Campfire Initiative hopes to win $10,000

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Campfire Initiative hopes to win $10,000

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

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For Joe Eiselt, a senior in the College of Business Administration, his love for summer camp lasted far beyond his childhood.

Eiselt, along with two friends he met at Red Arrow Summer Camp almost 13 years ago, started the Campfire Initiative, a nonprofit organization which aims to connect children and teens with a summer camp best suited for them.

Eiselt met Ryan Princer, at a senior at University of Illinois Chicago and Mckenzie Beeby, a 22-year-old entrepreneur when they were all 9 years old at Red Arrow Camp on Trouct Lake in northern Wisconsin. EiseltPrincer and Beeby all said their experience at camp inspired them to start an organization to ensure all kids have a camp experience as powerful as theirs. 

“For kids, summer camp is a unique time in their lives when they develop a true sense of identity,” Eiselt said. “At Campfire Initiative, we truly believe in summer camps. Each camp has as elaborate a personality as a person, and we want to make sure each kid gets the most out of it.” 

Eiselt said the Campfire Initiative will not launch until September, and in the mean time they entered the Think Like an Entrepreneur contest, a business competition for students ages  18-24 hosted by the Graduate Management Admission Test. After entering in February, the Campfire Initiative won the status of semi-finalist April 15, after a panel of judges from the organization evaluated their idea. There are 10 business ideas remaining, and the final stage of the competition consists of online voting. Anyone can vote online for one of the teams and the winner receives $10,000. Voting is open until May 15.  

While the three friends had been discussing the logistics of the Campfire Initiave since August, Eiselt found out about the competition through the Beta Gamma Sigma business fraternity at Marquette so he decided to enter. 

“McKenzie and I are in Chicago and Joe is in Milwaukee, so we have to coordinate our schedules so we can call each other often,” Princer said. “We also travel to see each other occasionally to meet in person.” 

Beeby said he focuses mostly on the marketing aspect of the organization, and he uses the skills from his own video production business to advance the Campfire Initiative. 

“I have my own business, so I understand how to work the logistics,” Beeby said. “I make sure the finances are in order and we are getting our message out there.” 

Eiselt said Campfire Initiative would use the contest’s $10,000 not only to expand their organization, but also to create a scholarship for kids who otherwise couldn’t afford camp.

“It’s important for every kid to have access to this experience, regardless of their financial situation,” Eiselt said. 

The scholarship will partially be based on grades, which Eiselt said could even motivate kids and teens who would attend the camp to work harder in school.

Eiselt says he hopes the Campfire Initiative will grow to include hundreds of camps around the country and is considering hiring independent contractors to help place kids in camps once the business takes off. 

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