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Paddling Toward Empowerment: Exploring the Effects of an All-Female Canoe Camping Expedition on College Students

Janie Welsh, Andrew M. Szolosi, Annie Frisoli, Danny Twilley


Although society has made significant strides toward gender equality, many women still confront situations in which they feel disempowered. Developing skills and abilities that enable women to gain control and take action to improve their life situation is paramount to counteracting the limits that prevent them from challenging their disadvantaged position. This study explored the effect of an all-female canoe camping experience on fostering a sense of empowerment. This study used a phenomenological approach, and eight female college students participated in in-depth posttrip interviews. Interviews provided a means to better understand participants’ experiences from an 8-day canoe camping expedition on the Suwannee River in northern Florida. Findings revealed a number of specific themes including meanings ascribed to empowerment, the power of the single-sex experience, engineering empowering experiences, and benefits beyond the experience. These results provide support for the development of allfemale outdoor programming designed to meet specific outcomes.

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empowerment; outdoor programming; single-sex experience; women

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