An Intro To Dry Camping For Black Campers With Melanated Campout – Episode 135

What is dry camping? Dry camping essentials. Melanated Campout.
Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you’re considering your first camping trip, learn practical tips for making dry camping more affordable and the benefits of exploring the outdoors. Camping offers an opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life. With no distractions, focus on enjoying the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors. Whether hiking, fishing, or simply sitting by the campfire, camping offers a chance to slow down and appreciate the natural world.

According to Dryt’s 2023 Camping Report, camping demand is at an all-time high across America. There were 7.2 million first-time campers in 2022 and 15.5 million first-time campers within the last two years. Studies also show increased camping demand among BIPOC campers, with tent, rooftop tents, cabins, and overlanding listed as primary camping types.

Today, I’m joined by Jocelyn McCants, one of the co-founders of Melanated Campout, an organization dedicated to creating inclusive outdoor spaces. Designed to introduce camping to adults, Melanated Campout hosts an annual camping weekend event encouraging People of Color to fall in love with camping. Over the last five years, Melanated Campout has welcomed over 1,300 campers to their events.

This episode will help you take the next step to try camping by exploring the benefits of camping as an affordable and accessible travel option. Jocelyn addresses common misconceptions People of Color may have about camping, such as it too uncomfortable or dangerous. She explains dry camping, the type of camping without access to electricity or water. We also discuss the flexibility that camping offers in terms of equipment and setup, as well as the resources you likely already have at home, which can simplify the camping experience and make it more affordable.

Started in 2019 and back for its fifth event, Melanated Campout is taking place September 29th to October 1st, 2023, in Georgia, USA. Use the promo code “campwithdanielle” for a discount.

Listen to the podcast episode below, or continue reading the blog post.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Pandora | Any podcast player

In this episode, we cover:

  • [1:17] Camping demand among BIPOC.
  • [4:34] Fear of camping and the outdoors.
  • [8:25] What is camping?
  • [13:15] Restroom facilities at campgrounds.
  • [15:43] Dry camping meaning.
  • [19:01] Camping water recommendations.
  • [22:34] Benefits of camping.
  • [26:20] Affordable camping gear.
  • [29:42 Best places for camping for newbies.
  • [38:29] What to expect at Melanated Campout in 2023.

Danielle Desir Corbett Hey, financially savvy travelers, and welcome back to another episode of the Thought Card Podcast. If you're new here, I'm Danielle Desir-Corbett. Welcome. I have something to admit to you, but if you've been following me for a while, you know this is true, and here we go. So I have never gone camping. I know it's true, and if I'm honest, the podcast is starting to feel like a personal diary here because as I am mustering up the courage to go on our first camping trip, we've talked on the podcast a lot about exploring the outdoors. In episode 125, Lauren Gay challenged us to reimagine what it means to be outdoorsy with air quotes, and in the last episode, Olivia Christine broke down soft adventures and how exploring the outdoors can be a pathway to wellness and self-care. According to recent studies, camping demand is at an all-time high across America. There were 7.2 million first-time campers in 2022 and 15.5 million first-time campers within the last two years. BIPOC campers listed tent, rooftop tent, cabin, and overlanding as some of their primary camping types. I'll leave the link to the 2023 camping report in the show notes if you want to take a deeper look. And also let me know if you'd rather me like come on the podcast and talk about that study because I find it really fascinating and really interesting. Today I'm joined by Jocelyn McCants, one of the three co-founders of Melanated Campout, an organization dedicated to creating inclusive outdoor spaces. Designed to introduce camping to adults, Melanated Campout hosts an annual camping weekend event encouraging people of color to fall in love with camping. Started in 2019 and back again for its fifth event, Melanated Campout is taking place September 29th to October 1st, 2023 in Georgia, USA. Use the promo code 'campwithdanielle' for a small discount. As an affiliate, this is an easy way to support the show at no additional cost to you. In this episode we cover dry camping, what to pack when camping, ways to save money using the items already lying around in your house, and why camping is an affordable and accessible alternative to international travel. Another great resource is the Get Outdoors 101 course by Olivia Christine, which is a self-guided online course that guides you through hiking and safety training, trip planning demos, and downloadable packing lists and checklists and cheat sheets. All of these resources that will help you to simplify your camping experience and afford the outdoors. All the links mentioned again will be in the show notes. Welcome to the Thought Card, a podcast about traveling money where planning, saving, and creativity leads to affording travel, building wealth, and paying off debt. We are the financially savvy travelers. Jocelyn, I am so happy to have you on the show today. Offline, we're talking about how I am discovering the outdoors myself and I still haven't yet to go camping, but it's on my list to happen this year, this summer. Yes. Yes, it's going to happen. It's going to happen. It has to happen. Reading through the story of how you all got started, there was this powerful quote that really captured me and it made me question as well in terms of why BIPOC folks, people of color are typically wary of camping and spending time outdoors. That quote that you had in Melanated Campout said, black people do camp. Can you just walk us through what your thoughts are in terms of why you feel like people of color are so wary of camping and just spending more time outdoors these days?

