I sat down with Cameron and Sean, the co-founders of Keep it Wild, to answer all of your burning questions. Here we go!
How did Keep it Wild get started?
Cameron: Sean and I created Keep it Wild as an offshoot of Arizona Hiker’s Guide, that Casi - my wife - and I started. We blogged about the hikes and the adventures that we would take.
Sean: Being Casi’s brother and Cameron’s brother-in-law, I started joining these guys on group hikes. I was just helping anywhere I could - helping with strategy, helping with photos. At the time, I was doing photography and videography full-time, and Cam was teaching full-time.
Cameron: As we were going on a small kayak trip in the Salt River, we were disgusted by the trash, the debris, the garbage, the filth in the river, and we decided that we could use the power of our community to do even better.
Sean: Cam and I sat down and were like, “Why don’t I put my full weight of photo and video and content with your skills of building community and creating rad products? Let’s partner and do this thing.” We created the brand strategy in the office at my house on this little, tiny whiteboard. It still took us about six months for us to quit our full-time jobs and be Keep it Wild only.
Cameron: We shifted from group hikes to cleanups. Then we shifted from cleanups into volunteer projects of every kind. From that has stemmed Keep it Wild, the Wild Keepers and a host of other upcoming fun adventures.
What makes Keep it Wild special?
Cameron: That’s an easy one! Keep it Wild is so special to me because we are a group of people that actually do, instead of just say. And we really mean that. We get out there, and we do good with the money that we make from the sale of our product. That’s a big deal.
Sean: And there’s so much negativity about the environment, and we just want to be the opposite of that. We want to be a positive voice. We can come together and make an actual impact, not just talk about how bad things are.
I think, for me too, the part that’s most special is the community aspect. It’s really about the people that meet at cleanups and become best friends. It’s the stories we hear about people just moving to the state and instantly finding a community. To me, that makes us a very special and unique company.
Why did you pick the name?
Cameron: Well, Keep it Wild was going to be Get Wild, but we quickly found out that was not going to work. All kinds of things come up when you type in Get Wild in Google search. Keep it Wild stemmed from wanting to be more nationally-minded and more wilderness-minded and more recreational-minded than just hiking in Arizona. It’s more of a call to action than it is a name of a business, and we meant for it to be that way. And it was available on Namecheap, so that was good.
What's a goal you have for the company that you haven't achieved yet?
Cameron: There’s a few. As for cleanups, we’re working on projects to be able to allow for anyone at any time anywhere to host their own cleanup sponsored by Keep it Wild.
On a larger spectrum, Keep it Wild really needs to be more global. I think that the small, mini impacts that people are making, as far as the Wild Keepers and us on a daily basis, will start growing exponentially. Is that really a goal? I just started talking.
Sean: It’s not even about recognition. It’s about getting that message to a broader audience. We see it on a small scale, but people come to a cleanup, and the next time they go out, they talk about us to one other person. It’s those little things that make a big impact.
For me, I think a goal is being able to have a part of our programming be more educational. How can we get ahead of people that are new to the outdoors? Similar to what Leave No Trace does, and many other great organizations do, finding our voice on the education side would be really cool.
What's something that most people don't know about Keep it Wild that you want them to?
Sean: I think in general, maybe this isn’t specific enough, but I would like for people to know who we are, who you and the team are. I want to be better about letting people see behind the curtain a little more.
Cameron: Maybe a little lighter-hearted, but both of our wives have declined multiple positions at Keep it Wild. I guess it’s a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. But yeah, it’s cool.
Tell me about yourself, outside of the company.
Cameron: I’m a fourth-generation Arizonan. I grew up with the first half of my childhood in Tempe and the second half in Pinetop, so I have a little bit of city and a little bit of mountains in me. I graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, with a major in business and finance. I backpack, I hike, I kayak, I fish, I shoot birds, I like to play ping pong. I have attempted to play tennis and have gotten destroyed multiple times by both Sean and Shawni [Sean’s wife].
One thing that I’ve never done that I would love to do is to have a multiple-day, guided rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. I’ve never done that, and it took me 27 years of my life living here to even look at the Grand Canyon. Oh, and I have two dogs, Ruby and Rosie, and if I could do one thing other than Keep it Wild, it would be to adopt puppies and train them and give them to good families.
Sean: I am fifth-generation from Mesa, Arizona. My great-grandfather or something was the first mayor of Mesa. I went to Mesa Community College, then went to BYU-Provo, where initially, I went to study entrepreneurship, but I changed my major to photography. From slinging Blow Pops in junior high to a tech start-up when I was in school to Keep it Wild, I’ve always loved the entrepreneur life. I also enjoy video games and technology and all that stuff.
I am lower on the spectrum of a hard-core outdoors person, where Cam resides. I grew up scouting, hiking and camping and all that good stuff, so I have an appreciation and a love for the outdoors. I enjoy hiking but only if there’s water at the end of the hike.
Cameron: Which is rare here! It’s 117 degrees outside. I will say, though, Sean can out-hike just about anyone. If you need a good adventure buddy, go with Sean, because he will always be down to do it. Even if it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to.
Sean: Yeah, we hiked Flat-Iron, and I had a torn meniscus. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. And I’ll do crazy things. I’ll do a gainer off a cliff.
Cameron: That’s for real. He’s so much more agile than that 6’5” frame.
Sean: I got a lot of things up my sleeve. And Cam shoots birds, but I birdwatch. I’m an avid birder. I started the Birding Club at Mountain View High School. So, me and my 16-year-old friends would go birding early in the mornings on Saturdays. It would be us and like 70-year-olds at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. That’s just how we rolled in high school. But yeah, that’s about it, about me.