When Rashad Frazier first headed out to Montana in the Summer of 2020, he didn’t realize he had brought together the initial makings of Camp Yoshi. Focused on BIPOC communities in the outdoors, the adventure program emerged through this excursion with Frazier’s brother Ron and wife Shequeita. Through nurturing meals and reflective moments in nature, they uncovered how empowering the wild can be.
Combining this with the celebratory nature of inclusivity, it’s only natural for Camp Yoshi to partake in adidas Terrex’s United by Summits Campaign. The inspiring collaboration led Camp Yoshi to document their journey in Summit of the New Dawn–a film produced by their team of in-house creatives. The result? A glimpse into the community’s efforts to help individuals reconnect with the outdoors.
On the heels of this exciting partnership, we sat down to catch up with founder Rashad Frazier, where he spoke with a deep appreciation for nature – expanding on the experiences that have shaped both Camp Yoshi and his life. Needless to say there were good vibes, and even better perspectives on the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about Camp Yoshi’s origins?
The initial idea was to be a regular adventure company. That same summer with George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, and just all those reminders of what’s going on with the world, we made the community focus around BIPOC. I think when 2020 got here, it was my brother Ron and I finally wanting to expose these camping trips to others.
We launched a test trip for Camp Yoshi that Fall and we brought a bunch of dudes from Brooklyn, from Atlanta, who had never ever been camping or outdoors. Getting to watch a bunch of them see the stars for the first time, break bread, cry around the campfire, and ultimately create community in the middle of nowhere, was just mind blowing.
Why did you choose to collaborate with adidas Terrex on the ‘Summit of the New Dawn’ film?
I think about a year prior, there were conversations about possibly working with adidas on some projects. A lot of people don’t know that we have an in-house production team that does all of our visual and storytelling. I think when Terrex reached out, it was more so about trying to figure out what’s the story we want to tell? We thought let’s tell the story of the product but also present Camp Yoshi’s story at the same time.
Also, we have a really big initiative around making sure most of our newest campers understand what kind equipment they’re using when it comes to getting outside. They want to understand what they’re using, why they’re using it. So it was cool to have a brand that is already doing a lot of good work around functional, but fly gear. It aligned perfectly.
How do you feel adidas Terrex United Summits has empowered communities like yours in the outdoors?
I think it’s important that we show and tell stories about people of color experiencing the outdoors and highlighting some of the challenges on why it’s hard to get outside. Some of our folks who are actually on the trip, they work in retail, they work with outdoor brands. One of the most interesting stories I heard from a trip was, “I work at outdoors companies basically offering tents and outdoor gear, but I don’t have my own time to actually get outside and experience the products that they sell.” It’s dope to hear a person say all that, have the opportunity to come out with a camp Yoshi trip, and be able to see how we navigate these spaces.
More importantly, I think the silver lining of COVID was this: most folks are having to stop and rethink about what matters to them. The outdoors is more important than ever. And it’s cool to have certain brands kind of see how important it is to do the work, not just a one off, but actually put the work out there into the stories.
Moreover, Terrex has helped our staff kind of get better skills to grow the brand. That to me is a sustainability that allows us to kind of operate independently or with adidas Terrex support.
Walk us through a Camp Yoshi trip – how do you see community members transform in this journey to embrace the outdoors?
Our trips are set up to pretty much be plug and play. When you book our trip, everything’s included: all the gear, all the staff, all the products, everything you need to actually have a good camping experience is already there. One of the biggest barriers to getting outdoors is probably gear and material, right? So for us, our trips are very turnkey, you just show up and we do everything else. The trips are usually around 12 people max, as far as campers, and a staff of 4.
The trips are built to kind of just set up against all of the questions and doubts always in my mind – So, “am I safe? Am I comfortable?” We try to address all of these things to go above and beyond and offer a great experience. For example, the Terrex experience in Utah was pretty remarkable because there’s so much terrain there to see and cover. One moment, you’re in the red rocks of those epic canyons. Then, you’re in the La Sal mountains, which is a mountain range with grass and greenery. You’re getting this really weird juxtaposition of environments. It’s dope to see the psychology of a camper evolved throughout the trip. Oftentimes, people come in with all types of subconscious baggage. I think it’s cool that Camp Yoshi allows the individual to show up in a way where not only is their humanity celebrated, but they’re given the chance to be present.
The narrative of eco tourism, outdoorism, and climate change can’t just be in a silo. I think it all matters. For example, my background as a chef is to typically make the best meals. It’s not just one ingredient. It’s a lot of different things. Moreover, I think for the product of Camp Yoshi, we’re putting a message of purpose out there. I think many of our peers and older folks will share that they didn’t experience the outdoors with the right approach. I think we have a bigger responsibility now more than ever trying to get our folks outside but also understand the importance of just being conscious of the earth. For example, if you’re going to wear this shirt, be aware it also may be a part of the fast retail problems. I think the little small things we do kind of make our product feel holistic, and consistent.
So the shirt you mentioned earlier is from our friends at Earth\Studies. They do a lot of experimentation with recycled products. When it comes to sustainability they just have a good lens and ethics around that. So it was a no brainer as far as working with them and making sure our products kind of align the same way.
What do you hope for the future of Camp Yoshi and POC in the outdoors? What do you think needs to progress in our society to uplift these narratives?
I think for POC, it’s important to see other people of color and our peers celebrated for their work. In order to build equity in the outdoor space, we need to see ourselves in these efforts. It’s hard to kind of see yourself doing things, if you don’t see yourself publicly doing it, or see yourself being advertised towards.
I know it’s changing now. I think Terrex and other brands are doing a great job so far as to having more storytellers behind the lens of telling our own stories. Sharing with the world how we got here, and what there is more to do and accomplish. With Terrex I was really grateful that our entire production crew shot that entire segment. It was magical to see our crew work, scout, produce, and drive the story. That’s really powerful, but I think more of that needs to happen. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.
It’s cool to see so many POC, kind of learning how to do it the right way. I think all folks should really go through this process of understanding how to be good stewards before they actually get into the outdoor space. With that, folks understand climate change is real and that your intention of camping and being outdoors matters more than ever. At the end of the day, we’re just getting warmed up.
Thank you to Rashad and the Camp Yoshi team for such an insightful conversation.