Washington Women Outdoors logo

Connect with us:
Contact Us Join WWO on Facebook Follow WWO on Twitter Join Us on MeetUp WWO updates as RSS feed
Join our mailing list:
Email

What is Washington Women Outdoors?
Washington Women Outdoors (WWO) is a non-profit organization that is run almost entirely by volunteers. We engage in outdoor activities in the Washington, DC area where women share skills, experience, strengths, and support to enhance and expand each woman's world. We welcome women of diverse ages, races, and lifestyles. WWO provides instruction by women for women. Activities are available for all skill levels to inspire the beginner and to challenge the more advanced.

Top of Page

What is the history of WWO?
Washington Women Outdoors has served women of the Washington area since the fall of 1977. The organization was founded by Sandy Sklar, a woman with a love for the outdoors and an urge to share it. During 1978 and 1979, it functioned rather quietly on an experimental basis developing successful training programs and trips in cross-country skiing, canoeing, bicycling, backpacking, and sailing. In the summer of 1979, WWO became a non-profit corporation dedicated to the training of women in outdoor skills and to encourage women's ongoing participation in outdoor activities. In April 1980, WWO was granted a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the IRS.

Top of Page

Who are WWO members?
WWO welcomes women of diverse ages, races, and lifestyles, from the novice to the advanced. Feel free to visit our Photos page to see photos from previous events.

Top of Page

Who "runs" WWO?
WWO is run almost exclusively by volunteers. All our hiking, biking, and backpacking leaders are volunteers, and we use outfitters for rock climbing, watersports, and special events. WWO is governed by a Board of Directors and operates under bylaws. Please visit our Volunteer page for volunteer opportunities and our Leadership page to see how to become a WWO trip leader.

Top of Page

Why join WWO?
Lots of reasons! Of course, you'll be eligible for discounts on WWO trips, invitations to occassional members-only events, access to our members-only pages such as the WWO News page which includes interesting articles on a variety of topics, and access to our member's forum. Your WWO membership also gives you discounts to local shops and women's touring companies. Please visit our Membership page for a current list of member benefits. Most importantly, you'll ensure the continuation of one of the oldest all-volunteer women's outdoor organization in the U.S.

Top of Page

How do I join?
You can join online at our website on the Membership page. When you join, you will receive access to our members-only pages, access to the forum, and will be eligible for discounts on WWO trips. Your WWO membership also gives you discounts to local shops and women's touring companies. Please visit our Membership page for a current list of member benefits.

Top of Page

How much does it cost to join?
Please visit our Membership page for our current membership fees.

Top of Page

I am not a WWO member. Can I participate in a WWO event?
Of course! Just about all of our events have a member and a non-member price, and almost all of our events are open to both members and non-members. We encourage you to try events as a non-member. We also encourage members to bring guests to our events.

Top of Page

I want to sign up for a trip but don't know which one is best for me. How can I get help deciding?
We are happy to help! If you are unsure of which trip is appropriate for you, please call us or email us and tell us the trips you are interested in and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. We want you to have the best trip experience possible with WWO, and our experienced trip leaders can ask the right questions to determine which trip is right for you.

Top of Page

I'm new to the outdoors and not really in shape. Do you have hikes for beginners?
Yes, we offer trips for hikers of all skill levels and, in fact, we offer hikes for novice hikers like yourself. On a novice level hike, you could expect to walk or hike less than three miles on relatively level ground. As you glance through our brochure, notice that we also offer novice level trips for other activities, including biking, river kayaking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, special events, and cross country skiing. Look for the Novice Icon to identify the programs that are rated as entry-level.

Top of Page

What if I am the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape woman on the trip?
Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. WWO is noncompetitive and open to women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. All our events include a leader and a sweep, so, no matter what your level of fitness is, you will never be left behind.

Top of Page

Do I need a car to go on a WWO trip?
No. We do have members and participants without cars. Although you are responsible for your own transportation, we do a number of things to assist you to get to the trip starting point.

For each WWO activity we have a meeting place. From this meeting place, participants usually share rides so we have as few cars driving to the activity's starting point as possible. Also, sharing a ride is just more fun!

