'Bigs' and 'Littles' take the indoors outdoors

Most people think of tents and sleeping bags when they think of “camping,” but Keystone R.V. has added an element of luxury to the entire experience. The company’s R.V.s sleep several people and contain bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, flat screen televisions and much, much more.

In 2007 Keystone R.V. started “Kamp Keystone” as a way to send employees to test drive the very R.V.’s they manufacture.

“We're proud of what they accomplish and the opportunity to share the products that we build here with our employees and this gives them a chance to say 'Hey I built those products, I’d like to camp in them,' says Keystone R.V. Vice President, David Thomas.

According to Thomas the camping site has tons of amenities for the kids and adults to enjoy, “They have basketball, they have a game room, they have pools, they have a pond where the kids can go fishing. Actually, it couldn't be a better site for us.”

Keystone R.V. has worked with United Way in the past, so inviting Big Brothers Big Sisters to join in on their outdoorsy fun seemed like a logical expansion of community outreach.

“Big Brothers theory is they want to go out and mentor these kids so they become better people and what better place to do than at a camp ground like Twin Mills,” said Thomas. He added that the proximity of the camp site to the Goshen manufacturing plant allows more employees the opportunity to go.

Keystone has open signups for its employees to take the campers to the campground in the warmer months, but this weekend in particular is special because the “bigs” and “littles” will be joining.

“So for us, taking it to them, so they can have that real camping experience doing s'mores over the camp fire, roasting hot dogs, marshmallows, doing all those things that you and I liked to do when we were kids growing up” Thomas added.

Brianne Feeks is a match specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Elkhart County. She says the outing is a new experience for not just the littles, but their bigs as well.

“A lot of them have never camped before so it's being outside, away from parents, and just experiencing camp fires and fishing and swimming,” said Feeks.

The mentoring program matches kids from typically single-parent homes with adults who have similar interests and geographic locations.

“Both of them get to do things together, get to fish together, you know sleep in an R.V. for the first time together, so it's just these new experiences, learning to enjoy the outdoors which is awesome,” which Feeks says enhancing the friendship.

While not all the littles will stay overnight in the R.V., the weekend is open to day visits from the kids and their mentors.

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