Blowing Rock, North Carolina is known for its beautiful natural setting and exciting outdoor recreation opportunities. Through a new partnership with Black Folks Camp Too (BFCT), the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority (BRTDA) aims to promote more unity and inclusion in those outdoor spaces and activities.

Blowing Rock is home to a variety of outdoor experiences, surrounded by national forests and lands along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service. Spending time in places like these can be incredibly exciting and restorative, and even good for our overall health and wellbeing. However, statistics from the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service show a concerning lack of diversity in these places.  According to the National Health Foundation, Black people remain the most dramatically underrepresented group in national forests, national wildlife refuges, and national parks.

Black Folks Camp Too was created not only to inspire more Black folks to explore the outdoor lifestyle and industry, but to bring awareness to the reasons why more Black folks have not been participating in the outdoors, what the current industry can do to help create more Unity, and why they should. BFCT is a marketing-driven business that provides educational programs, workforce resources, and community-building opportunities to help folks connect with nature and build a sense of belonging in the outdoor space. Their logo features the Unity Blaze, which means “You are Invited and Welcomed” and race, age, gender, and ability are recognized and respected.

“For years, the Outdoor Industry has pushed for more inclusion in the lifestyle and workforce. We believe our sincere, meaningful, measurable and sustainable approach will educate the industry and non-traditional lifestylers too,” says Earl B. Hunter, Jr., Founder and President of BFCT. “Our actions will also help increase revenue for Blowing Rock and surrounding cities by inviting and welcoming more new consumers to explore the areas. Our ultimate goal is to “Increase Unity in the Outdoor Community and BEYOND.”

The BRTDA recognizes that affirming this open invitation and improving knowledge increases accessibility to all. It also helps ensure economic sustainability as visitation continues to expand across all demographics, coined as “Return on Inclusion” by the team at Black Folks Camp Too. The partnership between the BRTDA and Black Folks Camp Too is an important step towards unity and inclusivity in Blowing Rock’s outdoor recreation industry.

BRTDA staff stand with Unity Blaze banner for Black Folks Camp Too

Pictured: Blowing Rock TDA staff with a Unity Blaze banner at The Blowing Rock Attraction

“The goal of our partnership with Black Folks Camp Too is to learn what we didn’t know, and to be sure that we’re doing all we can to be welcoming and inviting to all of our visitors. Blowing Rock has been welcoming folks for nearly 150 years and there is still room to learn and to keep improving. We’re happy and excited to be a part of this inclusive and collaborative enterprise.” says Tracy Brown, Executive Director of the BRTDA.

Now that the BRTDA staff is Unity Blaze Certified, plans are underway for new additions to the visitor website and tourism promotions, to make the invitation clear and helpful information easy to find. It’s all about making the joy of the outdoors more accessible to everyone.

What does it mean to be Unity Blaze Certified?

The Unity Blaze Certification is a comprehensive customer service course that illuminates “WHY” Black Folks Camp Too was created. WHY many Black folks have not entertained the outdoor lifestyle, and WHY it’s important to Invite and Welcome “more” Black folks – and other folks – to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. All in all, the Unity Blaze Certification course was designed to “Increase Unity in the Outdoor Community and Beyond” while helping the Outdoor Industry increase revenue for years to come.

The real power of Unity Blaze Certification lies in its symbolism. When folks of ALL races, ages, genders and abilities see the Unity Blaze Symbol, they know they are Invited and Welcomed! To that end, the BRTDA will feature the Unity Blaze on its website and other marketing literature.

About the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority
The Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority (BRTDA) is the official tourism department for Blowing Rock, NC. The BRTDA provides leadership and primary funding for marketing, developing, and supporting year-round travel and tourism to and within the town of Blowing Rock, to increase lodging sales and visitor spending. They believe travel, including outdoor recreation, is for everyone. Connect with them on social media and browse blowingrock.com to explore exciting outdoor opportunities in and around Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

About Black Folks Camp Too
Black Folks Camp Too was founded in 2019 by Earl B. Hunter, Jr., a seasoned outdoor industry executive with a mission of removing fear, adding knowledge, and inviting more folks to camp, and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle with any and everyone. At the heart of their work is the belief that when more Black folks become active camping enthusiasts and begin enjoying the outdoor lifestyle, it will help break down barriers to create more inclusive communities and stronger relationships overall. Learn more at blackfolkscamptoo.com and by following BFCT on Facebook, Instagram, and X (Twitter). Founder Earl B. Hunter, Jr. says, “We are changing the world, one campfire at a time folks!”

March 2024