After the first “Cowgirl Camp” last year, a participant got home. The next night she called instructor Sandy Matheson with a problem.
One of her cows had wandered a mile from her small ranch and was now calving.
With coaching, she and her husband were able to lead the animal home and determine that the calf needed help, which was provided by a local veterinarian.
“The calf would have died and the cow would have had problems if they had not recognized (the situation) right away,” Matheson said. “So she got a chance to use what she learned.”
Matheson and co-facilitators Beth Robinette and Doug Warnock are offering three intensive five-day camps this year, two “Cowgirl Camps” for women and one New Rancher Camp for men and women.
The “Cowgirl Camps” taught by Matheson and Robinette are May 28-June 1 and Aug. 27-31 at Robinette’s Lazy R Ranch in Cheney, Wash. The New Rancher Camp, taught by Matheson and Warnock, is July 9-13 at Matheson’s farm in Bellingham, Wash.
Matheson is president of Roots of Resilience, a nonprofit organization dedicated to regenerating grazing lands, increasing ranch profits and enhancing the quality of life for ranch families.
The response to the first “Cowgirl Camp” was great, Robinette said.
“People were so excited,” she said. “Lots of people wanted to know when the next camp was going to be, and lots of interest from guys, too.”
Several of last year’s camp participants told Matheson and Robinette they considered it a safe and “empowering” environment, Matheson said.
“Not only did we challenge them, but we also had a lot of fun as well,” Matheson said.
Robinette said the camps will stay at 10 to 15 participants.
Matheson said the camps provide an opportunity for participants to become immersed in the topic of running a ranch and practice the skills they learn.
The coordinators learned to keep the schedule flexible to meet the needs of participants and appeal to different learning styles, Matheson said.
“We packed a lot in for the amount of time we had,” she said. “I think we actually did pretty well considering it was our first time — both sitting and listening and watching and doing, being inside and outside.”
Robinette said the camps are designed to inspire confidence in participants’ ability to get started in agriculture.
“We really wanted to create a place that feels welcoming, safe and celebratory,” she said. “Especially women, who don’t have as many role models, can see it is totally possible for a woman to operate her own farm or ranch.”
Early bird price for each five-day camp is $997.