Blackpackers Founder Patricia Cameron

Blackpackers with Patricia Cameron

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It may surprise you but there is a large segment of Coloradans who don’t enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis. In fact, there is a large number of people (including myself) who learned how to ski as adults because they couldn’t afford to learn to ski as kids. For families of color, in particular, not only is access to the outdoors a frustrating mix of safety concerns and transportation challenges. There’s also the often forgotten conversation related to the cost of equipment needed to enjoy a majority of activities outdoors. If you want to camp, thruhike, climb you need good equipment in order to enjoy these activities. The following conversation discusses this issue and my hope is that it broadens your awareness of the ongoing issues related to accessibility and the outdoors.

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Listen to the Show

Show Notes

  • Patricia Cameron the founder and Executive Director of Blackpackers introduces herself
  • What is Blackpackers and the mission?
  • The impact of finances on access to outdoor spaces. How Blackpackers is working through barriers to entry
  • Patricia shares a hilarious 1st time backpacking story and every time I think about it I laugh. What wasn’t funny is the fact that she had to work overtime in order to afford the equipment.
  • I wonder why backpacking called to Patricia as an activity to enjoy.
  • I ask about what was scary about backpacking for the first time.
  • What about backpacking continued to attract her after the hilarious first trip?
  • She shares the amazing “buy in” to her non-profit. If you build it they will come.
  • How can we support Blackpackers?
    • Money!
    • Spread the word
  • If I’m looking to use Blackpackers, how does it work?
    • Sign up for the email list or join the Facebook group
  • I wonder if it’s possible to access the gear outside of the regular events?
  • Patricia was preparing to do the Colorado Trail at the time that we recorded this interview. I ask why she’s decided to do it? She shares her love of the state in her comments.
  • Suburus and Chacos (Sweet Jesus)
  • Why is it important for people of color to experience the outdoors?
    • Generational trauma and the connection to the Outdoors. Why it’s so important to have this conversation.
  • POC and the fear of being in outdoor spaces. This is an important conversation.
    • This is why Blackpackers events are done in community.
  • What is the worst and best thing about living in Colorado?
  • I distract us and share that I’m heading to Salida, Colorado for a staycation.
  • Social media and the normalization of POC faces in outdoors spaces. But, bias during outdoor interactions is still a huge issue. Btw, Patricia hates Instagram.
    • She mentions the Christian Cooper and Amy Cooper case in her comments and the Ahmad Arbery murder while jogging.
  • We talk about her Colorado Trail trip and Patricia talks about a previous outdoor experience and making connections while on the trail.
  • Fellowship vs. gatekeeping of outdoor experiences
  • What’s the worst and best thing about living in Colorado as a person of color.

In Case You’re Wondering

Patricia did complete the entire Colorado Trail during the summer of 2020 while COVID raged on around us. It has taken me almost a year to publish this and a number of other episodes that I recorded last year. At the time that we had this conversation we didn’t know how crazy things would get moving forward. I decided that now was a great time to finally release this episode because it’s almost summer. There are a number of incredible communities connecting Black/Brown and other marginalized communities with outdoor spaces often with allied support.

Nature has been the space where I clear my mind, connect with my most creative ideas and meet new people. A couple of weeks after that conversation I went on a backpacking trip with a local hiking group. It was incredible. I was the slowest person in the group. But, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. At first, I felt badly about being so slow. Then I realized that we all move at our own pace. Because I was the slowest in the group myself and two other hikers got to see two bull mooses (meese?) 500 feet from the end of the trail. I loved reading about Patricia’s experiences on the trail and watching the television coverage of her amazing experience.

For the parents out there I highly recommend reaching out to day camps and other programs to see if they have scholarships available for you to apply for. I would not have had the experiences that I did outdoors if my mom didn’t apply for those scholarships for me. Fewer people than you think are applying for available scholarships. Just make applying for scholarship funds a part of your regular routine. Sooner or later your kids will likely be awarded one.

Related Episodes

  • The Digital Green Book

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Mentioned in the Episode

Outdoor Resources

Finally, if you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors and are looking for community here are a few groups to check out. They may have chapters in your neck of the woods.

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