November signals a time to restock personal nature spaces and refocus future ambitions as the winter months and the new year approaches. The month also gravitates to giving. Following Thanksgiving is GivingTuesday held Nov. 29, 2022. The global generosity movement will kick off end-of-year giving for national not-for-profit organization Outdoor Afro to close out the year.
“Because of our supporters, we get to be first responders to engage and lift up local connections in nature around the country,” said Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro. “These contributions also allow us to help more people take better care of our community and planet joyously while creating unforgettable, equitable fun and access to Black joy and healing in nature.” Year-round programs and projects supporters and the general public may not know their contributions actually help uplift within the network and throughout the United States:
OUTDOOR AFRO LEADERSHIP TRAINING: This annual training guides the newest class of volunteer leaders through best practices for navigating and leading in nature. Nicknamed “OALT,” the weekend experience held in April equips a select group of volunteers from across the country with the essential outdoor skills needed to return to their hometowns and guide their local communities outside sustainably and safely. To date, Outdoor Afro includes more than 100 volunteer leaders who represent the network’s four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.
LOCAL ACTIVITIES: Once OALT completes, volunteer leaders develop, host, and lead local activities in their local to regional communities. Activities can cover anything from neighborhood historical walks and cultural park bird watching to biking, hiking, gardening, skiing, fishing, swimming, geocaching, nature journaling, and kayaking. Volunteers often gauge and offer activities that any age group would enjoy pursuing in nature. Volunteers hold more than 1,200 in-person and online events each year.
PADDLE CAMP: Held in August each year, this seven-day summer camp introduces volunteer leaders (10 canoers and 10 kayakers) to effective paddling techniques, safety on the water, and wilderness first aid training to apply through their individual networks. In collaboration with boating and fishing equipment brand Northwest River Supplies, the camp helps strengthen volunteers’ canoeing and kayaking knowledge, and navigation of various waterways. Paddle Camp also prepares volunteers for certification through the American Canoe Association. Outdoor Afro now includes 26 volunteer leaders who are certified canoe or kayak instructors.
MAKING WAVES: The program formed in response to the alarming number of Black children who drown today tied to the historic prohibition of Black access to public swimming pools and beaches. Since 2019, Outdoor Afro’s goal has been to teach every Black child and their caregiver in its sphere of influence learn how to swim. Currently, the network provides Swimmerships™ (swim lesson scholarships). At 357 Swimmerships™ completed, the program continues to grow support from brands like global footwear KEEN to bring awareness and stronger connections to water.
JUNETEENTH: Because media created this flawed narrative of Juneteenth being a “celebration” to the end of U.S. slavery, Outdoor Afro educates the public about the reality of the situation. June 19, 1865, is the date when 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation (signed Jan. 1, 1863) went into effect. The network corrects this oftentimes “celebratory” story by rephrasing the day as a “commemoration.” To honor those who were denied 2.5 years of freedom, Outdoor Afro encourages partners, communities, and networks to spend 2.5 hours in nature, reflecting on what freedom means to them.
ABOUT OUTDOOR AFRO: Outdoor Afro is a national not-for-profit organization that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. What started as a kitchen table blog by Founder and CEO Rue Mapp in 2009 has since grown into a cutting-edge nationwide network with 100-plus volunteer leaders in 60 cities. “Where Black people and nature meet,” Outdoor Afro reconnects Black people with the outdoors through outdoor education, recreation, and conservation. Follow us @outdoorafro on social.