Adventure travel is becoming increasingly popular among BIPOC travelers who want more out of their trips. In fact, a study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association found that people of color account for 36% of U.S. outbound adventure travelers.
Still, roadblocks to access remain. Discriminatory historical practices have limited minorities’ access to outdoor spaces. Until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, segregation and Jim Crow laws restricted Black people from many public spaces, such as pools and national and state parks.
As a result, today the Black community remains underrepresented in the outdoors and adventure travel. Initiatives like the removal of the Confederate flag by Kampgrounds of America demonstrate the ongoing need for inclusivity and welcoming policies. Economic factors also play a role, as the gear required to enjoy outdoor exploration can be costly.
The Origin of Vibe Tribe Adventures
Noticing the numerous barriers that minority groups often face in accessing opportunities for outdoor recreation, Jess Newton was inspired to find a way to help these communities.
In 2017, she founded Black Girls Hike Global, later changing the name to Vibe Tribe Adventures to make it more inclusive. Vibe Tribe Adventures is an international outdoor recreation and adventure sports organization created to encourage Black and brown community members to explore the outdoors more at home and in their travels. The nonprofit’s mission is driven by the belief that everyone deserves to experience the beauty, serenity and transformative power of the outdoors.
By providing equitable access, inspiring a love for nature and cultivating Black and brown leadership, Vibe Tribe Adventures strives to create a future where outdoor spaces are truly inclusive and diverse.
Creating a Generation of Leaders
The organization offers much more than just rewarding trips and excursions. In addition to increased access to outdoor recreation, some of Vibe Tribe Adventures’ core tenets include outdoor education and skill development, health and wellness promotion, environmental stewardship and conservation, and BIPOC leadership programs for youth and adults.
“We are committed to challenging and transforming the outdoor industry to normalize the presence of BIPOC in outdoor spaces by nurturing BIPOC outdoor leadership,” Newton tells Travel Noire. “We work tirelessly to ensure that financial constraints, lack of representation, and cultural barriers no longer hinder individuals from enjoying the benefits of outdoor recreation. By offering no cost to affordable programming, educational resources and community engagement, we aim to empower individuals to connect with nature, develop a love for the outdoors and lead healthier lives.”
A Source of Inspiration
One of Newton’s biggest inspirations was an outdoor enthusiast named Winston K. Walker, who served as her mentor before his death. While battling cancer and an autoimmune disease, he remained committed to sharing his love for the outdoors and inspiring others to do the same. Despite his illnesses, he remained joyful and active–a true testament to the uplifting, therapeutic power of adventure travel and the outdoors.
“He came to every event I planned and greeted me with a smile and a high five every time. He taught me how to be a leader in the outdoors. Before he passed away he said ‘Jess, I have to teach you everything I know about the outdoors.’ I believe being in the outdoors, a.k.a. nature therapy, can truly extend your life. Nature is healing to our souls, our minds and our bodies, and my community could use some healing. My community needs leaders that look like themselves in the outdoors and I know exactly how to do just that.”
Events and Outings
Each year, Vibe Tribe Adventures hosts an annual beach day where they provide free paddle boarding lessons, free food and more. Community members are able to check out kayaks, canoes, floaties, life jackets and paddle boards to enjoy the outdoors with other people of color.
“Last year we had 400 participants sign up and show up,” Newton says. “It’s a beautiful site to see. Our members feel safe to explore nature and that’s the goal. Nature is our natural birthright and we have to keep reminding ourselves that nature belongs to us, too.”
In the coming weeks, Vibe Tribe Adventures will be rolling into their snowsports season to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing until spring. For more information, visit vibetribeadventures.org.