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Q&A factory: women thinking of coming to wheaton labs

 
master steward
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Candice said something today that she thinks we need an FAQ for women that are thinking of coming here.  So I am making this thread so we can cobble together some of the Q's and the A's that will make the foundation for a future thread that will look much nicer than what this thread will look like.  (subtext:  I am saying that this thread is supposed to get very messy)


Candice started this by saying that the first two questions are:

How hard is it to physically keep up with the bootcamp?

Hygiene?

 
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This may or may not be part of the same Q & A, but updating the information on bringing along littles and support persons? The most recent post I could find directly related was 2019.  
 
paul wheaton
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S Rogers wrote:This may or may not be part of the same Q & A, but updating the information on bringing along littles and support persons? The most recent post I could find directly related was 2019.  



https://permies.com/t/178195/permaculture-projects/Permaculture-Bootcamp-Thistle-Program-facilitating

I think the default answer is to do the sepper program.
 
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I would love to visit Wheaton Labs.

Here are some threads that I feel women would find interesting:

https://permies.com/t/47814/permaculture-projects/willow-feeder-wheelie-bin-pooper

https://permies.com/wiki/labs-summary

https://permies.com/t/158889/permaculture-projects/Erica-Boot-Camp-Experience-BRK

https://permies.com/t/120233/permaculture-projects/Jen-Boot-Camp-Allerton-Abbey

https://permies.com/wiki/rentals
Staff note (Jeff Bosch) :

Please refer to https://permies.com/wiki/sepper for renting at WL.

 
pollinator
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Pee, poop, and wash-up facilities or expectations. What the setup is/are, and how far they are from the different activities. Pictures help! A lot of female bodies don't function quite like they did before they had kids or got old, and we're often uncomfortable asking about our particular needs around that.

Sleeping arrangements.

Options about bringing children and pets.

Are there any not neutered male dogs there, and if so how are they managed? They tend to be pests during shark week.

With the physical keep-up, are there any backpack expectations for specific activities, and if so, what's the average weight of those packs and how long are folks carrying them?

Any gender-based expectations? I've come across places where all the women are expected to do X, all the guys Y. I don't necessarily mind, but I'd like to know beforehand if it's just assumed I'll pitch in with the dishes because I squat when I pee. Same issue for guys, if you've got a bad shoulder it's just cruel to assume you'll be out there chopping firewood. If there are expectations, can we swap with no drama?

And, pictures. Pics showing a spread of people ( young, old, male, female, different ethnicities. )  I am weird as snake shoes, and I tend to find diverse communities have an easier time accepting me.

I think I've seen most of the answers to these over different posts here, but having it all in one place and up to date sounds like a good thing.

 
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Hey!   This is so fun!  

I have been playing a lot at Wheaton Labs this summer.  I was really impressed, there are so many improvements!
The boot camp, the event attendees, seppers.   Everybody who comes out here does work in their own way to make it better and move projects along.

Bathrooms.
There are 4 willow feeders

These are beautiful permaculture style bathrooms. Private and peaceful.

There is a toilet seat.

A very nice pooping experience.  
 
A lovely sink to wash up.   It has a foot pump to run the water so no electricity needed.  


Showers!

The shower shack is real permaculture luxury.  The showers are mostly raw wooden smooth boards .  Very little plastic.  You can have the water as hot as you want with wood heat.




If you want a totally normal bathroom you can always use the bathroom and shower in the Fischer price house.   It is very nice and normal in all the ways you would expect a toilet, sink and shower to be.  We all do our bit to keep it clean.  


Where can I pee?  


I pee outside. In the gardens or forests.    I do my best to go well out of sight.    There is a lot of nutrient in our pee so I like to get it on the gardens.    I also feel like it is grounding to pee on the ground





 
Samantha Lewis
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What are my options for sleeping arrangements?


There are many bunking opportunities
A bunk in the solarium or Fischer price house

Get a bunk in cooper cabin and you can live in a real WOFATI

This is such a beautiful home.  It is a treat to spend time in the cabin and surrounding gardens.  



Some folks really want their privacy. They have a variety of little cabins meant for a single person, couple or small family.  

