The mission of Ride With Woody is to raise enough funding for our nonprofit partner, Big City Mountaineers, to send 100 inner city children camping for the first time. This is important because if a child doesn’t camp by the age of 16, they are unlikely to ever camp. We look at this as an opportunity to invest in a future generation of campers, and give underprivileged children the opportunity to experience the great outdoors through camping. In addition, as CEO I wanted to spend time with our customers and gain valuable feedback that we can bring back to our team at Camp Native. It’s our goal to be the best place in the world to find and reserve outdoors properties, and I felt it would be difficult to achieve this if we weren’t actively interfacing with our clients.
Throughout this journey I’ll be actively blogging and taking photos. You can follow our progress through our blog at ridewithwoody.com. Much of the progress will also be distributed to the Camp Native social media channels as well. I encourage you to give a like or a follow to @campnative on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
So, how did we decide to embark on this journey? Here’s the backstory.
Two months ago I had the crazy idea to ride a bike to many of our properties across the country. Similar to most of my ideas, it came late one evening. I messaged our COO, Brent Rangen, to get his thoughts. His immediate response, “You’re crazy!” I let it go, but the following work day Brent came over to my desk and said, “Hey I’ve given some thought to your idea last night and I think it has some potential. Do you want to pursue it?” I told him I needed to get the sign off from my wife before we spent any real time on this idea. That evening I asked Kim what she thought. She has been through a decade of entrepreneurial adventures with me and understands sometimes you need to sacrifice for an opportunity. After discussing, we both agreed to pursue the idea, though we gave it only a slight chance of coming to fruition.
Brent began doing outreach and interviews with PR firms to discuss the opportunity and get an idea of impact plus costs associated. After reviewing a handful of outdoors focused firms, we settled on a relationship with Verde PR. At this point, we agreed to a one month trial to see if we could land enough sponsors to cover a portion of the campaign costs. Over the month of July, we worked on sponsors with a tentative start date of August 1, 2017. Ultimately we were successful in landing dozens of gear sponsors including Raleigh, who provided my road bike, and Alpine Aire, who provided 7 weeks worth of meals. We also landed a couple of cash sponsors, Spearfish Economic Development (who’ve been a huge support of Camp Native since we moved to Spearfish) and Crow Peak Brewery who is extremely active in the Black Hills community.
And finally, we landed a of couple headline sponsors in Philadelphia Insurance and Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance. Combined they are the largest insurance providers to recreational parks, campgrounds, and RV parks in the nation. Now we just needed a vehicle and a driver to pull this off. With two weeks to go, we put out an ad for a driver/photographer and reached out to one of our investors (Chris Hipple), who is also a principal at Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance to discuss borrowing his sportsmobile camper van. Chris graciously allowed us to use his van and after a sprint of an interview process, we found a young aspiring photographer from Spearfish named Cody Wiseman who agreed to be the driver and document the journey.
Finally, I get the question “Why the bike?” It’s an extreme challenge and Camp Native is all about promoting outdoor activities above and beyond camping. This is important because over 85% of the 40 million people in the U.S. who camp participate in another outdoor activity. One of the business icons I follow closely is Sir Richard Branson, and this felt like something he would do.
We came down to the wire, actually packing the van well past midnight on the night of July 31st, but on August 1, 2017, the journey began. Follow along with us and “Ride With Woody!”
Ride to the top,