4:34 Jocelyn McCants Yeah, I love that question. And it's a complex question, right? Because there's an easy answer, which is like, oh, we just don't like outside, it's too high, there's bugs. But there's also an answer that goes beyond that, right? Which is, well, why? But why? But why? I would say, like many people, when I initially started camping or got asked to camp by my friend Kayla, I was like, no, we don't do that. No, thank you. I'll see y'all when you get back. Because I was afraid. I was like, you're not going to get me out there to die. And it was just something that was so inherent. It's not that I knew anybody personally that went camping and died. It's just, it was just known, right? And you're afraid. And so I think the underground or the non surface answer is because, you know, we have a long tradition as a culture with being outside, some good stuff happens outside, right? But then also throughout our culture in America, lots of bad stuff has also happened. And it's just not been the place of peace. Only it's been the place where you work. It's been the place where harm comes to you. It's the place that you don't go outside by yourself at night or something bad could happen. And so it's just, you know, all of those things throughout history that has led us to a place of where we can elect to go outside safely. Something inside of us says, put away and throws up the caution flag. And I think that's one of the things that I love about hosting this event and with my two fellow co-hosts is that we get to help change that narrative, right? Being outdoors is a safe place and you can do it. And yes, it sounds scary. It sounds like it's not for you, but it is. And it can be relaxation and peace and fun and family bonding time. And so just sharing that with my fellow people and everyone who supports that, that outdoors should be an inclusive space really excites me. And I'm excited to hear that you're going to go camping this year too.

6:55 Danielle Desir Corbett You know, it's so interesting because I feel like having and starting a family has really awakened this yearning to be out in nature with my son and for us to spend that quality time together. And I love hiking. I love tubing and horseback riding. And a lot of these adventures that happen during the day. But I've noticed that I get kind of frozen at the thought of like preparedness, like safety and like, what do I pack and what do I bring? Like all of these questions really hinders me from taking the next step, which is why I'm so excited that you're here. You can really help us bust some myths and yes, it's like take that next step, right? Like, yeah, it's going to be okay, right? You can do this. You got this. We can do this. Absolutely. Absolutely. So let's start at the very beginning because I know folks throw the term camping out there. I know it's a basic question and I think people might just kind of be like, why would you even ask that question? But I really want to set the precedent for the conversation by sharing with folks, what is camping part one? And then the common misconceptions that people have about camping and addressing those. So let's start there.

8:19 Jocelyn McCants Yeah, I think that is a great question. You know, part of the host's monotony camp out is like socializing. Hey, I have a camp out. Do you want to come? And the first response is, I don't do that. And then the second response is if they're a little bit curious, as always, but where am I going to use the restroom? Well, what am I supposed to bring? Well, what are we going to eat for food? So I love that you are asking this question. And I don't think when you're learning anything new or diving into anything new, that there is a bad question. And so when I hear the word camping, I used to think, oh, it has to be this very narrow thing. Like we're going to be in a tent. It's going to be something bare bones. It's nothing fun about it. However, I have evolved my thinking and now I know that camping is whatever is comfortable to you. Right? So I say whatever it takes to get you outside and enjoying the outdoors is exactly what you should bring. So we have people that hammock camp, which means they set up a hammock and they're good to go. That's all they need. Right? You have people that camp in primitive camping or dry camping. And that is when it's just you and your tent and you bring in your own electricity and your own water needs. And it sounds scary, but it's not. It's very feasible and very doable. And we can walk through that. And then you have like tent camp in, which is when you bring your car, you park your car and you get out, you take 10 steps and you put up your tent. So it's very comfortable. Right? Which means if I don't have to hike my gear in, I'll have to hike my tent in, then I can bring more stuff. I can be more comfortable. So that's the tent camping. And then there may be electricity there. There may not. And it just goes up from there as to how comfortable do you want to be. When I RV tent camp and when I say RV, I use it the same as camping. And so there's just different levels to this. But the goal is just what will it take for you to be comfortable outside and whatever that is, you should do it and not let something get in your way of doing that. Not like a fear get in the way of you trying it.

10:32 Danielle Desir Corbett I love that you started off the conversation giving this expansive definition because I think that's what trips me up. And a lot of folks up is this narrowness. And we had a previous guest on the show, Lauren from the Outdoorsy Diva. And we talked about how being outdoorsy is expansive. And I think this is one of the things that again, holds us back is having this narrow view. This is what outdoors is. This is what adventure looks like. This is what camping looks like. And I love that you provide different varieties and you said, hey, it really depends on your comfort level. And you have to define that for yourself. So let's talk about those misconceptions. I'm sure I have a lot and you know, but like, what are some like, let's say like three misconceptions that you feel like, all right, guys, like that's not how it really, really works.

