Fly fishing

Pennsylvania women learn camping skills from a group of sisters

to play

A group of adventurous women provide opportunities for outdoor entertainment, education, and friendship across the country, including in Pennsylvania.

Sisters on the Fly was started in 1999 by sisters Maurrie Sussman and Becky Clarke while camping and fishing with friends out west. Their mother, Mazie, taught the sisters how to fly fish, and since those beginnings, Sisters has grown into the nation’s largest women’s outdoor adventure group.

Sisters has attracted more than 21,000 members since 1999, and of the 7,038 active members, there are more than 100 in Pennsylvania.

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“I’ll tell you what I like the most about the Sisters is getting together and you know right away that everyone likes to be outside and do something that is related to the outside. “Erie member Marie Scalera said in a phone interview.

“Every week of every month, something happens in a state across the country.” She added that there are even members in England and Australia.

“The rules are no men, no kids, be nice and have fun,” Scalera said. “I’m telling you, we’re having more fun than anyone.”

Gay Warshaw, a volunteer co-wrangler for the organization in several states including Pennsylvania, said the events included camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, biking, stargazing, sporting clays, and antique and flea markets.

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Volunteer wranglers offer advice to women who want to organize events and welcome new members.

Warshaw, who lives in Catonsville, Maryland, has been involved with the organization for seven years and enjoys helping with events in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

During camping trips, women learn to do everything it takes to camp. Many women have their own campers and others agree to sleep in tents. Still others stay in cabins at the campsite. “If someone is new to towing a trailer, there are always other sisters who are ready to answer questions, help them with the technical aspects of it,” Warshaw said.

She said the other sisters don’t take over chores, but teach how to do things the right way. The range of possibilities ranges from fly fishing, outdoor cooking, building a fire, pitching a tent, and most anything camping.

Members-only events have been held at various locations in Pennsylvania over the years, including Caledonia State Park, the Pine Creek Gorge at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, along the trout streams of Potter County, a meet at Warminster, a hot air balloon festival near Meadville, and camp at Sigel, Gettysburg, Lancaster, the Laurel Highlands, and various campgrounds in northeastern Pennsylvania. “Some sisters, once they become friends, will also get together outside of formal events,” Warshaw said.

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There have been about a dozen events in the state over the past year and nearly 30 in the mid-Atlantic region. “It all depends on how far someone wants to travel,” she said of members being welcome at all events around the country.

Scalera learns to fish. “I want to involve more women in fly fishing. That was my main goal in reaching out and involving other women,” she said. “It’s their break. Getting away from their husbands, their kids, their pets, and just relaxing and having fun.”

Warshaw said there were women from all walks of life. “It’s at all levels, all walks of life, and what brings us together is our love of the outdoors,” she said.

Scalera retired in March from home health care and now enjoys spending time outdoors. “It’s like being a kid again,” Scalera said of camping trips and other outings. A woman has an Elvis Presley themed motorhome.

The adventures aim to create friendships and build confidence for women who want to travel and enjoy camping.

“It’s a very positive environment, supporting other women,” Warshaw said.

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All members must be at least 21 years old and most members are between 40, 50 and 60 years old. There are biological mothers, daughters and sisters involved. The annual membership fee is $70.

“It’s an opportunity to have fun and learn something new,” Warshaw said.

Email Warshaw at [email protected] or visit sistersonthefly.com for more information and membership details.

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“We’re always open to bringing in new women, it’s great,” Scalera said. “We have more fun than anyone, that’s our motto.”

Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email on your website homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.