The Woman Behind “Women in the Wild”

Science affirms what many of us already instinctively know, that being outdoors among the trees supports good health. Beyond these benefits, however, lies endless inspiration. The only requirement is quieting oneself to discover precisely what it is that inspires and moves you.

Women in the Wild, a weekend retreat for women from all walks of life, gives women a chance to do exactly that.

Claudine Grunenwald Kirschner, avid hiker and lover of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, leads the Women in the Wild retreats held in CVNP on the private 500-acre campus of the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center.

Claudine had long been daydreaming of creating a transformative experience for women when conversations started with several Conservancy staff members. From there, a partnership was born to offer this unique experience. Since the first retreat held in February of 2017, more than 80 women have attended; many returning time and again because of the important pause it brings to their everyday life.

“The experience I create at Women in the Wild is a little glimpse into what can be gained through an openness to and relationship with the outdoors,” Claudine said.

Claudine carefully crafts the weekend to flow through self-reflection, immersion in nature, and expression through creating art. Participating women get to experience guided meditation, restorative hiking, meaningful conversations, yoga, and connecting to each other in supportive community.   

“While the experience is shared, I find that each woman gains what she most needs in that particular moment of life,” Claudine said. “There is much joy and laughter, but also space for quiet to allow for deeper understanding.”

While there is much to love about the retreat, Claudine’s favorite part is witnessing the support that women give each other.

“It is a special community into which women can show up and fully be themselves — each individual is accepted and belongs in this space of reflection and exploration,” she said. “Being witness to women who discover parts of themselves that may be long-buried or not normally nurtured is enormously rewarding.”

Claudine’s love affair with nature was more of a long courtship. When she first became a mother 15 years ago, she found that being outside with her children was the most nurturing and freeing way to spend time with them. As they grew, so did her love of nature, and she started seeking out opportunities to explore on her own. This led to her hiking the entire Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trail Guide between her 45th and 46th birthdays.

“Immersing into every part of the park solidified for me the power nature holds,” Claudine said.

An artist and poet, Claudine is also an instructor in Communication Arts and Sciences at Baldwin Wallace University, and develops leadership content for the telos institute. She is also the founder of Vibrant Living and Leadership.

The next Women in the Wild on September 28-30 is considered “Best of Wild” because it affords the most diverse activities of reflection, creating, exploring, and connecting.

To learn more and register for the upcoming retreat, visit