A Weekend in the Woods: The ORC’s Women’s Wellness Retreat

The typical Colorado College student usually would not associate making coconut-lime sugar scrub and lavender eye pillows with the ORC—until this past weekend, that is. This weekend, eight women, led by Kristen Reich, intern for the Outdoor Education Center, and Kenzie Mulligan-Buckmiller of the Wellness Resource Center, embarked on a Women’s Wilderness Wellness Retreat at the Catamount Center in Woodland Park. Their focus was 24 hours of discussion, self-care, and bonding.

The ORC Specialty Trips Coordinator, first-year Sophie Redpath, spent two months planning the trip. As coordinator, Redpath is entrusted to design and plan outdoor trips in collaboration with different club leaders. Working with the Wellness Resource Center was, in her words, “the biggest success story…a beautiful harmony of collaboration.”

Although the retreat was the brainchild of Redpath,  it took some brainstorming with Reich and Mulligan-Buckmiller to figure out exactly what they wanted the trip to be. They agreed on a trip that was a bit less outdoors-oriented, in order to be more accessible to women with different levels of outdoor experience. The consideration and thorough attention to detail certainly paid off, as the trip turned out to be the perfect balance of activity and relaxation.

After arriving at the Catamount Center mid-day on Saturday, participants were free to take time for themselves to hike and explore the area, as well as read and relax. Later on, everyone headed to the Center’s “Raspberry Yurt” (a circular tent used for calming exercises) to practice meditation and boost self-esteem.

Following a delicious home-cooked dinner, everyone took part in the aforementioned craft-making—body scrub and scented eye pillows—while happily sipping on raspberry tea, known to have extraordinary medicinal benefits, particularly for women. Each woman was also given her own folder, intricately labeled with her name. Inside, was a wide variety of things: an inspirational female quote, all of the recipes used by Reich and Mulligan-Buckmiller during the weekend, instructions for the crafts, tips for yoga and meditation, and some articles and book selections that related specifically to the unique connection women share with nature. At 6:30 the next morning, participants arose for sunrise yoga led by Reich, including sun salutations and yin yoga positions. Feeling energized, everyone then proceeded to pack and clean up while breakfast was prepared. To finish the trip, the whole group took a short walk and spent time in the center’s tipi, giving each other compliments on their strengths.

Overall, the trip truly emphasized female empowerment and self-respect. All participants had the opportunity to reflect on what they valued in themselves and how they could promote their self-esteem daily. Moreover, the trip allowed everyone to get away from campus and escape the stress that comes with the block plan, leaving all participants feeling content, restored, and grateful for the opportunity.

“The Women’s Wellness Retreat was a great experience,” said first-year Eva Bombeck, “We ate delicious food, hiked around the Catamount Institute, meditated in the Raspberry Yurt, and read some amazing literature on the importance of valuing yourself and your body.”

My favorite quote from “Eating in the Light of the Moon” (one of the selected readings): “‘today’s woman is a round peg trying desperately to fit into a square hole in order to survive and flourish.”

First-year Ali Baird also enjoyed the trip, deeming it “a super amazing time for reflection, relaxation, and spending time with awesome new friends!”

The retreat exemplified the role that the ORC plays in promoting inclusivity across campus. As the committee grows and develops, CC students can expect more specialized trips such as this, with the intention of giving all students access to the incredible outdoor opportunities the school has to offer.

“I’m always trying to brainstorm things,” said Redpath, while also mentioning that the “stoke in leaders is high” for a possible yoga and hot springs trip during Block 8. Time and scheduling will tell if it comes to fruition, but due to its positive reception, there are definitely more Women’s Wilderness Wellness Retreats to come!

Sarah Laico

Sarah Laico

Sarah is a junior from Warwick, New York. After being Head Writer of her high school paper, she has enjoyed continuing her passion for journalism working at the Catalyst. An outdoors enthusiast, Sarah loves to rockclimb, hike, ski, and trail run, and she also is a backpacking, rafting, and climbing leader for the Outdoor Education Center. When she is not editing for the Active Life section at the Catalyst or monitoring at CC's Ritt Kellogg Climbing Gym, Sarah can be found playing drums and eating cereal.

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