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Many of us find a sense of belonging in the outdoors, but finding a community of like-minded adventure partners is sometimes harder to come by. Luckily, new organizations catering to individuals from all walks of life are making it easier for modern adventurers to find connection.
Female representation in the outdoor industry has come along way in recent years. But when it comes to thinking more deeply about gender and actively including people outside traditional gender norms, outdoor recreation still has a long way to go. Enter Alpenglow Collective, co-founded by Elyse Cogburn and Emily Mannisto this year. The organization leads climbing meetups throughout the West for women-identified, transgender, and gender nonconforming individuals. On top of hosting events, Alpenglow’s website features a section where anyone can create a small profile about their adventure interests and message others to connect with new adventure buddies.
Adaptive Climbing Group
Kareemah Batts, a writer and disability advocate, started Adaptive Climbing Group in 2012. The group’s climbing sessions welcome people with permanent disabilities, including amputations, limb differences, spinal cord injuries, neurological diseases, and visual impairments. Current meetup locations include Chicago, New York, and Massachusetts in both indoor and outdoor locations.
Fat Girls Hiking
Body-positivity organization Fat Girls Hiking champions the belief that trails beat diet culture any day and that people can be healthy at any size. The self-described “fat activism, body liberation, and outdoor community” was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 2015 and hosts all-inclusive hikes about once a month. So far, the group has regional chapters in Los Angeles, Seattle, the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Venture Out Project
Perry Norris left the corporate world and found his calling in environmental education, founding the Venture Out Project in 2014 to offer a safe and inclusive place for LGBTQ individuals to learn backpacking and wilderness skills from their peers. Programming for both youth and adults promotes the idea that it’s never too late to gain the confidence that can come from outdoor recreation. The Venture Out Project leads trips in New England and the Pacific Northwest.
Women Who Hike
Women Who Hike began in 2015 as a social media platform that shared images of outdoorsy women. As momentum grew, founder Nicole Brown realized the Instagram account’s potential. Women Who Hike is now a membership-based network designed to lead and empower women in the outdoors, offering regional meetups and guided hikes in some areas, organized primarily through members-only emails and Facebook groups that anyone can join in nearly every U.S. state, parts of Canada, and Europe. Participants can sign up for regional hikes and outings, which are led by the organization’s ambassadors, after paying a one-time membership fee of $15.
Brown Girls Climb
Founded in November 2016 by Bethany Lebewitz, Brown Girls Climb provides inclusive exploration and leadership opportunities for female climbers of color. The organization started as an Instagram account but has quickly grown into a community-building resource for climbers of color. Leaders host meetups in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado, both indoors and outdoors. They also put on events like Color the Crag, an annual climbing festival hosted with Brothers of Climbing in Alabama each September.
Sierra Club Outdoors
The Sierra Club has been getting people outside for more than a century, but the organization is in many ways taking a page out of newcomers’ books, creating outing initiatives tailored for certain groups of people. This includes its Inspiring Connections Outdoors program, which hosts meetups in communities with limited access to the outdoors, and trips specifically for military veterans. Most people, including those who don’t live in the West or in major cities, should be able to find a regional adventure group through the Sierra Club’s website.