We try to make our meeting places relatively close to DC. We also try to make meeting places Metro accessible. When this isn't practical, we meet in a centralized location (e.g., parking lot of a shopping mall).

The week of each trip, our office sends out a list of participants, which includes their e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and the city in which they live. Participants can use this list to arrange carpools to the meeting place. We also have several members who ride their bike to the meeting place.

WWO encourages the use of environmentally friendly forms of transportation at all times. We encourage participants to effectively use human powered and public transportation, and to make carpooling arrangements whenever possible, with the understanding that all transportation arrangements are made privately and are at the discretion of the individual. WWO assumes no liability for carpool arrangements. The WWO activity does not begin until arrival at the site of the event.

Top of Page

How do I register for a trip?
To register for a trip, you can either register online using PayPal or you can download a copy of our registration form from our website or from the member brochure. The form for membership is the same one used for registration. You can also send us your own version of our registration form or a note. Once you fill out the form, mail it to our office with your payment. We require all trip participants to fill out a registration form, and pay in advance, as this provides us with all the necessary contact information and minimizes the amount of money our leaders must handle on the day of the trip. Please be aware the deadline for registration for most trips is at least the Wednesday before the event.

Top of Page

I think your organization has a lot to offer. But why is it necessary to charge for outings?
Washington Women Outdoors charges for our events for several reasons. First, we use a portion of our revenue for publicity to get the word out about our mission and events. This money goes toward publishing our brochure and maintaining our website and listserv.

We also use our revenue to insure the continued quality of our events. We have purchased First Aid kits that are taken on all trips. We own several sets of radios for our leaders to use on our trips. All of our leaders are First Aid and CPR certified and are additionally trained for their specific activity.

Finally, most of our events involve equipment: Mountain Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Rock Climbing... Our revenue goes toward maintaining equipment or hiring outfitters to provide equipment.

Top of Page

I registered for a trip. When do I receive directions to the meeting place?
The week of your trip we send out via email a confirmation, instructions and directions to the meeting place, as well as the name and contact information for the trip leader and other important information.

Top of Page

Why can't I register for a trip at the last minute or just show up at the meeting place?
The Wednesday before the trip is our usual registration deadline for hikes and bike trips, and we ask participants to sign up in advance to that we have time to process all the registrations and ensure that we don't have too many or too few for a particular trip. Some areas only allow a limited group size or we may need to add an extra group leader if there are enough people. We also use the time to verify with participants that they've signed up for the appropriate trip. And finally, for outfitted trips we need to reserve equipment in advance.

Top of Page

Where do I meet the group on the day of the trip?
Trip leaders set the meeting place for each trip. The meeting place might be a trailhead, a park pavilion, a parking area from which to form a caravan, or a Metro stop. Typically, the week of the trip, we provide all participants with information about the trip. This information includes directions to the meeting place, the name and telephone numbers of the trip leaders and other participants, and a list of items that you should consider bringing and wearing. We send out information via email. Once we send out the list of participants, you can arrange carpools, if desired.

WWO encourages the use of environmentally friendly forms of transportation at all times. We encourage participants to effectively use human powered and public transportation, and to make carpooling arrangements whenever possible, with the understanding that all transportation arrangements are made privately and are at the discretion of the individual. WWO assumes no liability for carpool arrangements. The WWO activity does not begin until arrival at the site of the event.

Top of Page

I signed up for a trip but need a ride to the meeting place. How can I find out who else is going?
When you receive your registration confirmation you will also receive a list of other participants, including their phone numbers, city and state, in order for you to arrange rides if needed. If you need a ride, please don't be shy, give someone a call! It is always more fun to go with a group. We try to pick meeting places close to D.C. for this reason, and then drive to where the trip begins.

Top of Page

What equipment/clothing should I bring on a particular trip?
Once you register, the week of the trip we'll send you a confirmation and detailed instructions on what you need to bring on a trip. You will also receive the trip leader's name and contact information, and please feel free to contact her if you have further questions. What you should bring will vary, of course, depending on the type of trip and the time of year, so we don't publish generic lists but let each trip leader decide what is required.

