May 22, 2022 8 min read
We believe that getting outdoors makes us better humans and that exploring nature has the power to relax us, challenge us and to inspire us, it certainly inspires everything we do. For the uninitiated though, getting outside of your comfort zone can be daunting so joining a group can be a fantastic way to get involved.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Alice Keegan from Adventure Girls Club and Sarah Gerrish from Wonderful Wild Women who started two of these adventure communities, both aiming to inspire women and bring down the barriers that prevent women from realising their full potential and going on outdoor adventures. They talked us through their inspiration for starting these groups, the importance of building communities, top adventure tips and more.
Alice Keegan - Adventure Girls Club (Credit: Tracey Hosey)
Sarah Gerrish - Wonderful Wild Women
First off, we asked Alice and Sarah what inspired them to set up their communities;
“I had the idea to start Adventure Girls Club when I was out on a solo wild camp in Dartmoor last summer, I was receiving a lot of messages from women asking for advice and saying they would love to go on adventures like I do but just don’t feel confident or don’t know where to start. So I thought I’d create a place where they can learn the skills and safety aspects of adventuring as well as building confidence and feeling supported by a community of other women in the same position.” - Alice
Wild Swimming with Adventure Girls Club
“Wonderful Wild Women was set up back in 2016 at a point when I had come to realise how important being active and outdoors was for my mental health. At the time, the balance of work and play had been thrown too far into the work zone as I navigated work, family life & continuing my studies to become an Architect, which as a result meant I had hit a pretty low point. It was impulsive and unplanned; Initially meant as inspiration for myself to keep going and come the summer months I’d be able to do the things I loved again. I also grew up in an era where the advertised narrative of what an active and ‘outdoorsy’ female was, was quite a specific aesthetic. I guess I wanted to challenge that and celebrate those who were out there just doing the things that brought them joy, and hoped that this would then encourage and provide opportunity for others to do the same, whilst meeting likeminded people.” - Sarah
Wonderful Wild Women Outing (Credit: James Kirby)
You’ve both built pretty amazing and thriving adventure communities that are growing in popularity. Why do you think that community element of exploring the outdoors is so important?
What is you’d say that makes your community special?
“The Adventure Girls Club is for women and non-binary people who want to get out on more adventures - not only by meeting other like-minded people on group hikes and events but also empower them to be able to organise and action their own adventures with courage and confidence.” - Alice
“I’m a strong believer that we have a lot to learn from each other. Regardless of who you are. The benefit of a community in today’s context is it nudges us out of our daily bubble, and increases interactions with others and those interactions carry huge benefits particularly when those others have come from a life full of different experiences. We are offered many insights into someone else’s approach or views, and often these insights and perspectives can be very different to our own and they can challenge our own perceptions. Inspire us to push beyond that comfort zone and achieve things we may not have previously thought we could. Our focus is on a woman-centred community, but anyone is welcome along. Most of our meets are for all regardless of your gender identity and some people feel more comfortable bringing along a supportive peer initially. I’m also conscious of trying to provide a range of different meets with varying levels of intensity and skill requirements so that hopefully there is something for as many people as possible.” - Sarah
Adventure Girls Club
Wonderful Wild Women
What is it you’d most like to achieve with your community?
“It’s quite simple really - to help more women get out in nature and on adventures! It’s had such a big impact on my life that I just want others to benefit from it too.” - Alice
“For me personally, it makes it all worthwhile when I see people who have met through Wonderful Wild Women exchanging details and making plans for future connections. Even better when those plans materialise and they become great friends supporting each other in their outdoor joys. It’s so important for me that the growth of the community remains authentic and organic, and because of that I don’t have any set goals for the future. If the past few years have shown anything, it’s the need to adapt and be in the present.” - Sarah
Alice Keegan - Adventure Girls Club
What tips would you give for people wanting to start their own community?
“Just start talking about it to people! As soon as I had the idea I was telling everyone and anyone who would (and would not) listen about this club, it really helped me get an idea of who it would help and start getting the word out. Don’t overthink it but just do it! I just started hosting free hikes in my area and chatting to people and then it just slowly built up into what it is now. It’s still got a long way to go too, I have so many ideas for how it will progress in the future! And finally, it helps to remember WHY you are setting the community up - remind yourself of your values when things get hard, it helps you keep pushing through.” - Alice
“I think I would probably say start small & optimise on social media. It’s always worth doing a little research in your local area though to see what’s already about. There have been so many different communities popping up lately as people seek out that connection after feeling so isolated.” - Sarah
Wonderful Wild Women Outing
And for those who just want to explore independently, what advice would you give them?
“•Fear is your friend! Accept it and utilise it to keep you safe. Instead of aiming to be “fearless" aim to be courageous.
•Start small and work up - get out in your local area and on small walks and gradually work your way up to bigger multi-day adventures. Lots of people throw themselves in the deep end and then quit when they feel overwhelmed!
•Always tell someone where you’re going and research what to do in an emergency
•There’s no right or wrong way to adventure, go at your own pace, stop as many times as you like and go however many miles you want. It’s about having fun and enjoying it, not feeling pressured or out of your depth.” - Alice
There is no doubt that getting outdoors has a myriad of positive effects on both our mental and physical well-being. What benefits have you experienced by getting out on adventures?
“For me, getting out on adventures puts all of my worries into perspective and reminds me of how good life can be. It helps me work through all of my negative thoughts and clears my head, meaning I’m a better person to be around. And it creates a deep connection to myself, a deep connection to the world around me and helps me feel part of something bigger.” - Alice
“There are so many benefits to just getting outdoors, it doesn’t always have to be a big adventure or challenge. There is so much research out there now, but for me, I love seeing the changing landscape through the seasons. When you ‘adventure’ or access outdoor spaces throughout the year you begin to notice the seasonal transitions and this can help to build an attachment and appreciation for nature and our natural landscapes. This I think is a huge benefit if we want to encourage more people to protect these places for the future. In terms of the more immediate & personal day to day benefits; it provides time away from our screens, some time for ourselves. Incorporating activity can help to increase endorphins, which in turn have many positive impacts on our health and well-being. These moments can provide coping mechanisms during stressful periods or help us to understand ourselves better, push our boundaries and challenge ourselves so that we feel better equipped, over time, to deal with difficult periods or situations.” - Sarah
Wild Swimming with Adventure Girls Club
Wonderful Wild Women
Thank you so much to Alice and Sarah for sharing this with us! You can find out more about Adventure Girls Club and Wonderful Wild Women on their Websites.
We respect your privacy.
Comments will be approved before showing up.