We had the good fortune of connecting with Shunte’ McClellan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shunte’, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Melanated Campout was started by three friends: Jocelyn McCants, Shunte’ McClellan, and Cayela Wimberly White – but only after Cayela made us believers. She insisted that we spend a full weekend with her so that she could teach us how to camp properly and have a great time. We were skeptical. Why would anyone want to sleep outside? She talked about the healing properties of nature and how good the sleep would be. We took her up on the offer and thoroughly enjoyed it. Immediately, we knew we had to share this experience with others. We started MELANATED CAMPOUT because we saw a need for people to reconnect with loved ones, commune with nature, practice self-care, and enjoy life to the fullest. We were also tired of hearing people say “black people do not camp!” Over the past 3 years, we have hosted over 850 campers, mostly people of color.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
to know about you or your brand and story? Melanated Campout meets campers where they are, offering camping opportunities for all comfort levels ranging from experienced to new campers. Our aim is to ensure that every camper has a healthy and enjoyable experience, leaves camp with an appreciation for the wonder and beauty of the natural environment, and feels inspired to encourage their family and friends to connect with nature by taking the Melanated Campout plunge! Activities include: tent and rv camping, fishing, hiking, yoga, field day, comedy, themed parties, empowerment speakers & more!
Melanated Campout is not just about “camping.” We are most proud of the “connections” we help foster: connection with nature and connection with people. The feedback we have received from our camping cousins has been very positive and inspiring. We have had families of terminally ill campers who were able to focus on the present and make happy memories together. We’ve had some of our country’s veterans who are actively working through PTSD to find solace and serenity at Melanated Campout. We had recent college graduates who wanted an epic weekend doing something different and fun.
In order to provide the best curated experiences, we have had to structure our business strategically and focus on key areas: Marketing, Branding, Social Media, Products and Services development, Standard Operating Procedures, Sponsorship, and Vendor Relationships.
Our business journey has had its fair share of road blocks. In the beginning, many traditional campgrounds were not open to having us host an event even when we offered a professional proposal and were willing to pay up front. Gatewood Park of Cartersville, GA was the first to embrace us. As the number of campers increased we outgrew Gatewood Park and needed a new location. We decided to open our search to include non-traditional campgrounds, specifically targeting minority-owned land owners. This was a game changer. We had several minority owned properties that were welcoming. Our 2022 Melanated Campout will be held at D&D Outdoor Retreat. The lesson learned: Think outside of the box…be open to different opportunities.
Our message to the world about our brand: We create the best curated camping experience in a burgeoning camping movement. Our target market are African American adults between the ages of 35- 55 and supporters who believe in diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces. We want everyone to know that we create safe and inclusive spaces filled with a weekend of fun and relaxing activities. A message to anyone thinking about camping: Are you open to experiencing a weekend where you can reconnect with nature, partake in adventurous activities, laugh amongst newly found friends and party under the stars? If so, we have the perfect solution: MELANATED CAMPOUT!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Atlanta and the surrounding areas have so much to offer. Here are a few places to check out: The Civil Rights Center
The King Center and Martin Luther King, Jr National Historical Park
Trap Music Museum
Kayaneh’s Sunset Ranch www.sunsetranch.farm (camping)
Pin and Proper – Play Pinfall a football-gaming hybrid
Busy Bee Cafe
The Battery Atlanta
Little 5 Points
Ponce City Market
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We are humbled by the amount of support we have had along our journey. Kevin Knight of Urban Events Global/ Urban Camp Weekend gave us advice on setting up our first campout. Wesley Wilson of Wild West’s Smoke Fusion encouraged us to think of ways to enhance our social media presence. He also provided pointers on RV and tent camping. Josh and Amber Gordy of Warthen RV Park/ D&D Outdoor Retreat gave us an affordable place to host our event. Arnell Mumford of ArnellMumford.com helped introduce us to a larger camping market and is always a great champion for our events. Jay Lowe of Awesome Smiles Dental Center provided guidance on obtaining sponsorship and is another great champion for our events. Yolanda Edwards (Mz Hooked) of Black Women of Excellence and Troy Hunter are our experienced anglers and continue to volunteer to teach our campers to fish. Candace Williams of Gentle Yoga for Everyone volunteers to ensure that our campers exercise and stretch with her yoga practice. Jerome Edmondson of Edmonson Associates and the Entrepreneur Development Network has given us business advice and has facilitated Empowerment Sessions for our campers. Danielle Cooks of Lagniappe Creative Consulting has helped us improve on strategic goals and organization. William Miller of Wet Will Mobile Detailing provides the water for our Ultimate Water Day battles. We are also inspired by groups who support us and are creating outdoor adventures for people of color: Black Girls Camp, Black and Camping, African Americans That RV & Camp, Goombay Adventurers Inc, Party N Camp, and Ch8sing Waterfalls.
Michael Rhea’s Photography