A group of female adventurers provides opportunities for outdoor fun, education and friendship across the country, including Pennsylvania.
Sisters on the Fly was founded by sisters Maurrie Sussman and Becky Clarke in 1999 while camping and fishing with friends out west. Their mother, Mazie, taught the sisters to fly-fish, and since those early days, Sisters has grown into the largest women’s outdoor adventure group in the country.
Sisters has attracted more than 21,000 members since 1999, and of the 7,038 active members, more than 100 are in Pennsylvania.
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“I’ll tell you what I love most about the sisters is the coming together, and you know right away that everyone loves to be outside and do something outside-related,” said Marie Scalera, a Member from Erie, in a phone interview.
“Every week, every month, there’s something going on in some 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 just have fun,” Scalera said. “I’m telling you, we’re having more fun than anyone else.”
Gay Warshaw, a volunteer co-wrangler for the organization in several states including Pennsylvania, said events include camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, biking, stargazing, sporting clay and antique and flea markets.
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The volunteer wranglers advise women who want to host events and welcome new members.
Warshaw, who lives in Catonsville, Maryland, has been involved with the organization for seven years and enjoys helping out with events in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, DC
During the camping trips, the women learn to do everything that is required for camping. Many of the women have their own campers and others can sleep in tents. Still others stay in cabins on the campsites. “When someone is new to towing a trailer, there are always other sisters willing to answer questions and help them with the technical aspects,” Warshaw said.
She said the other sisters don’t do the chores but teach how to do things right. Options range from fly fishing to outdoor cooking, making fires, camping and just about anything camping related.
Members-only events have been held at various Pennsylvania locations over the years, including Caledonia State Park, Pine Creek Gorge in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, along the trout streams of Potter County, a meet-and-greet in Warminster, a hot air balloon festival in near Meadville and camping in Sigel, Gettysburg, Lancaster, the Laurel Highlands and various campgrounds in northeastern Pennsylvania. “Some sisters meet outside of formal events once they become friends,” Warshaw said.
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Last year there were about a dozen events in the state 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 attract more women to fly fishing. That was my main goal, to join and include other women,” she said.
Warshaw said there are women from all walks of life. “It affects all walks of life, and what brings us together is our love of nature,” she said.
Scalera retired from home nursing in March and now enjoys spending time outdoors. “It’s like being a kid again,” Scalera said of camping trips and other outings. A woman has a camper theme based around Elvis Presley.
The adventures aim to make friends and build confidence for women who want to travel and enjoy camping.
“It’s a very positive environment where other women are supported,” Warshaw said.
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All members must be at least 21 years old and most members are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. There are mothers and daughters and birth sisters involved. The annual fee is $70.
“It’s an opportunity to just have fun and learn something new,” Warshaw said.
Email Warshaw at [email protected] or visit sistersonthefly.com for information and membership details.
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“We’re always open to new women, which is great,” Scalera said. “We have more fun than everyone else, that’s our motto.”
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network’s websites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email on your website home page using your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.