Picture-554I probably can count on one hand how many times I’ve been camping outdoors. Even after 12 years of Girl Scouts, I just didn’t see the point. Nature was not appealing to me beyond the beach, and forests brought to mind all sorts of memories from insect bites to cold rainy nights. Although I’ve never been a girly girl, there are certain accommodations to which I’ve grown accustomed. I never saw the point of sleeping outside when I have a warm bed and colorful room at home. I also didn’t understand the need to spend an abundance of time in nature, when there were so many other interesting activities to preoccupy the human mind.

But with age comes wisdom and new perspectives. Thus, I find myself years later falling in love with nature and realizing I truly missed out. It’s the ability to disconnect from everyday life that appeals to me when I’m sleeping surrounded by trees and few people. It’s when Facebook doesn’t matter, my Blackberry is defunct, and how easily I can hear myself think without distractions. It’s when I can see how beautiful untouched land really is, the power of natural waterfalls, and the advantages of swimming in non-manmade waters. I feel my skin glowing under the sun, soaking in the minerals of the water, and breathing in the breeze. It’s only in nature that my mind rests from the pressures of “success,” and I feel the return of humility. I recognize that I’m just a small part of the vast earth and my stress is trivial.

At times, I wonder why I don’t see many black women exploring nature. If I go on a hike or camping trip, I rarely see brown faces. And frankly, I don’t understand why when so many of us could use a break. Of course, there are cons to exploring the outdoors beyond the beach, which include bug bites and weather mishaps. But coming from someone who hates the sight of insects, despises mosquito bites, and isn’t a big fan of rain, it’s all worth it for the opportunity to receive peace of mind.

Whether I’m zip lining between trees or swimming underneath a waterfall, there’s something about feeling my adrenaline as an energetic force coming from within. When it’s just you, the sky, the wind, and the putter of your heart, you feel the moment more than any thoughts about the future. Time ceases to matter, as the sun becomes your reference for the day passing by. You simply feel thankful to experience life uninhibited. And you laugh loudly because there are no social rules about what’s an acceptable level of excitement. The wind is there to absorb your fears.

While traveling has provided numerous opportunities to see the diversity of landscapes and terrains on earth, there’s one thing that’s constant, whether I’m looking at mountains in New Jersey or watching the flow of rivers in Brazil. The peace is the same. There’s something magical about the outdoors, and I wish more of us would give it a chance.

Are you a fan of spending time outdoors? Do you enjoy camping, outdoor sports, or nature beyond the beach? Speak on it!

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  • Alexandra

    I got into hiking two years ago and I enjoy swimming back home. But I’ve never been camping and I want to. I would have to go with more than one person and none of my friends seem interested in that.
    As chanela mentioned, Black American history gives some insight as to why some Black people aren’t interested in these activities. It never became part of the culture. However, this may be different for Blacks who are not from the U.S.

  • ND

    I found the great outdoors late in life. I was one of those Black women who said “I ain’t the one”. Turns out I am the one…and hate that I’m usually the only one. Most Blacks do not camp and I can’t seem to convince them that it’s absolutely amazing… for all of the reasons this article pointed out. I love love love love being one with nature… I even crave it now.