Melanated Campout brings Black joy to the great outdoors

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By Danielle Broadway, theGrio

Melanated Campout co-founders Cayela Wimberly White Joselyn McCants and Shunte’ McClellan share what makes their culturally curated camping experiences so special.

Campers pose on the breach at Melanated Campground

When campers arrive at Melanated Campout in Wrightsville, Ga., they are offered  a “whole new experience” where they can “meet a whole new family,” and build a community that will “jump in and say, ‘hey, let me help you pitch that tent’ or ‘come get some food.’”

However, this camping dream wasn’t always a reality, as theGrio learned during a Zoom interview with Wimberly White, McCants, and McClellan, the trio who founded Melanated Campout and continue to pour into its evolution. 

It was initially Wimberly White who gave birth to the large-scale camping idea, soon asking for support from her friends and co-founders, McCants and McClellan. While Wimberly White had been camping for years, it wasn’t until her 36th birthday at Red Top Mountain that the threesome decided to invite an extended group of friends and family members to camp together for the first time.

To have “everybody at the entire campground that day” resulted in a special and unforgettable experience for them all, so Wimberly White was inspired to plan more camping trips with even more “melanated campers.” After an October 2018 trip near Helen, Ga., McCants, McClellan, and Wimberly White agreed they’d had so much fun that it was time to officially expand their crew of fellow campers by doing something big—creating Melanated Campout.

While the Melanated Campout community welcomes everyone, this gathering is particularly designed with Black people and people of color in mind. McClellan explained that it’s important to challenge the stereotype that camping is “only for white people.” As previously reported by theGrio, the growing Black outdoor enthusiast movement is grounded in encouraging Black and Brown people to allow themselves to find solace in nature. To that end, McClellan describes Melanated Campout as “an opportunity for joy” where campers can unwind without having to “worry about everything.” The collective mission is for Black and Brown people to “fall in love with the outdoors.”

Learn more about this unique experience.

Venues like this might be key to helping more Black Americans be outdoorsy.

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