Wandering through the forest, admiring nature and setting up camp. It may not seem like your typical Saturday evening, or maybe it is. For Brandon Painter and Seth Nieman, co-founders of “Campstake,” camping is an activity they both do and enjoy. In order to make camping easier and more enjoyable for all, they decided to create an app that will specify and a provide reviews about particular campsites. Nieman and “Campstakes'” developer, Nick George, live in Manhattan. Both George and Painter are graduates of K-State.
Unusually, for their opening platform, they created a Recommendation Web application allowing citizens to go on now, before the full app is on the market, and begin submitting recommendations. They will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation for every person that completes this initial recommendation form. For Nieman, the cause of the fundraising is personal.
“It’s important to me that I can use the skills that I have with the digital stuff that I know, to do what I can to protect the things that I love,” Nieman said. “I think, for me, that’s where it came from. It’s the fact that if we have an opportunity to help preserve the outdoors and the wilderness and make things better for future generations, then that’s important to me. It’s important to me that my son has cool places to go and get experience things that I got to experience when I was a child and when my parents were children.”
It’s not just the “Campstake” team who said they believe conservation is important. Nathanael Watson, freshman in wildlife and outdoor enterprise management, said the idea of creating a product and using it to give back is a positive thing.
“As far as them giving money, I think it’s really cool that they are coming out with this new product and giving back to conservation and to the environment,” Watson said.
Painter said that the goal of the fundraiser is to “hit a $25,000 donation mark by September.”
Painter also has a tie to the cause and a special reason for creating the app.
“We are wanting to preserve these lands, these beautiful treasures that our country has that people are kind of forgetting about; and in creating this platform, we are trying to digitalize the whole experience as well,” Painter said. “So we are hoping that people who are in our generation, if they’ve got an app or a social network, or it’s more in line with what they’re used to interacting with on a daily basis, that they would be more apt to plan trips to go outside and to camp and to hike and to do those kinds of things.”
Nieman said he believes that the app allows the wilderness to be more socially available and allows people to get what they want out of camping because of the reviews the app provides. The app will review specific campsites rather than general locations. Nieman also said how friendly the app will be to people who may be first time campers, or are looking at camping in a place they have never been before.
“The biggest benefit is definitely the reviews,” Nieman said. “That’s the part of the app that is nearly exclusive to us. It’s not something that you can really just find. It’s what is the difference between this campsite and the next. There are plenty of reviews for vacation spots or state parks themselves. You can get on and say ‘oh this state park is better than this state park because of this,’ but once you actually drill into the hundreds of sites that are available inside these parks, it’s random. You don’t know what you’re going to get. That’s really the killer app that we have here, it’s that you can say ‘I want stay in a different part of California than I’ve ever stayed before, and I don’t even know where to start.’ You can drill in, see what people who have already been there say about these places and have a fun and safe experience knowing exactly what you’re going to get before you even go there.”
Watson said that, as an out-of-state student, an app like that will be helpful for finding good camping grounds.
“The app in general is pretty cool,” Watson said. “I’m from New Mexico and being from out of state, it’s really cool they have an app like that for someone who doesn’t know the area well.”
The official Campstake app will be launching in March, but the Recommendations Web app for the donations is currently available to all those interested.