Conexión: Building community for Latinos in New England, one outdoor activity at a time
Ruth Castillo has lived in New England for almost a decade. Coming from Honduras to attend college at the University of Maine, she quickly realized her understanding of what it meant to be outdoors was different from her peers.
In Honduras, she had grown up visiting the coastline, spending time with farm animals, and being out in the countryside. But her junior year of college in Maine, a friend planned an outing. In one weekend, Castillo camped, rock climbed and hiked for the first time. She was hooked.
“I wanted to do more, explore more, and push my limits,” Castillo said.
But as she spent more time outside in New England, Castillo realized that in seven years, she had only met two other Latinos doing the same outdoor activities as her. Not having that cultural connection left a hole in her heart, she said.
Then Castillo joined Latino Outdoors in 2022. Since then, she’s made it her mission to make it easier for people of color, and Latinos specifically, to climb, hike, surf or bike.
Castillo also wants those moments to create a moment for participants to reflect on their own relationships to nature and the outdoors.
“You can rest by being outside,” she said. “Being outdoors doesn’t just mean doing hard things. It can be restful. Like sitting on your porch, drinking coffee or listening to music in your backyard.”
This is the third video in Conexión: Rooted in New England's Outdoors, a weekly video series this fall from the New England News Collaborative.