SheJumps on the Appalachian Trail

   Is a fundraiser to support me, Kate Vancouver, in my upcoming thru-hike of the 2,100+ mile trail that extends from Georgia to Maine, and the organization 'SheJumps,' whose goal is promote female engagement in the outdoors. As a vehicle for my fundraiser I am selling products with the self-created brand 'It's still today,' the shirts for which are printed and designed in Athens by myself and supportive friends and family. Below is an essay further detailing my connection, passion, and plan. 

Why I'm Hiking

   An article has been going around lately called "Why Do We Teach Girls That It's Cute To Be Scared?" in which author Caroline Paul describes the upbringing so many girls are put up against: one that instills fear of adventure, danger, and the unknown. Paul herself was not a victim of this upbringing, and neither was I. She grew up breaking bones and going on adventures and even spent over a dozen years as a San Francisco Fire Fighter; I grew up exploring the woods and playing football and am now planning to hike the Appalachian Trail (among other things that would be considered "dangerous" by so many).

    Paul brings up many good points and interesting facts, but the main goal of her article is to point out that girls are raised more cautiously than boys, and that that directly impacts their desire for adventure and risk as an adult. The things we teach our daughters (and sons) are becoming outdated, and this is one of the glaring ones that could completely alter the perception of women as adults. I, for one, am looking forward to the day when I can take my daughter snowboarding, rock and ice climbing, backpacking, and to her first soccer practice (where she will totally kick butt) and that she will have friends (who are girls) that do all the same things.

    Growing up, working to empower my female classmates and prove the physical equality of elementary students regardless of gender was a daily task. I played football and soccer, loved running, and was very nearly the chin-up champion of the school (I set the record for girls, but nearly missed the all-time). I never quit the fight, and like to think that I challenge old-fashioned gender norms every day still.

    I am currently a student at Ohio University in Athens, studying outdoor recreation and education. I am quickly becoming a part of the professional world of outdoor recreation education so that I may lastingly help people to the highest degree with the highest efficiency (thanks for the concise summary of my life goals, Gifford). I will be graduating from OU in December of next year, and then comes the hard part: I am going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. I say this with confidence because, if I don’t, I might doubt myself. If I doubt myself, people will doubt me, and if people doubt me, I will lose the support system that any thru-hiker needs so desperately.

    I am hiking the Appalachian Trail for a number of reasons. Initially, the idea of spending approximately six months in a mostly backcountry setting was the most enticing reason. After my first couple backcountry experiences, I was hooked to the mental restoration it offers intrinsically. After that, I became entranced by the physical challenge and satisfaction that came with completing a difficult venture in the outdoors. Then came the point that I think a lot of prospective and veteran thru-hikers experience: the call. During some difficult times working a job that I wasn’t passionate about I felt the call of the trail that the restless stagnancy of school and a bummer summer job pronounced. It wasn’t long before I began justifying my hike with practical professional experience, and the realization that I could also inspire women came quickly after. 

    My goal is to raise money for my hike and donate everything beyond my needs to a women’s group that supports getting women outside (She Jumps, linked here). I am doing my hike mostly for myself, which I won’t lie about. But if I can also use my success to help an important organization influence women and girls around the country to get outside, and donate additional funds to their cause, that would be a pretty awesome supplemental achievement. 

     She Jumps does the work that I always admired growing up. Not only is it important to inspire women to get outside, but also to provide opportunities to do so comfortably. For too long we have been trying to change the way people think about things, by encouraging them to have confidence and try things the way they are. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it would make much more sense if we did something else: create opportunities for people who don’t have the confidence, mindset, or facilities for programs currently in place. It isn’t the fault of a woman who doesn’t have access or information, let alone the outgoing personality that most outdoors programs are directed towards.

    I have set a goal for funds to be raised before mid-March of 2017 (or by the time I finish the hike), with the promise that the funds beyond what I have budgeted for will go to She Jumps and their organization's mission. I believe that with the help of supporters I could raise at least $15,000 before my personal trip costs, which I currently have highballed around $6,000 after creating a budget of my projected spending. This would mean that, at minimum, about $9,000 would be going to an organization to encourage women to get outside and feel comfortable doing so.

    My cousin (Sophia Vancouver), a photojournalist, has agreed to write and design a weekly bulletin as I hike the trail, and donors would be mentioned (unless otherwise indicated). I also plan to propose trips for other outdoorswomen (or men) to hike various sections of the trail with me, and especially the finish in Maine. Using my hike to promote and donate to a women's organization will be a huge bonus, not to mention the potential that exists to create a community of support for myself and other hikers that may be joining me.

    I am confident that by using social media, events, and other forms of fundraising (e.g. shirts and stickers), not to mention the support of She Jumps and private donors, I will be able to raise the $15,000 before the completion of my hike in August of 2017. Not only will your donation be supporting a strong woman and her dreams of spending months on end in the woods, but you would also be making a donation to an organization that could expand programming and publicity to draw in more women who desire the experience but lack the opportunity, leaving only room for growth and benefits.

    I am excited for the challenges that hiking the Appalachian Trail will pose, the community of support that I hope to build, the friends to be made along the way, the outdoorsfolks to be inspired, and the hard work this endeavor promises overall.

Click here to access my donation page!

Click here to read a blog article about me written by a follow lover of people!

Follow my 'It's still today' page on Facebook and Instagram, and check out the hashtag #itsstilltoday!

Click here or on my page 'It's still today' to buy a shirt, all proceeds of which also go to my hike