“You can choose to be happy.”
Those are the words that Necota Staples will never forget. What was supposed to be a camping weekend of a couple trying to save their marriage turned out to be a trip of a lifetime. For Necota, it was love at first (camp) site.
The journey began after Sonya and Necota Staples took the advice of a marriage counselor to say “yes” to each other, after which Sonya invited her husband to go on a camping trip. Necota initially did not want to go, as camping was the furthest thing from his mind. After hearing Sonya’s words, however, he decided to give camping a shot.
“I made that choice to be happy and had a wonderful weekend,” he told Modern Campground.
Since then, the couple began buying their gear and started searching for campgrounds. However, there was one roadblock: finding one where they could feel safe—not just as first-time campers but as members of the Black community.
Looking for a perfect location took extensive research, but in the end, they found a campsite in Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia, where they had a wonderful time.
With the success of the trip, Sonya and Necota made a conscious determination to go camping every four to six weeks, and camping they did. Soon enough, the pair’s multiple camping trips led them to notice a gap.
“The more and more we camped, we realized that there weren’t a lot of resources or familiar-looking faces for other people of color,” Sonya shared.
To help people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds be more confident about exploring the outdoors, the husband and wife created videos to share their camping experiences and knowledge. Today, Sonya and Necota Staples are full-time adventurers known as Staples InTents (SIT).
“We kind of camp for a living. Our goal is to really share the love that we found with the outdoors and camping with other people so that we can fill that void and that gap,” said Sonya.
Driven by their purpose, the duo wanted to take a step further by providing a space for people of color to experience camping. In October last year, SIT launched an all-out outdoor event dubbed “The Gathering.”
The annual cultural event features educational programs, live musical performances, recreational activities, and more. Attendees get together for an unforgettable experience that encourages community, healing, and connection.
At the inaugural event, SIT partnered with BoMax Ranch and Retreat in Crawfordville, Georgia, to bring an adventure-filled weekend to 140 participants. Other partners who made the first-ever event possible are Hipcamp, GAIA GPS, Sawyer, and more.
For its second year, the outdoor event is expanding outside Georgia. On August 18-22, The Gathering is coming to Vancorum, Colorado, to educate over 100 people from diverse groups about camping and overlanding. On October 14-16, the event anticipates seeing a large crowd of 400. The crowd will be set to explore all that the mountains of western North Carolina can offer.
Over 120 acres of beautiful property at CampV in the southwest desert of Colorado await attendees of The Gathering 2022. Campers can opt to stay in two-bed/studio cabins, Airstream trailers, glamping, or try DIY camping
On the other hand, the North Carolina event will be held at Reeb Ranch in Asheville, where they can choose from an array of accommodations like a farmhouse, cabins, and Airstream trailers. Glamping setups and DIY camping are also options.
The event is the perfect opportunity for members of diverse groups to meet those with similar interests, connect with nature in a safe environment, explore a different side of the country, learn from outdoor experts, and more.
Just as today’s campers are getting diverse, with data from Kampground of America’s 2022 North American Camping Report suggesting that 54% of new campers in 2021 were non-white, it is important for the industry to be hospitable towards new campers.
As ambassadors of camping to diverse groups, the couple’s message to the campground industry is clear: make campgrounds welcoming, and campers will come.
“There are people that are interested in visiting and exploring the areas where campgrounds are located. Make them accessible and accommodating, and they will come,” Necota said.
Sonya and Necota hope to boost people’s confidence to go camping through their videos and The Gathering. Staying true to the connotation of “staples,” the couple binds people from various walks of life together, creating a sense of community as they gather in the outdoors.
Staples InTents (SIT), is an outdoor travel adventure company founded by Sonya and Necota Staples. The couple’s love for travel and adventure led them to start SIT, which aims to introduce people of color to travel, camping, and overlanding.
To learn more about Staples InTents, visit https://staplesintents.com/.