Airport bestsellers and pontifical articles preach the same view — the rapid industrialization of technology is ruining us and, most of all, our ability to communicate.
We type so quickly our parents’ parents would fall backward from shame. We click and clack, command exit out of depressing articles. Our fingers foster relationships. We “Netflix and chill,” or just chill, how about you? And sometimes we go days having talked to tons of people and yet none at all.
The rise of ever-connectivity feels like Dudley Dursley’s birthday. What are we supposed to do with all of these gifts? Lay in them, I suppose.
Or, we can take a step back, go out for a hike and think about something — anything larger than ourselves. Take charge of our own volition, instead of staying idle, being suffocated by the sprawl.
That’s exactly what the Wilderness Mamas hope to channel.
Started by a former graduate assistant for the Gender Equity Center (GEC), The Wilderness Mamas is a relatively new establishment to Cal Poly. The club started with the intention of cultivating a space for women to be active and build friendships it is an oasis for anyone in need.
The Wilderness Mamas hike every Friday morning, and embark on miscellaneous trips around the year.
The real goal of the club, said Wilderness Mamas member and history junior Rachel Smith, is to nurture the connection between the mind and body.
“Being outside and in nature brings out a different side of you,” Smith said. “It’s the atmosphere of the group that makes you feel better about yourself.”
For Smith, feeling empowered doesn’t have to come in the form of congratulatory language, it rests on the simultaneous feelings of independence and deep kinship — to her, that’s what makes Wilderness Mamas one of a kind.
The club welcomes all women of varying fitness levels.
“A lot of people who aren’t ‘outdoorsy’ could feel a little bit hesitant, but that’s the great thing about (Wilderness Mamas),” Smith said. “It incorporates everyone.”
Animal science sophomore Madison Wells, who is responsible for club logistics, has helped with the group since it started last year. She’d been involved with the GEC and was asked to help. Wells said the inspiration for the Wilderness Mamas was to create something along the lines of PolyEscapes, but free and for girls.
“Maya (the original founder) really wanted it to be a place for girls who felt sort of ‘in between,’” Wells said. “Like ones that don’t have a car, or like to exercise but don’t like going to the gym and aren’t in a sorority.”
Unlike the gym, Wilderness Mamas is far more than exercise — it’s bonding with intention.
“It’s based around coming together with a common interest — not for intense, judgmental exercise,” Wells said. “The gym can be intimidating.”
And the intentions aren’t so abstract. Before every Friday morning hike, the women come together and discuss their weeks — setting individual intentions, or goals for the next. Sometimes the intentions are as topical as completing a taxing climb, but others dig a little deeper with goals like being nicer or less judgmental.
For the ever-revolving Wilderness Mamas, these mornings mean more than just breaking a sweat; the hikes are cathartic, and for some, the only space they truly feel at ease with themselves and their surroundings.
“I’m in the College of Agriculture, but I feel I don’t always fit the mold,” Wells said. “It’s nice to be around like-minded people who know what you’re talking about and have something to add.”
Atypical of many of the agriculture students, Wells grew up in San Jose, which she says often makes her feel like a “city outsider.”
“A lot of people have opinions that I don’t agree with, and majority always rules in those classes,” she said. “Sometimes it’s scary to speak up.”
Wells said the club is a place to feel consistently supported, intellectually stimulated, comfortable in her own skin. A space for women to be women.
Sociology junior Madeline White joined the Wilderness Mamas almost immediately after coming to Cal Poly as a transfer student from the Bay Area. For her, being outdoors is a large component of the way she manages stress and decompresses from mental bustle.
“It’s a release,” White said. “The girls are really wonderful and super accepting. It’s nice to be around independent people who want to make a positive impact in the world.”