11:28 Jocelyn McCants Right. Okay. So first off, we'll talk about the tents, right? And kind of delving in into the comfort level. I was talking to a guy one time and he was like, no, I can't go camping because the tents don't have floors and I don't want to touch grass. I'm thinking, wait, no, wait, what? And in his mind, the tent did not have a surface between him and just ground. And I'm here to tell you, they do. I think that is probably the biggest misconception. When I go camping, I do bring a nice tent. It's a big, nice tent that I have. It's an instant tent. So it takes about five minutes, maybe seven to put up. So it's nice and easy. You don't have to spend an hour unless you want to put up a tent and trying to figure out how does it go and da da da da. How about the car? Put up your tent inside the tent. I have an air mattress. So the other thing I hear is, no, I can't sleep on the ground. Well, you're in luck. You don't have to. You can sleep on an air mattress. I have the raised air mattress. So I'm very far off the ground. I know some people like to do a cot and maybe an air mattress over that. So that's also an option for you. And it's just to make it as comfortable as you need it to be. That's the goal, right? And then from there, you just have like your bare minimums that you can bring a tent light, some chairs to sit on, and a table. Or you can go all out and you can bring a blow up sofa and rugs and a chandelier and just you can make it be whatever you need it to be. You know, you're going to have an air conditioner in there for the people who are like, it's too hot. I can't do that. Yes, you can. They have ACs. So that's always good. And then the other misconception I get is the restrooms. If you go to a campground, like a state park or just another public campground, they will always have facilities for you to use the restrooms. And those facilities, if you want to put into your mind, are like a dorm style restroom or like when you go to the gym and you use that restroom. So there'll be showers and there'll be toilets. And some are super nice and some are usable. That's a good word. Some are usable. And you're good to go. You bring your shower shoes. You're good. You're good. You have everything you need. So that is probably the other misconception is that they have to be creative with how they use the restroom. And you can, but if you're just going to a state park, don't let that worry you. It will be a nice enough facility for you there. And I would also probably say the safety factor of it, right? Like you're scared to go by yourself. I know, to be honest, I always go with someone else still to this day. But I have friends like Courtney that will go and she will camp by herself in the middle of absolutely nowhere. If there's people to the right, she will purposely turn to the left and be by herself. So I love that. And so you do not have to be afraid. You just have your personal safety measures. The same as if you were going to the park in the daytime and you'll be perfectly fine.

14:41 Danielle Desir Corbett It's funny because I was literally asking myself like, well, yeah, how does the sleeping work? How does all of the questions you answered are like on par? Because those are the questions that I have. And it's so interesting. My family is from Haiti and typically I would be on my grandparents' estate, which is like a sprawling estate. But there have been times where I went to the mountains and we kind of slept on a cot underneath the stars. It wasn't called camping. It's called like a la campagne, which is like it's out in nature. So it's interesting how like I have had experiences. But again, this narrow definition of camping has really like said, this is not and this is. And so I'm really enjoying all of this. Now, you mentioned very briefly dry camping. And I wanted to talk a bit more about that because at Melanated Campout, that is what is happening is that type of camping that's happening there. So what is dry camping and what can folks expect when they are dry camping?

15:48 Jocelyn McCants Yeah. So I love that question. So the first part is make it as comfortable as you want to. Right. The second part is to be able to teach people to be able to camp anywhere. So most people, when they think about camping, they think, okay, I need electricity and I need water. And okay, those are good things to have electricity and water. And so the two main types of camping that you will have will be primitive camping is when you get to bring your own electricity and your own water with you. And then you'll have if you're at a state park or another public campground like that, most of those facilities will have hookups for you. And so the hookups will give you electrical plug just like at your house. And they will give you running water just like at your house as well. And that will be right there with you at your campsite. So primitive dry camping is when you get to bring your own. And the other is just when you have hookups that are available for you. And so at Melanated Campout, we do a combination this year. We do have spaces where you can enjoy in the electricity and the water being right there with you at your site. And then we also have the option for people to bring their electricity and their water with them. And when I say that, I recognize that that sounds scary. Like, I'm gonna bring my electricity. How do I store that? I put it in a bucket. Like, what do you want me to do? So what I want you to do is get a solar generator and really a solar power source or solar power bank. And if you go on Amazon and you search up solar power bank, you will find that very affordable options. And if you think about it, you really won't use electricity that much because ideally you're just using it to charge your phone, right? Because you want to do that. But most of us already have a power bank that we use. And when I say power bank, think the little portable power bank that you towed around with you that charges up your phone. If you get one that's a little bit stronger or solar generated, it will charge your phone and your iPad and your very miniature electronics, right? If you want to go a little bit more powerful, you can get some that are about the size of a battery, like a car battery. And they will charge everything from your fan to your tip lights if you want to, to your CPAP machine. And it just really depends on your power needs, what you need power for. But ideally, you're going outside to enjoy nature and not to play on your phone all day. Yes, you want to have it because that's our go-to. That's just part of it. But hopefully, you're able to enjoy the sunshine for a bit and kind of disconnect from it.

