Thor Industries Inc., in collaboration with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), rolled out a broad-reaching initiative during this morning’s RV Power Breakfast, enlisting campers and RVers to pitch in and help clean up public lands.

“Part of our responsibility as the largest RV manufacturer is to take a role in social responsibility,” offered James Rigney, Thor’s head of marketing who is overseeing the Pick Up America (PUA) campaign set to kick off right after Memorial Day and continue throughout the entire camping season. “When you go explore the lands surrounding the campsite, you see trash everywhere. It detracts from the experience. We’ll be asking campers to take a bag with them when they go to off the facility and fill it up with trash.”

“This is not just a one and done,” he stressed. “The campaign will extend beyond 2019 and be an ongoing part of Thor’s commitment to doing the right thing as a leader in outdoors.”

The alignment with KOA was a “logical partnership,” Rigney noted. “KOA is not only a leader in camping industry, but also a natural fit in terms of elevating the outdoor experience for consumers and everyone else.”

Bob Martin, president and CEO of Thor, added, “While people are enjoying our country’s parks and national landmarks, we wanted to inspire them to help keep these places beautiful for current and future campers. KOA shares our vision of protecting outdoor recreation and we know our combined forces on this project will motivate consumers to make real changes to improve our environment.”

While Thor will direct marketing efforts for PUA — including collateral in terms of trash bags, digital advertising, a newsletter on the KOA website along with the launch of a pickupamerica.com site — KOA will serve as the touch point with consumers.

“We’re totally behind this effort,” related Mike Gast, vice president of communications for the Billings, Mont-based company. “There is absolutely nothing wrong about private enterprise getting out there and helping keep public lands clean. Our parks are pristine, but if you go outside the facility there are big trash cans and people are still throwing trash on the ground.

“We have close to 520 locations and have the national parks and popular tourist spots literally surrounded,” he added. “We are giving our franchisees system and managers the opportunity to opt in. Probably around a dozen signed on in the first two weeks but we expect that number to grow over time.”

According to Gast, KOA will act as the starting point for campers as well as the dropoff spot for the trash bags.

“We will certainly make sure our campers are aware and expand the program as we go,” he said. “As people make reservations, all the information will be available at the check-in desk. Honestly with all the marketing collateral and signage Thor is providing, they are going to be exposed three or times to displays before they walk in door. We will distribute the bags and then also pick them up when campers return.”

Rigney said that campers will be making a pledge as to how much trash they can pick up, adding that initially the goal is to collect five tons of litter. “It’s not so much about volume. It’s about taking a leadership position. Becoming part of the conversation is not only important to our business but to anyone who loves the outdoors. The sentiment ties back to our brand position, and helping promote beauty of RVing.”

Additional challenges will be announced after the five-ton goal is reached, Rigney added. In an effort to expand this initiative, Thor will also evaluate the potential for partnerships with other outdoor leaders who share the same values and vision.

“We hope this program appeals to everyone who has an appreciation for the outdoors,” he said. “At the end of the day, the majority of people exposed to the program are already doing this as part of their own social responsibility.”