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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. BOW 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.

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 mid-eighties!

woman learning how to shoot a shotgun with the help of an instructor

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

Challenge Yourself

BOW and Beyond BOW Workshops are for you, if you:

  • have always wanted to try outdoor activities, but have never had the opportunity;
  • would like to learn new skills surrounded by supportive and enthusiastic instructors and students; or
  • would like to meet other women interested in the outdoors.

2021 Fall BOW Workshop

women taking kayak class at BOW workshop in Lake George

Where: Silver Bay YMCA, Silver Bay, NY

When: September 10-12, 2021

Cost: $355-$473
(depending on your room choice)

New Classes in 2021: Kayak fishing, intro to tent camping, wild edibles, knot tying, organic soap making, and mountain biking.

You can also sign up for: K-9 first aid, rifle, shotgun, fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, wilderness survival skills, fish and game cooking, archery, bowhunting, and much more!

For details, a complete workshop outline and to register, please visit our new fully-online BOW registration page.

Registration Lottery: Registration is open July 6th-16th, 2021.

  • Once you have completed your registration form you will be sent a confirmation email. Once registration is closed, 75 participants will be chosen at random in the lottery drawing.
  • You will receive the results of the registration lottery in an email on July 23rd announcing if you were chosen, with a link to the BOW Square website for secure online payment.
  • Cost includes all meals, lodging, instruction and class equipment (except where an additional equipment fee is noted in course descriptions).

You must be at least 18 years old to attend this workshop.

Woman holding fish during BOW fishing course on Lake George

Testimonials from BOW Students

"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."

"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."

"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."

woman learning to kayak woman on a high ropes course woman practicing archery with targets

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

women learning to paddleboard on river women learning rifle basics from female instructor woman learning how to shoot a rifle with the help of an instructor

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, and you can also follow us on social media.

Women's Guided Fishing Charter
Woman holding large salmon caught on Beyond BOW fishing Charter

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.

Available Dates:

July 12, 2018 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
July 18, 2018 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Aug 14, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Aug 16, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Aug 17, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Sept 11, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Sept 13, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
Sept 17, 2021 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm

Location: Lake Ontario, Oswego, NY

Cost: $600 (for 6-hour trip)
Groups of 4 encouraged

Your trip will be private and not shared with other customers, in order to comply with COVID-19 safety concerns. If you would like to book a trip with fewer than 4 women, the price remains at $600 for the private charter.

Pre-registration is required.
Email Captain Dave Wilson for more information and to book your charter.

Beyond BOW Paddle Camping

Date: August 5-7th, 2021

kayak in river with BOW water bottle on top

Location: Bog River/ Low's Lake (Adirondacks)

Cost: Between $35-$44 (depending on number of participants. Max 5 participants)

BOW instructors Leslie Surprenant, Barb Brenner, and Lydia D'Amato will lead a 3-day, 2-night paddle camping trip on the scenic Bog River and Low's Lake in the west/central Adirondacks. This trip allows for several miles of paddling and requires an approximate .2 mile boat and gear carry.

Participants will engage in trip planning and preparation via Zoom 3 weeks prior to the trip and have the opportunity to practice wilderness skills such as water treatement, fire-making, compass use, and more.


  • Participants must provide their own boats, gear, food, and cooking equipment.
  • Must be 18+ years old to participate.
  • Paddling experience is required. Must be at least a novice paddler and be able to manage your craft in moderate wind and waves.

Contact Leslie Surprenant by July 9th, 2021 for more information and to register.

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 list. 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) 402-8963 or e-mail us.