South Carolina State Parks’ Director Paul McCormack has driven by many campgrounds during his 27 years as a park ranger.
One thing is very obvious — the lack of diversity, according to a report from the Index-Journal.
“If you drive through our campgrounds, it’s very much a Caucasian population that has grown up camping,” McCormack said. “It’s generational. It’s kids and grandkids camping, coming back year after year. But you don’t see a lot of African Americans or a diverse population camping. It’s certainly not representative of our state’s population.”
A couple of years ago, McCormack met the founder of a group called Black Folks Camp Too.
“We worked with them to put on events and promote campgrounds and try to encourage different user groups to come out and experience camping,” McCormack said. “We’re trying to address the reasons they don’t camp. Historically, they didn’t grow up camping, so it’s not an activity that they have in their wheelhouse, where, as a child, their parents took them camping, and when they became adults, they wanted to go do it.”
Over the past couple of years, South Carolina State Parks has been trying to reach out to different groups of people who don’t use the parks much, McCormack said.
“We’ve been trying to expose them to some of the opportunities we have in parks,” he said. “One of the areas we identified well over a year ago is our camping. We don’t have a lot of diversity in our campgrounds. Specifically, we don’t have a lot of African Americans using it.”