Mountaineer of the Week: Rue Mapp

Meet Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of the national nonprofit Outdoor Afro, founder and gear designer of Outdoor Afro Inc., and recipient of our inaugural Adventure with Purpose Award.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
February 28, 2024
Mountaineer of the Week: Rue Mapp

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to...


How did you get involved in outdoor recreation?

My family had a hobby ranch in Northern California, and it became my laboratory for outdoor exploration for activities such as hiking, biking, boating, fishing and hunting. I grew those interests through Girl Scouts, and as an Outward Bound student as a young adult.

Why do you like getting outside?

I love the feeling of both freedom and connection I get to deepen with myself; perhaps other humans and the wild all around — it always delivers what I need at any given moment: time to reflect, get energized, get grounded, or find peace and strength.

What is your favorite outdoor-related memory?

Camping with the Girl Scouts for the first time - my family were outdoor loving people, sure, but we were not outdoor campers per se. I loved the feeling of being a part of an interdependent pop-up community of girls. I still remember the meals we made and the songs we sang under the stars.

Can you share more about your journey of finding and fostering belonging in the outdoors?

After growing up trying a lot of groups and activities, I learned that many opportunities lacked adequate preparation, welcoming, and empowerment that anyone can find their place - or lane in the outdoors. These became important focus areas for Outdoor Afro to fill in, and to build on the legacy of an empowered history of Black Americans in nature.

As the inaugural recipient of the Adventure with Purpose Award, what does the idea of adventuring with purpose mean to you?

The adventures with purpose of the word, symbolizes for me two things: action and inspiration. Throughout my life, I always knew that my love of nature was special, but that it was cultivated in me because of a very unique family context of support. Because I knew how much nature experiences have given to me and enriched my life, I wanted to share the opportunity with others, in a way that centered connection, welcoming, and hope. These values are with sit at the heart of what Outdoor Afro is about - and I’m so proud it has remained steadfast in its mission to celebrate and inspire Black connections, and leadership in nature for now 15 years. But we have never done this work alone, understanding the interconnectedness modeled in nature, we know how important it is to link arms with many people of all types of backgrounds and hues, who understand that we are all in this conversation and journey together.


Smile or game face? Smile - always!
What's your 11th Essential? Toilet paper with wag bag! 
Favorite post-activity meal? Pizza
Favorite close-to-home adventure? Neighborhood walks in the spring after a good rain.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Horseback riding!


Rue + Inc. x REI Hike Collection.jpg

On April 6 The Mountaineers will honor Rue Mapp with our inaugural Adventure with Purpose Award at our 2024 Annual Gala in recognition of her career as founder and CEO of the national nonprofit Outdoor Afro, founder and gear designer of Outdoor Afro Inc., as well as her commitment to championing public lands across the U.S. 

The award is our highest recognition of those whose life work embodies our organizational priorities to LEAD Innovation in Outdoor Education, ENGAGE a Vibrant Community of Outdoor Enthusiasts, and ADVOCATE on Behalf of the Natural World.

By recognizing an annual recipient with the Adventure with Purpose Award, our goal is to show appreciation for exceptional impact and inspire others to be their best selves in the outdoors.

Rue Mapp will be presented with the 2024 Adventure with Purpose Award by former Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Tune in for the award presentation by securing a virtual Gala ticket today.

Claim a Virtual Ticket