18:36 Danielle Desir Corbett All right. So we covered the power, which is relatable because I'm like, okay, I know what a power bank is, and I use one, so that feels approachable. But the water, I'm just thinking about normal day-to-day, of course, drinking water and maybe water to freshen up and things like that. So how much water would we be bringing for dry camping and what the containers would that look like? Do you have any recommendations?

19:01 Jocelyn McCants I do. Perfect question. And we've all seen them, the five-gallon container of water. And we don't do it as much now because we all use water bottles to death. But if you remember back and they had the five-gallon refillable water tanks, the big circle bottles, and you would put it on the container and then press a little knob and your water would come out. But that five-gallon container, you can still purchase that at Walmart or any other store. Let me preface this with saying, how much water you need depends on where you're going. So even at some facilities where you will dry camp, they will still have restroom facilities. So you won't need it to shower necessarily. You'll just need it to cook your food or really not even cook your food, wash your dishes, like that type of thing. And one or two, depending on how long you're going to be out there, five gallons for each day, each day and a half will get you what you need. And you just buy those from Walmart. And in addition to the big five-gallon jug of water, I will also bring a little bucket. And with that little bucket, I would be able to wash my dishes in there and that I would be good to go. If you are in a spot that doesn't have a restroom facility, then you would, of course, need a little bit more water because you do want to take a shower. And even with the showers, they have pop-up shower tents that you can purchase now. And with those pop-up shower tents, they have water bags that you clip up and let gravity do its work so it streams down and you set them in the sun so it's nice and warm for you and you're ready to go. And I use that term very loosely, warm-ish for you when you're ready to go and freshen up a bit. So it just depends on how much water that you need, but you can plan for like five-ish gallons a day.

20:55 Danielle Desir Corbett Nicole Sarris I love that specificity because that is like a guide. I could say, okay, great, five-ish. I could go out and get five-ish. So that's really appreciated, especially for a newbie. Now, before we switch gears and talk about the finances and the affordability of camping, I actually want to dig a little deeper into your personal story. You mentioned it very briefly of your reaction to the request to go camping. So let's talk a little bit more about that. And what about the outdoors and the camping experience that captured you and brings you back year after year?

21:32 Jocelyn McCants Absolutely. I love this question. So with Melananda Campout, it's myself and there's two other ladies. And one of the ladies, Kaila, she's always been a camper for forever. And her birthday would come around and she would have big birthday parties in the woods. And she was like, Tussin, are you going to come this year? No, but thank you. Thank you for the invite. I appreciate it. And they would go out and go out. And eventually she got the other co-hosts to go out with her. And so eventually I went camping and I said, now I understand why they're going because it is so peaceful. It's so peaceful and quiet. Well, it can be. We were with friends, so yeah. But it's still very peaceful and relaxing. And I would say the parts that I enjoy most, and I'm so happy that we're able to foster this at Melananda Campout, is the community aspect of it. My initial time was with friends and the sense of belonging that you're able to get while you're there. We're all here. We're all having fun. We're not in our phones. We're not sitting at a table eating food. Two favorite pastimes of Americans, in your phone and eating food. And you're out and you're socializing. And I'm talking with Jess Danielle and Danielle is talking back to me. And we're having a really good time connecting. I'm on Melananda Campout. We do get to bring in the game part of it. And we play games and we have all these other things. It's just really forming connections. And then also taking time to be by yourself and to say, okay, let me get my mind together. Let me unwind. Let me not think about anything. Let me just be present in this moment. And let me feel the sun on my face or hear the rain while I'm sleeping. And it's just, the stress leaves your body. And so I think those things are what keeps me coming back. And I'm actually going camping this weekend. I'm super excited. And I will be camping. And so I'll

23:33 Danielle Desir Corbett get to get some of the best sleep that you can get because you can hear noises and they just lull you right on the sleep. So it's really awesome. I love that. And what I love about Melananda Campout is also the fact that you can go as a solo person and you can meet folks and also partake in this joyous celebration and occasion together. I know that there is a subset of people who do camp solo, but for newbies, there may just be this apprehension or tibbiness to go by themselves. So this really offers this introduction and this safe space where, okay, I'm not the only person and I'm going to make a lot of friends. So I do love that. And then secondly, I know a lot of Americans, when they were children, they would go to camp. And for me, I didn't have that because my mom sent me straight to Haiti every summer to be with my family, which was amazing. But I love the fact that as adults, we can have this adult camp experience, going out and just kind of reliving that childhood wonder, which I feel like I missed out on. So it just brings that magic

24:50 Jocelyn McCants in the air, which I really appreciate as well. Yes, absolutely. Well, Danielle, you're going to have to come out to camp out. I'm ready. I'm ready. We're ready for you. Come on. And you will absolutely love it. And you touched on all the points. I love that you did. We do have a lot of people that come by themselves. And yes, it's scary to think I'm going to camp for the first time and I'm going to go by myself and be in the middle of nowhere for someone prime for the pick and write. But at Melanated Campout, like you said, you look around and there's 499 other camp cousins there with you. So you can be like, oh, all I got to do is I run at least 10 of them. I'm good. And so it gives you that sense of, I can do this, right? Like, it's not as scary because I have a whole community of camp cousins that are just there with me. And I don't have to bring a friend because you're going to ask somebody, you're going to probably ask a couple of people and be like, no, thank you. And when you get there, like you mentioned, it's okay because somebody else was like, I'm just going to go and have a good time. And you guys can link up together. And we have a lot of activities in place that foster that community spirit and foster that family spirit.

