Vermont Outdoors Woman

Stories From Doe Camp

 Home    |    Membership Information Contact Us   Events Calendar  Custom Designed Programs   |   Winter Doe Camp photos




Dear VOW,

I attended Doe Camp at Jay Peak this past June, 2008, then I decided to try deer hunting. This is my first New York buck.


And this is my first Vermont buck (on my birthday!).

Diane L



Dear VOW,
At the June 2008 Doe Camp I learned to make fire.  My successful experience was so overwhelming that it has taken me this long to calm down enough to write to you about it!
"Making Fire" was high on my list of things to do before I die, what has recently become known as a bucket list.  I am still at a loss for words to adequately describe my feelings.  Thrill, elation, joy, giggles, awe, satisfaction are words that do not do justice to this moment in my life.
I thought my initial reaction/emotions could not be surpassed.  Boy, was I ever wrong! 
When I came home and made fire for my best friend [who, lucky for me, is also my husband Ron], the look in his eyes when I put the ember in the nest and first gently blew on it gave me pride and humility.  How could I do such a wondrous and magical thing?  And now, even all those feelings have been eclipsed! 
I just arrived home from spending a couple hours with my [science/history teacher] husband and his eighth grade students.  Ron had asked me to try to make fire for his students since it fit perfectly into their curriculum.  I must say I was very nervous since Sarah, my Doe Camp instructor, said fire starters are successful only about 75% of the time; I had already been successful with each of my first three attempts, so the odds for today were against me.
But, I DID IT!  I first shared with the kids notes from Sarah about types of wood, measurement for tools of the fire kit, etc.  Then we went outside to give it a whirl.  While it did take me 40 minutes, the kids were enthralled from their first sight of smoke...and supportive and appreciative throughout.  I cannot begin to tell you the fulfillment I felt when, placing the ember in the nest and gently blowing, the kids were totally silent; nor the exhilaration when, as the flame finally shot up, they clapped and cheered!
So, not only has Sarah and VOW helped me reach a life-long personal goal, you have given me a gift to share with others.  I am forever humbled by your impact on my life and eternally grateful.  I cannot wait to go to Doe Camp next year and find out what is the next momentous thing I will learn! 
Martha Dukeshire Savageau
Benson, Vermont


VOW Member and 06-07 Doe Camper Kathleen Greenmun leaves this month to spend two years in Botswana with the Peace Corps.  She writes:

"Botswana is a country a little smaller in size than Texas, located just north of South Africa.  The Kalahari Desert covers 70 percent of its land surface.  Summers (November through April) are hot.  Winters tend to get bitingly cold except in the most northern part.  Rainfall is moderate from November to March and then, except occasionally in June and July, stops altogether.
I will be one of 15 volunteers in the "Life Skills Capacity Building" project and my title will be "Life Skills Technical Advisor."  Botswana has the world's second highest HIV infection rate (after Swaziland).  One out of three of its citizens is infected.  54 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected.  The life expectancy in 1990 was 64;  in 2005 it was 34 which (along with Swaziland) is the shortest in the world. At current risk levels, UNAIDS projects that about 85% of 15 year old boys will be infected with HIV in their lifetime.
We will be trying to get adolescents and teenagers to understand the ways HIV is transmitted and encourage them to make the kinds of choices that will keep them from getting infected.  We will work in schools, create after school programs, and work with parents."

Good Luck Kathleen!




Doe Camp Instructors on National ABC Radio - The Satellite Sisters

Crazy for Kayaking!
Ok, it’s our first day at Satellite Sisters Camp GoForBroke…and we’re going Kayaking! Stuart Farina, owner of Dog Paddle Kayaks in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, guides Monica through her next kayaking adventure!   07/23/2007 streamed downloaded

Hiking Survival!
Today at Camp GoForBroke, we’re heading for some hard core hikes! Join us as Camping expert and Global Survival Instructor Jessica Krebs reveals the secrets to smiling through your next serious hike! 07/24/2007 streamed downloaded

An ATV Adventure!
Is there nothing we won’t try at Camp GoForBroke!? Today we’re throwing caution to the wind, grabbing our gloves and helmets, and heading cross country on our ATVs! Bruce Bennett, Chief Instructor of ATV Safety, gives us some expert advice on embracing an amazing ATV excursion! 07/25/2007 streamed downloaded


Doe Camp on Vermont Public Radio

Doe Camp
Helen Labun Jordan

 MONTPELIER, VT (2007-07-24)

(HOST) Several times each year, the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association organizes Doe Camp - a three-day, outdoors skills camp for women. This year, commentator Helen Labun Jordan went for the first time.

