This is quick overview of 5 organizations who are pursuing equitable outdoor access. Their work is what Making Camp for Everyone is all about. We hope they inspire you to add your voice and actions to making the outdoor community—and all other communities—stronger through the power of the outdoors.
1. Big City Mountaineers
Long-time partner of Therm-a-Rest, Big City Mountaineers (BCM) recognizes that a backcountry trip can be a singularly important experience for a young person in their journey to believing in their self-worth and skillset. Which is why they take students from disinvested communities and guide them on overnight camps and weeklong backcountry trips.
By reinforcing the self-efficacy of students, BCM aims to create a better future for those individuals and the communities that surround them. By volunteering and donating to BCM offers one can directly impact the lives of young people and empower them to take on life’s challenges, and succeed. Learn more about how you can get involved!
2. The Venture Out Project
The Venture Out Project (TVOP) is committed to facilitating wilderness trips to anyone within the queer community regardless of their experience level and financial situations. They understand that to be queer or transgender can be an unfair obstacle to a sense of belonging in everyday life. One alumnus of a TVOP trip said, “The Venture Out Project changed my life. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel comfortable in a group. This is amazing.”
In the backcountry, surrounded by other people from the queer community, participants feel a sense of vulnerability and comradery that they may not get back in town. Whether it’s a day camp, multi-day backpacking trip, or an ally workshop, participants have loads of fun and develop new skills and friends along the way.
If this is a cause you believe in, you can go here to learn more about how TVOP enriches the lives of queer and transgender people.
3. Native Women’s Wilderness
Started as an Instagram account, Native Women’s Wilderness’ (NWW) has grown into a non-profit and a leading voice in the movement to re-connect indigenous women with Ancestral Lands. Moreover, they connect native women with each other through the joy of outdoor experience.
Featured in National Geographic, NWW has a lot of goals. Ranging from promoting women of color in mainstream outdoor industry advertising, to providing education about ancestral lands and their people. Their goals are clear, but they arise from a rich and complex cultural heritage. It is a perspective that ought to be more visible within outdoor community and society at large. Learn more about their stories and perspectives by getting to know the women behind the movement!
4. Environmental Learning for Kids
Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) is an inclusive non-profit that develops responsible leaders through experiential science and outdoor education programs for underserved, urban youth. For many of the youth that ELK serves, their time in the program is their first true experience in the outdoors.
ELK aims to inspire, educate and transform by way of the outdoors because they recognize the value such experience holds for young people today and as they become leaders of tomorrow. If you think that fostering an equitable, empowered and environmentally conscious generation of young people is worth it, dive deeper and learn more about what ELK is doing and how you can get involved!
5. Outdoor Afro
Outdoor Afro (OA) is a non-profit leading the way in Black connections and leadership in nature. OA is place where Black people can equitably access the outdoors. That means participating in professionally led trips, yes. But it also means OA is a network for finding like minded individuals, a hub of conservation education, even a place to seek out advice when investing in gear.
OA recognizes the cultural significance of the Black identity, the essential contribution of the Black voice, and the influence of Black American spending power. They aim to boost the efficacy of individuals, of communities, and effect positive and equitable policy change. Through connection to nature and the experience of outdoor recreation OA aims to make everyday life more equal and joyous for Black people. It is a critical and beautiful movement worthy of a closer look. Go here to learn more!
There is no one way to experience the outdoors. Making camp for everyone means that even the way we talk about going outside should acknowledge the diversity and reality of what that means for different people. Donating to these organizations is a great way to actively support equitable and inclusive outdoor spaces, but donating is not a substitute for learning. It is important to learn about what it means to be Black, Indigenous, poor, and queer. A better knowledge of their experience will allow us to be more authentically inclusive and stronger as an outdoor community.