Halifax company makes camping gear more accessible for outdoor adventure novices
Nova Camp founder says steep prices and lack of gear can keep diverse communities from accessing nature.
Last summer, during the first wave of COVID-19, retailers across Canada experienced shortages of outdoor gear — including bikes and tents — as people flocked outside to escape masks and indoor spaces. That demand has not let up, and prices can be high, keeping many would-be nature lovers from venturing out.
In Halifax, Nova Camp owner and CEO Miah Acebedo saw how lack of gear can be a major barrier to accessing nature and decided to do something about it.
"There have been countless studies on the positive effects that spending time outside has on your mental health," she says. "But having the proper gear to do so is often a major issue."
I've definitely been the only person of colour that I've run into on hikes, and to know that so many other people also feel that way means that we need to work harder and do better — because representation matters.
Inspired by her own love of nature and the gaps she was seeing in affordable and accessible gear in her community, Acebedo launched Nova Camp in K'jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia) in 2019. The company would provide locals with sustainable outdoor gear rentals while giving those new to outdoor adventure the information they needed to get started.
"Gear can be bulky, expensive, and confusing if you don't know what you're looking for."
She is also committed to using Nova Camp as a platform to help diversify the outdoors. As a proud second-generation Philipino-Canadian, Acebedo has noticed that many of the barriers to getting outside, including access to gear, can disproportionately affect people of colour.
"I've definitely been the only person of colour that I've run into on hikes, and to know that so many other people also feel that way means that we need to work harder and do better — because representation matters."
"Diversifying outdoor spaces is important because everyone deserves to be connected to nature and to feel safe doing so".
During their first operating season in Summer 2020, Acebedo was excited to see how many people were willing to try outdoor activities for the first time through Nova Camp's accessible rental model. In fact, close to 70 per cent of Nova Camp's renters in 2020 were trying their chosen outdoor adventure for the first time.
Along with promoting diversity and increased access to outdoor spaces, environmental sustainability is at the core of Nova Camp's mission.
"As we grow as a business, we are also doing our part to take care of the environment, and that includes educating our network about taking care of the places we love to explore."
She says that Nova Camp is prioritizing sustainable materials and opting to reuse and recycle camping gear, including teaming up with other small businesses in Halifax to repurpose worn-out gear. And while Acebedo is committed to encouraging everyone to get outside and enjoy the spectacular scenery in Nova Scotia, she also stresses that everyone needs to do their part and be mindful of the natural environment while enjoying the outdoors. Specifically, she wants to see more outdoor enthusiasts leaving trails and campsites clean by taking out any trash that they bring in with them.
"The number one thing is pack in, pack out. So many people don't want to lug things out on their backs but no one else should have to lug it out for you. We should all be responsible adventurers."
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