You can also pitch a tent and make yourself comfortable under the stars.
 
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I was in the boot camp last fall for a few weeks. I really liked all the people I was working with and the accommodations were fine. I spent time in the Fisher Price house, Cooper Cabin and the Red Cabin.  

The only problem I had with being a boot were physical limitations. I am a 65 year old woman and I had a hard time keeping up with the work that the boots do. (Dig trenches, carry heavy things, etc.) Also, when you are a boot you are working outside a lot in all kinds of weather. Magdalene didn't seem to have a problem keeping up, so I think it was more to do with age that being female.
 
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This is already helpful!!

I would add:

-our expectations of you (breaks, speak up if you need something, go at your own pace etc), but do contribute to the activities to the best of your ability.

-general expectations - outdoors 8 hours a day ish in all /extreme weather conditions; physical (bending, climbing, standing, leaning, carrying, lifting, digging, use of power tools optional etc), but that we can make some accommodations as necessary. Sharing a bunk with others (all ages, all genders) is the typical.


-Samantha’s post was good. Add moon box and/or what to do when…

-You get assigned a buddy to help teach/train/guide/lead you. And even if you pull out something in the garden you mistakenly thought was a bad weed, no one will be upset. We just plant more things!

- The food situation was fairly unclear to me but I adapted and I’m not starving. But if I were, grocery stores for healthy foods are 40 minutes away. I’m learning the nuances of the food/kitchen rules but a nice little cheat sheet would have been helpful to have upon arrival.. Including a few key things for newbies that they might not know about water conservation, composting and recycling dos and don’ts.

FYI, I’m 46 but work a desk job so while I’m on the younger side I’m also on the weaker side of strength. It shouldn’t be a deterrent. There are plenty of things we can keep them busy with!

 
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Candice Churchwell wrote:
-general expectations - outdoors 8 hours a day ish in all /extreme weather conditions; physical (bending, climbing, standing, leaning, carrying, lifting, digging, use of power tools optional etc), but that we can make some accommodations as necessary. Sharing a bunk with others (all ages, all genders) is the typical.



I always wondered about this. What if a woman didn't feel comfortable bunking with guys (for personal, moral, past trauma, etc, reasons)? Would she need to tent, or could all female-bunking be allowed if there were enough ladies who wanted to?

Another question: What happens if a woman is receiving unwelcomed sexual advances? She tells the person to stop, but the person don't stop. Who  should she report to? What recourse does she have? (I'd like to think nothing like this would ever happen, and I'm sure it's highly unlikely. But, I figure it'd probably be reassuring for a woman to know what to do, and that they'll be protected, should something like this occur.)
 
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Candice Churchwell wrote: Sharing a bunk with others (all ages, all genders) is the typical.



We don't expect anyone to share a bunk, though we don't prohibit it either.

I think what Candice means is that the bunk rooms are not segregated in any way. So, there may be someone not like you in a nearby bunk.
 
S Rogers
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Having never been to Wheaton Labs (yet!), I'm assuming that the point is to learn, so not having experience is expected.  I think a lot of women might feel somewhat intimidated because they may have never even seen an excavator (or used a specific tool/machine/etc) let alone seen one.  So maybe, making it super extra clear that it is totally okay (IF it is actually okay - I actually don't know) that they've never done this before and if they need someone to walk them through it, someone can (if that's true - I have no idea).  

The first time I used an excavator or skidder I was super intimidated...and I probably wouldn't have sought it out - even though I wanted to, because I didn't think anyone would let me just try it out and walk me through it - no strings attached.  
 
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I don't know what exactly "bunk" means. You might want to make that explicit.
 
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I've stayed at wheaton labs twice. I'm a married gal, and my husband gave me grief about staying in a room with dudes. There are two bunk beds in the room where I stayed, occupied by gals and guys. Several rooms are like that on site. If I had chosen to ask about it, kindly, I would have been offered other space, because folks at wheaton labs are nice. It might be the floor or a couch, not a bed. If I had decided to be a premadonna about it, I could probably sleep outside in a tent or leave.

