COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — There is a place for outdoorsy women, or those looking to try it, in Columbus. The Women’s Initiative for Learning and Discovery (WILD) offers women’s-only backpacking trips, social nights and outdoor skills classes ranging from campsite pasta cooking to trash bag survival.
On the heels of a backpacking trip to Jekyll Island from April 21 to 23, WILD hosted its monthly cooking class on outdoor cinnamon roll making at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25. Founder and Executive Director Sanna Moravek, 41, led five women outside WILD’s storefront in the Historic District.
Moravek explained the inspiration behind WILD and said, “I grew up backpacking… and working in the outdoor industry, I realized that not everybody knew how to do that.”
She added women often come to WILD because their significant other usually takes care of them while camping and they want to learn how to do things for themselves independently. Other times, she elaborated, women want to avoid belittlement or just do not have anyone else to go with.
Wendy Cotton, 42, attended the class and said she happened upon WILD when she was looking for women’s groups in the area after ending a 25-year marriage. She explained she was just looking to meet people originally but got hooked on WILD’s trips, podcast, learning opportunities and camaraderie.
“It allows me to set goals and allows me to do things as a single woman,” said Cotton, who now sometimes brings her daughter along to WILD events too.
During the class, women answered an ice-breaker question and started on the cinnamon rolls using three different methods. Moravek explained she chose these variations to suit different needs: canned cinnamon rolls for those who just want to throw something together quickly, a pull-apart bread method made out of freeze-and-bake dinner rolls for those looking for a little more effort and a from-scratch recipe for those wanting to do a full prep beforehand and cook the rolls at camp.
The recipes were cooked in Dutch ovens, which Moravek familiarized attendees with at the beginning of class. She also took time to explain cooking with charcoal briskets and told event-goers that foil pans could be used for holding coals without a campfire or firepit.
“I really like meeting all the different women,” said Columbus-born Brandy Loste-Brown, 38, who was assisting with the class. The wilderness guide and instructor divulged she started helping with WILD trips almost 7 years ago. Loste-Brown added she began guiding WILD trips last year, after becoming a certified wilderness first responder, which is a requirement for all WILD guides.
Women at the cinnamon roll baking class ranged from their 20s to 50s and there were near-equal amounts of newcomers and repeat guests.
According to Moravek, repeat attendees are frequent although fresh faces are constantly coming in. She reported WILD has hosted women from about 10-years-old to over 70 and some have come from as far as New Mexico for their trips.
Moravek disclosed WILD tries to keep things affordable with trips costing from $325 to $800 depending on destination and duration and offering gear rentals. She mentioned proceeds from items sold in the store go directly toward WILD’s events and help to offset expenses to keep things low-cost for guests. Stock includes items which Moravek chose specifically with single, female backpackers in mind including women’s backpacks and single-person freeze-dried meals.
Despite this, Moravek explained WILD still caps their trips at 10 in order to promote closeness and camaraderie among the women in attendance. Current trip offerings are sold out through September, although Moravek periodically updates WILD’s event page with more offerings, including free social nights and classes. Outdoor cinnamon roll making costs $10 per person.
WILD plans to host their May social night at Banks Food Hall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10. The WILD Outdoor Learning Center is located at 621 2nd Avenue, Suite A.