Wilderness a bonding experience for women

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With work commitments and life’s daily stresses, it can be difficult to find time for peace and quiet. Women’s Wilderness Weekend of Rhode Island provides an entire weekend of bliss for hard-working women who want a brief and relaxing escape.

Women’s Wilderness Weekend of Rhode Island is a non-profit organization currently offering two weekend retreats per year where women 18 years and older can connect with themselves, each other and with nature. The group was established as part of the University of Rhode Island in 1975 and was later created as a non-profit organization in approximately 2001.

Mary Carlos, president of Women’s Wilderness attended her first weekend retreat in 1995 after her sister told her of her experience. Carlos returned for a retreat in 2007 and has been on the board ever since.

According to Carlos, she attended her first couple of retreats alone and immediately made new friends with the other women, and now she meets new people each year and makes countless new memories.

“I always come home with a new memory from the weekend,” Carlos said when describing her past experiences with the retreats.

According to Carlos, she has had so many memorable experiences that she could not choose a favorite, instead saying that spending time with friends and making new memories with them was one of her favorite takeaways from the weekends.

One way women become friends and connect with one another during the weekends is during the opening and closing circles, during which all of the participants sit and talk at the beginning and end of the retreat. While the opening circle is mostly filled with icebreaker games, Mary described the closing circle as more intimate. During this time, women usually open up more about their personal lives to the other members of the group. Before the advent of social networking sites like Facebook, women would also become emotional during this time because the closing circle signified the last time they would see each other until the next retreat.

Carlos has not only made new friends from her weekend retreat experiences, but she has gained new skills after taking classes during the retreats and later teaching some of these skills to new members. For instance, she learned how to make lip balms and soaps during weekend retreats and later taught these skills to future retreat participants.

In addition to Carlos, a former participant of a weekend retreat, Heather Labenski, learned how to knit at the retreat and now has a business, HeathKnits, where she teaches others how to knit in different workshops.

“When I see women having a good time and laughing and joking and enjoying the weekend and learning new things, that makes me happy,” Carlos said.

Some other classes that have been offered in the past include photography and jewelry making, and various craft activities. Along with these classes, the retreats include recreational activities, like hiking, kayaking and yoga. However, retreat attendees do not have an obligation to participate in any of the scheduled events if they do not wish to, according to Carlos.

“Yes, you can go out in nature, but you can stay in the house all weekend…you do what you want to do. There’s no set anything.”

The only rule for the weekend is that there are no drugs or alcohol allowed in order to be more sensitive to participants who may be involved in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Carlos also adds that women do not need substances to enjoy the weekend’s festivities.

“You don’t need it. There is so much fun to be had that you don’t need to be drinking.”

While women are connecting with one another during the weekend, they also have the opportunity to help each other and future participants through donating towards a scholarship program. Named after a past participant of the program, the Women’s Wilderness-Leslie Scott Memorial Scholarship Fund allows women the opportunity to afford the cost of the program. Carlos received the scholarship after she was laid off during the Recession and needed assistance with affording the program.

In addition to helping each other, Women’s Wilderness Weekend of Rhode Island participates in a service project for each retreat to help people in need. For this month’s weekend event, they are helping the Amos House in Providence, a company that helps people help themselves out of homelessness and poverty. The participants of the weekend retreat can help by donating goods at the retreat that will be sent to the Amos House.

The upcoming retreat will take place Oct. 19-21 at the Episcopal Conference Center in Pascoag, Rhode Island and will feature events like a Rocky Horror Picture Show Movie Night and Costume Party, an apple pie baking class, yoga for meditation and mindfulness, hiking, kayaking, and many other healthy and rewarding experiences. The cost of the weekend is $264. Limited scholarships are available. For more information call 213-9699, email wwwofri@gmail.com or visit womenswildernessri.com

Comments

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Cat2222

I never knew this even existed in RI!!! What a great bonding experience. I have always wanted to do something like this but never had anyone that wanted to enjoy the wilderness with me.

Thursday, October 4
richardcorrente

Dear Cat2222,

I have an invitation for you. I am a proud member of Friends of Warwick Ponds, an organization dedicated to keeping the water of Warwick ponds pure. Each July we have our "pond-a-palozza" where we have our monthly meeting in the middle of Warwick Pond. I kayak to it and I invite you to join in as a member or one-time guest. Your choice.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

Thursday, October 4
CrickeeRaven

Cat, now that the two-time loser has again shown how tone-deaf and self-absorbed he is, let me assure you that the Women's Wilderness weekend is a much more worthy use of your time than kayaking with him.

I have visited ECC, the site of this year's event, and can attest to its natural beauty and tranquil setting.

If you can at all attend this event, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so.

Thursday, October 4
Justanidiot

Warwick Pond is to wilderness as master mayer is to public service.

Friday, October 5
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Now c'mon old friend. I never said Warwick Lake was "wilderness".

As far a kayaking, Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown is my favorite, but Warwick Lake is the best of our City in my opinion.

As far as "public service" goes, you don't have to be elected to serve the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab. I invite you to join "Friends of Warwick Ponds" as well. Call me at 401-338-9900.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick

Friday, October 5
Justanidiot

Trolling master mayer is as easy as paddling in Warwick Pond. And nearly as toxic.

Friday, October 5
MotherNature

I have been attending weekends since 2016. It is a great to get away, learn new things, relax and have fun! Join us Cat2222!

Friday, October 5
Cat2222

MotherNature, I am most certainly interested in joining the program. I have been looking for something like this for a while because I like to surround myself with women from all different age groups and careers. So much knowledge and wisdom can be learned. Look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, October 9