25:59 Danielle Desir Corbett So it will be good. I absolutely love that. So as promised on the Thought Card podcast, we talk about travel and we also talk about personal finance. And I know that camping is known for being this affordable and accessible option and an alternative to domestic travel, which is very expensive these days and even international travel. So can you expand more upon the financial aspect when it comes to camping?

26:28 Jocelyn McCants Yeah. So that is one of the good things about camping, especially if you decide to make it whatever you need it to be, right? Because that means that, okay, I don't have to have the best tent. I don't have to spend the most amount of money to have a car, to tow my little trailer. I don't have to have the most elaborate setup, right? If it's just what I need it to be for me to be comfortable, then I get to define that. And anytime you have a new hobby, it can be costly because you go and you see lots of things that you're like, I know what will be perfect. I know what I need. And I like to encourage people, yes, you could, but you do not have to, especially for your first few times. So I encourage people to get a tent. There's very affordable tent brands that are out there. You're just going to buy the tent. You're not going to marry it. You can always upgrade since later to get a nice tent, a nice-ish tent, and to bring an air mattress, which you probably have at home, or a cot that you probably have at home. You're bedding, you already have that at home. To get a tent light, you can go on to a store and get one for like $15 on up to whatever you want to spend. And if you're like, I don't know if I can make a $15 commitment. Hey, I feel you. You can also look around your house and grab any light that's battery powered. So that could be the tap on, tap off lights. For those of a certain generation, tap on, tap off. Or it could be, if you really want to rough it, grab your best flashlight and hit the road. You're just lighting up your tent at night. You're not marrying it. Your chair, so the same chair that you would take to watch your kids play soccer, grab that chair. That's the one. Bring it with you so you have a place to sit down, either in your tent or outside your tent, and to still be able to relax and do what you need to do. And then a table. So I use a little folding table that I bring with me that is under $20 normally. But any table, I think I've seen them at the general store around the corner during the summertime, any of those little tables work perfect. And it's just so that you have something to sit stuff on. So a table and you're good to go. If you have those five items, especially for the first camp and trip, you can always build on and you can always find more stuff to make you more comfortable. But it's just about getting out

28:57 Danielle Desir Corbett there. It does not have to be perfect. You just have to go and enjoy. And that will come. Yes. And I love that all of these things, a lot of these things we already have lying around our house. And like you said, we can always upgrade and expand upon all the things that we have. So I do appreciate that checklist. So it just, again, makes it so easy for newbies to just have the path of least resistance to go ahead and get going. I feel more comfortable and I hope listeners are feeling more comfortable with the idea. So we know what to expect, meaning what to pack and what to bring with us. Now let's talk a little bit more about what newbies should be looking for in a campsite. And if you have any like camping resources, apps or sites that you really like,

29:49 Jocelyn McCants and you would recommend to folks would love to hear that as well. Awesome. Okay. Yes. I was looking for the name of the book and I could not find it. So I will have to send it to you. And it's just, you know, it goes over the camping basics, but I would sit down and I would think about how do you want to spend your weekend? Right? Like you mentioned liking to hike. So you may be like, oh, I really want to go on this really cool hike to the top of the mountain. And I don't think I want to come back down. I kind of want to chill up there for the night. Then you know that you need a backpack tent, something you're hiking all the way up. So you know, you have to carry it. So it has to be lightweight, right? And you'll be good to go. Or if you're like, you know what, I don't know that I'm ready for all of that. I just kind of want to drive up to the campsite and get out and go in. Then, you know, you would need the stuff that we spoke on earlier. So it really depends on how you want to spend your weekend and what you envision doing. But I would say for a first time, I would go, this is my favorite word of the day, where I was comfortable, because that's the thing. You don't want to be somewhere where you're like, you know what, it's two o'clock in the morning, it's pitch black. I'm the only person out here. And I think I just heard a noise. And I know they're coming in here to kill me. You don't want that. So go somewhere like a state park, there will be

31:09 Danielle Desir Corbett people around. And that would be a good thing. So you won't feel as isolated as maybe if you went, you know, to the middle of nowhere and did it for the first time, right. So just thinking about how you want to spend your weekend. And would you say that campgrounds are also like a go to for newbies because maybe they have the facilities and amenities that will make it a little bit easier for us?

