Meet first term Wild Keeper, Cai Thomas! Cai is based in San Diego and shared that they got into the outdoors through going to college in southwest Virginia, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. "I started hiking and climbing there, and never looked back!," they said. Now, Cai shares that camping in the desert is their favorite way to experience the outdoors - "the night sky is amazing!"
When asked if they've faced any challenges in regards to the outdoor industry or experiences outdoors Cai reflects, "In most outdoor classes/clubs I've participated in, I have had to share feedback to the organizers about making the space more LGBTQIA+ inclusive. From the application forms, to the language used in the space, to making sure all participants feel welcome and comfortable through intentional planning, there are tangible steps that can be taken to make a space inclusive for all.
When camping outside with just my partner, we only feel comfortable sleeping inside my car with the doors locked. I wish I didn't feel that way, but I as a visibly queer & trans person, this is a safety precaution I have to take." We can all do more to create safe, inclusive, welcoming spaces within the outdoor industry, outdoor spaces and beyond."
Cai is the Co-Founder and COO of The Global Center, a non-governmental organization who transforms the world through education for LGBTI+ youth globally. A question that guides Cai’s work is: “How do we create a truly just, equal, and inclusive culture for LGBTI+ youth globally?” They specialize in gender & sexuality studies, youth empowerment & leadership, human rights education, and spirituality and holistic spaces. We encourage you to learn more and support their efforts with The Global Center.
Learn more about Cai and their Wild Keeper experiences below!
Keep Nature Wild: If you had to choose between mountains, forests or desert, which would you choose?
KNW: What is your favorite adventure snack?
C: Trail Mix
KNW: What is an experience that has shaped your relationship with nature/ the outdoors?
C: The first time I visited Joshua Tree National Park was the most impactful experience I have had outdoors. I had never felt so at peace in the awe of the expensive, star filled sky. Since then, I have desired to keep going back to the desert to stay connected to the energy there.
KNW: What is one thing you'd love to bring more awareness to in the outdoor space?
C: That queer people deserve to feel safe outdoors!
KNW: What is your favorite part about being a Wild Keeper?
C: I love getting outdoors and exploring new parts of San Diego to clean up.
KNW: What has picking up trash outdoors done for you?
C: Now that I am intentionally looking for trash -- I am shooketh at the amount of trash I pick up in a short walk. I can't go 10 feet without seeing one million tiny tiny pieces of micro-trash.
KNW: Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
C: 5 pounds
KNW: What goals do you have for this year? (or beyond?)
C: In terms of Wild Keepers, I hope to pick up 50 lbs of trash in the upcoming year. Outside of the wild keepers, I hope to advance my Spanish language skills to a level of fluency and camp in the desert at least 5 times this upcoming year.