late teens to the mid-eighties!

View the photo gallery from past BOW workshops on DEC's Flickr page.


"This and previous workshops have really changed my life. I participate in so many activities that I never would have tried otherwise. My husband doesn't hunt or fish, so when I go out to do these things I'm alone, and the education I got here gave me the start I needed to get going and continue enjoying these activities."

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshop Participants

"I came here feeling a little out of place and intimidated and am leaving feeling very comfortable and excited about trying some of my new found fishing and hiking skills."

"This program fulfilled a lifelong yearning I have had. Thank you."

"Great instructors, every single one was high quality: knowledgeable, practical & kind."

"I had a great time, I learned a lot and really enjoyed myself. I would highly recommend this program to any woman interested in learning more about our great outdoors. I'm looking forward to going again next year, there are so many other things I would love to try. Without these workshops I would never be able to try out so many new things. I also really enjoyed being with other women that would like to fish & hunt."

"It is a life changing experience! I wanted to learn skills that my husband, brother and father never had a chance to teach me. And to challenge myself without the guys around, I felt this was my chance."

"This is an extremely wonderful program that brings women together - all ages, all walks of life, with similar interests. It empowers women to take on a challenge that they may have been intimidated to take on their own."

Upcoming BOW Workshops

2017 BOW Workshop

This workshop is FULL. No more registrations are being accepted.

Registration is now OPEN for the September 15-17, 2017 BOW workshop at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George in the Adirondacks. The registration fee is $320 per person. More than 40 different classes are being offered.

Print out the 2017 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Course Guide (PDF) (150 KB) and the 2017 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Registration Form (PDF) (138 KB).

Another form you may need: Requirements for obtaining a Hunter Education Certificate or a Trapper Education Certificate (PDF) (87 KB).

Registration is by a lottery. Mail your registration form and check by June 19 to be eligible for the lottery.

BOW workshops fill very quickly. Sign up for our BOW email notification listserve (blue DEC Delivers box at the top of the page) to find out about new BOW offerings and when registration opens. If you have questions, please call (518) 402-8862, e-mail us, or write to: NYS Outdoors-Woman, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

Beyond BOW Workshops

Beyond BOW workshops are any event other than the 3-day, 30+ courses BOW workshop listed above. To get the most updated information on all Beyond BOW events, enter your email address in the blue DEC Delivers box at the top of this page.

Adirondack Events with Adirondack Foothills Guide Service

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) instructors and licensed outdoor guides, Sheila and Sonny Young, are offering the following outdoor adventures and skills workshops in the Adirondacks this year. To register for any of these Adirondack events, or to get more information, contact Sheila and Sonny Young at Adirondack Foothills Guide Service, LLC at
(518) 359-8194, or by email at or through the Adirondack Foothills website (link leaves DEC's website).

The following events all take place near Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks:

Snowshoe Round Pond Esker and Fens
Saturday, February 11, 2017 Whether permitting
$30* (plus optional snowshoe rental)

Stalking the Adirondack Ostrich: Ferns, Flowers & Trees of the Adirondacks
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Become Skilled with Map & Compass
Saturday, June 24, 2017.
Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Complete Hiker - Fun and Safety in the Wildlands
Saturday, July 15, 2017

Adirondack Byway: A Raquette River Paddle
Saturday, August 19, 2017
$65* (plus option of canoe/kayak rental)

Wilderness First Aid, 9-hour certification program
Sunday, September 24, 2017

High Peak Jaunt: Views from the Summit
Friday, September 29, 2017

*Special BOW group event pricing

Registration required. Cost does not include meals or lodging.

Women's Guided Fishing Trips on Lake Ontario

Enjoy a 6 hour guided fishing trip for king salmon, coho salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout and/or steelhead with Captain Dave Wilson aboard his 28' Baha Cruiser. All fishing equipment is provided. No fishing experience necessary. The boat has an enclosed bathroom with plumbing! Open to women age 18 or over.

July 9, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
July 23, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
July 30, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
August 5, 2017 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
August 6, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
All depart from Oswego Marina, Oswego, NY

Fee: $125 - $150 per person depending on the number of women on the boat.

Pre-registration is required.
Contact Captain Dave Wilson at 315-481-5716 or

Women's Kayaking Tours and Skills Sessions with Seabirds International

Seabirds International, in cooperation with the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program, is offering a number of woman only kayaking tours and skill sessions this summer. To register for any of these kayaking events, or for more information, contact Andrea Vaillancourt-Alder at (716) 392-2708

Kayak skills and safety training

May 20: 11:30-1:30, Cost $80 reduced rate ($120 value): Olean, NY, Linn Launch, Steam Valley Road, Portville, NY
June 20: 10-12, Buffalo River launching from Ohio Street, DEC launch site

Women's Wednesday Skill Sessions (5:30 pm - 7:30 pm)
Quality instruction to suit your needs. Minimum boat size 13 feet.

Level 1 skills* June 21st: 18 Mile Creek and Lake Erie
Level 2 skills** July 26: Sunset Bay, Irving, NY
Level 3 skills*** August 9: Gallagher Beach, Buffalo
Wednesday sessions are offered at a reduced rate of $70 for two hours ($120 value), a portion of which goes to the DEC BOW program.
Time: 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Venue subject to change depending on weather. Boats available to rent for $25.00.
*Beginner - New to kayaking and want to learn.
**Advanced beginner - Some formal instruction, can forward paddle, steer the kayak, move sideways and prevent capsize in flat water. Can paddle 3-5 miles in a sheltered environment.
***Intermediate - Can perform all of the desired skills of an advanced beginner, can paddle backwards and maintain a course in wind. Can self-rescue and peer rescue in flat water and can paddle 6-8 miles in protected environment.

Adirondack Women's Only Kayak Skills weekend - September 14-18, 2017

You will be working on Level 2 & Level 3 skills whilst enjoying a beautiful setting with our own private launch access. Food will be sourced locally from organic farms. 'Pamper activities' for 'off the water' time can also be arranged for additional cost.
NDK sea kayaks are available to rent for this event at an additional $125.
Cost for the weekend and training: $750.00 (includes accommodations, training and four evening meals)

For More Information

The best way to get up to date information about BOW and Beyond BOW events, when BOW registration opens and other programs of interest to outdoors women, is to sign up for the BOW email notification listserve. To sign up, look for the blue "DEC Delivers" box in the upper right of this page. Enter your email address to get started.

To contact us, please call (518) 402-8862, e-mail us, or write to: NYS Outdoors-Woman, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4754.