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Owner of the Week: Deborah Kane

Founder of GoCamp


You may remember owner Deborah Kane from another owner profile piece. There, we discussed Deborah’s thriving rental business GoCamp. This amazing business consists of an ever-growing fleet of campervans which can be picked up in five different western US locations. 

Today we are going to discuss Deborah again, highlighting her most recent project, which is making use of her successful business to benefit others. She calls this project Road Trips for the Rock Stars, and her mission is to help all those rock stars who have given so much of themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering them a free camping getaway this summer. 

Deborah explained her inspiration for this project: “As the owner of GoCamp, a peer-to-peer camper van rental company located in the Pacific Northwest, I spent the second half of March processing one cancellation after another because of the novel coronavirus.

“It was heartbreaking to hear the disappointment and sadness in people’s voices. And because we’re just like Airbnb, with every cancellation, the individual van owner who would have met these renters to hand over the keys suffered a financial loss.”

All of this made Deborah wonder if there might be a way to help the owners of those small rental businesses while also giving back to those who have helped in this time of crisis, all while helping renters get the vacations they so desperately wanted. It was a pretty tall order, but Kane made it happen. 

“I started reaching out to GoCamp’s community of van owners, as well as other campervan rental companies in the United States and Canada,” she says. “Would they donate free nights in their campervans as a way to show our gratitude for the inspirational acts of others? Even in the face of their own personal challenges—lost income, lost jobs, under unimaginable stress just like every other household and small business out there—‘YES’ was their resounding answer.”

Kane was able to gather a total of 300 free nights of camping for the rock stars of the pandemic. Not only that, she was determined to secure even more while also meeting her other two goals of helping rental businesses and helping more people vacation when things settle down. 

She did this in two ways:

  1. A fund that donors can contribute to.
  2. A discount program offering 20% off a future trip to anyone who books and pays now.

All donations pay the owners of small rental businesses for nights of camping, which are then given to the rock stars. Reservations made with the 20% discount also benefit these small rental businesses, and some of the money made from these reservations is added to the donation fund. A new night is given to a rock star for every $250 raised.

Wondering how the rock stars are selected? Don’t worry, Deborah came up with the perfect solution: Rock stars—meaning absolutely anyone in your community who has gone above and beyond to help out—can be nominated by people just like you.

Because there will almost certainly be more nominees than available nights, the public will vote on who receives a free trip beginning in early June. Winners will be announced by June 20th, 2020, and can use their free trip any time before December 31st, 2021.

“I hope Road Trips for the Rock Stars serves two purposes,” Kane tells us. “First, it is fundamentally a give-back program. We want to give back to the ‘rock star’ first responders that are out there working hard at keeping the rest of us safe. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude, and if this program can help them feel appreciated, we’ll have succeeded.

“Second, I hope this effort demonstrates the power of working in partnership. In the end, over a dozen campervan and Jeep rental companies, and just as many related industry entities—companies that had never worked together before—joined forces to create something together that was much bigger than any one of them could have achieved alone.

“Between the nominations pouring in with stories of individual sacrifice, and the camaraderie between the participating partners, this campaign has far exceeded my original vision because it was so widely embraced by the community and because the partners acted with so much selflessness.”

Do you want to help Road Trips for the Rock Stars succeed? Visit the website today to nominate a rock star, contribute to the fund, and book your own discounted trip. After June 1st, 2020, hop back over to the website to cast your vote for the rock stars you want to see win a free trip.

All About Deborah

Favorite morning beverage: “Coffee.” 

Favorite activity while camping: “White water kayaking.”

Favorite app for finding a campsite: “I’m loving Harvest Hosts and HipCamp these days, largely because both offer camping options on private land.”  

Are there comforters or sleeping bags on the bed inside your van? “Comforters!”

Hit the road without a plan, or stick to a detailed itinerary? “I always wish I had a plan, but rarely do. I’m hoping my new subscription to Roadtrippers Plus will help.”

Favorite season: “The non-COVID-19 season will forever be my all-time favorite season.”

Last photo you took: “The new chicken coop in my backyard.”

If you could travel anywhere in an RV, where would you go? “The last time I was in Idaho I had to be medivac’d in a helicopter (mountain biking accident). I need to return for a ‘back in the saddle’ ride.”

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