Curry: Tents for Troops is Just Getting Started
Since its inception in 2010, the Tents for Troops (T4T) program that offers free camping to active U.S. military members has grown to an impressive 245 parks in 41 states.
But its founder, Charlie Curry, is just getting started.
“We want to visit every military base in the country. We’d go in with a motorhome, set up for the day and give handouts about the program,” Curry said. “And when we’re done, we’d just start over again.”
Curry’s passion for the program is evident from the time and effort he spends aggressively promoting it and expanding upon it in addition to running his own campground, Toutle River RV Park in Castle Rock, Wash. “I work days here, but I’m usually up until 2 a.m. working on Tents for Troops,” he admitted.
In response to his efforts, Curry has gained support from entities like the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and Fleetwood RV Inc., government representatives and high-ranking military officers, and celebrities such as Robin Williams and Willie Nelson, who brought thousands of visitors and “likes” to T4T’s website and Facebook page through social media endorsements.
Believe it or not, these aren’t the only items on his agenda for 2013. Curry’s current headliner is a free RV loaner program whereby active military could borrow fold-down campers, travel trailers or motorhomes. He’s already selected a prime area in which to launch his detailed pilot program to test its success level and work out the kinks before expanding it to a broader market. “It could potentially use well over 1,000 RVs, if it were successful,” he predicted.
But first, he said he needs a little help. Actually, a lot of help. “We’re desperately looking for donations of RVs,” Curry said. “Even if a manufacturer can just give us a travel trailer for a year or two, at the end we would give them back in great condition.”
He said T4T is also in need of monetary donations to help fund the loaner program as well as his visits to military bases and campgrounds he hopes to enlist. Campground recruitment is a constant effort; Curry said he’s continually calling and visiting parks, and it sometimes takes weeks to get his foot in the door. “I’m very stubborn,” he explained. “I believe I’ve phoned every park in Nevada more than once.” But once they sign up, he said they’re always glad they did. “The parks who participate have lots of pride in it.” And often, military campers in complimentary sites, he said, are accompanied by several friends and family who pay regular site fees.
Curry is continually forming more (and lofty) goals: He wants to create a national newsletter and be able to hire a webmaster and marketing coordinator. He wants RV industry forecaster Richard Curtin from the University of Michigan Business Research Center to measure how many RVers are active military in his research and reports for the RV and campground industries. And he still writes to Robin Williams regularly asking him to join T4T’s board of directors. “I still have great hopes for that,” he said optimistically.
At its core, Curry’s passion for the program is really an extension of his patriotism. “Admiration for the military is now what it should’ve been 40 years ago, but the majority of Americans are, I believe, 100% behind our troops,” he stated. “Our organization is completely non-political, we don’t believe in war, and we’re not trying to press any agenda; but what we do say is, were it not for our troops I don’t believe any one of us would have true freedom. Not only our general freedom but just our everyday living freedom, we owe that to the troops.”
For more information or to see how you can join or support T4T, visit www.TentsforTroops.org, or contact Charlie Curry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 274-7915.