By Leena Chitnis, Founder, Timberdog®, Makers of the World's First Adventure Pet Bed
Keva Niver and her husband are avid adventurers and quickly realized that the camping and outdoor space was seldom shown - in the media or elsewhere - to be enjoyed by people of color. They put their heads together to create Boheme Retreat, an inclusive RV campsite tucked away in the gorgeous western Catskills. Here, you can escape to the idyllic American past, freely fishing the Willowemoc Creek, feeling the spray of the nearby waterfalls, and taking in a scenic hike…all while supporting a couple of color looking to invite and expand representation in nature.
Recently, I was visiting my old stomping grounds in Syracuse, New York on business (go Orange!), when I decided to head to Livingston Manor’s Covered Bridge Campsite (where Boheme Retreats is located) to spend a weekend. My faithful and furry sidekick, Kashi, was with me. Tired of being cooped up in a hotel, she welcomed the 2-hour, windows-down road trip and subsequent reprieve of the fresh and piney outdoors. On arrival, she bounded out of the car while I took in the surrounding campground - clean, quiet, organized, cheerful - and full of character. I nodded approvingly. I had made the right decision coming here.
Kashi and I then stepped into our digs: a 1978 pet-friendly Dutchcraft, “Shirley,” and prepared to tuck in for the night. Once inside, I marveled at the balance between feeling transported to the wonder years, while simultaneously appreciating the modernity of the remodel. Shirley had the original, kitschy, mustard-yellow flooring…but also had wifi, a capacious mini-fridge, all new fixtures, subway tile backsplash, wood-grain countertop, gorgeous wicker lampshades, basket storage, and a three-range gas stove, complete with an oven and crisply-ironed kitchen towel ala Martha Stewart. I loved the little touches, like the wallpaper decoration in the “bedroom,” the succulent hanging houseplants, and the little shelf-top fan that looked like it was taken right out of a Mad Men set. Additionally, the bed was super cozy and had windows on all three sides, which helped me to wake up with the sun and enjoy the nearly-360 degree views of nature.
The eating nook was snuggly, as well, with a mini chaise seating area, mid-mod pillows, and a skinny table that could be swung out and propped up on one leg. Being a person of color myself, I loved the surrounding artwork, especially one Matisse-like rendering of four black women, heads bowed together in a continuity of hair and faces that left no question as to their strength, unity, dignity, and beauty.
Stepping out the next morning, steaming mug of coffee in hand, I sat in the lawnchair and soaked up the sun. I was excited to get a jump on lunch as there was an included barbecue area that would make for a lovely firepit later that night. And even though I was feeling a bit introverted that weekend, I ended up meeting other people of all shades, sizes, and backgrounds, who made me feel like I hadn’t just gone camping. I had come home.