Campfire Experience is really a feeling and a moment come to life in the form of a business.
A few years ago when a friend asked Founder Amy Gillespie, “If you could create a life for yourself devoted to something that you love, what would it be?” her answer was the campfire experience. It’s not the packing, setting up or even camping part of the ordeal, but the feeling of sitting by the fire with its radiating heat and hearing the hum of loved ones’ conversations against the crackle of the fire part.
A picturesque scene, alas, “That’s really not a business,” Gillespie says.
It’s more a moment. A moment that stuck with her.
A few years later and Gillespie would be faced with the task of navigating the Nelsonville Music Festival while about six months pregnant. It was something that she and her husband loved to do together – travel, go to festivals – but they were leaning towards foregoing it for the year due to baby. However when pictures started flooding their social media, they decided they were going to find a way to make it happen. It was off work and off to the festival.
“By the time I got home I saw him stuffing our guest mattress in the back of our car,” Gillespie says. It would be their residence for the weekend, and “Basically that became the business. How do we remove obstacles so that people can create and take part in their own campfire experiences?”
Building a campfire experience comes in two forms – renting a decked out teardrop camper with all the essentials or a whimsical, fully-furnished bell tent.
The iconic teardrop camper yields to the road-warrior. An adventurer can hitch it up and head to the Ohio sites like Hocking Hills or Kelleys Island, or even take her on the open, Midwest road. At $159 per night at a two night minimum, the camper provides a small footprint that encourages outdoor exploration, but provides the comforts of home when it’s time to turn-in. It features a queen-sized bed, air conditioning, TV and even a DVD player on the inside, and a open-air kitchen in the back complete with sink, stovetop and fridge, and basic tools.
Opt for a tent, and the Campfire Experience will set it up for you anywhere in about a two hour radius from Columbus. The 200 square foot tents peak at 10 feet and, “You can make it as nice as you want,” Gillespie says.
For $299 a night, the business will outfit the stand up to the wind and rain sturdy tents with a mattress, linens, side tables, trunks for storage and more. Campfire Experience is even working with masseuses and yoga instructors who might be interested in offering some on-site tent service.
The tents are finding a wider audience, from the camper looking for a more luxurious experience, to the boho bride looking for something different, to groups handling larger outings like music festivals, yoga retreats and brand events.
Campfire Experience not only builds on a feeling, but its offerings resonate with a number of travel trends.
“More and more people are going out and adventuring,” Gillespie says.
Hiking, biking, trail running are all popular, but not everyone may consider themselves a camper. The Campfire Experience looks to close that gap, eliminating the obstacles to a night outdoors.
In today’s always connected age, adventures normally mean a time for some digital detox.
“I think there is something there for us to kind of enable that,” Gillespie says. “You can’t have a campfire experience looking at your phone.”
Gillespie and the Campfire Experience have struck a cord, finding positive reception through many avenues.
“The first thing that surprised me was the Instagram community,” she says. “It really helps to see what we’re talking about.”
Individuals started snatching up dates for the teardrop when Campfire Experience launched in January.
“We’ve gotten amazing reception with individuals, but also businesses that see some really cool ways to collaborate,” Gillespie says.
As they get into the peak season, Campfire Experience expects to expand the number of teardrop campers from one to three as demand grows, and capitalize on some of these business partnerships with their ten tents.
“That’s what’s so cool about Columbus,” says Gillespie, citing the warm reception and partnerships they are starting to forge.
Campfire Experience is already working with Clintonville Outfitters to be their pick-up and drop-off location. The shop’s staff has the knowledge about where to go, what to do and what you need, and all the last-minute camping supplies. Other partnerships are in the works to even provide things like groceries on the experience, leaving an adventurer to just bring themselves and their clothes.
Now that Gillespie has turned her moment into a business and become an entrepreneur, “I don’t think I can do anything else,” she says.
For more information, visit thecampfireexperience.com.