31:33 Jocelyn McCants I absolutely would. Yes, yes, yes. That also goes back to one of the misconceptions that I did not mention. Are there bugs? Are they going to get me? Well, we are at their house. But I will say for as many times in my own thoughts as well, that I get asked the question like, oh, this bug is going to yada yada yada. I don't even know if I've had a mosquito bite when I've come home from camping. So they're not bad. You know, like our mind says they're going to be one big giant thing. But the reality is probably you're probably good, especially at a campground, especially at a popular campground, because wildlife does not like you to visit their house. They prefer you stay at your house. And so when you do come over, they're going to go back and hide. So if it's a popular campground, that gets a lot of traffic, you're not going to have bears, especially if you're in the south like that. You're not going to have, I don't want to scare people. I don't want to scare people. You're not going to have other friends that want to come and meet you. They will be out there, but they probably won't play with you. So you'll be good.

32:43 Danielle Desir Corbett Yes, yes, yes. I was going to say cousins, but friends is the appropriate term, right? Yes. Friends you don't like. But you know what? I've been to Vermont. I went to an Airbnb and we literally are greeted by a black bear roaming around in the backyard. So there. Yeah, exactly. We were very friendly after that. We were very, very friendly. So I appreciate that. So state parks, you mentioned, and campgrounds are good beginner places for us to start our camping journey, which is like a great, okay. Again, I'm feeling like, you know, a little bit just moving on to the comfort level. I know. And I also really love that you, like I call it our travel style, which is all about really knowing ourselves and how we want to spend our time when we're traveling, when we're outside, for example. So that comfort level is like so important and knowing ourselves. And I'm sure maybe the first time there might be things that you like about it and you might not like about it, and then you can adjust, right? So really not putting too much pressure on the first experience being the end all and be all, but really being open to it and knowing that, okay, based off of my first experience, I can go and make these changes for next time. So I

34:04 Jocelyn McCants appreciate that reiterative process. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. And like you, I love to travel, not so much a road trip, but you give me a plane and I'm on it. But it's all about your style, right? And making it fit what you need. And, you know, if you spend $4 million on a trip, you're going to have a very high expectation. But if you're like, I'm just going to, you know, sit in the back with the regular people and go to wherever the plane is going to take us, because we're all going to get there on the same plane, then your expectation comes down. And the same with camping. If you don't invest $400 million the first camping trip, and you just grab stuff around your house and buy a tent, then you'll be like, oh, this was fun. I only spent, you know, a handful of dollars. And so it just gives you space to not put those expectations

34:51 Danielle Desir Corbett on yourself and on the trip like you mentioned. So I love that. Yes, absolutely. So over the last few years, you've already welcomed over 1300 campers to Melanated Campout, which is so inspiring and so incredible. So what's been the most surprising thing that the newbie campers and new campers have said about the event and camping in general after attending?

35:20 Jocelyn McCants Yeah, so I will say two things. I will say I love camp out because the way it makes people feel, like the kind words that we get, I just, oh, sometimes I can't even take it. I'm like, oh, stop, please keep going. So I would say that the connection and the community feeling, you can camp anywhere. You can absolutely go outside in your backyard right now and camp. But what you cannot find anywhere else is to be surrounded by the love. You can't find that connection. You can't find a place where you're going to come and you're going to feel like, I'm home. This is exactly where I was supposed to be. I had a lady come and I didn't even get to hear her. This is my other co-hosts heard her and she said she traveled 15 hours, 15 hours in the car to get to Melanated Campout. And she said every second of the drive was worth it to be there. And that made me smile because if I drive 15 hours, it better be really, really good. So I love that. I love that. And people will come with their families and their sisters and their brothers and just being able to help them facilitate memories that will last a lifetime. You never know where someone is in their journey. You don't know where they are as a family. And just to hear all of the kind words and how we've impacted people, it just really, I may start crying on you in a minute. So I think that surprises me. The thing that surprises them is how fun it can be and the feelings that they get. And so I love that. And how nice it is. You guys did this. It is camping. Yes. And we know it's camping, but we are creatures of comfort. We are three ladies there. We love comfort. And so I never ask my camper to do something that I'm not willing to do. And we just make sure that there's something to do at all times. And even if that's something that's saying no thank you to all the things I have planned for you, that is okay too. This weekend is really about you and making sure that you get whatever you need from this weekend. I was looking at Facebook and Instagram, one of them, and the guy made this post and he was like, when you go on vacation and you have kids, it's like not a vacation. It's just relocation. You still have to take care of your kids. And at Monterey Camp, I say, leave all of those kids at home and come get you a weekend that is about you. They get to have 51 weeks of the year. But this weekend is about you. What do you need? And do the things that make you happy and that where you find joy with people that you like at a time that you like. And so, you know, as a mom myself, sometimes you forget how important that is and how necessary it is. And so you have it and you're reminded and you're like, oh, I knew I needed this. I needed something. I may not have known what it was, but I needed something. And so we try to

38:21 Danielle Desir Corbett facilitate that for people. I absolutely love that. And scrolling through the 2023 schedule, there are a lot of activities. So what can folks expect this year when they come to the Melanated

