Helena Lady Banks Builds Birdhouse

Now that I got the minor details of the trip out of the way, here is the answer to the question you are really wondering. “What did you actually do while you were there?”

First up was Kayaking Basics. There was a hurricane brewing in the Gulf, so I was prepared to be drenched all weekend. Oddly enough, once we got out on the water, the clouds completely cleared, and the warm sun was at just the right angle to remind you why you live. Then someone shouted “EAGLE” and as I looked up in the sky, an eagle flew overhead. God Bless America!

I’ve kayaked before but never had lessons. I learned so much in three and a half hours and had the best time visiting with other boat buddies on the water. We even jumped out of the kayak on purpose, just so we could practice “rescuing” ourselves. Let me tell you, these thick thighs’ lifesaving capabilities are severely reduced when you’re trying to use your small top half to haul your much larger bottom half into a tiny boat. Our instructor’s trick of “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” was lost on me, I had to stop and figure out a more nuanced approach. All my wiggling was doing was making waves!


Boater Education Boat Diagram

The next day I signed up for Boater Education which would take up two class slots but in the end, I would have my Texas Boating License. You know….for all of my yachting and sailing adventures in landlocked Dallas. Our instructor was the amazing Mary Carrier and she had interesting stories to go along with every part of the lesson. With all of the tales of the seven seas, I was only slightly disappointed that the only vessel we would be setting foot on was a rollout banner on the floor. As many times as I’ve been in the ocean on a boat, I never knew what the buoy colors, signals, and “traffic lanes” were on the water. I learned about the intercoastal highway, and she gave me the exact path of how I could get my future sailing yacht from a lake in Texas all the way to the Caribbean, easy breezy!

Put me down for a 40-footer please and thank you.

The last night there, I’ll admit, I had to make a run into “town.” The main reason was that cell service was terrible and I needed to return an important call but it was just justification so I could go to Kroger and Jack in the Box! To be perfectly honest, as extroverted as I appear to be, my “only-child” syndrome is legit. I needed a break from “peopling!” I can “people” all day because I go home and just do me, it refills my outgoing vessel then I can turn around and do it again. But being engaged with people all day then going back to a dorm room with more people can be too much for me. My little getaway allowed me to buy some random groceries and eat my curly fries in peace.

The final class was Woodworking for Wildlife. It started bright and early in the morning and I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be trusted with power tools first thing in the morning. The good news is our very capable instructor explained everything perfectly and didn’t even wince when I said using the circular saw was like using a sewing machine. I mean, you must keep them both straight using the guides and you can cause a mean cut if you’re not paying careful attention. With only a minimal number of additional questions and no bloodshed, I ended my time at BOW with a handmade cedar birdhouse! First time using a circular saw at that. My birdhouse buddy was a BOW pro and had been to many of them in the past so getting her insight on the program was also invaluable to my assessment of how I will approach it the next time.

The ladies at BOW were nothing short of awesome and I have been sharing my experience with everyone I meet. With my “first-timers” experience, I’ll be better prepared for the next one I’m able to attend.


Still, the little voice inside of me needs to know more. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the program and I just can’t help but wonder how many women have missed out on this adventure for one reason or another. I heard from the “Friends of BOW” the auxiliary group about how Texas Parks and Wildlife used to have a position where the sole focus was on producing BOW events and that position and the budget was cut in the past, so they’re doing the best they can on a skeleton budget.


But that just lead me to ask more questions, like who is the legislator who is passionate about this project? Someone mentioned the budget is allocated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. As it turns out, the commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate, the Commission adopts policies and rules to carry out all programs of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Oh really now?!

What did I do after completing  “Becoming and Outdoor Woman?” I went camping in the woods of course! Look for the report on my first signature event, “Curated, Community Campout.”



“One bright sunny morning, well, on the shadow of these people
Down by the welfare office, I, I saw my people
You know now they stood hungry, I-I, I stood wonderin’
I was wonderin’, if this land was made for you and me.”

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.



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