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How 'Black Folks Camp Too' Is Changing The Industry Narrative
A road trip with his son across the country changed the course of Earl B. Hunter Jr.’s career.
Hunter was working as a vice president for the camper manufacturer Sylvansport, a position that allowed him to travel throughout the country for sales calls.
His son Dillion asked if he could tag along on one of his trips and when Hunter agreed, they packed their essentials into a hitched pop-up camper in their truck and began a three-month journey from North Carolina to Canada, as reported in RV Business.
Over three months, the two visited 49 campgrounds in 20 states and provinces across North America. But one thing Hunter noticed in their more than 14,000-mile journey: they were the only Black campers.
Hunter said he met only one other Black family, at a KOA Campgrounds in Albuquerque.
That experience was life-changing for Hunter who recently launched Black Folks Camp Too – a marketing-driven business whose mission is to “increase diversity in the outdoor industry by making it easier, more interesting, and more fun for Black folks to go camping.”
Hunter consults with brands across the outdoor space to help them reach Black customers. He says he wants to encourage more Black campers to get outside by educating an industry that has rarely invited them into the lifestyle.
And the numbers back Hunter.
Data from the 2019 Outdoor Industry Association Participation Report reveal that Black Americans are less likely to camp or hike than any other racial group. Only 5.9% of Black respondents said that they camped or backpacked, versus 16.3% of white respondents.
Hunter attributes the gap to a lack of representation within the industry as well as a disconnect between industry leaders who are unaware that many Black Americans feel unsafe in the backcountry.
“Our mission is to remove generational fear of the outdoors for Black folks, particularly in the South,” Hunter told Cuisine Noir during an interview. “We give knowledge and we get the industry to invite us because the industry has not really done that. Most people in the industry don’t really know why Black folks don’t camp.”