Giving girls room to BlossomThe Blossom program for girls started with a bang Sunday, followed by the thunk of arrows hitting targets. Soon, the scents of homemade spaghetti sauce and bubbling caramel filled the air.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The Blossom program for girls started with a bang Sunday, followed by the thunk of arrows hitting targets. Soon, the scents of homemade spaghetti sauce and bubbling caramel filled the air. The afternoon at the Aurora Ouisconsin Outdoor Club included sessions devoted to cowboy fast draw, archery and cooking. The 10 girls who signed up for the program tested their reflexes at the pistol-toting fast draw session, learned the proper way to draw back a bow and dusted each other with flour while making homemade noodles.
“They’re definitely having fun and that’s cool,” said Von Wittkopf, who founded the club with her husband, Jerry.
Many of the girls said cowboy fast draw, where they shoot wax bullets at a target as quickly and accurately as possible, was their favorite part of the day.
“I’m actually good at it,” said Taylor Lindsey, 14, who shot for the first time Sunday. She had the speed down right away, but it took practice for the teen to start hitting the target.
For 10-year-old Deanna Stadin, cooking and archery topped her list. She drew a bow for the first time Sunday and was able to hit a balloon.
Amber Rutheford, 13, liked fast draw shooting and “throwing flour at my mom.”
They all agreed on one thing.
“It was fun,” said Rachel Jaszczak, 14.
“More than we thought,” Taylor said.
Blossom is the brainchild of Lori Adrihan. The program is aimed at teaching girls age 10 and up new skills.
“I love our motto, ‘In a world where you can be anything … be yourself. Learn. Grow. Blossom.’” Adrihan said. “That’s what I want the girls to take from this program. Just keep learning new things, that’s how you grow and blossom.”
When she lofted the idea to Rutherford’s mom, Jenn VanAlstine, Adrihan didn’t even finish her sentence before her friend said “I’m in!”
“Because I think it’s just a great opportunity,” VanAlstine said.
Gathering the other 16 volunteers was just as easy.
“Every instructor here was immediately on board with the idea and truly felt that there is a need for the program like this in our area,” Adrihan said.
Colleen Anderson, who taught archery, said the program is an exciting opportunity and a way to boost confidence.
Blossom gives the girls new skills that they can use now and forever, said 17-year-old Matt Avis.
“Kind of like life lessons,” said the Superior High School senior, who was an archery instructor during Sunday’s session. Avis plans to base his senior project on the program for girls. He hoped that the girls who take part in Blossom will stay with it for years, eventually becoming instructors themselves.
“And it’s based off what the girls want to learn,” Anderson said.
Adrihan set up the inaugural session with activities that are part of her own life.
“I have personally been shooting cowboy fast draw since 1995 and have been bow hunting since 1996,” she said. “Being involved in both these sports has given me such confidence in my everyday life and I encourage any girl or woman to just take that chance and try something new.”
Both are family-oriented sports, too, which was important to Adrihan. Cooking and sharing time around the table are a big part of family life, so she included a session of cooking and serving a meal. Future classes – four a year — will be selected by the participants themselves. Some of the girls were already brainstorming ideas Sunday.
“I’d probably like to do more fast draw at a farther distance,” Taylor said.
“Mounted shooting, that would be fun,” Rachel said, or maybe a class on bow fishing.
Wherever Blossom takes them, there will be adults willing to lead them. Adrihan gave a big thanks to all the instructors who have already jumped on board.
“Together this is going to be a program that I hope the community will get behind,” Adrihan said. She even plans to try some new things herself, like applying for grants to grow Blossom into whatever it can be.
For more information on the program, look it up through the AOOC website at www.aooclub.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A Facebook page, put together by a pair of 13-year-old participants, Maddie LaFlamme and Whitney Larson, is also in the works, but not currently functional.