SheJumps: Inspiring Women to Get Outdoors

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!