How the nonprofit organization SheJumps is reaching communities of new skiers without actually being there.
The last few months—as the world has shifted and changed before our eyes—an organization known as SheJumps has been sending out concepts for ways you can learn about the outdoors from home. Called Micro Ventures, the instructional tips—geared toward women and girls but applicable to pretty much anyone who likes to adventure outside—have covered topics like how to filter water, how to tie knots, how to build a shelter, and how to poop in the woods.
“It was started in reaction to the lockdown,” says Claire Smallwood, executive director of SheJumps, which aims to increase participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. “We knew people were at home, with kids, missing the outdoors. It was the perfect time to focus on the skills that make you feel more comfortable out there.”
For me, at the back of my mind, since day one, it’s been about creating opportunities for more young women like myself
The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on SheJumps. They canceled all 2020 in-person events and programming, which was a big part of how the nonprofit used to operate. The organization, which serves thousands of women and girls, including many from underserved and underprivileged communities, lost over $70,000 in revenue and fundraising almost immediately when the virus broke out. Flylow is a longtime community partner of SheJumps, and we wanted to check in with Smallwood to see how they’re holding up and how the organization has changed shape in the current climate.
“We started to think about how our programs weren’t reaching enough people,” Smallwood says. “We’ve used this time to think about how inclusion can be at the forefront of everything we do. And we’re looking toward how we can make all of our programs free or as low cost as possible.”
To that end, they’ve increased virtual offerings to provide more tools for anyone, anywhere, like a trail prep series on route finding. In preparation for this winter, SheJumps will be hosting avalanche education and backcountry skills and safety courses virtually, including online events for kids, like junior ski patrol and a new virtual version of their popular Get the Girls Out day. “This winter, there will be a lot of people getting into the backcountry for the first time,” Smallwood says. “We want to make sure they have the information they need before they go.”
In a way, SheJumps is designed to reach people like the childhood version of Smallwood. Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Smallwood learned to ski through subsidized school programs. “Skiing opened me up to this parentless freedom,” she says.