Ambreen’s appreciation of nature has led her from the local marshes and shores of Maryland to the red rocks of the Nevada desert. She envisions a world where people of diverse backgrounds are embraced by the outdoor community and works to help make that a reality.
A: My first memory of Coleman is pretty recent, actually. I didn't come from a family or culture with a background in camping. We never bought any "gear”, so it wasn't till about five years ago that I really started exploring camp culture. I love cooking outdoors and discovered the Coleman camp stove; although it has existed for decades, this discovery for me was extraordinary and completely changed my cooking game. I can fry, sauté, and do so much more now compared to before when I was limited to only cooking over fire or coals and that heat for cooking can be inconsistent. Having even heat from a stove is fantastic for cooking Indian food outdoors. Since then, I've been able to explore a lot more camp cooking and make the outdoors feel more like home.
Q: How would you describe your community?
A: Diverse outdoors enthusiasts from all over the country: working parents, LGBTQIA, nonbinary, trans, BIPOC, Muslim Americans, immigrants and children of immigrants, empowered women, and passionate people who love nature and welcoming all to its benefits and beauty.
Q: How would you reimagine a better tomorrow?
A: One where we are aware and all desire to learn how to enjoy the outdoors in different ways where we leave no trace and reduce our footprints. A better tomorrow also includes faces on trails that look like the faces on Main Street; people of all communities, identities, and abilities are authentically and confidently enjoying the outdoors in diverse ways and we welcome each other as though we are all a close-knit community.
Q: What are some ways you’ve helped introduce new people to having fun in the outdoors?
A: By inviting them to come car camp with me and help make them as physically comfortable as possible; share tips and shortcuts to avoid discomfort and encourage them to do whatever feels right to them by emphasizing there's no right way to dress or gear up. As long as they aren't leaving a trace, I encourage them to be authentic and curious and feel connected to a diverse outdoors community that includes me and them.
What organization or cause do you support?
A: I support many outdoor JEDI groups and advocates, many of whom are members of the Diversify Outdoors Coalition. I also personally support and work with the Sierra Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Rock Creek Park Conservancy, and others.
Q: What roadblocks, if any, do you see for encouraging others to get outdoors?
A: Many BIPOC people don't feel safe outdoors because of historic violence in remote places and because the lack of diversity can be unwelcoming and, by way of many personal experiences, threatening.
Q: What’s your go-to campsite recipe?
A: My favorite thing to make is warm traditional India chai. People love hot coffee in the morning after crawling out of their tent—which can be as easy as boil water and pour over. But for us chai lovers, it's only possible to make masala chai through a layered process of stovetop brewing so that the hard spices and tea leaves have enough time to release their flavors.
Q: Describe your ideal weekend outdoors.
A: My ideal weekend outdoors is a car camping weekend where I can enjoy it with some good friends. We get there on time, don’t forget anything, I am able to light the fire quickly, and the wind doesn't keep changing to where I move to avoid ashes blowing in my face. Everyone loves the food I cook, we get some great hiking in, it's a clear sky so we can see the stars, and the night is cool without any rain. The ideal weekend can be short and nearby yet full of joy and adventure.
Where's your favorite place in the world? Why?
A: Locally: Assateague Island Seashore because of the beautiful marshland and wild horses. Outside of my local area: Valley of Fire State Park because of the beautiful red rock formations and perfect campsites that are spacious, set up for great cooking, and have fantastic views of the desert.
Q: What are your goals for this year?
A: Try camping alone. I have anxiety around my physical safety in the outdoors. I want to develop self defense plans and strategies so I can enjoy being outdoors alone.