To inspire more African-Americans to get outdoors, two upcoming episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will feature Winfrey camping in Yosemite National Park in October and shopping at an REI store in Fresno, Calif.
The first episode of “Oprah and Gayle’s Big Yosemite Camping Adventure” airs Oct. 29, and a second episode is scheduled to air the next week.
“Her mission was to get the word out that camping is a great thing to do, and we could really get more people of color, and specifically African-Americans, out in the parks,” Matt Colby, manager of the Fresno REI, told SNEWS®.
Colby said that Oprah and her best friend, Gayle King, visited the store the morning of Oct. 1 during store hours and he spent 30 to 45 minutes shopping with them for tents, sleeping bags, chairs and other gear.
Colby said a handful of staff knew in advance that Winfrey would be visiting the store, but they were instructed to keep it hush-hush. Colby said he told the rest of the staff that Winfrey would be visiting just an hour before she arrived.
“They were shocked,” said Colby. “I told them Oprah was coming, and everybody looked at me kind of like I was crazy. So I said Oprah Winfrey, as if she needs to be identified by two names, and they said, ‘Are you serious?’ They were in disbelief.”
While Colby admitted that helping Winfrey shop was surreal, he said that she and King were very friendly and easy to talk with.
“It was really a lot like helping any other people who are new to camping,” he said. “I just gave them advice on what they needed.”
To see a promo for the show that included Oprah at REI, visit www.rei.com.