Gone are the days when words like “adventure”, “wilderness”, and “shredding” are primarily reserved for men. Young girls and women are embracing winter sports and the outdoors in record numbers for a plethora of reasons: Fun, community, empowerment, and physical fitness, just to name a few. SheJumps, an organization dedicated to creating a space for and community of women in the outdoors, is making a name for itself in outdoor towns and cities across the nation.
We caught up with Shelley Brook, the Rockies Regional Coordinator of SheJumps, and talked skiing, their vision for women in the outdoors, and more!
The Clymb: Tell us a little bit about how SheJumps came into being.
Shelley Brook: SheJumps was co-founded by Claire Smallwood, Vanessa Pierce, and Lynsey Dyer in Jackson Hole, WY. They realized they were skiing with the guys a lot and wanted to build a community of strong females to adventure outdoors with.
The Clymb: Can you detail a few of the exciting clinics, activities, and services that SheJumps provides?
Shelley Brook: The main types of programs are: Outdoor Education (learning technical skills: such as how to tune your own skis, backpacking 101 clinic, Know Before You Go, etc), Community Initiatives (these tend to be more social, to meet other women to adventure with—such as a movie night, hike, speaker series, etc), Get The Girls Out days (trying to get as many women together to ski/snowboard, bike, or whatever activity—to increase awareness about women in the outdoors and SheJumps programs), and our Wild Skills program—a youth initiative to teach the next generation navigation, shelter building, knots, first aid, and other skills.
Each Spring SheJumps hosts The Alpine Finishing School at the Selkirk Backcountry Lodge outside of Revelstoke, BC, a week-long glacier ski mountaineering course. I was able to attend in April 2017 and it was one of the more memorable weeks of my life! The terrain, the people, the skills taught…it is hard to compete with that. However, locally in Colorado there’s been quite the diverse range of events: from 10-person beacon clinics, to 100-person movie nights,there’s really something for everyone.
The Clymb: Why do you feel that attracting and supporting more women to the outdoor community is important?
Shelley Brook: I think women have a hard time speaking up to both ask questions and be leaders when guys are around. This isn’t always the case depending on personality types, but it definitely makes it harder for women who still have a lot to add to the discussion, but are not as outgoing. When you’re among your peers, you tend to challenge each other more. It might be in the form of some friendly jabs, or helping to ease irrational fears, or just the supportive “if I can do it, you can!”—but there’s definitely a level of holding each other accountable and pushing limits together.
I have some of the strongest bonds with friends that I have adventured with. SheJumps is a volunteer run organization with 10 national directors, 7 regional directors, 11 regional coordinators, over 40 ambassadors, and countless community partners donating hundreds of hours to help organize these events and build the SJ community. That is a lot of (wo)man power dedicated to this mission, and there’s always room for more people to get involved!
The Clymb: Tell us a little bit about how you connected with SheJumps and how the organization has been influential in your life?
Shelley Brook: I first heard about SheJumps while in South America—I was on a year-long trek through the Andes with two girlfriends and we kept a blog about our travels back in 2011–2012. The Executive Director Claire Smallwood reached out and eventually asked us to give a presentation in Colorado once we were home (Colorado was home for the three of us). After that, I went to a Get the Girls Out ski day at Vail, kept meeting amazing women to plan adventures with, and was hooked!
During college I was a camp counselor at an all girl’s unit of Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park which is where I summited my first peak and went on my first backpack. It was amazing to have an all-female community of adventurous women to be in the backcountry with—both the counselors and the campers. You’re raw and vulnerable and supportive. You’re fully present and pushing your own limits. I experienced this as well in South America on the trail with my two friends, and it’s almost hard to put into words. I think the female outdoor community is incredibly valuable and I am passionate about stoking that fire in other women.
The Clymb: Favorite place to ski? Favorite outdoor activity? Favorite beverage after a big pow day?
Shelley Brook: After college I moved to Breckenridge for about 6 years and so I still consider it my home resort, and I really love it! However I have been adventuring in the backcountry more and more these days and I love exploring new terrain. Through passes like the Mountain Collective pass I have been fortunate enough to try out several new resorts across North America in the last couple years, which I highly recommend! It really makes you appreciate the variety we have: Whistler’s massive and playful bowls, the gladed old growth tree runs, and small town resort at Red Mountain, to side country in Jackson, or the aspens at Beaver Creek. I love it all!
My favorite outdoor activity is definitely backcountry skiing—I love the exercise and the uphill, enjoying the scenery and remote areas, peace and quiet of the backcountry, and then you get to combine that with skiing! I also recently got bit by the mountain biking bug and am quickly become obsessed!
Favorite beverage after a long day in the backcountry is a good Colorado craft beer, usually an IPA, and some tacos!
The Clymb: Please, tell our readers one reason they should connect with SheJumps.
Shelley Brook: SheJumps is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing participation of women and girls in outdoors activities (which many organizations support through other programs as well), but what sets SJ apart is the focus on doing so with free and affordable outdoor educational opportunities that will provide women with the skills they need to be self-sufficient in the backcountry.
The idea is to Jump In (try something new, build community), Jump Up (improve your skills, increase self-sufficiency), and Jump Out (be a supportive mentor, pass on knowledge to others in the community). It isn’t a club, there’s no membership, no requirements, etc. It is a community of rad women that want to connect and learn, chase big mountain dreams, or just get outside. And as a volunteer run organization, we need more passionate people to help us!