38:36 Jocelyn McCants Camp out? Yes, there are a lot of activities. We don't know how to stop. That's our problem. So there's everything. You know, it's nonstop from the moment that you get there. You put up your tent and then you go about having a great time. So there's meet and greets, there's games, there's dodgeball, there's comedy shows. We have live music. We have parties at night. We have Ultimate Water Gun Battle, line dancing, some of literally everything. If it sounds the least bit fun, we are on it. Yes, that is exactly what we need to do. And so this year, the campground where we are, I love it. It is gorgeous. It has an amazing lake and people will be able to bring their jet skis. So I'm super excited about that or rent a boat. So that is wonderful. And also has a golf course. So I know when I told my brother-in-law, he was like, let me tell you where you can find me on the golf course. Thank you. So it's literally something for everyone. And every year we add something new. And even if you came in 2019, or even if you came last year, our goal is to make

39:46 Danielle Desir Corbett you have the best weekend. And that is exactly what we're going to do. I love that. And you know, I got my eye. I got my eye on. So don't be surprised if on Instagram, there's a recap reel of Melody to Camp Out weekend, the thought card edition. So I appreciate that so much, Jocelyn. This was so amazing. Like I said, I'm on this personal journey to go on my first camping trip and you've literally melted away some of the anxiety and fear that I have. And I love that this Camp Out is again, offering this chance for us to connect with ourselves, each other, and also in nature. So thank you. Let us know how we can connect with you and grab and snack our

40:35 Jocelyn McCants spot to the 2023 event as well. Yes, please. And I will absolutely be looking for you, Danielle. So the best way is to go to our website, which is www.melanated.com. M-E-L-A-N-A-T-E-D, campout.com. And while you're there, there's a boatload of information. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small they are, please just pick up the phone. We love to chat with you guys. We'd love to just make sure that you're prepared and that you have what you need to make the weekend what you want. And so, you know, I would say those are the two best ways. And then if you're just like, yeah, but what does it look like in person? I need to see it. Then check us out on Instagram at Melanated Campout or Facebook and join our Facebook group.

41:20 Danielle Desir Corbett Excellent. Y'all, there was so many resources, so many tips and gems in the episode. And I want to point you to two additional resources. So when you do go to melanatedcampout.com, you're going to see two blog posts that I felt went in depth and really provided even more context. So the first blog post is What to Cook While Camping. I'm sure we have questions. And then another is a quick guide to dry camping. So I'll have all of the links and resources to melanatedcampout.com again in the show notes. All right, financial savvy travelers, that's all for this episode and we'll see you in the next one.

Overcoming Hesitations About Camping

Camping has long been associated with the great outdoors, adventure, and exploration. However, for many People of Color, camping has not always been a part of their outdoor experience. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to make camping more inclusive and accessible to people of all backgrounds.

One of the reasons why People of Color have been hesitant to go camping is because of the negative associations that have been attached to being outdoors. For many people, the outdoors has been a place of harm and danger. This has led to a fear of being outside and a reluctance to explore the natural world. However, Melanated Campout is working to change this narrative by creating a safe and welcoming environment for Black people to enjoy the outdoors.

Jocelyn McCants: We have a long tradition as a culture with being outside; some good stuff happens outside, but then throughout our culture in America, lots of bad stuff has also happened. And it’s just not been the place of peace.

It’s been the place where you work. It’s been the place where harm comes to you. It’s the place that you don’t go outside by yourself at night or something bad could happen. All of those things throughout history have led us to a place where we elect not to go outside. Something inside of us throws up the caution flag.

That’s one of the things I love about hosting this event is that we get to help change that narrative, right?

Being outdoors is a safe place, and you can do it. And yes, it sounds scary. It sounds like it’s not for you, but it is. And it can be relaxation and peace and fun and family bonding time.

Listen to this podcast episode on YouTube.

What is camping?

Jocelyn McCants: I have evolved my thinking, and now I know that camping is whatever is comfortable for you. I say whatever it takes to get you outside and enjoy the outdoors is exactly what you should bring.

So we have people that hammock camp, which means they set up a hammock, and they’re good to go. That’s all they need.

You have people who prefer primitive camping or dry camping. And that is when it’s just you and your tent, and you bring in your own electricity and your own water needs.

Then you have tent camping, which is when you bring your car. You park your car, take ten steps and put up your tent. Since you don’t have to hike in, you can bring more stuff.

There are different levels to this, but the goal is to consider what it will take for you to be comfortable outside, and whatever that is, you should do it and not let something get in your way of doing that.

What to know about dry camping

First, what is dry campaigning?

Primitive dry camping is when you bring your own electricity and water with you.

Jocelyn McCants: You need a solar power source or solar power bank for dry camping. Go on Amazon and search for solar power banks, but most of us already have a power bank that we use to charge our phones and small electronics like an iPad.

If you want to go more powerful, you can get one that’s the size of a car battery to charge your fan, for example.

It just really depends on your power needs and what you need power for.

