It was a big year for Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) Care Camps in 2017, as the organization passed the $12 million mark in the amount of money raised since the program was started in 1984.

Focused on providing children diagnosed with cancer an opportunity to attend camp, Wade Elliott, KOA Care Camps chairman, told Woodall’s Campground Management that in 2017 the organization was able to financially support more than 42,000 children and disbursed more than $1.1 million in operating and capital grants to the 129 camps that participate in the program.

Donations to KOA Care Camps were also up in 2017 to more than $1.6 million, according to the annual KOA Care Camps’ Progress Report, compared to more than $1.4 million in 2016.

In addition to corporate donations, KOA Care Camps was also able to raise more than $200,000 through an auction and raffle at the KOA Convention last November in Phoenix, Ariz., and more than $330,000 through the KOA Value Kard Rewards program.

“The need still outstrips the number of donations we receive,” said Elliott. “Right now, it costs about $1,800 per week, per kid, but we don’t cover 100% of the costs to attend camp.”

The KOA Care Camps Board has begun developing relationships with RV manufacturers and suppliers in the hopes of creating more partnerships. In 2017, KOA Care Camps formed relationships with RV transport company CWRV Transport LLC, Thor Industries Inc., and Lippert Components Inc.

“We are really trying to bring our RV camping neighborhood together on this,” said Elliott. “This will be a multi-year effort.”

Other key partners, he added, include Sevenly LLC, a charity-minded apparel and accessories outfitter, and Community Health Charities, a nonprofit that raises awareness and resources for health and wellness by connecting more than 2,000 of the most trusted health charities across the United States with the philanthropic efforts of more than 17 million employees at various companies.

KOA Care Camps also received a boost in 2017 by adding two new outreach ambassadors, Steve Arpin, a driver with Loenbro Racing on the Global Rally Cross circuit and country music recording artist Stephanie Quayle. They join KOA Care Camps’ other ambassador, Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band, a “tropical island” music band that has been supporting KOA Care Camps for more than a decade.

Wade Elliott

“So, they’re going to spread the message about KOA Care Camps through their channels,” said Elliott. “Steve Arpin will obviously spread the message and talk about and be around the KOA Care Camps’ kids just like he did at the Seattle race last year. Stephanie will do it in her concerts and through her ‘Quayle for a Cause’ program.”

KOA Care Camps also will be hosting one of its largest fundraisers during KOA Care Camps Big Weekend from May 11-12. If a camper stays as a paying guest at any participating KOA on Friday, May 11, they can stay Saturday, May 12 for $20, with those second-night proceeds benefitting the Care Camps.

KOA campgrounds also host auctions, 50/50 drawings and a variety of other activities during the Big Weekend to raise money for KOA Care Camps. Elliott said that in 2017 KOA Care Camps was able to raise more than $193,000 during the event.

In another effort designed to raise awareness of KOA Care Camps and other children’s oncology camps, in March Kevin Fern, a childhood cancer survivor and camp counselor, will begin walking at Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach, Calif., across the southern U.S. and up the eastern seaboard to Boston. He’ll complete the journey while carrying an IV pole, and his stated mission is to “educate people of the beneficial impacts that oncology camps make on the children’s mind, body, and spirit and to ensure that these camps thrive in their missions.” Visit www.kevinsivpole.com for more information.

To learn more about KOA Care Camps Big Weekend click here.

To learn more about KOA Care Camps or to donate click here.