Founded by Dr Mya-Rose Craig (also known as Birdgirl), Black2Nature is dedicated to connecting Visibly Minority Ethnic (VME) kids with nature.
When she was 13 years old, Mya-Rose noticed that there were no nature camps for teenagers in the UK like the ones she had read about in the US, so she decided to organise one herself. Being a fan of feathered creatures (you don’t get the name ‘Birdgirl’ for nothing!) the camp focused on birds, photography, sketching and other activities.
When Mya-Rose realized that none of the kids who had signed up for the camp looked like her (they were all affluent, white, and male), she reached out to Bristol’s minority ethnic communities and found five VME boys who wanted to join.
Making nature relatable
It was on this first ever camp that she began to understand the difference in the experiences for the boys. They were all excited to play football, set up camp and tuck in to the BBQ, but when it came to connecting with nature it was clear that these five boys felt this wasn’t for them.
That was until one of the volunteers started to talk about the speed of Peregrine Falcons. He compared the speed at which they dropped before they go in for the kill to a Formula One race car. Suddenly nature was mysterious, dangerous and cool. They were mesmerised and interested in what they were hearing — nature was something they could relate to. From then on they loved it, and we understood this was the key. After all, if you can’t relate to nature, how can you enjoy it or protect it?
This is now fundamental to our approach. We always find a way to make nature relevant for every young person who attends our camps.
Nature by stealth
If people think that nature is boring, let’s find out what really interests them. Loads of kids love making videos and posting on social media, and they’re often keen to learn more about film-making. So why don’t we tailor their experience of nature around this?
This is exactly what we did the following year, organising a film-making workshop in a city park with 30 young minority ethnic teens. They used nature as the background for their film projects. 20 of those young people came to the next nature camp, and Black2Nature was born.
We’ve been engaging marginalised children and teenagers at our nature camps ever since, talking to them about the environment and what they can do to help save it, and tackling issues of racism and mental health. We’re always looking for ways to get more people into nature. We continue to run camps, walks, day-trips and other events.