KOA Care Camps started with a $7,100 donation in 1984 by the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Owners Association and has grown into a multimillion dollar a year charity to provide camping opportunities for kids with cancer and their families. A favorite charity of some of the biggest names in the RV industry, the organization’s website at koacarecamps.org reported almost $1.7 million in donations in 2018 and that it has garnered more than $15 million since its inception.
Thousands of children with cancer, along with their siblings in many cases, have benefited from the 139 specialized camps spread from coast-to-coast where they can escape from their pain and suffering, receive their treatments and have fun while being with other kids just like them. Kids attend the camp free of charge with no additional cost to their already financially burdened families.
As the number of kids diagnosed with cancer continues to grow, so does the demand for funding, and the RV industry continues to be the biggest benefactor spotlighted by the announcement this week of the generous support of Forest River Inc.
RVBusiness reported that Forest River will make a donation to KOA Care Camps for every RV, boat, bus and trailer sold during the next five years. The total donation is expected to exceed $1 million. Forest River officials said they expect the donation effort to continue well after the first five-year period.
“We continue to be pleased and humbled each year with the generosity and commitment the RV industry provided to KOA Care Camps each year,” said Wade Elliott, current board chair and owner of the Kingston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group. “Thor Industries has been contributing for four years towards this program. Dometic Corporation has also been a big contributor along with Winnebago Industries. CWRV Transport, the trucking firm for Camping World, provides a percentage of each mile their drivers run. Each company contributes in its own way and we are blessed with the results.”
Elliott stated that the original benefactor, KOA, provides a percentage of sales from every KOA Value Kard Reward sold making them one of its largest contributors.
“The costs associated with sending these special kids to these very specialized camps is continuing to increase,” Elliott shared with RVBusiness. “Last year oncology camps requested more than $2.1 million to help provide a medically supervised camping experience for children with cancer and their families.”
He said that unfortunately, it was not able to fund all the requests, but hopes to establish new partnerships with other corporations to make the future even brighter for kids with cancer and their families.
“We believe that KOA Care Camps is one of the best charities that an RV industry firm, or any company can invest in,” concluded Elliott. “Helping kids and their families dealing with cancer elicits some joy in their lives and fits into the charitable realm of almost any corporate culture. Being a part of something that is doing good for others simply feels great and satisfies the human spirit.”
From a business perspective he said buyers are 75% more likely to buy from a company with a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or philanthropy involvement that aligns with their values. It is to a company’s advantage to show consumers that they put a high value on CSR.
“When partnering with Care Camps, CSR programs that align with a sponsor’s business objectives can be a win for the charity, the company, and its customers,” he said. “At Care Camps, we are aligning with companies that have a heart for these kids, and they are doing great things. We work together to create innovative opportunities that work for your business, your customers, and your employees.”