Top of Page

Why do I have to fill out a waiver each time I attend an event?
We require all participants to fill out waivers to help to protect WWO and WWO volunteers. You'll need to do this for each trip because we ask for recent medical information and we carry this with us throughout the trip. This way we know that we have current medical and contact information with us at all times in the event of an emergency. If you want to fill it out ahead of time, you can download it here.

Top of Page

Why is there a limit on the number of participants on a trip?
We need to set a limit on the number of trip participants for several reasons. First, we want to ensure that all our trips are instructive, safe, and enjoyable. We also set the maximum group number based on a desirable leader-to-participant ratio, and our experience running different types of trips. Most of our hikes and bike trips have a maximum group number of 18. Other trips have a maximum group number of less than 18, some even as low as six. Our trip limits mean that you'll have a great experience with us!

Top of Page

Do events get cancelled due to inclement weather?
WWO trips generally go regardless of the weather. Occasionally, safety considerations, limited registration, or other conditions beyond our control may cause us to cancel or reschedule a trip. Please visit our Registration page for additional information.

Top of Page

Can I bring my very friendly dog along on a hike?
We do not allow even the friendliest dogs on our hikes, canoe trips, social events, or other trips. We receive a number of inquiries about this, however, and realize that women and dogs in the outdoors are a great match, so we occassionally offer a Furry Friends hike.

Top of Page

I took pictures on a WWO trip. How can I submit them so that WWO can add them to the website?
Great! If you have photos you'd like to share, please either email them to us at info@washingtonwomenoutdoors.org or, if they are not digital photos, send us an email letting us know you have them and we'll email you a street address where you can send them.

Top of Page

How do I become a trip leader for WWO?
We have two types of WWO trips: In-House and Outfitter. Leaders are responsible for the entirety of an In-House trip, including planning, scouting, teaching appropriate skills, completing necessary paperwork, and leading the trip. Outfitter Leaders serve as WWO liaisons between the Outfitter and the trip participants. An Outfitter Leader ensures that appropriate WWO paperwork has been completed and provides feedback on the trip instruction to the Program Chair.

To be an In-House* trip leader you must:
1) Attend at least one WWO trip.
2) Be approved by appropriate Program Chair to be a Leader-in-Training.
3) Participate as a Leader-in-Training on at least two trips and be able to participate in these trips at the trip level.
4) Complete First Aid and CPR certification.
5) Receive approval by appropriate Program Chair to be an Assistant Leader.
6) Assist on at least two WWO trips and be able to participate in these trips at the trip level.
7) Complete WWO Leadership Training at least once every 3 years.
8) Be approved by appropriate Program Chair to be a Leader.
9) Be able to participate in all trips at the trip level that you lead.

To be an Outfitted trip# leader you must:
1) Attend at least one Outfitted WWO trip.
2) Be able to participate in trips in which you are a Leader at the trip level.
3) Be approved by appropriate Program Chair.
It is highly recommended that you complete First Aid, CPR, and WWO Leadership Training certification.

Visit the Leadership page for more information.

* In-House Leader requirements were determined at the July 2000 Board Meeting and are documented in the Meeting Minutes.

# Outfitter Leader requirements were determined at the April 2001 Board Meeting and are documented in the Meeting Minutes.

Top of Page

Are there other chapters of WWO in the United States? I live in [insert the name of your State] and would love to meet other women in my area who enjoy the outdoors.
Washington Women Outdoors started in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area about 25 years ago, and has remained an organization that provides outdoor opportunities for women of this area only. Right now, we do not have much information about women-only outdoor organizations in other parts of the country. We recommend that you contact a local hiking club or outdoor organization or outdoor business; they might be able to provide you with a lead or two. If you end up locating a women-only outdoor organization in your area, please email us the information and we will consider posting it on our web site for other women. Good luck!!

Top of Page

Do you have any job openings?
We do not have any job openings. WWO is a volunteer, non-profit organization overseen by a Board of Directors. The Board is supported by a team of individuals who plan and lead our trips and activities. All of these women serve on a volunteer basis, and we would welcome your talents and energy if you would like to be involved with WWO as a volunteer. Just let us know!

Top of Page