I changed clothes in the bathroom. Changed tampons in the bathroom and "willow feeders." Took out my own garbage. I like to use cloth pads when I'm at home and wash them myself, but I was caught off guard by shark week and used plastic. Nobody made me feel like an earth-destroying loser.

I was more concerned about waking everyone up at night when I got off the bunk bed to pee. (4 months pregnant that time) I would prepare ear plugs and eye covers when sleeping in a group bedroom. Hey, I sleep with a hubby and kids in my bed/on the floor at home, and I still got woken by all the noises in the fisher price house.

In the summer, it's not a big deal to make it to a bathroom. Or squat behind a tree. Or use a she-wee. In the winter, in the ice, at dark especially, it's tougher, but if you wanted to work out a bucket system, I'll bet you could. If incontinence is a worry, unless you're pretty clever, wheaton labs might not be a good fit for ya. Depends or poise fill up a bathroom garbage can pretty fast. I'm not sure how you could be discreet. Unless you're not worried about people noticing. I really don't think anyone would be a jerk if there were accidents.

On the awkward social pressure/getting hit on... sexual tension can pop up! Lots of single guys/gals there. If you ask for space, it won't become a big deal. Everyone I've met at wheaton labs gets good at communicating or gets lost.

I kept up with the pace of work just fine, even being a girl/newbie. I worked through boob-sweat in July and teeth chattering in January. Bring layers of clothes and a good body powder, and (for Heaven's sake!) Go dip in the river when you're invited. It makes everything less smelly!!
 
Candice Engel
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For women who have never visited or been to the bootcamp what keeps you from doing so?

For women who have visited, what are the top 3 things you wish you had known before you arrived?

These questions are two-fold - what objections do we need to overcome to get women to say yes to bootcamp? And what 3-5 things could we send little info videos a few days ahead of arrival to help better prepare people of what to expect when they arrive?
 
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Just thought this thread was begging for this thumbnail.

From a time before youtube . . .
 
K Kaba
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Candice Churchwell wrote:For women who have never visited or been to the bootcamp what keeps you from doing so?



Distance crossed with family commitments. When things go wrong (which they do a lot more than you'd expect if I have plans or travel!) I need to be reachable by cell and be able to return within a day. I'm on the east coast, and wheaton labs is more than a 12 hr drive. That's all likely to change in a couple years, but for now it is what it is.

UV exposure health issues. They're not much of a problem between mid fall and mid spring, and it looks like there's lots of interesting things to do there in the cooler seasons.
 
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Many thanks for this thread. It’s answered some of my questions. The one big reservation I have is sharing personal / sleeping space with other people. While I’m open-minded and keen to learn and explore new things, it’s very important to me to have my own safe-feeling, quiet space to return to at the end of the day. If it’s acceptable to live in a single tent at night, that would be more than fine with me. I’m just double checking if this would be okay, please?

The other thing that I’ve been wondering about is do you accept at Wheaton Labs women from abroad? I’m based in the UK and am hoping that Brexit won’t prevent me from staying with you for longer periods of time?

Lastly, I have a beloved male (castrated) tom cat called Buddy who if I were to stay long-term, I’d like to have with me. How possible would this be, please?

Thank you,

Gemma
 
Beau Davidson
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Gemma Boyd wrote:Many thanks for this thread. It’s answered some of my questions.


Hi Gemma, thanks for your questions.

The one big reservation I have is sharing personal / sleeping space with other people. While I’m open-minded and keen to learn and explore new things, it’s very important to me to have my own safe-feeling, quiet space to return to at the end of the day. If it’s acceptable to live in a single tent at night, that would be more than fine with me. I’m just double checking if this would be okay, please?


I believe boots can tent it whenever they want.


The other thing that I’ve been wondering about is do you accept at Wheaton Labs women from abroad? I’m based in the UK and am hoping that Brexit won’t prevent me from staying with you for longer periods of time?


Pretty sure people can, and have, come from anywhere, provided that they come legally.

Lastly, I have a beloved male (castrated) tom cat called Buddy who if I were to stay long-term, I’d like to have with me. How possible would this be, please?


