‘Black Folks Do Camp’

Sonia Wooten-Gill launched a Facebook site to help dispel an enduring myth

By Linda Lowry

Smiling woman sitting with dog on doorway of camper van during vacation
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

September 16, 2022

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Sonia Wooten-Gill was surprised when she learned that Oprah Winfrey had said that Black people dislike camping and don’t enjoy outdoor activities. So, she created a Facebook page to set the record straight.

Wooten-Gill, a Seattle resident and former Boeing employee, launched “Black Folks Do Camp” to invite other Black RV’ers to share their camping experiences and pictures. The page includes information on campgrounds, cooking recipes, motor home repairs and personal camping experiences.

The private group, which is open to anyone, now counts 3,300 members.

“RV’ing is truly a lifestyle,” says Wooten-Gill, who along with her husband, Charles – a retired deputy chief for the Seattle Fire Department – owns a 45-foot Tiffin Allegro RV. They also belong to the National African American RV’ers Association, a group that hosts annual national camp rallies. 

“The RV lifestyle encourages you to do more things outdoors such as hiking, bike riding and  meeting like-minded RV’ers,” she adds. “As a passenger, I enjoy riding and seeing God’s beauty of mountains, terrains and the beautiful scenery.”

The pandemic has sparked interest in the outdoors. In its annual North American Camping Report, Kampground of America found that 54% of new campers last year came from nonwhite groups.

Racial equity in the outdoors has become a hot topic. Kent-based REI Co-op, for instance, recently launched a campaign to build a more inclusive outdoor community, citing a report from the Outdoor Industry Association that said 72% of people who participated in an outdoor activity in 2020 were white.

Wooten-Gill urges novices, regardless of race, to rent an RV to get a taste of the motor home lifestyle.

“Take it out for a joyride to see if this something that you’d like to commit to,” she says.

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