On Friday, August 25, REI hosted a “Raise the Roof(top) Party to Celebrate Women in the Outdoors” as part of their Force of Nature initiative to encourage women to spend more time exploring the great outdoors. The event was held on the roof of the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods, who supplied some of the refreshments. REI provided SWAG for attendees as well and arranged for a taco truck (and complimentary tacos); Conshohocken Brewing Company supplied beer for those over 21.The event began with the REI hosts providing a brief history of the popular consumer cooperative that goes back to 1938 when 23 mountain climbing enthusiasts got together to create a place to obtain gear for outdoor activities. Mary Anderson, one of the co-founders lived to the age of 107, which was pointed out, is a valuable testament to the value of a life spent outdoors.
The hosts quickly went on to introduce the evening’s speakers. Julie from Ragnar Trail spoke briefly about the upcoming Ragnar Trail Race in northern NJ on Oct 13-14. She explained that Ragnar makes running a team sport: at these events, teams of 8 run a relay continuously through the night. While not running, there are planned activities in camp. Diana Owens Steif, the operations director for Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia spoke about the Circuit Trails and mentioned that the organization also offers adult and youth education programs. Both were also available for the rest of the evening to answer questions about their organizations and to sign up new members.
The keynote speaker was Leslie Hsu Oh, an award-winning travel writer and photographer who is a great proponent of getting kids outdoors and having their own outdoor adventures. She read excerpts of her work, both from in-progress and already published pieces, and shared some stories of a family trip with assistance from her children. She got her traveling spirit from her mother and said she is trying to instill the same sense of adventure in her family that her mother did in her. Oh and her children wrapped things up by raffling off some items she had brought, including greeting cards inked by her late mother.
The event concluded with mini workshops where participants could learn about things such as travel essentials, making the perfect cup of camp coffee, and how to fix a flat on your bike. REI offers a number of classes designed to make people more comfortable with adventuring outdoors, many of which are free. Details can be found on their website.