RV Companies are Stepping Up
Why does Care Camps exist? To answer in one word – HOPE. Hope for a bright and healthy future for children with cancer. Hope that their families receive the support that they need during a difficult time of their lives. And the hope that comes from making connections with others that know your journey, and say to you, “We’re in this together.”-Care Camps Facebook post
What are Care Camps?
The KOA (Kampgrounds of America) Owners’ Association created the charity KOA Care Camps in 1984. The mission was (and continues to be) to help kids diagnosed with cancer find hope and healing in the great outdoors at special oncology camps.
Children with cancer face hardships few of us can even imagine. That’s why Care Camps is committed to giving every child who dreams of attending a medically supervised cancer camp the chance to do just that—free of charge.carecamps.org
What do kids do at Care Camps?
At Care Camps, kids with cancer can just be kids. They can have fun with their friends, participate in all sorts of games and activities, spend time in fresh air and nature, and create memories. Each child can enjoy all of this and still receive the necessary support during his/her stay–treatment and counseling. The hope is that each child will feel renewed and rejuvenated after their camping adventures.
At camp, kids get all the medical care they need, along with specialized counseling, and they do it all surrounded by friends who know exactly what they are going through…(they) can forget about the chemo, the radiation, and all the hard stuff that comes with cancer…and just be a kid again.carecamps.org
The charity has grown but continues to face challenges.
Care Camps continues to grow and currently supports 139 children’s oncology camps across the United States and Canada. Since its beginning, the charity has raised more than $16 million. These funds have taken care of all costs for kids to attend camp, freeing their already financially burdened families.
Unfortunately, the number of children diagnosed with cancer has steadily grown, and so has the cost of attending camp. On average, the charity spends $1,800 a week to send one child to camp. This has made Care Camp organizers, partners, and many other contributors even more determined to help give as many children as they can the opportunity to experience camping adventures with friends, even for a short while.
Care Camps in the Press
Many companies in the RV community have joined alongside KOA owners, the KOA home office, various partners, and many others to help raise funds for the cause. The following RV organizations and businesses were recently featured in the news for their fundraising campaigns and generous donations.
Wagner’s Outdoor Express RV
In January, Randy and Teresa Wagner, owners of Wagner’s Outdoor Express RV dealership in West Virginia, were announced the winners of a charitable event that landed them a $10,000 check.
The month prior, marketing company Level 5 organized a contest designed to raise funds for Care Camps. It challenged RV, marine, and power sports dealers in both the US and Canada to donate at least $500 to Care Camps by the end of the year. One lucky participant would be randomly chosen from a drawing to win the 10,000 grand prize.
The first thing Randy asked when Jennifer Mercer, Director of Development for Care Camps, called with the news was, “Would it be okay if we donated the money back to Care Camps to help more kids?”
The Wagner’s didn’t think twice about their donation. In fact, they saw their winnings as a chance to help out a cause near and dear to their hearts.
“Our family has experienced childhood cancer twice, once with a nephew and again with a niece,” Teresa said. “Fortunately, both survived. Randy lost his father, sister, grandmother, and two aunts to lung cancer. I lost my father to cancer. We know firsthand how terrible this disease is. No kid should have to suffer cancer. The RV industry experienced a tremendous year, and we were all presented with an opportunity to give back. We would love to see all RV dealerships and RV manufacturers match this donation and support Care Camps moving forward. Let’s help all kids with cancer experience the healing power of camping.”
RV LIFE, a website dedicated to all things RVing, including trip planning, must-see destinations, maintenance tips, and community relations, got a bit creative with its Care Camp fundraiser. As the following article details, RV LIFE offered a preview screening of ALUMINATION, a documentary featuring Airstream founder Wally Byam, in January.
Readers were able to purchase early bird tickets at a discounted price. The first $5 of each ticket went towards Care Camps, with RV LIFE matching that amount, for a total of $10 going to Care Camps per ticket.
Rollin’ on TV (ROTV) and Forest River
Rollin’ On TV, an RV lifestyle program, announced that it will be partnering up with Forest River Inc once again to raffle off another No Boundaries (NOBO) trailer. Besides the grand prize, three additional winners will be selected from the drawing for more prizes. The announcement made on February 5th is a second fundraiser by the companies, with ticket sales benefiting Care Camps.
The first fundraiser, which ended in December 2020, was a huge success, with participation and donations exceeding expectations.
“With all the dedicated help from the Forest River NO BO group and participating companies, and despite the Covid-19 challenges last year, we were able to not only reach our $40,000 ticket sales goal but even surpass it,” said ROTV Executive Producer Jose Moniz.
In a recent Facebook post, shown below, ROTV posted the floorplan for the new travel trailer they will be raffling off soon.
A partnership between Care Camps and Patrick Industries was reported on February 26, 2021. As one of the RV and marine industries’ largest suppliers, Patrick Industries hopes to make a massive imprint for the charity through cause-related marketing campaigns. The well-received corporation has already gifted Care Camps with a substantial first-time donation.
Care Camps Director of Development Jennifer Mercer said, “The Patrick team and their leadership have shown an incredible heart for giving back to make a difference in the lives of these kids. Their initial donation along with planned future employee engagement and cause marketing initiatives will bring the outdoors experience to thousands of kids who otherwise would not have had this chance.”
How You Can Contribute
Someday, cancer will be nothing more than a memory. Until that day, Care Camps is here to bring hope, healing and outright fun for kids with cancer and their families.carecamps.org
If you would like to be a part of the Care Camps movement to make a difference in the life of a child diagnosed with cancer, there are a number of ways you can contribute. According to the charity’s website, donations are tax-deductible. Care Camps is registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization, while Care Camps of Canada is a registered Canadian Charity. 100% of all donations go directly to the children at the camps.
- Donate online. Donations can be made in the US or Canada as a one-time or recurring monetary contribution.
- Sponsor a child. Cover the costs for a child to attend camp for a week.
- Gift your vehicle. Donate your car, truck, motorcycle, boat, RV, machinery, or equipment and have it picked up anywhere in the US or Canada free of charge.
- Add to the jar. Every time you camp at a participating KOA campground, be sure to add to the Care Camp donation jar at the front desk. Every cent counts.
- Shop Amazon Smile. For every qualifying purchase you make on Amazon Smile, .5 percent will be given to KOA Care Camps. Visit Amazon Smile and select the charity KOA Care Camps before shopping.
For more insight on Care Camps and the opportunities they offer children with cancer, check out the video below.
Natalie Henley is a freelance writer and has also been full-time RVing with her husband and pets since 2015. She covers a wide range of topics from RV lifestyle, RVing tips, DIY projects, RV news, and more.