Angelica Holmes, ’15, is the new executive director of Black Outside, Inc.
BlackOutside.org says the nonprofit organization was founded with the mission of expanding outdoor “access, programming and relevancy to both Black and Brown communities across Texas.”
Holmes was already working with Black Outside as the director of the relaunched Camp Founder Girls, one of the first summer camps for Black girls founded in 1924. Alex Bailey, the founder and former executive director of Black Outside, recently started a new job, and the nonprofit was looking for someone to take over his role.
“I was one of the first people mentioned because I’m so familiar with the organization,” Holmes said. “I’ve always been on the board for Black Outside, and its mission has been close to my heart since the very beginning.”
She had to work through some “imposter syndrome” internally while preparing to take on the new leadership role.
“I’m an introvert, and I never imagined this would be my role. It’s been kind of crazy and still a lot to process.”
Holmes continued, “I’m so excited about it, though!”
She will continue serving as the director of Camp Founder Girls and working hand-in-hand with Bailey, but she will be taking the lead on programs now.
“Instead of spending all my time and attention on Camp Founders Girls stuff, I’ll be looking at the bigger picture of Black Outside’s mission.”
Holmes will help manage Black Outside’s other programs, such as the Brotherhood Summit and the Charles Roundtree Bloom Project.
The Brotherhood Summit, she said, is an annual outdoor retreat for Black male high school students. A collective of Black male teachers and mentors convene with students from across San Antonio, Texas, for mentorship, community-building and leadership development.
The Charles Roundtree Bloom Project aims to create a space of communal healing for youth impacted by incarceration and over-policing in their communities.
“It was started by my esteemed colleague Ki’Amber Thompson,” Holmes said. “Her cousin, Charles Roundtree, was 18 in 2018 when he was killed by the San Antonio Police Department.”
She continued, “[Ki’Amber] has a lot of experience dealing with over-policing in San Antonio. She wanted to give her family members and members of the community who had similar upbringings what she would have wanted when she was their age.”
Holmes said the Bloom Project facilitates healing-centered outdoor experiences and culturally relevant environmental education that helps young people “envision new possibilities for their lives, for their communities and for our world.”
She is also excited to continue working with Camp Founder Girls, which just finished its second year. The camp had to pivot to a hybrid model this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting day camps with three small groups of 10 girls instead of the typical overnight model.
“With everything going on in the world, we recognized the importance of our girls having a chance to get together and convene, even if it was on a much smaller scale.”
The camp featured some “social distancing-friendly” day activities. Some were in person, and some were virtual, Holmes said.
“We just wanted to give them a little taste of camp and that sense of community.”
She continued, “It’s been really hard trying to figure out how to be as safe as possible, but I think we did a good job of making sure we were overly cautious when it came to preventing transmission of the virus or any health issues.”
Holmes is looking forward to being more involved in all of Black Outside’s programming and seeing its mission expand.
One lesson she has learned through Camp Founder Girls is the importance of giving the kids time to breathe.
“As a former teacher working with a lot of former teachers, we wanted to have every single minute planned,” she said, laughing.
Holmes said giving kids time to discover and explore on their own is important.
“As we plan for the future, we have to give the kids some time to just be outside and be able to discover, walk around and inhale and exhale outside. It’s such a blessing. We’re finding ways to work that into the schedule.”
To donate to Black Outside and its programs, visit BlackOutside.org/donate. Donors can select which program they want to support or let their donation go to the area of most need.