Diversity hasn’t exactly been a strong point of outdoorsy destinations, businesses and events. But people of color (POC) outdoor clubs and groups are working hard to make sure that changes. Even in a COVID-19 world, these organizations are out there encouraging underrepresented Americans to get into nature.
POC Outdoor Clubs and Groups Build Connections to the Outdoors
According to the National Park Service, only 10 percent of Latinos and 7 percent of Black Americans experience America’s outdoor treasures. The U.S. Forest Service reports similar visitation statistics:
Blacks or African Americans, who make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 1 percent of national forest visits in 2010. Hispanics or Latinos, who make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for less than 7 percent.” — Recreating in color: Promoting ethnic diversity in public lands
Outdoor groups for people of color are important. They build links to nature for people who don’t grow up camping, hiking and playing outside. This provides an important stepping stone into the mental and physical benefits of outdoor recreation. And the more people who appreciate beautiful, wild, places, the more those special places will be valued and protected.
As a Latinx Southern Californian, RV camping was a big part of my family’s life. We didn’t see many people of color pitching tents back then, but camping just made sense. It was the most affordable way my parents could take my four sisters and I on vacation. My mom and dad shared a love of the outdoors that they passed on to us. As a result, we grew up appreciating remote, beautiful places. Unfortunately, not all people of color have parents like mine. Not enough are introduced to the outdoors when they’re young, or even as adults. I suppose that’s why I haven’t seen too many multi-cultural full-time RVers in my 14 years of nomadic living. Thankfully that’s changing.
America’s Outdoor Destinations Depend on Diversity
Whatever your ethnic heritage or race, supporting organizations that introduce people of color to camping, RVing, hiking, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities is vital for our country as a whole. POC outdoor clubs and groups for multi-cultural RVers are working hard to ensure that visitors to America’s outdoor recreation destinations represent the country’s population as a whole.
When we support the work of people of color outdoor clubs and groups, we support those special places we like to go RVing. To learn more and even participate in activities once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, check out this short list of national organizations. If I missed your favorites, comment below and I will add them to this list.
Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires black connections and leadership in nature. The group helps people take better care of themselves, our communities, and our planet. Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country, they connect thousands of people to outdoor experiences, and changing the face of conservation. Join their activities and partner with Outdoor Afro to grow their work, to help lead the way for inclusion in outdoor recreation, nature, and conservation for all.
Founded by Ambreen Tariq, a a South Asian, Muslim-American, immigrant woman, @BrownPeopleCamping is a social media initiative. It utilizes personal narratives and digital storytelling to promote greater diversity in our public lands and outdoors community. “We believe in the power of storytelling,” Tariq explains. “Stories that empower people of every background to experience the outdoors, and stories that build a diverse community of people who will challenge the barriers that stand in the way of all Americans accessing and enjoying our nation’s natural heritage.”
With national and regional rallies around the US, the North Carolina-based NAARVA organizes family-friendly RV gatherings and activities. They promote a clean, safe environment where black RV enthusiasts who love the outdoors have fun building life-long lasting friendships.
The Boulder, Colorado group brings Native women together to share stories, support each other, and learn from one another to explore and celebrate the wilderness and native lands. Native Women’s Wilderness was founded by hiking and climbing enthusiast Jaylyn Gough, a member of the Diné (Navajo) Tribe in New Mexico. Frustrated by the the lack women of color, especially Native Women, represented in the outdoor industries, Gough’s group is working toward inclusion for all.
This D.C. based nonprofit connects communities of color to outdoor spaces while also building a coalition of diverse outdoor leaders. With programs for youth, college students and adults, Soul Trak Outdoors hosts events like group outings where participants hike, paddle, climb, and zipline. Events are followed by fun gatherings where conversations are structured to promote learning and leadership in the outdoors.
Outdoor Asian seeks to create a diverse and inclusive community of Asian & Pacific Islanders (API) in the outdoors. They do this by engaging communities with locally-based trips, outings and workshops to inspire individuals and families in the outdoors. Members share stories and histories of their communities to reflect on our ever-changing relationship to ecology and nature. They also cnnect individuals to a wide-ranging network to create API leaders in the outdoor recreation and environmental sectors.
Brown Folks Fishing began as an Instagram hashtag. Today it’s a full-fledged national organization with over 30,000 fans and followers. The group is committed to diversifying the face of fishing in America. Through their Angling for All Pledge Campaign, the group is dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion across all facets of the fishing industry. They are building scholarships for new anglers, local projects in fishing recreation and conservation improvements. Brown Folks Fishing is also building gear libraries to increase access and alleviate barriers to entry.
Latino Outdoors is creating a world where all Latino communities can enjoy nature as a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place. By arranging group outings and events, the outdoors becomes a place to share and celebrate stories, knowledge, and culture. Along the way, they’re building a growing leadership and an active community of Latino outdoor users, mentors, and stewards.
Black RVer Facebook Groups
Facebook is a popular place for people of color outdoor clubs and groups. Some of the most active are these active RV groups for black people:
Black RVers, a new but growing community for nomadic black people who full-time, part-time and enjoy the RV life style in all types of RVs for all types of adventures.
Black People Camp Too, seeks to connect like minded Black Campers to share experiences good or bad, suggest great places to go and not so great places. Currently over 3,000 members are asking questions, sharing pictures of RV destinations and creating nomadic friendships across the country.
African-American’s That RV & Camp (AARVC), a group with over 2,300 members sharing information and experiences in the RV lifestyle.
If You are a Person of Color, Share Your Outdoorsy, RVing Experience With Others
If you are a person of color, don’t keep your love for the outdoors all to yourself. Share your story to inspire people of color to get outside. Comment below and tell us about your favorite POC clubs, groups and experiences camping in the U.S. We want to hear about it.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.