I met Janine and David when we randomly parked next to each other just outside of Grand Canyon National Park.
Months later, they have become deeply close friends of mine. We spend our time together camping, swimming, and working to empower each other through work and personal projects. Over the summer, they introduced me to a new project focusing on supporting the wonderful public lands we use each day, calling it “Vans for Lands”. Here is Dave to tell you more…
Please briefly introduce yourself.
Hey! I’m Dave. I’m a 26-year old Pennsylvanian who always longed to travel. After getting married last year my wife, Janine, and I feared being stuck in our home town. We wanted to see what else was out there and we began searching for a way to do it. We bought an 88’ Chevy Horizon camper van that we self-renovated into a cozy home on wheels, which we’ve now been living and traveling in for nearly a year. Amidst our adventures we were inspired to pursue a passion project, now known as Vans for Lands.
What is Vans for Lands?
Vans for Lands is a passion project that came to life after seeing so much abuse in some of the scenic places we visited. Vanlifers tend to get grouped in with the people responsible for misusing public lands, which is so far from the truth. We’re often the ones cleaning up and trying to make it better. But our community does benefit from the land, so we wanted to figure out a way to give back and help educate other users to hopefully put a stop to the cycle.
Our goal is to gather donations through advocation and education to fund clean ups and other community-based projects. We’re not asking the vanlife community to give us money, unless of course they want to. We’re asking them to share the cause, raise awareness, and to get involved with our future projects. We want to plan clean-ups, with a fun camping style, where we will have the opportunity to improve public lands while connecting within the community.
Where did the idea for Vans for Lands come from?
We, like most vanlifers, spend much of our time in public lands like National Forests and BLMs. Besides free camping, public lands also offer beautiful hikes, waterfalls and swimming holes, which is why we are often drawn to those areas. Unfortunately, we began to notice a pattern of misuse such as litter and damage caused by users who take for granted the free public land system. We saw an opportunity to do something, and we wanted to involve the vanlife community because we share the same passion for adventure, nature and sustainability.
What is your current target or current goals for Vans for Lands?
Right now we’re working on organizing our first clean-up, which will likely happen in spring or summer of 2019. We want clean-ups to be a fun way for vanlifers to connect with each other and with local communities, as well to make a difference and help raise awareness.
What are your long-term goals with the project?
Ideally, we want to reach a point where every year we have at least four successful clean ups or projects. We also hope to become a valued source for educational and advocational content through our blog and social channels. We’d also love to collaborate with other organizations in the outdoor community to increase involvement and expand our reach. If we can make even the smallest difference it will have been worth it.
How can vanlifers and/or the general population get involved?
We encourage anyone who wants to get involved to follow our blog and social pages and SHARE. Sharing is the best to help spread the word and raise awareness. We do have a gofundme page up for anyone who wants to donate, or even just share the page. We’re looking for volunteer guest writers for our blog, especially if you have any educational knowledge, opinions or stories. We also, of course, would love for everyone to join our clean ups and any other projects we organize. Keep an eye on our social channels and our website for updates as planning progresses with those. We a have a lot of really exciting things coming and we know that with the support of the vanlife community, as well as other outdoor communities, we can accomplish all of our goals.