There are so many ways to enjoy your time outside. This is one of many unique stories we share as part of our efforts to bring out the limitless sides.
My partner and I returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 and quickly realized that “appreciating nature” is a core value. As a black woman, I haven’t seen people who looked like me outdoors. My coworkers often talked about the last hike or hike they’d been on the weekend and I thought, “Hey, we should be in this room.” Camping seemed accessible and a chance to break away from everyday life and explore the northwest . We wanted to get our friends out of their comfort zone and appear in the room as people of different races and ethnicities.
Eleven years later we are still strong. Our group is approaching 20 people. The annual camping trip began with friends and colleagues we now call our Seattle family. We wanted to encourage people of color to explore nature and bring people from different cultures and perspectives together. To be outside and continue to have strong habits of respecting nature and our impact. Being present with one another, strengthening relationships, having long conversations and investing in one another. We wanted to be in a place that was comfortable to be our authentic selves in the safest space: nature
Who have you added to your annual trip? Who are you bringing in your room? Have you thought about bringing someone who is different from you and who has never explored the great outdoors?
Every year we add someone who is skeptical that we willingly sleep outside. We tell them to come as they are with a sleeping bag and a tent. “We’ll take care of your food. We will cook everything. “We hope they see how accessible camping can be and say,” Oh, I can, it’s not overwhelming. ” Next time they can plan a meal and explore how to prepare their favorite cultural dish for a campfire, such as carne asada tacos, shrimp and grits, or jambalaya. Slowly they will build up their collection of what they need.
Who have you added to your annual trip? Who are you bringing in your room? Have you thought about bringing someone who is different from you and who has never explored the great outdoors? Try it out and you will see how much better your adventure will be.
We would like to say that our trips are like those of the United Nations of camping. There are many different, different views. They were primarily colored people and people with different histories – as immigrants, parents, cancer survivors or friends. We debate, we study, we hike and we have fun. I will never forget a conversation with our friend Simon, who fled Eritrea’s war-torn country and walked for several days with only his clothes on his back. We had forgotten a sleeping mat on a trip and I said: “I need this sleeping mat.” Simon replied, “Let me tell you about the war and have nothing. You don’t need your sleeping mat. “It was a reality check. These are the stories I want my children to hear and think about: What do you need to survive?
In the past ten years I have learned to see nature as a place of wonder and interest. Talking about the realities of war doesn’t always come up in your daily life when you have dinner, commute, or work on a project. Being curious about each person’s story and allowing the space to share their story is the beauty we can bring to the outside space.
The article LeAnne Wiles: Boundless Pages to the Outside first appeared in the REI Co-op Journal.