Well-loved gourmet adventure meal company Backpacker’s Pantry has been feeding us since the 50s and operating out of Boulder, Colorado since the early 90s, and the company has always been dedicated to giving back.
This year, as part of their Environmental Access and Education giveback program, they have partnered with Young Masterminds Initiative. The partnership specifically provides support to Camping to Connect, a BIPOC-led experiential mentorship program. Camping to Connect uses an immersive nature experience to address challenging issues that the young BIPOC men of America face every day and redefine the outdoor space to be inclusive of all. With the financial backing of Backpacker’s Pantry, Camping to Connect is able to continue these impactful trips and provide healthy food options along the way.
With Young Masterminds and Camping to Connect leaders being BIPOC themselves, young BIPOC men are seeing representation in outdoor spaces. Being able to talk to, learn from and grow with people who look like you and have walked similar paths shows these young men the powerful and grounding impact time in the outdoors can provide.
Manny Almonte, president and CEO of Young Masterminds Initiative, said it best himself: “Our team, reflecting the backgrounds of our participants, is key to fostering a paradigm shift in self-perception and understanding of their place in the world. We firmly believe that this synergy of nature access, mentorship and relatable leadership is instrumental in providing the support and guidance these young men need.”
Almonte, originally from the Dominican Republic, had a strong connection to the outdoors as a child. Being raised in Ayiti, known as the “land of the high mountains” by the indigenous Taíno peoples, he experienced sense of renewal that keeps many of us returning to the outdoors. After moving to the U.S. and settling down in New York City, he quickly got lost in the hustle and bustle of the concrete streets and realized he was missing his relationship with nature. After the opportunity to go on a camping trip to upstate New York, Almonte felt reminded of his childhood and the serenity provided by the outdoors.
Duane Primozich, CEO of Backpacker’s Pantry also felt his experience with nature was a pivotal pillar in his childhood, making him the man he is today. Growing up in the foot hills of Mingus Mountain in northern Arizona, Primozich lived far outside their closest small town. With the main source of entertainment being the wide-open spaces around him, he fondly recounts the memories he and his younger brother would make, letting their imaginations and creativity run wild — discovering nature on their own terms. Primozich credits this part of his childhood for the deep respect, wonder and eventually confidence he has for, and within, the outdoors. His mission is to ensure generations to come have that privilege, in some capacity, as well.
Primozich points out that emotional intelligence is one of Backpacker’s Pantry’s core values, and this commitment to growth connects him and Backpacker’s Pantry to Camping to Connect and Young Masterminds Initiative.“A while back, we asked ourselves why we as a company exist. After considerable soul searching and hours of intentional debate, we determined that we exist to serve our planet and the people on it … joy, fulfillment and gratitude connect us emotionally to Camping to Connect and YMI,” Primozich explains. “We take great joy in supporting their work, we find fulfillment in being a small part of it.”
After considerable soul searching and hours of intentional debate, we determined that we exist to serve our planet and the people on it … joy, fulfillment and gratitude connect us emotionally to Camping to Connect and YMI.
At the core of these organizations is a sense of empathy, community and togetherness. As you prepare for a summer filled with hiking and enjoying the outdoors, take an extra minute to be grateful for your access to nature’s beauty and the path that brought you there. If you’re feeling hungry, consider throwing a few Backpacker’s Pantry meals into your pack!