Wander Women: Helen Thayer

If you ask a group of American kids to name five explorers, their answer is likely to include Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, maybe Marco Polo, Magellan, or Vasco de Gama. You could name several distinguishing characteristics these individuals share, but one really stands out to me: the Y chromosome.

Women explorers are such unsung heroes! But their adventures and discoveries are such great stories that even boys could appreciate them. Isabella Bird, Isabel Godin, and my personal favorite, Freya Stark: these women’s stories have all the stuff of an Indiana Jones movie–from bushwacking through the Amazon to camel-riding through sandstorms. I really hope to share some of these stories with kids, girls especially. I’m planning on featuring a different Wander Woman each month on The Wanderlists.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to meet a real life, amazing woman explorer, Helen Thayer. Helen was the first woman to complete a solo expedition to the magnetic North Pole. She did this at age 50, pulling 160 pounds worth of pack on her sled, with only her dog to help. She has also trekked 1600 miles across the Gobi desert and lived for a year with a wolf pack in the Artic circle. You can read about her adventures in Polar Dream, 3 Among the Wolves, and Walking the Gobi.

Helen is such an inspiring woman and so nice as well. She’s a great role model for girls and I’m so glad my daughter got to meet her. She has also created a resource for teachers called Adventure Classroom that’s really worth checking out (and teachers, she does school visits!)

Miss M. with Helen at the Mast General Store book signing


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