Wearing a dress when hiking is pretty awesome as it turns out.
“It’s very airy – which is a huge plus – and when it comes to putting on extra layers it makes it pretty easy – there were maybe a few extra mosquito bites,” says Dustin Main who just completed a five-day 70km trek along the Berg Lake Trail in a dress.
Main, his brother and dad Dale and Jeff, took on the journey to raise money for the One Girl program to help send girls in Sierra Leone to school.
The “Do it in a dress” campaign as it’s known, started as a way to get donations for the program in Australia. The campaign has now spread around the globe, with school dresses popping up on unlikely characters. As far as they know, they are the first Canadians to “do it in a dress.”
Main, who lives in Saskatoon, says he raised $5,400 in just over a week and donations were still coming in. He was hoping to reach the $8,000 mark. It costs ____ to send one girl to school for a year.
He says they didn’t know how many dresses it would take – so they took backup dresses, but completed the hike in the same dress.
“Wearing a dress for 5 days may be toxic,” he warns. “You probably shouldn’t wear anything for 5 days in a row let alone a dress.”
How did he convince his brother and dad to do it?
“I had a very good pitch – and probably a little bit of peer pressure,” he says.
They were warned that there might be some chafing – but it turned out that was not an issue.
They got a mostly positive reaction from people they met on the trail. “Some people were really gung ho and positive for what we were doing. It turns out some people get a little scared when dudes are hiking in dresses. We even had one guy who ran away when we asked him if he wanted a picture of us. There were a lot of Germans on the trail – they thought we were extra strange.”
He says he’s been blown away by the response and plans to hike in a dress once a year.
The money will help girls access education through scholarships, school rehabilitation and access to sanitary pads.
In Sierra Leone, only 1 in 6 girls has the chance to attend high school and almost one third of the girls born there will be married and pregnant before their 15th birthday.
According to One Girl, “when a girl is educated, everything changes – she will marry later, have a smaller, healthier family and for every year she stays in school, she increases her income by 10% and invests 90% of that in her family.”
“Educating a girl improves the local economy more than any other type of investment.”