When Carmen Scott, 37, started the Terrace Adventure Chicks Facebook group with four friends in March 2019, she didn’t expect it to gain over 1,000 members this quickly.
Based on a similar initiative she started in Squamish, the group is a way for like-minded women to connect to adventure and try new things.
“We were like ‘man, there’s so many amazing people moving to this town with all of these cool skills and a lot of them are really cool ladies, like we’d love to like meet those people and create a community.’”
Scott, who lives in Terrace but works as a BC Parks park ranger in the Smithers area, started the Squamish Adventure Chicks group in 2014 that now has over 4,000 members. She enjoys running, biking and downhill skiing. She chose Terrace because it has everything that she was looking for: An airport, ski hill, trails, it’s close to the ocean and has a similar feel to Squamish but its not near a large urban centre.
When she connected with friends after moving to Terrace in 2018, they decided it was a good idea to do the same thing here.
Sarah Poole, 32, is one of those friends. A director for the Skeena Climbing Society, Poole has been embedded in the rock climbing community everywhere she’s been. She was living in the Lower Mainland after spending some time in the Arctic as an environmental consultant.
She said that compared to when she came to Terrace, people now moving to the area during COVID-19 don’t have the same opportunities to meet people and integrate into the community as they used to.
“It’s been great to see how it’s grown and connected other people, especially young families – women with children who are staying at home and are just looking for like-minded individuals to take their babies out on adventurous hikes and that kind of stuff. It’s been really cool to see.”
According to Scott, one of the reasons the group has been so successful is that it is for both people just starting on their adventure journey, and people that are more advanced.
“There’s groups for specific activities. But if someone doesn’t identify themselves as a biker, as a climber, doesn’t feel like they belong in like that group, we wanted a group that was like if you just want to get out with women and do cool stuff, this is the page for you. So we wanted to be very, very welcoming and very open and not restrictive.”
As a private group, members need to request access. Poole, Scott and their friends moderate the page to make sure the rules are followed and the group stays true to its purpose. Sales and promotions on the page are not allowed, due to the bevy of other sites and pages for that sort of activity. Scott said she’s seen some men try to join the Squamish group to meet ladies, but not what the group is for.
“The other thing we’ll generally try to keep safe is political comments and stuff, we try to keep that out of the group because we’re just overwhelmed by news items these days that are not necessarily helpful for us to hear all the time,” Scott said.
“We try to keep the group just really safe really, really inclusive for women and those who identify as women, and no negativity, just supportive community.”
Since its inception, women from Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii have joined the group, and activities have encompassed everything from fly fishing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, skiing, climbing, hiking, and even playdates for dogs.
Poole said one of the spin off benefits is that members are able to give each other relevant advice on adventure products, which was especially useful during certain phases of the pandemic when people weren’t physically shopping in stores. There also aren’t that many brick and mortar stores in the northwest, so some products need to be purchased sight unseen.
“I always like to talk to people who have actually used the products and that created really cool discussions that stemmed off of that. People ask about what hiking boots to buy, like more women’s specific and just creates that kind of that space for women to talk to women about things that fit our bodies a bit better, because again, we can’t really go into stores and get that kind of hands on recommendations,” she said.
Another thing that has been unexpected so far, according to Scott, is people using the group to connect with others outside of a strictly adventuring capacity.
“Many women will post and say, ‘hey, I’m recovering from an injury and I can’t do the things I normally like to do, but I’d really still like to hang out with people. So I would really love if someone wanted to get together for a cup of coffee or an easy walk or sit by the river.’”
Overall, both Scott and Poole said it has been a positive experience setting up and running the group, and there are times when it can provide not just a welcoming community but also motivation.
“I feel inspired watching people do cool stuff and I’m sure there’s other people who feel that way, and then the people who are also getting out to do like it’s just an inspiring thing to get out with other women,” Scott said.
“It’s empowering to get out with other women and do really awesome activities and adventures. So it’s nice to be able to help create a platform where that can take place.”