3 Female Adventurers You Should Know About

3 Female Adventurers You Should Know About
Submitted by Dan Miller, Chief Learning Officer, AEE

Last week, I moderated a webinar entitled Out of Our Corsets and Into the Woods with Denise Mitten Ph.D.  The hour-long presentation focused on women adventurers from the 1800's through today and it will forever change the way I teach (and think about) about the history of outdoor education.  This article is a brief look at some of the women Dr. Mitten talked about in her webinar.  I encourage anyone who reads this post to study the webinar (it's free) and determine how you can incorporate these fine examples of humanity into your own teaching practice.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet TubmanHarriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross) was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.  Each of these trips covered over 1,000 miles, which was traveled mostly at night. Tubman was a master outdoorsperson. She navigated by the stars, guided her groups through perilous terrain, and never lost a passenger during her 11 years leading these trips.

During the Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the United States Army. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the struggle for women's suffrage working alongside women such as Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland.  She continued to fight for justice and equality until her passing 1913.

 So…the next time you have student tell you camping and trekking are only for White people, you let them know about Harriet Tubman, one of the most experienced outdoor adventurers in modern history.


Marina Ewald

 Marina EwaldMarina Ewald was a childhood friend of Kurt Hahn and a staff member at the Salem School in the 1920’s.  In the Summer of 1925, she led a 4-week school expedition to Finland.  The trip was actually and errand to purchase boats and return them to Salem.  This expedition involved traveling by truck, steamboat, and barge and most nights were spent camping on remote islands.  Much of their food was acquired through hunting and fishing.  The success of this trip was a driving factor behind Hahn’s adoption of strenuous expeditions as an essential part of his educational philosophy. 

In 1929, Ewald became the Director of Spetzgart (an expansion of the Salem School).  This school was located on the shores of Lake Constance and allowed for the inclusion of sailing and other water sports in the curriculum.  Ewald continued to be a driving force at Salem even after Kurt Hahn was exiled from Germany in 1933.  In 1941 Nazis took control of the school and eventually shut it down in July of 1945.  Just a few months later, Marina Ewald reopened the school (free from Nazi influence) and, thanks to her leadership, the school is still thriving today.

So…the next time you find yourself talking about the history of Outdoor Education and the inception of the ‘Outward-Bound Style Expedition,’ you should probably include that the first trip was led by a woman named Marina Ewald.


Georgie Clark White

 Georgie Clark WhiteGeorgie Clark White was a river guide in the Grand Canyon. She was the first woman to run the Grand Canyon as a commercial enterprise, and she introduced several innovations and adjustments to the way that guides ran the Colorado. In particular, she used large army-surplus rafts, often lashing together multiple rafts, to maintain stability in the large rapids. In 2001, the United States Board on Geographic Names renamed Mile 24 Rapid in her honor.

In 1945, Georgie was invited by her friend Harry Aleson to demonstrate that in the event of a boating accident on the Colorado River, it would be easier to float downstream than to hike out.  So, over the course of 3 exhausting days, the pair SWAM 60 miles down the river!  After making a name for herself with stunts like this one, Georgie started the ‘Royal River Rats’ guiding outfit and led whitewater adventures for the next 45 years.  Her last trip as a guide took place in 1991, as she was approaching her 80th birthday!

So…the next time you have a student on a whitewater trip who is hesitant about doing a rapid swim, tell ‘em about Georgie, the woman who swam the Grand Canyon.



AEE Webinar: Out of Our Corsets and Into the Woods (2017)
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgie_White
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman
Salem School Website: https://www.schule-schloss-salem.de/en/about-us/history/history-of-schule-schloss-salem/
Book Excerpt: https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/561-kurt-hahn.pdf 



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