Editor’s note: this Letter to the Editor is in response to the article “Outback Adventure Guides Paid $1.60 to $10 Hour.”
While Outback’s payment policy might be satisfactory to some who work there, I’m almost certain this deters many people from becoming guides even though they’d really like to. Outdoor recreation is already inaccessible and therefore unappealing for low-income folks, especially people of color. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate Outback’s low prices which allow access for a more diverse group of folks, but I think this poor compensation is a separate issue which filters what type of people are able to serve in this leadership role/job.
If all the guides look a certain way and come from a particular background, I’m curious about how that affects folks who are interested in getting involved, but don’t look like them. A lot of folks lack the resources, but even if they had them, the message seems to be that they probably don’t belong. From what I’ve seen Outback is almost entirely white with a few Asian folks and no other people of color, and that’s a problem.
I’ve had the enormous privilege of having the resources to get myself outdoors, enjoying the healing properties of nature. But to do so, I still had to overcome the insurmountable feeling of not belonging, as I was and am still constantly surrounded by a sea of white faces whenever I get out. To combat this, if you’re a POC who’s interested in climbing, camping, backpacking, or hiking, I’ll loan gear, help plan trips, or take you on a trip for free!
Justin Huynh is a fifth year Environmental Engineering major who enjoys hiking in his free time. The positions stated here do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Triton, any of its members, or any of its affiliates. We welcome responses to opinion pieces. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.