As Black women, we tend to juggle many hats and, unfortunately, receive limited emotional support. A community-based collective, Outdoorsy Black Women, aims to change that while encouraging Black women to get outside more. Outdoorsy Black Women is a community to cultivate representation and exploration in the context of a love of nature and the outdoors. Nature enthusiast Toyin Ajayi created the community in 2020 at the height of the pandemic when she realized she had trouble connecting with other Black women in the activities she has grown to love; she chose to pioneer space and opportunity. In August 2020, she created the Facebook group ‘Black Women Camp.’ Within 90 days, the group grew exponentially from no members to over 1,000. After realizing she wasn’t alone, she expanded to include as many outdoor groups as possible. The platform houses runners, bikers, hikers, and more.
“As an outdoorsy black woman, I was searching for a community like this. I knew that black women were doing all kinds of amazing things in the outdoors, whether they were beekeepers, surfing, or gardeners. But when I decided to become a full-time, our RVer, I was looking for a community of other women like me, and I just realized we were spread out, and we didn’t have one central place to connect. That’s what our group is, a place to connect all of us,” Ajayi says to ESSENCE.
The Outdoorsy Black Women network has grown to 16 chapters nationally with over 5,000 members, complete with a city ambassadors program. Additionally, the community hosts book clubs and events such as hiking meet and greets or their popular Wine & Waterfalls Weekend event through May 11-14 in honor of Mother’s Day. Wine and Waterfalls Weekend is an all-inclusive outdoor retreat experience that offers a variety of accommodations based on guests’ comfort levels, from “Do-it-Yourself” tent camping, to more comfortable Cabin or “Glamping” options with all necessary gear provided and ready for you upon arrival. This 4-day, 3-night retreat will cultivate community, ignite friendships and provide a safe space for Outdoorsy Black Women to soak in the serenity of all Mother Nature has to offer in Helen, Georgia. The REI-sponsored second annual event will include memorable performances and workshops such as vineyard tours, yoga, a guided waterfall hike, a black fairy contest, and more.
Ajayi created the event to allow Black women to choose their different comfort levels with camping and getting outdoors while providing the necessary connection between mothers and daughters to fellowship. “I love waterfalls; I feel peace around a waterfall. I was also thinking about ways that the ladies would feel peace. And then, of course, who doesn’t love wine? And in Georgia, we have a vast wine country that most people don’t know about in North Georgia and amazing waterfalls. We have wine country, and it just made sense for me,” she shared. Ajayi continued, “I want this experience to be unforgettable. And something that your friends don’t want to miss out on.”
Aside from the upcoming event, Ajayi believes it’s important to remember that Black women aren’t a monolith, even when it comes to being outdoors. “I think outdoorsy Black women are not a monolith either. I think it’s just about being yourself, however, you choose to be outdoors or outside. So if you go skating in the park, you’re an outdoorsy black woman. If you like to fish, you’re an outdoorsy black woman. If you like grabbing coffee and walking in the park, you’re an outdoorsy black woman. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about it is there are so many unique ways for us to enjoy the outdoors, and you have to find what works for you,” she states.
Expansion is next on the Outdoorsy Black Women’s agenda, and of course, more events. “We have some fun events that we are currently putting together and working on curating, as the ladies want more events. We’re also expanding to more chapters. We have Nebraska coming up, Oregon, and Oklahoma, in July. I mean, the goal eventually is to take over the world. So why not?” she exclaims.
The Wine and Waterfalls event is through May 11-14 in Helen, GA. You can reserve your 2024 spot here.