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.
I was born in California but grew up in the woods of Snohomish, Washington. I grew up in the woods, rode horses and rode my bike. I certainly didn’t grow up camping regularly. It wasn’t a family or summer tradition by any means, but I do remember camping a couple of times. My husband Ricardo, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, didn’t spend much time playing in the woods or camping, but he would spend summers playing in town or visiting a family in the Virgin Islands.
Fast forward to adulthood and parenthood. My husband and I wanted to create a new family tradition of camping at least once or twice each summer. We started with this when our daughter was about 8 years old and our son was 2 years old. We wanted to give them the opportunity to play, hang out, explore and enjoy nature. Most of our camping adventures took place in state parks and county campgrounds. One of our favorite memories so far is doing S’Mores around the campfire and playing UNO or Mancala. Now that our children are older, we tend to camp in a hut or “camp” in a hut as opposed to tent camping. Our children still love the outdoors and have always been nature-loving children. More recently we have been making day trips to the mountains, hiking local trails, and visiting local beaches.
After all, one of the more difficult and persistent conversations we have as a color family has been this: is it safe? Is the place we go safe? Do we see ourselves where we are going? Are other families colored when we go camping? Do we go with friends or other families where we have a white person with us who could help us feel more secure and who would help us appear more secure to others around us? We used to joke about and why we would spend our vacation days “sleeping on the ground” in the forest. Because that was and is a (historically) frightening place and space where you can live as brown and black people.
Ultimately, we made a decision that we are as worthwhile to experience camping as anyone else, and that we just as deserve to feel safe while doing it. We are determined to give and offer our children the opportunity to enjoy camping too. They always enjoyed our time in nature and played outdoors.
The article Ranice Innocent: Boundless Pages to the Outside first appeared in the REI Co-op Journal.