Congratulations to our first cohort!
In light of anti-racism efforts across the country, we want to do our part to help diversify the outdoors. So, we're doing what we do best: We're planning outdoor adventures for three Californians of color who have never been camping or backpacking before for free.
After receiving 120 applications, we selected three amazing women of color.
Learn more about each one our winners in their own words!
Marisa Johnson, Oakland
I grew up with much love for the environment and was a curious child when it came to the way it was being negatively impacted. My mom got this comic book for my siblings and I titled "Captain Eco and the Fate of the Earth". I absolutely loved that book, reading it front to back many times. It was the first time I was introduced to the topic of climate change though as a Black person there weren't really many opportunities to explore my love for the environment. Coming from the Central Valley, I had Yosemite National Park as my backyard. I was stunned by the beautiful landscape when I visited for the first time for a school trip. I had always wanted to go back, but we didn't have knowledge of how to navigate the outdoors and so for the remainder of my time living there I never went back to the Park.
After moving to the Bay Area for college on Ohlone land, I found myself once again inspired by my landscape. I started going on hikes now that I had easy access. It’s been such a privilege experiencing Northern California and the Central Coast and want to take that next step by camping.
I want to experience the natural environment of this beautiful state in the way I've always wanted to but never had the knowledge or company to do so. I feel it is especially important for Black and Native people to have access to the outdoors and our natural environment. We usually don't have the resources or access to go on camping trips despite the fact that our communities’ histories are full of ecological wisdom and earth knowledge. Also there are so many stressors and threats to our mere everyday existence that any chance to steal away for a while, among the stars and trees and rivers is worth seeking. Thank you.
Stephanie Zamora, Los Angeles
About three years ago, my best friend invited me to hike to the Hollywood sign. It was my first hike and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. While hiking up I was out of breath because of the incline and regretted accepting the invitation in the first place. When we finally reached the top, I couldn’t believe I could see the entire city from atop. On that day I fell in love with hiking and I’ve been hiking ever since then.
As a child I did not have the opportunity to go camping since schools in my community did not offer camping fieldtrips due to funding and I was not part of any afterschool programs. My cultural background was another factor in my limited exposure to the outdoors because my parents had never hiked or camped themselves. I remember I once had the opportunity to go camping but my mom said no because I have asthma and she said it would get worse in the forest. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I was introduced to hiking and learned the importance of exploring the outdoors. Not only has hiking helped me to stay in shape, but it has also improved my mental health. I've discovered a new world and I'm realizing what I've missed out on all these years. Now I want to learn more and be more appreciative of the beauty that is out there.
I love hiking, but there is still so much more to learn! I've taken the initiative to educate myself on hiking safety, trails, and how to physically and mentally prepare myself for new adventures. Recently I’ve developed an interest in learning how to backpack and camp. I would love to go out and participate in these activities, but I am scared because I don't have the experience and/or guidance from someone who has backpacked or camped. Although I spend my time outdoors, my social circle is small because many Latinos in my community do not spend time outdoors. This has caused me to go hiking alone and even travel alone. Luckily, I learned about hiking groups on Facebook and I’ve met incredible people who share the same interest. I’m still struggling in explaining the misconception of hiking and camping to my parent, but slowly my mother is accepting why I hike and how it looks (I’ve shown her videos of my hiking adventures). I take great satisfaction in educating others on hiking and exposing them to the beauty in the outdoors through my videos and photos. I hope to continue growing and learning from my experiences. My goal is to share my passion, experience, and knowledge with others.
Jacqueline Robles, Inglewood
Ever since I was little I enjoyed being outdoors. Unfortunately, I entered the foster care system at 5 years old. Ever since then, I cycled through foster and group homes where camping was never a priority or something I did with a foster family. I say this to say that I know most people who camp do so with their families and when they're younger. As I've gotten older, I've worked and gone to school full-time to support myself; I haven't had much time to get out and camp. However, I'm very adventurous. I love to hike and get outdoors as its always been a place to escape my reality. I will be a full-time student and employee in a month and have not made it a priority to get outside! Although, I would love to!
Why are we diversifying the outdoors?
Nature doesn't discriminate, but not everyone has the time, money, or access to the outdoors. Our mission is to help more people experience and enjoy the outdoors because we know how transformative being in the wild can be.
Here are some facts from the Outdoor Foundation's 2019 Outdoor Participation Report that explain why we can and need to do more:
- In 2018, only 50.5% Americans participated in any kind of outdoor recreation
- About 74% of White Americans, the highest among all ethnic groups, spent time outdoors at least once a month. (White Americans make up 76% of the U.S. population)
- About 11% of Hispanic, 8% of Black, and 6% of Asian/Pacific Islander Americans spent time outdoors. (Compared to 19% of Hispanics, 14% of Blacks and 6% of Asian/Pacific Islanders in the U.S. population.)
In the past decade, all ethnic groups, except for White Americans, increased their participation in the outdoors, but there's more we can do to create opportunities for people of all backgrounds to experience and enjoy the wild.
What's an "outdoor adventure"?
Every Bewilder trip is uniquely designed for each camper. Each reservation includes:
- A personalized itinerary
- A campsite reservation
- Park permits
- Trail recommendations
- Gear planner
- Food menus
- 24/7 support
For this program, we'll be planning a 3-day, 2-night car camping or backpacking trip for three Californians of color. Each camper will have an opportunity to design an outdoor adventure of their choice (like this), and we'll handle the nitty gritty details (like this).
We'll not only introduce them to the most beautiful parks in the state, but also cover the cost of campsite reservation fees (for a group of up to four people), and thanks to the generous support of TIA Outfitters, provide each camper with free camping and backpacking gear rentals.
This still doesn't include the cost of personal gear (i.e. hiking boots), food, and transportation, but we're on the lookout for community sponsors to minimize the cost. Check out our community sponsorship section below to learn more.