Kim McMullen is the founder of an inspiring non-profit called Girl in the Wild, which offers free confidence-boosting adventure camps for young women. In light of COVID, the Kim has pivoted to an online community, offering some wonderful virtual courses relating to wellness and self-care. We chatted about her top wellness tips and asked for some timely advice on self-confidence and mental health during COVID-19, plus found out what’s coming up for Girl in the Wild in 2021. —Vita Daily
Hi Kim! When and why did you launch Girl in the Wild? What is it, and what does it offer/do for young women?
I launched Girl in the Wild in 2018 because the idea had been keeping me awake for a year. I didn’t have all the pieces together. I didn’t even have a plan. But I just knew it was something. And it had to come to life. Girl in the Wild is a non-profit that provides free confidence-building camps to struggling teenage girls in wild spaces. We provide a free week long adventure-based and open-and-vulnerable based curriculum in the remote alpine of the Kootenays. This includes helicoptering in to 2300m and hiking, rock climbing, daily sunrise yoga, alpine lake swimming, camping, daily meditation under the stars, daily conversations about things like body image, negative self talk, comparison and competition, mental health, capability and dreams. The girls who show up on day one are not the same girls that leave on day seven. What we do for them is actually give them space and tools to do what they need for themselves to feel full, confident, and capable.
How has Girl in the Wild pivoted in light of COVID? What courses will be offered virtually in the new year?
We evolved our camp curriculum into an online offering. Free for teenage girls always and paid for women (paid courses fund our free programming), we partnered with several incredible women, experts in their fields, and created online workshops specific for Girl in the Wild and its supporters. In the new year, we have three paid courses to start and a couple of others in the incubator aiming for a spring launch. For teenage girls, we have an intro to meditation course and a self love course coming up in March.
What are some of your fave “success stories” that have come out of the program?
One girl said on day one crossing a boulder field swallowing tears, “People like me can’t do things like this.” She meant people with curvier body types. Over the course of camp, she actually became our most sure-footed confident adventurer and actually set the pace for our hikes and also climbed so fast that we had to ask her to slow down so we could belay safely. When she left, we said, “Remember that the scale is not a measure of who you are.” And she said, “I have a new scale now. I measure myself by happiness.” BAM!!!
Another girl came struggling with mental health and self harm. She labelled herself as the crazy one right away. Assuming people would not want to get to know her. We eliminated crazy from her vocabulary and she started to see what she was offering. She was so warmly accepted and became a bit of a mama bear to the girls. A wise soul with a penchant for listening. She became the girl who built community. When she left I said, “Remember, you are not crazy.” And she said, “I am crazy awesome and crazy kind and crazy creative.” BAM!
Given the current pandemic, and the toll it is taking on many of us, what are your top wellness tips when it comes to self-confidence and mental health during COVID?
Take pause and give yourself some grace. Everyone is hustling so hard to stay above water. It feels like there is no time to pause. But there is. There always is. and these small moments are so necessary to regroup and find joy and positivity and light in dark and confusing times. And, get fresh air. Every day. No matter what. You can sit or walk or run or ski or hike or anything. Just do it outside. For a little bit. Fresh air is healing 100 per cent of the time.
What wild adventure are you personally planning/looking forward to most in 2021 (or post COVID)?
I personally can’t wait to take my newborn son to the peaks of some of my favourite mountains so he can experience the magic first hand.