b'Q&A CONVERSATIONS BY BEN QUIGGLEBlack Folks Camp Too Working to Expose More Minority Groups to Camping, RVing LifestylesSpurred by recent studies showing the growing diversity of campers,including Kampgrounds of America Inc.s 2019 North American Report which reported the percentage of new campers from multiculturalgroups (51%) outpaced the percentage of new Caucasian campers (49%) more campground owners are asking how they can be more welcomingto all groups of people.For his part, Earl B. Hunter Jr., founder of Black Folks Camp Too, is try-ing to generate more outreach to the African American community. In-spired to create the group in 2019 after a 14,000-mile RV trip acrossNorth America with his son, Hunter told Woodalls Campground Man-agement (WCM) that he views Black Folks Camp Too as being a sourceof information for individuals who are interested in camping. As a company we are working to tell individuals why they should gocamping, he explained. We are telling them what we think about theexperience and we are also encouraging them to branch out and enjoycamping with more than just themselves. We want the camping experi- Black Folks Camp Too has been engaging with audiences as part of a grass roots approachence to be inclusive. to try and encourage more minority groups to get out and camp.The former vice president of sales for SylvanSport, a travel trailer andoutdoor goods manufacturer, Hunter said that Brevard, N.C.-based camping lifestyles. Black Folks Camp Too currently has six staff members who travel to Hunter took a minute out of his busy schedule to speak with WCMvarious events, including college campuses, to reach out to minority about the advocacy efforts of his group. groups. Minorities are encouraged to take a look at the RVing and Below is our edited conversation.WCM: Youbeganthinkingabout Black Folks Camp Too and its mission areasetc.) was a fun or even a good campground owners may not be usedstarting the organization after a road to engage with minority groups?place to go.to seeing a lot of black folks or other mi-trip with your son. What occurred dur- Hunter: A lot of people dont under- Among black folks, there is a lack of nority groups. They may not necessarilying the trip to spur the formation of stand some of the reasons why black knowledge about what camping is. That understand that they are dealing with aBlack Folks Camp Too?folks in the South dont camp. And so, exists because if you fear something, different culture. At the same time, justEarl B. Hunter Jr.: During the three- weve been spreading that message, and youre not necessarily going to want to because youre dealing with a differentmonthtripwetraveledto49camp- the fact that there is a lot of generational know what it is or want to deal with it. culture doesnt necessarily mean thatgrounds and only saw one black family. fear in regard to black folks not wanting There is also a lack of invitation. Black youcantadapt.BothsideshavetoRealizing I was an executive in the RV to explore the outdoors and explore the folks havent really been invited to take adapt to create newfound joy in the out-industry, a member of that family told woods.Ifyoulookback,mygreat- part in camping or RVing. If you look at doors.me that I should use my position to seek grandmother never really wanted us to someoftheadvertisingandother WCM: So, there is probably value forchange and encourage more black indi- go in the woods because of some of the things of that nature, there has been a park owners to have programs set up atviduals to get out and enjoy camping horrificthingsthathappenedinthe lack of diversity for the most part. Peo- theirparksthatcanhelpcampersand the outdoors.woods to her, her parents, or to her sib- ple have to see themselves doing some- maybe start a fire or plug in their RVs,WCM: What is your primary focus as lings. As a kid, I was never told that the thing, or people who look like them right? you begin to spread the word about outdoors(campgrounds,forested doing something, before they get in-volved and really want to understandwhat it is.WCM: If Im a campground owner,what would you suggest I do to makemy park more welcoming and invitingto African Americans or other minoritygroups?Hunter: The first thing that needs tohappen is the campground industry hasto understand that when you see an in-flux of black folks or other minoritiesthat want to camp, that these are gener-ally beginner campers. They are a groupof people who havent done a lot of thisbefore. So, of course, you want folks toheed your rules and regulations at yourparks, but keep in mind, these individ-uals have probably never had this expe-rience before. When you dont have something inyour culture, it has to be taught. Owners Black Folks Camp Too utilizes social medianeed to be aware of that and help edu- and videos to spread its message.cate the customer when they first comein. You want to show them their site, tell Hunter: Yes. They cant assume thatthem how a pedestal works at the site, every camper knows how to start a fire.explain quiet hours, etc. No one is ask- But the willingness of others in theing park owners to change their rules, campground community to help otherbut what we are saying as a group is that people is something that I really loveowners need to recognize that these in- about camping. You dont get that individuals may or may not know what to the hotel industry. It would be weirddo in the campgrounds, and that things for me to go to another persons roommay have to be reiterated a few times and ask them to help me learn how tountil the culture can get caught up and use my shower. But at a campgroundbegins to understand whats going on in you can go up to other campers andthe campgrounds. theyaremorethanwillingtohelpThe other side of this is that a lot of Q&A Conversationscontinued on page 3714 -May 2020Woodalls Campground Management'