Guts_Logo_Color_thumbnailGirls Using Their Strengths (GUTS!) is a unique, community-based leadership and empowerment program designed by and for young women*, ages 9 to 18. GUTS! encourages young women to explore their own personal values and discover their strengths through wilderness adventures in the summer, as well as after-school groups and community service projects during the academic year.

In the face of a culture that sexualizes young girls and places more value on external appearance rather than inner strength, GUTS! provides a safe and supportive environment for girls. Our women staff and volunteers help girls build their confidence, explore important issues, develop strong and healthy relationships, practice their leadership skills, learn about nature, laugh, play, and have FUN!

*Interested participants who identify with girlhood or womanhood are welcome to join GUTS! programs. This includes participants who are transgender or are outside the gender binary and feel that GUTS! could be beneficial or enjoyable to them.

GUTS! turns 20 this year!

We want to celebrate by throwing a celebration for past and current GUTS! participants, volunteers and supporters. Have you participated in GUTS! at some point over the years? If so, we’d love to connect with you. Please complete this quick form so we can get your info and keep you in the loop!

Girls Representing In Trades


The YWCA GUTS! program is excited to offer a new program called GRIT! GRIT, or Girls Representing in Trades, aims to empower middle and high school students who identify with womanhood by broadening their perspective of career options, strengthening their self-confidence, building their self-sufficiency and having fun! The program aims to educate and encourage young girls to explore trade and skill-based work as attainable and feasible careers—anything from construction, to auto mechanics, to welding. We believe increased exposure and hands on learning will help them see trades as an actual career option, a great field many girls don’t even consider. The program intends to teach girls basic skills a variety of different trades in hopes of lessening the intimidation that can exist when in male dominated fields and to build their comfort and confidence not only working in trades, but as women in general. GRIT programs are offered throughout the school year.

Summer Outdoor Adventures

Summer Outdoor Wilderness Adventures

Led by qualified women instructors, GUTS! girls increase their self-confidence, hone individual strengths, and cultivate their appreciation for the natural world in an environment free from societal pressures. Our outdoor adventures are designed to develop leadership skills utilizing recreation and discovery as catalysts. Summer Outdoor Adventures incorporate several outdoor skills such as backpacking, canoeing, farming and biking while introducing participants to the GUTS! leadership method.

School & Community Groups

Action Groups

(School Year) Action Groups give participants the chance to learn and practice leadership skills in their homes, schools and communities. Small groups of between five and ten girls meet throughout Missoula on a weekly basis with two or three women facilitators. These groups discuss topics ranging from healthy relationships and body image to long-term goals and values. Groups develop and complete an action project each school year, providing them with the opportunity to utilize their individual skills to produce real results in their lives.

Teen Talking Circle

This group is for teens who identify with womanhood and are Native American and/or People of Color. We will identify our individual and collective strengths and consider our various identities, with a focus on relationships, resiliency, and action (and whatever else you want!) Our first meeting will be at the end of January and we’ll gather for about ten weeks.

Registration for this group is now closed. Please contact Tabitha Espinoza at [email protected] or 543-6691 with questions about the next group.

Community Adventures

(All Year) All of the Action Groups meet together once a month with women role-models to discuss topics developed by the participants, learn community change techniques, take field trips and go on mini outdoor adventures. Community Adventures give participants a chance to connect with GUTS! girls from other schools and work together to make positive change at the community level.

To join an after-school group, call Roe Erin at (406) 543-6691 or email [email protected].

GUTS! Events

There are lots of GUTS! specific events that happen throughout the year and each item is listed in a GUTS Category our Events Calendar.

GUTS! Volunteers

Volunteers in the GUTS! program work to provide a safe and supportive environment for young women to discover who they are and what skills and talents they can offer the community. Upon completion of six hours of training, GUTS! volunteers lead outdoor summer adventures, facilitate action groups through out the school year, and help out with community adventures all year long. For more information or to get involved, contact GUTS! Program Coordinator Tabby Espinoza at (406) 543-6691 or at [email protected].

GUTS! Orientation dates: Thursday, September 6th, 4:30-6pm OR Monday, September 10th, 11:30-1pm

AND GUTS! training:Wednesday, September 12th, 5:30-8:30

*Orientation and training will take place at YWCA Missoula. Both orientation and training are required. Make-up orientation/training can be arranged with prior notice.*


Create a GUTS! Group

GUTS! offers program start-up guides and facilitator manuals and training for those interested in implementing girls’ empowerment groups in communities outside Missoula. Contact Roe Erin, GUTS! Manager at (406) 543-6691 or [email protected] for more information!