WHAT'S OUR DEAL

The outdoors is mostly male and white.

 

Across nearly every category of outdoor activity - snowsports, water sports, even hiking and camping - about 70% of participants are white. And that's not an accident; current participants are not always welcoming of others who do not look like them.

In fact, a recent Penn State study bears this out. Because of pandemic, a full 13% of U.S. adults stopped participating in outdoor activities altogether.

 

And according to that study, that group "were significantly more diverse, tended to reside in more urban environments, and earned less annually than existing or new recreationists."

 

So why'd they stop getting outdoors? They didn't feel safe or welcome.

Here's more interesting data: the likelihood of getting turned away from a hiking trail aggressively is 2.5% (about 1 in 40 hikes).

 

The likelihood of getting turned away from a hiking trail by a law enforcement official is 1% (about 1 in 92 hikes)*.

 

Yet, despite such low percentages of unwelcoming encounters, it’s shocking that all it takes is just 1% to 2% to get the other 13% to stop participating in outdoor activities!

In other words, diverse recreationists no longer think it’s worth dealing with intimidation and other forms of aggression outdoors.

 

This is not an accident. And it goes beyond aggressive, unwelcome behavior. How many other micro-aggressive behaviors have you experienced as a women, single parent, Latinx, Asian, Gay, short, fat and/or disabled person while trying to enjoy outdoor recreation? There’s a real possibility that these numbers are under-representing the full extent of how exclusionary the outdoor industry is.

So how are outdoor activities made unwelcoming?

We've identified 5 major ways in which BIPOCs, ADAs, LBGTs and even single parents are excluded from participating in outdoor activities:

 

  1. Creation and enforcement of rules that exclude input from excluded audiences.

  2. Shaming for not knowing or following outdoor activity etiquette. Or not being familiar with or using sport-specific language.

  3. By making participation in hard-to-reach destinations, which can also be secret or expensive.

  4. Making necessary gear unnecessarily expensive for excluded audiences.

  5. Perpetuating exclusionary regulations, including requiring hard-to-get certifications or permits in order to participate in certain outdoor activities.

The Everyone Is Welcome Fund (Welcome Fund) was launched in the summer of 2020 by Outerthere Adventures, LLC with the mission of removing these obstacles to participation in outdoor activities.

Why does this matter?

Consider how you'd feel if you were excluded from your place of work because you didn't "fit in". Or banned from school because you're not like the other students. Or made to feel unwelcome during your visit to a store because you didn't look like their "typical customer". That's how it feels to encounter these behaviors outdoors, too.

The outdoor recreation industry in the United States is worth approximately $900 billion and represents nearly 2% of our national GDP**. If the industry was more inclusive and welcoming of that consumers like the 13%, it could potentially be worth $360 billion more***.

 

With 7.6 million jobs, the outdoor recreation industry delivers massive benefits to local economies, where some states derive nearly 5% of their local GDP from outdoor recreation.

 

And we believe that the only way the industry can reach an additional $360 billion in economic benefit from excluded audience is to treat inclusivity as a business model, not an add-on.

 

This is why we exist.

We are not an advocacy group. We take action.

 

We are here to support BIPOC, LBGTQIA+ and ADA outdoor guides with resources and funding. Because that's the only way we will have a more welcoming outdoor industry.

The Welcome Fund operates autonomously as a social enterprise**** with funding provided from outdoor tour operators with the #YouAreWelcomeHere badge as well as grants and industry sponsors who share our goals and, maybe you. Donate here.

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MEET THE TEAM

*Source: Outerthere.com data.

**Total consumer spending in 2017 based on an Outdoor Industry Assn report [PDF] and 2020 BEA analysis.

***Welcome Fund estimates.

****As a social business, The Welcome Fund does not exist to make a profit, however it is not currently a 501(c)3.