Wont to Wander

By Kerri Sorrell, Special to INHF on June 22, 2021 in Blog

Jen and KerriThe best times in my life have been spent outside with friends in places new to me, and at the same time, deeply familiar. There is a power and sense of wholeness that comes to me when in nature that I haven’t found anywhere else, and a connection to the land and the people I’m enjoying it with. To put it simply, for me, to be in nature is to be in community.

I believe there is an intrinsic love for and knowledge of the natural world that we feel as women. It’s something that transcends millennia. It’s in the wisdom that has been passed down from the world’s original people, the experiences of trailblazers in science and conservation, and the information imparted by moms on afternoon hikes with their kids. And yet, often, that connection and community are absent in our lives, lost to the day-to-day or withheld from us due to lack of access, education or perceived ability. 

I should introduce myself. I’m Kerri. I co-own Wander Women Iowa, a business founded to empower and bring together women all across the state on all-inclusive camping, paddling and backpacking trips. When my co-owner Jenn started Wander Women in 2018, she knew that women face significant barriers to enjoying the outdoors, but when given the opportunity, can rediscover their connection to Mother Nature, themselves and others looking for community.

Whether we weren’t taught outdoor skills as kids, have spent our lives putting our own adventures on hold to raise families, or simply don’t feel safe venturing out alone or to new places, the barriers that keep women from getting outside are real and loom large. Those barriers are even more daunting for LGBTQ+ folks, women of color, women with physical limitations and folks who don’t have the time or financial means to get outdoors.

Wander Women aims to help break those barriers down, offering trips full of knowledge sharing, skills workshops, fire circles, deep conversations and opportunities for connection. We also offer financial assistance and scholarships to help make adventure accessible to folks who have historically been excluded from our outdoor spaces. 

The need – and the demand – for women-centered outdoor experiences is massive. When we launched our 2021 trips this February, they sold out in 5 hours. 

“Wander Women provides a much needed and valued opportunity for women of any age, ability, size or background to gather together and learn about, experience, explore, unwind and find a centering peace that can often only be found in the quietness of the outdoors,” wrote one participant. “Jenn and her guides are masters of fun, education and inclusion and they put their heart and soul into every Wonder Women trip.” 

Wander Women couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this growing community and expanding outdoor access to women.