Photo Credit: TN
Join Over 500 Black Campers In Georgia This August At Melanated Campout 2022
Camping hasn’t been widely popular in the Black community, but Melanated Campout is here to shift the narrative. According to a 2022 Camping Report, people of color are increasingly becoming more interested in camping.
Melanated Campout started in 2018 with the mission to squash misconceptions about people of color and the outdoors. The camping company is the brainchild of three Black women: Jocelyn McCants, Shunte’ McClellan, and Cayela Wimberly White. The three women are long-time friends, travelers, and avid campers.
This year’s Melanated Campout will be from Friday, August 19th to Sunday, August 21st in Wrightsville, Georgia. Over 350 people were in attendance at Melanated Campout 2021. This year there will be about 500 people eager campers.
Campers can expect to enjoy a weekend of adventure, fun, and relaxation. Leave your kids at home because this experience is for ages 21 and up and you can expect an open bar!
Travel Noire had a chance to speak with two of the co-founders, Jocelyn and Shunte’ about the origin of Melanated Campout, essentials that every new camper needs, and why they chose Wrightsville, Georgia as this year’s camping location.
TN: Can you talk about the origin story of Melanated Campout?
Shunte’: The three of us have been friends for a long time. We all went to the same college, Georgia Southern. Jocelyn and I were dormmates. Cayela was two years behind us, so we didn’t really know her. I ran into her years later in my corporate life. We all became friends and started going on trips together.
Cayela is known to be the ‘Miss Adventure’ lady. She always likes to entertain. She decided to take her parties away from the club scene and do camping excursions instead. She’s been camping since the 90s. She would invite us to camping events around her birthday but I didn’t know how I felt about camping in the woods. I would go, and hang out during the day, but would go home and sleep in my bed. I couldn’t imagine sleeping outside when I could sleep in bed.
Cayela stressed the importance of getting the true experience of camping. She took us up one weekend and it was the best time. I learned how to put up a tent, which I never thought I would be able to do. I’m not usually an 8-hour sleeper, but I definitely slept about 9 to 10 hours on that trip.
We wanted to get more people involved, so we rented out a complete site to get immersed in the camping experience. From that day forward, we wanted to help other Black people embrace and enjoy the outdoors.
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Jocelyn: I started off as a naysayer and now I’m encouraging people to try camping. I enjoy the progression over the years of how a firm ‘no’ becomes a ‘yes.’
TN: What necessities should a first-time Melanated camper pack?
Jocelyn: We create a packing list for those who are new to camping. Our YouTube has a lot of videos to ensure you’re set up for success. There is a list of essentials like your tent, table, light, fan, and charger for your phone. We recommend most of your electronics are battery operated. You should also bring a power station with you so your devices stay charged.
We suggest getting the meal plan. As a new camper, there is a lot to get adjusted to, so we suggest taking cooking off your plate. The food is delicious and you won’t have to worry about bringing a cooler or doing food prep.
Shunte’: We advise new Melanated Campers not to overspend. Keep it basic. Get your tent for shelter, get what you’re going to sleep on such as cots or an air mattress, a light source, a fan, and a tarp to put your tent on for an additional protective layer. A flashlight and drinking water is also essential.
Test your tent before it comes and make sure you have all your pieces for your tent.
When you get there, you’ll see people with so many things — from portable air conditioners to rugs and chandeliers. Each year you can add on new pieces.
TN: How can Melanated Campers convince their friends who aren’t interested in camping to come?
Jocelyn: It’s great if your friend comes. You guys are going to have an amazing weekend – – there’s going to be a lot of camping, partying, and relaxing. There will be lots of activities planned and socializing as well as people just chillin’ and lounging.
If your friend doesn’t want to come, then I suggest you leave them. I love to travel and people couldn’t come with me, so I started leaving people. You don’t have to give up on your own adventures, wishes, and desires. Eventually, they’re going to see your pictures and want to come with you to the next one.
You’re going to meet 500 other camp cousins, so you’ll be good!
TN: Why did you all choose Wrightsville as this year’s Melanated Campout location?
Shunte’: We ran into Josh and Amber who own D & D Outdoor Retreat and Warthen RV Park in Georgia. Their retreat spot is so gorgeous. We’ve camped at their RV spot. When we went to their retreat spot, we were blown away. There are 55 acres of beautiful nature. There’s a 4-acre lake with a dock and intimate areas where you can camp. There are fewer restrictions when it comes to noise compared to other campgrounds.
We chose Wrightsville because the hosts are great to work with, it’s gorgeous and we needed a bigger space since we outgrew our previous space.
Jocelyn: What we enjoy about Wrightsville as well is that the owners of the campgrounds, Amber and Josh are a young African-American couple. We’re able to support them and support other Black-owned businesses.
TN: Where are your favorite places to camp?
Shunte’: I like camping in Helen, Georgia, Red Top Mountain in Georgia, and Gatewood Park. Jocelyn has me excited about camping in non-traditional spaces such as her dad’s farm.
Jocelyn: Gatewood is probably my favorite. It’s absolutely gorgeous. On my list is Old Federal. I can’t wait to get out there this year.
TN: What do you hope people walk away with after attending this year's Melanated Campout?
Jocelyn: You’re going to come and you’re going to love Melanated Campout. We want you to love Melanated Campout. We want you to come back year after year after year. Our mission is for you to fall in love with the outdoors and camp out particularly. We want you to camp throughout the year, connect with nature and connect with the community.
Shunte’: Self-care isn’t just a buzzword. A lot of times people are trying to define what that could look like. We have a lot of activities where you can get centered, enjoy nature, do yoga and take time for yourself. We’re very intentional about people coming out and doing something just for themselves.
Register for this year’s Melanated Campout in Wrightsville, Georgia here.