Weekend Recap: Outessa Rocks for Women
We’re stoked to be part of the REI Outessa weekends as the official hiking partner, and proud of our KEEN Ambassadors who are joining to lead workshops on issues that they individually champion. KEEN Ambassador and Outdoor Afro CEO Rue Mapp recently returned and shared this recap.
It’s been a few weeks since I had the chance to visit Kirkwood, California, at the REI Outessa event. In collaboration with several outdoor brands, this was a curated weekend of activities geared toward women of all abilities in California’s beautiful Sierras. After a scenic drive several hours from my home in Oakland, I was glad to arrive and represent KEEN and to present on the topic of getting kids outdoors.
For me, the sold-out women-focused weekend was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
- KEEN Ambassador Rue Mapp
From morning to night in the Outessa village there were delicious, healthy meal options served family-style. Over these meals I had the chance to make connections with women who trekked from far and wide (the farthest participant I met was from Mexico City) to find encouragement and inspiration to try as many outdoor activities possible.
Activities began early with 6 a.m. sunrise yoga, an inspirational talk over a delicious breakfast, and then participants could head out to take on an outdoor adventure. Outessa women could choose mountain biking, hiking, camping, climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, and many more courses organized throughout the day. The KEEN booth was a popular gathering place where participants could “check out” a pair of Terradora shoes to scramble trails for the day.
Many participants had never tried outdoor activities like those hosted at Outessa, while others were intrepid adventure travelers, ultra-marathoners, triathletes, and more.
Outessa was a great way for women to try new things, get familiar with gear that might have seemed intimidating before, and be motivated to get outside more and push themselves. There are activities for every lifestyle and energy level.
- Keena Burt, KEEN facility experience specialist and Outessa participant
Outdoor brands showed up in force to provide lectures, from fellow KEEN Ambassador and environmental leader Meg Haywood Sullivan’s talk on stewardship to workshops teaching skills like how to build a fire using simple tools, cook outside using cast iron, hydration strategies, or even learning to hula!
Just before departing on Sunday, I slipped on my KEEN Whisper sandals and managed to squeeze in a delightful morning kayaking trip with about a dozen women. A courtesy shuttle delivered us to our launch site at nearby Silver Lake, where helpful REI Outdoor School instructors taught us some great stroke techniques that had everyone gliding over the calm, glassy lake under the mountains with ease.
For me, the sold-out women-focused weekend was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was well organized with the highest quality of support and outdoor leadership, making it so easy to feel confident, find camaraderie, and give oneself over to simply being #SweatyDirtyHappy.
I highly recommend an Outessa weekend! I’m grateful for the vision to create an experience that welcomes more people into outdoor experiences, and I hope that my fellow Outessa alums join me in spreading a love of adventure in the outdoors wherever they go!
For more information about Outessa weekends, visit www.outessa.com.