(LABUN JORDAN) As I packed to go to for Doe Camp this summer, my main concern was that one of the other women there might have seen me at King Kong. King Kong was a very traumatic movie for me. Luckily, I'd brought tissues, which came in handy when I realized, halfway through, where the plot was headed. And while I didn't expect camp to involve hunting giant animated apes - the line of logic from King Kong to Bambi to what you would hunt in a place called Doe Camp wasn't hard to follow.

But it turns out that Doe Camp had less to do with Bambi than it did with the sort of overnight camps I attended as a kid. We started with making nametags from discs of wood on a string. Then everything I brought got wet in a cold rain. Very much like my Girl Scout memories. . . and by the second morning I was proudly shooting a foam bear target full of arrows. One hike, one lesson in cooking venison, several rounds at the shooting range, a whole slew of arrows, and three game dinners later, I had settled back into summer camp mode.

I thought I remembered what summer camp had been like. But I'd forgotten how the activities there seemed normal. I had once assumed that all grown ups knew how to tie a fishing lure, identify medicinal plants, build shelters, and cook full meals over an open fire. . . and, naturally, I would learn these skills as I grew up. The truth is that my survival skills consist almost entirely of knowing that cow vetch is edible. Which will come in handy if there's ever a salad garnish emergency.

At Doe Camp we had examples of people my age who had learned all the skills I'd expected to know by now. At least enough to eat by. They'd traded in cow vetch for Lake Champlain salmon poached with wild leeks. Or barbecued moose ribs. Perhaps with a dessert of honeycomb and violets.

I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that the closest I'll get to fending for myself food-wise is a trip to the farmers' market. And yet it's remarkably easy to rekindle a childhood fascination with things like uncovering a wild black raspberry patch or fashioning fishing line from string baited with honeysuckle berries. Call it Little House on the Prairie syndrome or simply Darwin, but it's hard to escape the allure of this kind of basic control over well-being. The same can probably be said for things like orienteering in the age of GPS, or building shelters in the age of luxury camping gear.

True self-sufficiency remains a distant concept for me. Three days at camp can only do so much. I still need my edible plants clearly labeled and I'm not ready to take up arms against anything cuter than a clay pigeon. But even though I may never reach total independence, summer once again seems incomplete without at least trying.

Helen Labun Jordan works at the Vermont Council on Rural Development.

© Copyright 2007, VPR



Women and the Wilderness

Jay, Vermont - June 22, 2007

Women from all over the state are hitting the woods this weekend.

This is the sixth annual Doe camp at Jay Peak Resort. Nearly 100 women are taking part in the three day outdoor adventure that has them taking classes in everything from chainsaw safety to bicycle maintenance and repair.

"It's an environment where women can get involved in the outdoors in a non-competitive manor, meet new people who also are interested in getting involved and for the people who are involved, it really builds confidence and empowerment and to just have a lot of fun," said Hilary Hess, of the Vermont Outdoors Woman.

There will be another Doe Camp held in September.

Beth Parent - WCAX News




Doe Camp Allows Women to Discover Wild Side
Bolton, Vermont - June 24, 2006

Building fires - sighting guns. Sound like deer camp? Actually - it's Doe Camp. And it has women heading to the woods.

In Bolton, sparks are flying. "This course is the essentials of fire making," said Lorene Wapotich, one instructors at the weekend event. "The method we are using is called the bow and drill."

This is doe camp, a time for women to get out in the wild. "This afternoon I am going fly fishing tomorrow kayaking," said Julie Moeykens of Essex Junction.

During the weekend women get to try their hands at something new. "If you have never done it - you are standing in the woods - how do you make a fire? I don't know, and coming here and seeing how to do it, all you have to do is see it once and then you know that you can do it and it's a real confidence builder," said Alceste Gallo of Middlesex.

