Breaking Down Barriers to Outdoor & Adventure Learning

By Beth Buoro

A Time For Change and Action

High 5 Adventure Learning Center is committed to helping people – all people – improve their lives through building connections and becoming empowered to effect positive change in their lives and communities. 

Our mission would be remiss without acknowledging the work we must do to increase the representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in the field of adventure education and experiential learning. We recognize that bringing awareness to BIPOC leadership and supporting those directly impacted by racism can facilitate much-needed changes in our industry. 

It’s A Time for Change and Action

We believe it is our responsibility to help remove the barriers of racism and support the growth of stronger communities where everyone is valued. High 5 is committed to assist in the creation of this new reality. 

 In an effort to address racial injustice, we created a working group named A Time for Change & Action (ATCA) in the fall of 2020. Members from across High 5’s departments meet regularly to build our awareness, skills, and support change within our organization and the field. 

Thus far, our two areas of focus have been: 

  1. To ensure that what we create and share as an organization is racially inclusive and responsive, and 
  2. To remove obstacles for more BIPOC individuals and BIPOC-led organizations to flourish in this field.

BIPOC-Led Adventure Education in Action

Highlighting BIPOC-led organizations currently engaging in the field of adventure education is one way we can educate ourselves and others. We’ve come across several organizations that are doing meaningful work in our field and want to share them with you. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but a sampling of what’s happening in our field to support BIPOC. We believe increasing awareness and learning is an important first step in this work and will help us to build authentic partnerships.

Camp Yoshi

Based in Oregon, Camp Yoshi’s vision is to create a space for BIPOC and Allies to unplug, in order to reconnect with the wilderness. The Camp Yoshi collective pulls this off by custom designing guided outdoor adventures that speak to our shared experience. 

Camp Yoshi was founded in late 2020 by Chef Rashad Frazier, along with his wife Shequeita and brother Ron at a time when the world was battling a global pandemic and racial injustice issues were coming to the forefront. Rashad and Ron would often plan what they called “trips to nowhere”, camping in remote parts of the country surrounded by nature and beauty. It allowed them to unplug from the world, connect with nature, and seek healing. The trio met up for a trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park in mid-2020 and realized just how profound these trips had been in their lives and wanted their friends and family to experience the same. And thus, Camp Yoshi was born. Check out the article in Vogue magazine highlighting Camp Yoshi’s work.

City Kids

City Kids Wilderness Project is a non-profit organization founded on the belief that providing enriching life experiences for DC children can enhance their lives, the lives of their families, and the greater community.

Since 1996, City Kids has been serving youth from DC. Founder, Randy Luskey, started City Kids as an experiential program to teach children how to be prepared for life beyond learning possible in a traditional classroom. City Kids provides DC youth with life-changing opportunities to help them learn, grow, and build the skills they need to set goals and work towards their dreams.

City Kids currently operates school year and summer programs for 130 DC youth, enrolling new youth in the sixth grade and providing program support through middle school and high school.  The program is based around three core principles: long-term youth engagement, experiential education programming with a focus on overcoming challenges, and goal setting with a focus on future planning.

On December 14th, 2021, City Kids was featured on CBS Mornings in a segment focused on the therapeutic powers of nature.

Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting-edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. They are a national not-for-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With more than 100 leaders in 56 cities around the country, they connect thousands of people to nature experiences, who are changing the face of conservation. So come out in nature with them, or be a partner to help them grow their work so that they can help lead the way for inclusion in outdoor recreation, nature, and conservation for all!

Racial Equity Tools Logo

Racial Equity Tools

Racial Equity Tools (RET) offers tools, research, tips, curricula, and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working for racial justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities, and the culture at large. The community builds connections with others who care deeply about racial equity. They also have an active Facebook page, with additional resources posted regularly.

The Outdoorist Oath

Founded by Teresa Baker, José González, and Pattie Gonia, the Outdoorist Oath (The Oath) is a new organization dedicated to sharing a FREE education model for all outdoorists to unlearn, learn, and be in community with others advocating for people and the planet. The Oath and its founders believe individual outdoorists (you+me!) hold the power, privilege, and opportunity to collectively shape the future of the outdoors. 


The Oath encourages individuals to ask; how can I be a better steward of the landscapes I recreate in? How can I play a part in making the outdoors feel more inclusive to all individuals? In what ways does my everyday life support the protection of outdoor spaces for years to come? Ready to take The Oath for Planet, Inclusion and Adventure? Get involved and check out this new movement at: @OutdooristOath #HowIOath #OathForTheOutdoors

Additional Organizations Addressing Racial Injustice

While the following organizations are not specifically BIPOC-led, we believe the work they are doing related to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion are worth including.

Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) 

The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) is the premier organization dedicated to serving the needs of recreation and education professionals in non-profit settings. Through AORE, members have a mechanism to interact with and affect decisions made by public land managers and the human powered outdoor recreation industry. AORE is committed to promoting ecologically sound stewardship of the natural environment and serves as a collective voice for its members regarding topics of regional and national concern.

Information about advocacy, including diversity, equity and inclusion, can be found here. AORE’s Inclusive Value statement is an additional resource and provides detailed information about their work in diversity.

REI Store


In July 2020, REI outlined an initial set of commitments detailing their work to advance racial equity at REI and beyond. They pledged to be transparent about their progress and share regular updates.

Highlights of progress since April 2021 include launching the REI Cooperative Action Fund, a community-funded public charity to support organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors; establishing a new Diversity and Social Impact Office led by the co-op’s new chief diversity and social impact officer; partnering with Equitably Designed to host in-depth trainings and design hackathons to help REI and partner brands make progress against the Product Impact Standards; and progressing the development of our long-term racial equity vision, strategy and roadmap. The full update is available here.

REI’s article How to Support Organizations Working Toward a More Inclusive Outdoor Community provides information about some of the organizations they partner with, their programs and their mission, and ways you can support them.

Call to Action

At High 5, we recognize that conversations, input, visions, and collaboration with those directly impacted will lead to the most powerful changes. What can you do to support efforts to remove the barriers of racism and support the growth of stronger communities where everyone is valued? 

  • Learn more about BIPOC-led organizations in your area and beyond. 
  • Connect with organizations and ask how you can support them. 
  • Include members of the BIPOC community in workshops and training within your organization, both as participants and presenters. 
  • Contact us if you have any questions or would like to engage in conversation about our efforts. 

There’s a lot of work to be done, so let’s keep breaking down barriers to Outdoor and Adventure Education together.