Good question - maybe this is case-by-case.  Someone else may have a better answer . . .
 
Gemma Boyd
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Beau Davidson wrote:

Gemma Boyd wrote:Many thanks for this thread. It’s answered some of my questions.


Hi Gemma, thanks for your questions.

The one big reservation I have is sharing personal / sleeping space with other people. While I’m open-minded and keen to learn and explore new things, it’s very important to me to have my own safe-feeling, quiet space to return to at the end of the day. If it’s acceptable to live in a single tent at night, that would be more than fine with me. I’m just double checking if this would be okay, please?


I believe boots can tent it whenever they want.


The other thing that I’ve been wondering about is do you accept at Wheaton Labs women from abroad? I’m based in the UK and am hoping that Brexit won’t prevent me from staying with you for longer periods of time?


Pretty sure people can, and have, come from anywhere, provided that they come legally.

Lastly, I have a beloved male (castrated) tom cat called Buddy who if I were to stay long-term, I’d like to have with me. How possible would this be, please?


Good question - maybe this is case-by-case.  Someone else may have a better answer . . .



Thank you very much, Beau, for answering my questions. That’s a great help. Best wishes, Gemma
 
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For reference, here's an example of most of the options for today's "Project Day." Some of them might be physically-demanding, others not so much. It's kind of a spectrum.
(also, my apologies if some of these things don't immediately make sense... We have our own references, terms, and even nicknames for certain equipment here!)

As the week goes on, we'll tackle them all to some extent. However everyone has their own "strengths and circumstances," so to speak. and no one's forced to do tasks - especially if they have physical limitations. I'd say in general if someone has a gut feeling of, "I would never, ever do that!" then we'd find a way to accommodate. There's always something else that can be done.

 
Gemma Boyd
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Stephen B. Thomas wrote:For reference, here's an example of most of the options for today's "Project Day." Some of them might be physically-demanding, others not so much. It's kind of a spectrum.
(also, my apologies if some of these things don't immediately make sense... We have our own references, terms, and even nicknames for certain equipment here!)

As the week goes on, we'll tackle them all to some extent. However everyone has their own "strengths and circumstances," so to speak. and no one's forced to do tasks - especially if they have physical limitations. I'd say in general if someone has a gut feeling of, "I would never, ever do that!" then we'd find a way to accommodate. There's always something else that can be done.



As usual, very insightful, Stephen - thanks!
 
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I saw a note from Paul somewhere where he said they've allowed pets many times.  I'm guessing it depends on the cat but they seem to be more worried about dogs eating their cats than the other way around.
 
Gemma Boyd
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Mike Haasl wrote:I saw a note from Paul somewhere where he said they've allowed pets many times.  I'm guessing it depends on the cat but they seem to be more worried about dogs eating their cats than the other way around.



Hi Mike, Yes, my black tom, Buddy has been given the go-ahead. Just got to figure out how to get him from Heathrow to Missoula airport! I wish I could just take his batteries out for this trip!
 
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Candice Engel wrote:For women who have never visited or been to the bootcamp what keeps you from doing so?

For women who have visited, what are the top 3 things you wish you had known before you arrived?

These questions are two-fold - what objections do we need to overcome to get women to say yes to bootcamp? And what 3-5 things could we send little info videos a few days ahead of arrival to help better prepare people of what to expect when they arrive?


For years already I follow the threads with photos most 'boots' make (for BRK). This gives me some insight in the life of boots at Wheaton Labs.
I think, even as a woman of 66, I would be a good boot. I'm used to spend long days outside in different kinds of weather (though here it's more often rainy and windy than freezing-cold). Some work, for which strong muscles are needed, I'm not able to do. But I think they'ld understand and give me some other jobs to do.

Camping together with all kinds of people, I was used to do that in my younger years. And then we had to 'go to the bathroom' in a tent built over a hole in the ground ... and wash ourselves at a pump with cold water (but that was in the 1970s).

The reason why I'm not coming to Whaton Labs: I live in the Netherlands, western Europe. Montana is too far away (and I decided not to travel by airplane anymore ...)
 
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