Women's Step Outside Weekend Works Wonders

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Mary McMullen

Dennis Harger shows Women Step Outside Weekend campers some of the basics of archery. The women campers were testing their skills Aug. 30 at the Tonto Rim Sports Club.

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Mary McMullen

Arizona Game and Fish officer Henry Apfel helps a camper prepare her rifle for firing.

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Mary McMullen

A hike into Tonto Natural Bridge was part of the Arizona Outdoor Women’s weekend. Game and Fish officer Randy Babb, a naturalist, led the trek.

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Mary McMullen

The rains that drenched the Rim Country over the Labor Day weekend didn’t stop the Women’s Outdoor Weekend campers from enjoying Tonto Natural Bridge and other activities.

Downpours that drenched the Rim Country Aug. 30 and sent many scurrying indoors failed to put a kink in the inaugural Women's Step Outside Weekend.

"Everything went off great, it was an exciting event that I think all the women really enjoyed and learned from," said town Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen.

"We had 12 women sign up and about half of them were from around Payson, one came all the way from the Midwest."

Tonto Rim Sports Club member Charles Thompson, who helped host the shooting and archery portions of the weekend, agrees with McMullen's glowing assessment.

"The women all told me what a great time they were having," he said. "They seemed to really enjoy the shooting and were looking forward to coming back next year."

McMullen teamed with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Tonto Rim Sports Club and the Chandler Rod and Gun Club to host the event Aug. 30 and 31.

During the two days of the event, the base site was the Houston Mesa Horse Camp located two miles north of Payson near the junction of SR 87 and Houston Mesa Road.

The women also traveled to Green Valley Park for fishing instruction, visited the SR 260 Elk Project east of Payson and toured Tonto Natural Bridge.

At the Elk Project, Game and Fish officer Jeff Gagnon explained how the animal control plan works, Henry Apfel and Otto Weeden joined Thompson at TRSC for the firearms instruction and Game and Fish naturalist Randy Babb led the trip to the natural bridge.

The Chandler Rod and Gun club prepared meals and served up an introduction to campfire cooking.

"It was Dutch Oven 101," McMullen said.

At the Horse Camp, the campers learned how to efficiently and expertly set up tents, safely hitch a trailer, build campfires and about camp etiquette.

McMullen said the success of the weekend has her anxious to host another of the events that are rapidly growing in popularity around the country.

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