From fire building to the firing range, women learn gun safety and accuracy.

"I think it is good to break down the barriers and get them to be very comfortable and at ease with what we are doing here, said John Kapusta, a gun instructor.

Every year several Doe Camps are held around the state and they are increasing in popularity. At this Doe Camp alone about 100 people signed up. "It's a very supportive group of women and everyone has a positive attitude and they cheer you on," said Tisa DeForest, who like many women here, has never held a gun before. "It's scary but it is empowering."

A weekend getaway, proving that women can rule in the woods.

Kristin Carlson - Channel 3 News



The Wild Ones!

What happens when suburban women come to play by Mother Nature's rules at Vermont Doe Camp

MONKTON, Vt. -- Here's something a suburban girl doesn't learn every day: When you build a survival shelter out of dead branches in snowy woods, pile the white stuff on top for insulation before you wriggle in. Or, before you go hiking, make sure you stuff dryer lint in a pocket in case you need to make an emergency fire.

I had learned to navigate malls and expressway exits long before I ever hiked a steep hill. My husband is convinced my greatest talent in the great outdoors is tailgating. And we have largely avoided camping since one ill-planned island adventure two years ago that combined one tiny tent (sans rain fly), two teenagers, and a driving rainstorm.

Learning how to hunt, ice fish, snowmobile, and spot scat was never a high priority for me, or my girlfriends. Sure, since we were small we liked to call ourselves wild. But a lot of that, in recent years, had to do with late-night bar scenes. Every time we actually got into the wild, we wound up calling for help.

The Vermont Winter Doe Camp, offered in the foothills of the Green Mountains, was going to change all that for a childhood friend and me. One of a growing number of outdoor programs around the country designed for women, the winter camp offered a chance to connect with nature, reconnect with each other, and -- learn how to carve wood with a chainsaw! Talk about powerful sisterhood.

Better yet, there was no nature sleeping: Camp instructors recommended comfy beds at local inns to recover from each day's activities.

Vicki and I spent much of the first two hours of the four-hour drive from Boston giggling and making incomprehensible mewling noises while trying to pretend we were does prancing through the forest. The next two hours were spent in a driving snowstorm, where visibility extended only to the hood of the car. The mewling stopped. Nature was engulfing us.

By the next morning -- still in heavy snow -- we were at the Doe Camp's first Field Naturalist class, trudging through deep woods on snowshoes with two other women and learning that some people actually make soup from lichens that grow on trees. They are rich in vitamin C, but Grant Mitchell, the knowledgeable executive director of Catamount Ranch, the adventure/wilderness training school where the Doe Camp was held, said they taste terrible.

Doe Camp is held three times a year in Vermont; the next program is in June. Sponsored by the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association and Vermont Outdoors Woman, the summer and fall programs draw more than 100 women of all ages who want to learn how to paddle a canoe or tie a fly, marksmanship, mountain biking, archery, or wilderness survival, among other outdoor pursuits. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine have similar programs, offering weekend or one-day events for learning everything from how to forage for wild edibles to shooting a bow and arrow.

This was the first winter Doe Camp in Vermont and the two-day course we attended cost $185 and attracted six women. Vicki and I were excited to try our hand at dog sledding and ice fishing, but the winter's wacky warm weather meant the ice was too thin to venture onto and there was not enough packed snow on the ground for sleds.

No matter. Mitchell came up with other choices for the weekend's four, 2 1/2-hour courses: tracking and habitat, snowmobiling 101, care and feeding of firearms, fly tying, outdoor photography, and habitat enhancement. Plus, Kate Earley was on hand to teach us how to take a stump and carve a bear out of it -- with the help of a gas-guzzling, razor-sharp chainsaw.

The women at the camp were there for a slew of reasons. Mona Karia, 30, of Montpelier, who grew up in Tanzania, said she had wanted to try something different and soon became enamored with making a figurine with a chainsaw. Barb Young, 46, of Orwell, said her husband goes on plenty of camping trips, but ''I saw it advertised in the paper and it sounded like fun."

It was tons of fun. Some women have always responded to the call of the wild, but programs specifically designed to introduce them to nature started about 15 years ago. In 1991, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point began a program called ''Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" that Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire have adopted. The growth in women's programs comes at a time when the hunting industry is starting to market itself directly to women.

