News & Updates
The Case To Educate With Kindness
In 2015, Earl B. Hunter, Jr. and his young son set out on a three-month road trip adventure across the United States and Canada to camp and explore the great outdoors. Mr. Hunter wasn’t introduced to camping until later in life, but it became important to him that his son had more opportunities to enjoy nature than he did growing up. As a Black man, Mr. Hunter had some awareness that access to outdoor recreation is far more difficult for non-white folks. Still, he was shocked to meet only one other Black family during their three-month adventure.
From this experience, Mr. Hunter founded a mission-based enterprise called Black Folks Camp Too. Their goal is to connect people of color with accessible and affordable ways to enjoy nature, provide education on recreation best practices, and stress the importance of inclusivity in the outdoors.
In 2018, a National Park Service survey found that financial strain, lack of interest, proximity, and accessibility are cited as the top barriers to participating in outdoor recreation. Despite a variety of positive changes in access and inclusivity in outdoor recreation and the environmental movement, there is still a long way to go.
Research undertaken by the Outdoor Foundation shows that most of the outdoor recreation community is white and of higher socioeconomic status. These patterns can be traced back to of the founders of America’s modern National Parks, Forest Service, and Wildlife Refuges who held discriminatory values regarding many kinds of diversity.
This original structure has bled into the current structure of our nation’s environmental access and outdoor recreation system, and its impacts are still very apparent today. Some of these issues are systemic, such as access, high cost of equipment, and lack of transportation resources and cannot be changed by a single individual.
However, helping others feel comfortable, making resources to increase knowledge available to all, and inspiring passion for the outdoors can make a big difference to one person or a community. Leave No Trace principle, “Be Considerate of Others”, suggests respect and compassion align with Leave No Trace values and are vital in ensuring everyone is able to enjoy their time outdoors.
Due to the complex history of activism and environmentalism in the United States, the modern environmental movement is viewed by many as elitist and exclusive. It’s crucial to break this pattern so that we can best ensure the health and safety of nature, the planet, and humankind.
By practicing kindness towards those who aren’t caring for the environment in the same ways you are, you can help create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels empowered to make more environmentally friendly choices. Leave No Trace’s mission is to utilize the power of science, education and stewardship to ensure a sustainable future for the outdoors and the planet. Doing so requires the participation of as many nature-lovers as possible. Everyone is welcome here, so we aim to share knowledge and create resources that are widely available and accessible to all who wish to use them.
Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together
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