BOW program turns 20, continues doing great work

It’s hard to find a lot wrong with a state program that pushes people past their boundaries, challenges them to do things they have never done, develops increased self esteem and confidence while costing no taxpayer money. And the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Becoming an Outdoors Women fits those bills — and more.

The popular initiative is celebrating 20 years of helping women of all ages find their inner outdoors women. Each year, women from across the Upper Great Lakes region and elsewhere gather at the Bay Cliff Health Camp in Marquette County for a summer weekend BOW program in June and a winter program in February, according to an agency release on BOW.

“It’s been amazing to see the growth in the women who have attended our program,” Sandy Kivela, an instructor and member of the program’s organizing committee, said in the release. “Some have started as participants and have become instructors. Some have made life-long friendships.”

Although not generally known, the program can trace its roots to a similar initiative in Wisconsin. It was based downstate, although that program was eventually phased out. Like the instructors, committee members are volunteers.

The BOW program has always been financially self-sustaining, a key ingredient in its success and longevity.

Hats off to local and state officials who have given of their time and talent over the years to make the BOW program not only viable but a thriving enterprise.

It’s a showpiece example of what can be done when desire meets ambition. Congratulations to the BOW program.

Find out more on Becoming and Outdoors Woman in Michigan at