So far, the programs seem to be paying off. Surveys show that the number of female hunters is steadily increasing, as is female participation in activities such as snowmobiling and camping. The National Wild Turkey Federation's magazine Women in the Outdoors began in 1998 as a membership benefit. Circulation has risen from 19,000 to 45,000 in that time.

Now I've joined the ranks of outdoor enthusiasts. Although my toes froze into beige popsicles at times during Doe Camp -- and Vicki and I never did see a deer -- I took away a stunning amount of new knowledge. I never knew I should escape from a bear by slowly walking backward and avoiding eye contact. I never knew many outdoor jackets are made with a common zipper so people can connect to each other and conserve heat in emergency situations.

During our field naturalist course, we discussed tracking, although it was hard to practice in the fresh fallen snow. We observed a 170-year-old sugar maple, an amazing sight on the New England landscape that has been logged so completely that few old trees remain.

For the second course, Vicki decided to have a little fun snowmobiling. I decided to make a fool of myself trying to build a survival shelter with Young and Ann Margaret McKillop, who gave up a stressful Maryland lifestyle six years ago to find rustic peace in Vermont.

Shelter building is often the difference between life and death in the woods and Mitchell, an extraordinarily patient teacher, had us find a depression in the ground with a fallen tree trunk nearby that could serve as the main support beam. We then positioned dead branches around our beam to shape our structure. We cut down huge fir branches to cover the roof and then the shelter floor.

In the most amusing segment, Young, McKillop, and I wormed our way inside. It was warmer than outside, but still far from the Hilton. I asked how soon the rescue teams would come.

Doe Camp is not that stressful; there is plenty of downtime for chatting, warming by the fire, and just hanging out. During one such break, Mitchell gave tips on personal security in the outdoors. Vicki and I had to leave early -- families were calling back home -- but before we did, we received our Doe Camp certificates and goodie bags of outdoor treats from area companies and organizations.

We spent the drive home catching up on marriages, children, and jobs. Girl talk, no mewling. We promised each other we would camp together soon, but only if we spent the following night at a spa.

I dropped Vicki off, and headed home, a newly minted camper ready for her next big adventure.

Contact Beth Daley at  

Sponsored by the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association, Vermont Outdoors Woman, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife. or call 802-425-6211.


Kudos for Ugly Dog Hunting!!
Hi.  I just wanted to tell you that I ordered a hunting collar and vest for my dog, Shiro, from Ugly Dog, and it is the best vest I have ever had.  I have had so many problems with vests in the past;  this one is light, stays in place, and dries fast.  The dog and I have been going into the woods deeper and longer since doe camp.  I now carry a compass and have used it several times.  It’s amazing how easy it is to get disoriented in the woods when you leave the security of human paths and fields. We are having fun.  Margot Lasher

Learn more about The Ugly Dog Hunting Company at:



Hi Everyone-
I attended Doe Camp this summer at Magic Mountain.  Although I had been shooting my bow since April, I took beginning archery to make sure my form was ok.  I then went to Archery Hunting and Tree Stand Safety and ended with the 3-d Archery shoot.  In addition, I am the goofball by the pool with my archery gear while the others are relaxing in the sun!  But, as you can see from the attached picture, my efforts as well as the fabulous efforts of the instructors paid off.  On my first hunt ever, I made a great heart shot on this 130 pound doe.  I just wanted to share my excitement with the VOW group and am looking forward to next summer's Doe Camp.
Thanks for a great experience-
Leslie Dionne
Financial Aid Services Coordinator

Congratulations Leslie!!


Dayle's First Turkey! 

"I want to thank all the programs, all the instructors in those programs and the woman hunters who have helped me gain the passion, skills and experience to make this day possible.   I encourage any woman who even thinks she wants to learn how to hunt to participant in programs such as Vermont Outdoors Woman's annual Doe Camp.  You have nothing to lose and much to gain!"
"Thank you sincerely,"
Dayle Vance Goad



Send Us Your Stories!!

Vermont Outdoors Woman
P.O. Box 10
North Ferrisburg, VT. 05473
1 800-425-8747  (802) 425-6211