Teaching women to go bush

Anja Morris.

When you enter our beautiful New Zealand bush all the busyness of day-to-day life is left behind, says Pahoia resident and tramper Anja Morris.

“Some people say going for a walk is a good way to think things through. But to me, when I’m tramping my mind goes calm. I leave everything behind. I’m totally in the moment.”

Such is her passion for tramping our bush-filled outdoors that she’s held a range of Western Bay of Plenty voluntary positions for the NZ Mountain Safety Council since the mid-1990s – including outdoor first aid and bushcraft instructor, and assessor, roles – plus ran her own local Bush Skills for Women courses since 2002.

Ending her women’s course eight years ago, thinking she’d saturated the area, Anja started offering them again last year. “I thought we’ve got so many more residents now, I will give it another go.”

From her past experiences training people how to go bush safely, Anja says women, especially when it comes to navigation, often shy back from learning map and compass in a mixed group as the men seem to take over in this area. “But by themselves, on this course, they are so relaxed.”

As a result, Anja’s whole aim is to give women the confidence to tramp and navigate the bush. “And for confidence, you need a few basic skills. You should know about what clothing, footwear and equipment you need to take tramping in the bush."

“We talk about trip-planning – what to think about before you go out on a walk. Leaving your details such walking route, destination and approximate trip duration with someone."

“I explain how to use a map and compass. Often participants will say they’ve just been following their husbands and they want to know how to read a map themselves."

“We talk about risk management – how to deal with certain situations, basic first aid, and river crossing safety.”

Day two the group puts the theory into practice. “We go for a bush walk on a private property. The amazing thing is most participants don’t know each other – but they all connect. We laugh so much. It’s amazing the friendships that have established on my courses over the years.”

This month, Anja will offer her two-day Bush Skills for Women course from 8.30am-2.30pm on October 17-18 in the Whakamarama area. To find out more, give her a call on 027 725 0567. Or email: anjaoutdoors@gmail.com

If you don’t hear back from her promptly, she’ll probably be on one of her frequent bush excursions. “I just love the whole feel of it – it’s hard to describe.

“But one comment I always hear from participants is: ‘I love being out in the bush; I should get out more often’. I suppose I feel like that but I’ve embraced it and I make an effort to get out.”



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