Seen in the Wild: Women in the Outdoors

by Kendra Clapp OlguínMar 28, 2021

The beginning of March marked Women’s History Month, and as we near its end, I’ve had time to reflect on what the month could mean within the camping industry and what I can do to encourage others to get outside and camp. Then, while reading the results from a survey Campspot conducted with DKC, I learned that men were two times more likely to call themselves experienced campers than women.

“Women Camping”

I’m not surprised, really. Much of the marketing within the camping industry seems to be geared toward men, and when women are depicted, it’s with their husband or family. When you Google “women camping,” your search results will yield things Camping Tips: How to Stay Fresh & Clean and Safety Tips for Female Campers, whereas when you Google “men camping,” results include Camping Essentials and Camping Gear.

A trippy and spiraled depiction of treetops.

Lady Camping

My mind quickly went to my sister, who can build a fire faster than anyone I’ve come across at a campground. Every summer, she and a few of her friends embark on what they call Lady Camping. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of their incredible experiences camping in Northern Michigan.

A group of six women at a campsite, some of them sitting on the picnic table, others playing with sticks on the ground.
A trippy image of a woman hiking down a path in the woods.
A group of six women hiking in the woods in Northern Michigan.

An Annual Tradition

Beginning in 2013, friends from across the state of Michigan met up at a Northern Michigan campground, almost always on Lake Michigan, to enjoy the outdoors, each others’ company, and organize the best camping trips they would want to come back to year after year. Except for 2020, due to COVID, the women have gone every year.

Two umbrellas on the beach at Fisherman's Island State Park with a woman swimming in the water.
An experimental depiction of Lake Michigan.
An experimental depiction of a flower along Lake Michigan.


The yearly camping trip also inspires the women to get creative, experiment with different photography methods, collect beach wood for crafts, and test their campfire culinary skills.

A pregnant woman swimming in Lake Michigan.
A group of six women lounging in the sun on beach towels, with two umbrellas propped open for shade.
An experimental depiction of a white flower.

Camping Activities

Activities during Lady Camping include hiking, relaxing at the beach, cooking, collecting Petoskey Stones, spotting water snakes, and more. The beauty of the outdoors is there is no one way to camp or experience the outside.

Fisherman's Island State Park in Charlevoix in Northern Michigan.
Someone holds up seven Petoskey stones they found on the Lake Michigan beach of Fishermans Island State Park.
A trippy image of the shoreline of Lake Michigan at Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.
A water snake in Lake Michigan at Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.

Being Silly with Nature

It’s easy to equate the outdoor experience with John Muir’s stoicism, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. I smiled while scrolling through these images photographer Jaimé Johnson sent me. I can feel the excitement and joy on their faces.

Two women arrange beach wood, spelling out the letters LC, standing for Lady Camping.
A woman holds up her phone with an actual wooden stick at a campsite at Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.

The Beauty! The Splendor!

Of course, one of the best things about camping is the immersion within nature. Whether you’re camping steps from Lake Michigan like these ladies or at an RV park in California, you’re getting a new perspective of the great outdoors. Stepping outside with your coffee and watching the sunrise, taking a hike to watch the sunset, or pausing for a moment to feel the breeze on your face, don’t let that moment escape you. Enjoy it.

A group of women hike to the shoreline of Lake Michigan to go watch the sunset.
Three women look out to the sun setting on Lake Michigan on Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.
A woman looks out to the sunset on Lake Michigan at Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.
A woman smiles for the camera while the sunsets behind her on Lake Michigan on Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.
Silhouettes of trees with the sunset colors behind them.

Campfire Connections

I also loved the images Jaimé took around the campfire. Having spoken to many around the campgrounds we’ve stayed at, many women feel intimidated to build a fire. This is often met with the shame that comes with the assumption that everyone should know how to build a fire as if it’s a human condition to living. This combination probably alienates women into never trying. For anyone who’s feeling this way, I encourage you to read our guide to building a campfire and use firestarters while starting out.

To me, the campfire is a magical place to connect with fellow campers or reflect by gazing into the mesmerizing flames.

Two women look onto the campfire at their campsite at Fisherman's Island State Park in Northern Michigan.
An experimental image of a campfire.

I hope these beautiful images inspired more women to try camping, whether with friends or on their own! If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to email me at Happy camping!