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
Outdoor Afro builds diversity in national club events. Image: OutdoorAfro.com
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.
René M. Agredano