Lifestyle and Health

Telling Stories and Building Community: How @BrownPeopleCamping is Helping Me Promote Diversity in the Outdoors

Written by Ambreen Tariq

I started @BrownPeopleCamping on Instagram a few months ago to tell my stories and promote greater diversity in our outdoors community and public lands.

To me, storytelling is the most fundamental and authentic way of connecting with people. If I can tell you where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and how that’s shaped me, then maybe my thoughts on sensitive issues like race, gender, privilege, and access, will be a little less sensitive and a little more contextualized to you.

I am about celebrating diversity in the outdoors.

I am about encouraging people of color and other “minority” identities to find their authentic space in our public lands.

I am about promoting awareness of barriers to entry and access to certain privileges that prevent many people from seeing themselves in the outdoors or seeing the outdoors as a lifestyle option.

I am about being boldly simple and unapologetic for choosing accessibility over the extreme.

I am about sharing, connecting, learning, and empowering.

These are my stories.

I camped for the first time when I was 10 years old and it changed my life. I believe girls and women can find empowerment through wilderness in ways that are inherent and authentic to our feminine experiences. In the outdoors, we are pushed to view ourselves as problem solvers and innovators. We stop focusing on gender normative limitations because no one's got time for that nonsense when the sun is setting fast and we've still got a whole camp to set up. So, on this #DayOfTheGirl, let's commit to supporting women and girls in the outdoors; in making our feminine fierce and our women wild! . . Will you help diversify our public lands? Tag your photos #BrownPeopleCamping . #findyourpark #goparks #rei1440project #optoutside #fatgirlshiking #DiversifyOutdoors #unlikelyhiker #thegreatoutdoors #getoutside #wildernessculture #theoutbound #exploremore #outdoorasian #adventuregap #camping #nationalparkgeek #sheexplores #womenwhohike #wanderlust #camplife #explore #camp365 #womenwhoexplore #wildernextgen

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So many people (especially people of color) approach me and say I love what you're doing – I actually love [hiking/camping/fishing] but I am not an "outdoors person." That always strikes a cord of sadness in my heart. It's very telling. It means we've managed to create a John Muir-ish caricature of what loving the outdoors means: someone who is extreme and minimalist and makes us all believe that if you're not conquering a summit or hiking the PCT then you're not really an "outdoors person." Well, we all know that's not true. If you love being outdoors then you're an outdoors person. It's just that simple. We need to push ourselves to see our own reflections in nature. We need to actively welcome everyone into the outdoors community and encourage people to find their authentic spaces outside. We need to give ourselves the freedom and permission to define what outdoors means to us as individuals. Only then can we build a community of diverse outdoors lovers who will commit to protecting our natural environment and nurturing future generations of stewards. . . Will you help diversify our public lands? Tag your photos #BrownPeopleCamping . #findyourpark #goparks #rei1440project #optoutside #fatgirlshiking #DiversifyOutdoors #unlikelyhiker #thegreatoutdoors #getoutside #wildernessculture #theoutbound #exploremore #outdoorasian #adventuregap #camping #nationalparkgeek #sheexplores #womenwhohike #wanderlust #camplife #explore #shenandoah #virginiaisbeautiful

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Wake now, you restless hearts, you wanderers of trails and other wild paths. Wake now and greet the morning as it is your doorway to a day of self-determination. A day where you have the freedom to worry only about the basics of life. This is your moment to learn from the wild; to define yourself only in relation to nature rather than to others. So wake, walk, tire, give thanks, and then try and do it again. . . Will you help diversify our public lands? Tag your photos #BrownPeopleCamping . #findyourpark #goparks #rei1440project #optoutside #fatgirlshiking #DiversifyOutdoors #unlikelyhiker #thegreatoutdoors #getoutside #wildernessculture #theoutbound #exploremore #outdoorasian #adventuregap #camping #nationalparkgeek #sheexplores #womenwhohike #wanderlust #camplife #explore #camp365 #womenwhoexplore #wildernextgen

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Robert Moore put it brilliantly: "…every step a hiker takes is a vote for the continued existence of a trail." If folks stopped hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or the numerous other historic trails all cross our country, they would become overgrown and disappear from our landscapes. Trails are forged first by trailblazers but more importantly, they are reforged and maintained by the rest of us. Our steps are assertions about the importance of our access to and relationship with wilderness. So why aren't we doing more to introduce new and diverse feet to the trails? As our country grows more diverse, we face an imperative to include people of color in the narrative of blazing and keeping ablaze our trails. If the faces of our hikers and campers don't reflect the faces of our increasingly diversifying American population, our public lands, parks and trails will surely suffer. These places exists by the power and stewardship of their users. So let's grow our community of "users" and let's diversify our outdoors. . . . Will you help diversify our public lands? Tag your photos #BrownPeopleCamping . #findyourpark #goparks #rei1440project #optoutside #fatgirlshiking #DiversifyOutdoors #unlikelyhiker #theoutbound #outdoorasian #adventuregap #nationalparkgeek #sheexplores #womenwhohike #camplife #explore #camp365 #womenwhoexplore

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Ambreen Tariq

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