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Meet Coleman Collective member Zenovia Stephens

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

This story is presented by Coleman.

Zenovia Stephens is a member of the Coleman Collective, where she receives support for her organization Black Kids Adventure. We chatted with this amazing leader and mom about the outdoors, bringing kids outside, and why she joined the Coleman Collective.

Meet Zenovia

1. Why is it important for Black families to get outside together? 
Black people haven't always been allowed in spaces where outdoor recreation and nature-based activities occur. As a result, many have been left reconnecting with the outdoors and discovering "outdoorsy" activities as adults. At Black Kids Adventures, Inc, we believe engaging the Black family outdoors can lead to a generational shift allowing those coming behind us to develop deep, meaningful relationships with the outdoors as kids.

2. Why do you think nature is healing?
Nature is where we find peace on earth. It’s soothing and can help us release pain, stress, and negativity, and leave us feeling happy and regulated. The healing that takes place in nature is difficult to describe, but what washes over you while sitting at the foot of a waterfall or standing under a canopy of trees swaying back and forth is undeniable and should be experienced by all.

3. Why did you join the Coleman Collective?
I joined the Coleman Collective for a few reasons. Coleman's mission to see a more diverse outdoor community aligns with my mission, making it an easy choice. But it also provided me with a larger platform to ensure other Black families and individuals see themselves in this community. To be inspired, people must feel a connection, whether physical, spiritual, or mental; an association has to occur. I wanted to position our family to serve as a visual connection for others that says, "we do that too," and encourage more Black families and individuals to seek and conquer adventures together.

Two parents and three little kids sitting on lawn chairs in front of a large tent. There is a small shaggy dog in the grass.
Photo by Carlos Calloway

4. Do you have any tips for people looking to get outside with kids?
The most valuable advice I can share with others is to leave your expectations at home and be flexible. Adventuring with kids requires patience and a mindset of quality over quantity. Kids are natural-born explorers, and what they find exciting and fun will typically be different than their parents. If hiking, they may be content spending all their time playing by a creek or looking for sticks in the woods, and you might need more time to complete the trail. But that’s ok. The idea is to get outside and help them develop a meaningful relationship that can grow over time. Also, snacks are your best friend when getting outside with kids. It’s amazing how motivating a Dum Dum or granola bar can be!

5. Do you have any advice for people who haven’t spent much time outside but are interested in starting to?
Start where you are, and don’t let anyone or anything define what it means to be outdoorsy. There’s no right or wrong way, and your adventures can be as big or small as you’d like. Don’t get caught up in the “Instagrammable” experiences; make it unique to your likes and needs. Want to camp but not ready or interested in going to a campground? Camp in your backyard. 90% of our camping happens at home, and I don’t feel it makes me any more or less outdoorsy than the person camping in the wilderness. More comfortable exploring your neighborhood than the woods? Go for it. It’s your story; write it for yourself!

A black family of two adults and three young kids are seated in a cave. There is a waterfall behind them and they are wearing brightly colored clothes, helmets, and headlamps.
Zenovia and her family caving. Photo by Sunguramy Photography

6. How can people who are new to the outdoors find and join communities of others with similar interests (with or without kids)?
Social media is powerful and a great tool to find like-minded individuals and groups to get outside with. Our organization has built a community almost exclusively through social media.

7. Where can readers find more information about you & this project? If you want to learn more about Black Kids Adventures, Inc and our Family Adventure Camp visit our website, Instagram, or FacebookDonate here.

To learn more about our family and find inspiration for yours, check us out on Instagram, Facebook, or on the web

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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