Newmar Corporation is happy to announce a new partnership that will allow us to show our appreciation for the brave men and women enlisted in our nations armed forces.
For every coach we retail in 2015, Newmar will make a contribution to Tents for Troops, an organization that works with campgrounds and RV parks throughout the United States and Canada to provide free accommodations to active military members.
To learn more, we spoke with Charlie Curry, founder of Tents for Troops and owner of the Toutle River RV Resort in Castle Rock, Washington.
How would you describe Tents for Troops?
Tents for Troops was founded about five years ago. We are a network of RV parks located across 47 states, each committed to providing free RV and tent camping sites for active military members and their families. Although we go by the name Tents for Troops, the majority of those who use the program are young military families traveling by RV. In fact, around 80% of these families have one or two children. As of this moment, we have just under 300 Parks in our network, and will soon be adding 14 located in Canada. All participating parks are not yet listed on our web site, but we hope to have the roster updated soon.
Free resources for RVers
Where to stay, what to eat, and so much more!
What does it cost an RV park to participate in the program?
The program is 100% voluntary and 100% free. Troops never pay to stay at our parks, and our parks never pay any fees or dues to be involved with Tents for Troops. It is a feel-good, pay-it-forward type of program. We ask parks to offer two free tent or RV sites for two nights, but only if the park has vacant sites available. The parks are allowed to black out holiday weekends or special events, but most do not. Parks may donate more sites and allow longer stays if they want to, and I’d say about half of our parks give more than the two-site minimum. We never ask a park to provide a site they otherwise could have rented. We don’t want the program to take income from the parks.
Can you provide any details on the RV loaner program Tents for Troops is working to create?
Of course. The RV loaner program were are working to develop will loan travel trailers to troops and their families, free of charge. These trailers will be set up semi-permanently in our participating RV parks and campgrounds, where they will be fully outfitted with everything a family might need. Items will include dishes, cookware, utensils, appliances, board games, a TV and DVD player, grill, cooler, lawn chairs and more. Basically, everything we think these vacationing families might need. Guests are only required to bring their own towels and bedding. Although families will not be able to tow these trailers to other destinations, this program will still offer the fun and excitement that only an RV vacation can provide.
Although the trailers will be loaned out for free, parks where the trailers are located will be allowed to keep a non-refundable $35 deposit from each user, which will help cover the cost of propane, toilet chemicals, cleaning of the RV and light maintenance. Tents for Troops will reimburse the parks for repairs or other maintenance as needed.
Where will the travel trailers needed to carry out the RV loaner program come from?
We will look to purchase clean, high-quality used travel trailers ranging in length from 18-28 feet. We will also welcome donations of RVs no matter the age, type or size. If we receive a donated RV that is not suitable to loan out, it will be sold to help fund the program. When RV dealers participate in the program, we will make every effort to purchase our trailers from these same dealers.
Do you have any help as it relates to running Tents for Troops?
Tents for Troops has a Development Director and Grant Writer – Dr. Catherine Feher. She has been assisting us for just over two years. Catherine is seeking both major long-term funding as well as smaller contributions.
How did Tents for Troops get involved with Newmar?
We recently introduced a new idea that would allow dealers and manufacturers to make a huge impact on our program and the military families it supports. I got in touch with Newmar President Matt Miller via email, and he gave me a call to tell me how much he liked the idea. Before I spoke with Matt, no RV OEM or RV dealer had committed monetary support for our program. Fortunately, Matt let me know that he would work to get other OEMs interested in contributing.
What is this new idea?
We are inviting RV manufacturers, RV dealers and industry suppliers of all sizes to consider donating $1.00 for each RV they build or sell, although any contribution large or small is more than welcome. RV dealers can donate based on new units sold or both new and used and would have the opportunity to ask retail customers if they wanted to donate $1.00 when they purchase their RV. Both OEMs and RV dealers can encourage each other to participate, and those same OEMs and dealers can ask suppliers to do the same.
Over the past few months I’ve asked quite a few RV dealers and OEMs to help me get this idea going. Matt Miller is the first person to say, “hey, this is a good idea,” and Newmar plans to financially back this project. Matt is really the pioneer here. But he will not be the last. Despite its competitive nature, the RV industry is known for its unification, patriotism and support of American family values.
With Newmar’s participation, my hope is that other OEMs and RV dealers will realize that they too can make a huge difference in the lives of our troops and their families. The program will always be voluntary, so if contributing OEMs, dealers or suppliers don’t like what they see, they can opt-out at any time.
What is it like to lead such a unique, worthwhile effort?
I feel honored to be a part of Tents for Troops, and find the work rewarding. I think those in the industry who choose to help will feel the same. I personally feel that we as a society would not be where we are today were it not for our troops, and I truly believe the world would be a far different place were it not for their bravery.
To learn more about Tents for Troops or to find out how you can get involved, please visit TentsforTroops.org, send an email to email@example.com or call 360-274-7915.