'Hummingbird Woman,; 2008, Catherine Herrera, www.catherineherreraphotography.com

Rejuvenate in Nature! @brownpeoplecamping

If you are like many Americans, these days, taking time out from the extreme politics and scandals, is a must for self- and family-care.

Consider an outdoor trip to rejuvenate.

'Golden Sunset of California, de Young Museum Viewing Tower, Bridge Walkers Documentation Photos, 2012, photo by Catherine Herrera Flor de Miel Media - Bridge Walkers Installation
‘Golden Sunset of California, de Young Museum Viewing Tower, Bridge Walkers Documentation Photos, 2012, photo by Catherine Herrera Flor de Miel Media – Bridge Walkers Installation

I feel very fortunate my parents started us kids off early with camping and hiking trips. Those memories, and experiences infuse who I am today.

That’s why the Outdoor Magazine article about Ambreen Tariq caught my eye. Founder of the Brown People Camping Instagram account, Ambreen started the movement to open a dialogue about the outdoor adventure industry, and, encourage people of color to explore the country’s national and state parks.

“After my first post, things just started growing organically, and the more I shared, the more engagement and support I received. I was immediately getting tons of positive feedback from total strangers…” Ambreen Tariq, founder, Brown People Camping.

The connection to nature can be enjoyed at any age!

My parents started me off early in life with hiking trips into the east coast wilds – or as I learned as an adult, better known as the more rural areas of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

From a child’s height, everything in nature is new, exciting and Big!

My favorite childhood summer afternoon, swinging in a hammock, reading, sometimes, just looking up at the tree leaves gentle blowing in the wind, offering a dotted shade, the sun on my face lulling me into a delicious nap.

Children exposed natural wonders develop respect and care for  nature, rooting life-long connection and concern for nature, sometimes, blossoming into career interests in preservation and sustainability.

Family camping trips turned into summer camp, where I was immersed for two or three weeks at a time, and learned to respect nature’s complexity. strips into the wilds of nature, presenting a world of exploration and adventure.

Hiking and camping were two ways I connected to my new home when our family moved to the west coast, blessed to explore new terrain on the coasts and up in the mountains.

Trips over my childhood, adolescence, into adulthood, etched into my mind and soul the land traveled in a circle in my grandparent’s car, from San Jose to Santa Cruz, up to Martin’s Beach into San Francisco. Back to San Jose.

'Blue Hummingbird Lady, Bottle by the water, image design Catherine Herrera, 2008.
‘Blue Hummingbird Lady, Bottle by the water, image design Catherine Herrera, 2008.

I appreciate Ambreen’s style and approach to sharing her experiences, she speaks from her heart and life journey. Ambreen waves away people who might look down upon beginners, instead, sharing how she believes we should be encouraging of anyone trying to connect to nature. Ambreen Tariq’s posts at @brownpeoplecamping have a way of making one feel like its never too late to start!

Outdoor adventurers of color are invited to submit their experiences to Brown People Camping and open dialogue on important topics.

‘Our public lands should be more inclusive and must reflect the diverse population and history of our country. So, I am on a journey to share my journey- encourage my community and other POC to #optoutside and help diversify our #publiclands,’ writes Ambreen on one of her posts.

As part of her advocacy and education efforts, Ambreen will be speaking April 19th, 2017 as part of the Women in the Outdoors Week.

Check out the amazing speakers with Ambreen, including

Betheny Lebewitz
Founder, Brown Girls Climb

Mina Okpi
Life Activist & Founder, Black People who Love Outdoors and Adventure

Women in the Outdoors Week begins 3rd week of April, and offers a slate of lectures and presentations from inspiring outdoors women engaged in all kinds of nature adventures from rock climbing, camping, and rafting.

I love the practical nature courses – learn to navigate, plan expeditions, and gain survival skills. Visit the site for detailed schedules and locations.

One of the reasons I most appreciate Brown People Camping is because its welcoming, and inclusive, and breaks barriers by questioning the dearth of people of color in outdoors advertising and images.

“….It’s something that’s truly frustrated me in the outdoors community—there’s an aesthetic of the way outdoor retailers advertise. Thin, usually light-skinned. It’s a very particular way of painting a community. It’s hard to see yourself in the outdoor community if you don’t physically see others like you, and you definitely aren’t seeing it in advertising.”

There is increasing evidence that time spent in nature is healing, particularly for weary urban dwellers. The San Francisco Bay Area, like so many metropolitan regions, offers amazing local, off- the-path and mapped destinations.

Even a day trip outside can shift perspective, offer an anti-dote to daily stresses, and overwhelm from cultural triggers.

Instilling love and companion with nature is one of the greatest gifts we can pass down.

Its meant so much to me to ensure for my family that I have shared the same beaches and mountains, traveled the same roads, engraving into their souls the contours of this land and region. Adventures to new third places we explored newly on our own.

I love seeing my family exploring now as a adults their own camping and hiking destinations, laying down paths for the next generation.

Ambreen Tariq sums up clearly, how broadening the visitor base for inclusion benefits everyone.

“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?”

If you get a chance, drop into a nature this weekend, share your experiences at Brown People Camping, create your own local hiking and camping group, select a nature destination for your next school vacation!

Its never too late to start!

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