The North Face is offering a free two-week summer camp program, tapping the expertise of its athletes to inspire America’s stuck-at-home kids with the spirit of exploration.
The North Face Summer Base Camp is a virtual-camp experience, designed to offer “relatable” education, says Steve Lesnard, global vice president of marketing. It’s also meant to provide some relief to frazzled parents, struggling to find ways to keep kids happy and focused during a long summer of canceled activities and isolation.
“I’ve got three young kids myself,” says Lesnard, concerned about the impact of another season of postponed vacations, canceled activities and way too much screen time. “I worry that COVID-19 is turning two of my kids into world-class video gamers.”
He tells Marketing Daily the goal was to provide access to fun activities that are engaging for both kids and their parents. “It’s all built on the simple approach of 'Learn something, do it and then share it.’”
Among the offerings are a photography class taught by Jimmy Chin, the National Geographic photographer who won an Academy Award for directing “Free Solo.”
“He’ll teach kids how to make a pinhole camera,” Lesnard says. “Other classes include how to build your own backyard base camp, how to survive in the wild, and how to make healthy snacks for hiking. We’re pretty excited about it.”
He says the camp also has another goal: reconnecting people with the many members of the outdoor community, a group of professionals who have been particularly hurt by people staying safer-at-home.
“This community has taken a massive hit,” he says. “They rely on people coming outside to explore. We wanted to show some immediate support and try and help them stay motivated.”
Lesnard says North Face is spreading information about the camp through its digital channels. While it is still boycotting advertising on Facebook and Instagram, the company is “leveraging Instagram posts and redirecting people to other platforms.”
The North Face, owned by VF Corp., was the first national brand to join in the NAACP-led #StopHateForProfit boycott of Facebook last month. “We are so pleased with the support we’re getting,” North Face says, adding that more than 800 brands, including many from the outdoor industry, joined the protest. “Equality is important, and it’s satisfying to see so many companies put their money where their mouth is. We are in a cultural moment of pain. And we want to help.”
Earlier this month, Walmart introduced a Camp by Walmart experience, accessed through its app. Working with celebrity “counselors,” including NBA star LeBron James, actors Neil Patrick Harris and Drew Barrymore, and singer Idina Menzel, kids can pick activities and challenges.