For your water needs, Jocelyn recommends bringing a five-gallon container of water, but how much water you need depends on where you’re going and the facilities available to you.

Jocelyn McCants: Some facilities where you will dry camp have restroom facilities. So you won’t need to bring water to shower with. You’ll just need water to hydrate, cook food and wash dishes.

Depending on how long you’re going for, plan for five gallons of water each day.

I would also bring a little bucket for washing dishes.

If you are in a spot that doesn’t have a restroom facility, you would need more water to shower. And even with the showers, you can purchase pop-up shower tents now.

It just depends on how much water you need, but plan for five-ish gallons a day.

Common camping misconceptions

Jocelyn McCants: Lodging is probably the biggest misconception. When I go camping, I bring a nice tent. It’s an instant tent. So it takes about five minutes, maybe seven, to put up.

The other thing I hear is, no, I can’t sleep on the ground. Well, you’re in luck. You don’t have to. You can sleep on an air mattress. I have the raised air mattress. So I’m very far off the ground. Some people like to do a cot and maybe an air mattress over that. So that’s an option too.

Another misconception is using the restrooms. If you go to a campground, like a state park or public campground, they always have facilities for you to use the restroom. There are usually dorm-style restrooms like when you go to the gym. There’ll be showers and toilets. Some are super nice, while others are usable.

Beginner Dry Camping Essentials and Dry Camping Tips

Black people camping at Melanated Campout.
Kayaking at Melanated Campout. Photo: Michael Rhea’s Photography 

Firstly, it’s important to have the right gear.

The essential items for a camping trip include a tent, sleeping bag or air mattress, chair, and table. These items can be easily found at outdoor stores or even general stores during the summertime.

Having the most expensive gear is unnecessary, but having the basics will make your camping experience more comfortable.

Secondly, it is important to consider what type of camping experience you want. Do you want to hike to a remote location and camp in a backpack tent, or do you want to drive to a campsite and set up camp?

Depending on your preference, the type of gear needed may differ. For newbies, camp at a campsite or state park with facilities and amenities.

Lastly, it is important to consider your comfort level. Camping can be intimidating, but it is important to remember that it does not have to be perfect. It is about getting out there and enjoying nature. Bugs and wildlife may be a concern, but as long as precautions are taken, and you stay at popular campgrounds, the risk of an encounter is low.

In summary, start small and avoid investing a lot of money in equipment for the first camping trip, which can lower expectations and make the experience more enjoyable.

Dry camping must-haves

  • Tent
  • Air mattress and bedding
  • Tent light
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries (AA and AAA)
  • Power bank
  • 5-gallon water jug
  • Small bucket for dishes
  • Shower shoes
  • Towels
  • Chairs and a table
  • Fan (optional)
  • Pop-up shower tents (optional)

Jocelyn McCants: I encourage people to get a tent. There are very affordable tent brands. You can always upgrade later. Bring an air mattress, which you probably have at home, or a cot. Your bedding; you already have that at home.

Get a tent light. You can also look around your house and grab any battery-powered light. Or grab your best flashlight and hit the road.

Your chair: the same chair you would take to watch your kids play soccer, grab that chair. Bring it with you so you have a place to sit down, either in your tent or outside your tent. And then a table. I bring a little folding table for under $20. It’s just so you have something to sit stuff on.

You can always find more stuff to make you more comfortable. Your first camping experience may not be perfect, but be open to adjusting and making changes for next time. Don’t put too much pressure on the first experience. Instead enjoy the moment and make the most of the experience.

Memorable Quotes

  • [4:28] “Black people do camp.”
  • [6:26] “Being outdoors is a safe place, and you can do it.”
  • [10:55] “Being outdoorsy is expansive.”
  • [29:04] “It does not have to be perfect. You just have to go and enjoy.”

Listen to this podcast episode on Spotify.

Resources Mentioned

Simplify your camping experience with the Get Outdoors 101 course by Olivia Christine. This self-guided online course provides hiking and safety training, trip planning demos, downloadable packing lists and checklists, and cheat sheets.

Read Next: Dry Camping Food: What to Cook While Camping?

About Melanated Campout

Melanated Campout is an organization that is dedicated to creating inclusive outdoor spaces. Founded by three co-founders, Jocelyn McCants, Kayla Stewart, and Tia Robinson, the organization introduces camping to adults and encourages People of Color to fall in love with camping. Melanated Campout hosts an annual camping weekend event that is open to people of all backgrounds, especially Black campers.

By bringing people together for a weekend of camping, Black campers have a space where they can connect, share their experiences, and learn from each other. This sense of community is important in making camping more inclusive and accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Melanated Campout is taking place September 29th to October 1st, 2023, in Georgia, USA. Use the promo code “campwithdanielle” for a discount.

Other Episodes You’ll Enjoy

Soft Adventure Ideas and Wellness Getaways with Olivia Christine – Episode 134

Enjoy the Outdoors All Year Round With Lauren Gay – Episode 125

The Hottest 2023 Travel Trends – Episode 117

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *