Care CampsEditor’s note: This is part of series of articles written through a partnership between Care Camps and AGS. This article was written by Stephanie Allen. 

If you are looking for a great example of a campground owner who knows how to put the “FUN” in fundraising for Care Camps, look no farther than Anita Perry, at New York’s Chautauqua Lake Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Holiday.  She approaches raising money for Care Camps as a fun, ongoing endeavor incorporated into all of her daily activities at the campground. Anita’s passion and enthusiasm is boundless, as is her spirit of adventure with her campers.  She loves to keep her visitors guessing.

“I almost never do the same thing twice,” she says, “It’s a game. Visitors always wonder ‘what’s next?’”

Anita says her key is to include Care Camps in all the campground’s activities. She wants every activity to feel new and different, so she is always changing her approach. Every time campers arrive for her weekly ice cream social, they get a different experience. Sometimes campers get homemade ice cream, sometimes they get ice cream sundaes and sometimes it is a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar. Once campers even ate ice cream together out of a trough!  The experience may always be different, but the theme is always the same: Give to Care Camps to support the mission.

“Every single event that I do I figure out some way to raise money for Care Camps,” she says. “It all adds up.”

Looking for something easy you can implement at your campground? Do your guests ever ask to arrive early or check out late? Perry cheerfully says yes, in exchange for a donation to Care Camps. The smile on her face never fails to elicit a donation for the kids and her guests are happy with the arrangement too!

Perry’s advice for other campground owners looking to get campers involved in giving back to Care Camps is to simply start by asking.

“Don’t be afraid to ask every single camper to donate as you check them in. Ask ‘How would you like to donate to Care Camps today?’” Perry explains. (Since many guests don’t carry cash these days, you can make it easier for your campers to donate by adding a donation option to their check-in or camp store purchases and submit the donations monthly or quarterly.)

Other activities that have been both fun for campers and impactful for Care Camps through the years include weekly 50/50 raffles, themed weekends, weekly movie nights, campground birthday parties and more. Weekly games are also fun for Anita’s campers. Campers can pay $5 to play games such as Bingo or Cornhole, with the winner keeping half the pot and the other half going to Care Camps.  Care Camps

Through the years, Anita’s efforts have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the kids at Care Camps. Anita’s fun ideas and passion for Care Camps keep her guests returning year after year, giving her campground rave reviews and also raising funds to support the Care Camps mission. Thanks to Anita’s leadership and passion, countless children have had the opportunity to find hope, happiness, and the healing power of the outdoors. To many, she may be a campground owner, but to our Care Camps kids, she’s a true inspiration.

About Care Camps:

Kids battling cancer don’t often get the chance to experience the fun and restorative power of the outdoors. While they may dream of playing outside, their adventures during treatment are usually limited to the four walls of a hospital room, doctor’s office, or chemotherapy clinic. Care Camps changes all that for the kids, bringing hope and smiles to kids going through a tremendously difficult time, giving them a special chance to experience the healing power of the outdoors at 140 special oncology camps serving kids in every single community in the U.S. and Canada. It all began as a dream on the part of a few campground owners; today, thanks to campgrounds and the outdoors industry, Care Camps is able to help kids everywhere in the U.S. and Canada and send them to camp. If your campground or business would like to learn more or get involved, you can email Jennifer Mercer at [email protected] for more information.