Cabela’s hosts 250 Rogers Activity Center campers

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 167 views 

A partnership between a store for outdoor enthusiasts and a local non-profit created the opportunity for 250 Rogers youths to experience the outdoor sports, some for the first time. 

The students ranged from first to seventh grade.

 The goal of such partnerships like that between the Rogers Activity Center and Cabela’s is to create goodwill between the profit and non-profit sectors, promote the non-profit, and create possible future customers for the business. 

The Rogers Activity Center hosts camps all summer long that include field trips, outdoor activities and many educational opportunities. It’s celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and Cabela’s helped join in the fun by inviting 250 campers to the Rogers store for the day on Tuesday (July 16).

The students were divided into groups and they traveled between stations to learn more about outdoor activities including dog training, gun safety, duck/turkey calling, boat safety, Frisbee throws, camping, and even learning to make fudge from Cabela’s famous deli. 


The program is part of Cabela’s Campfire Initiative where the Cabela’s stores are asked to get involved in a community service project. 

Instead of going out in the community, the Rogers store staff decided to invite the community to their store. 

“We decided that we wanted to create a Disney-like atmosphere right here in the store that was both educational and fun,” said Chris Comer, general manager. “A lot of kids were here for the first time. It gives them the chance to experience something they that they will always remember.” 

Most of the Rogers store leaders are from the Northwest Arkansas area and the day camp was a chance for them to “give back” to their own community, Comer added. 
Another advantage for businesses to get involved in activities with the community is the ability to establish a future customer base. 

“A lot of them will remember their fun time at Cabela’s and want to come back,” he said. 

Camp staff member Ashley Anderson, 18, said several of her campers already expressed an interest in returning to Cabela’s when they are ready to purchase outdoor equipment because they enjoyed the experience so much. 
She added that Cabela’s did an excellent job of establishing brand awareness as they created a fun and memorable experience. 

The staff also helped impart knowledge that the students can apply to the real world, she said. 

“They did a demonstration about boat safety. Now all the kids are saying they are willing to wear life jackets now,” she said as an example. 

For Anderson, working at the Rogers Activity Center has been the opportunity to help her decide a future career. She knows she wants to go into medicine and is leaning toward pediatrics. Spending an entire summer with children has helped confirm that decision, she said. 

Wendy Jones, director of operations and marketing at the Rogers Activity Center, agreed that the for-profit/non-profit partnership helped the center provide a new experience for the center’s campers. 

“Their eyes popped open when they came in the store,” she said.  

She shared the story of one of the campers, who is on the autism spectrum. When that child was able to experience fly fishing, he was so enthralled that he was able to focus and his behavior calmed, she said. 
When programs like the day camp happen, it also helps provide education to the public about what the non-profit does, she said. 

“We are the longest-running youth facility in Rogers,” she said. “We continue to look for ways to grow and fulfill the dream of helping the youth of Rogers.” 

For many Cabela’s employees, the day camp was the opportunity to share their love and passion for the outdoors. 
Marian Fredette is the club membership manager and she remembers many childhood camping trips.

“It’s important to get immersed in the outdoor culture,” she said.


Cabela’s opened in Rogers in August of last year, the outdoor chain’s first store in Arkansas. The store is seen as a destination and draws visitors from up to 200 miles away.

Steve Cox, director of economic development at Rogers Chamber of Commerce, said recently that getting Cabela’s to commit to a Rogers location was a three-year project between chamber and city officials, General Growth Properties and Hunt Ventures.

He said the Cabela’s effect began paying off before the store was officially opened.

“Once Cabela’s starting building, energy around Pinnacle Hills picked up and other retailers and restaurants have decided to come to Rogers as well,” Cox said.

He said Fresh Market and Houlihans signed contracts after they heard Cabela’s was coming and have filled vacancies at Pinnacle Hills Promenade that had sat empty for two years or more.

Since that time a half dozen other restaurants have located along Pinnacle Parkway, near the Cabela’s store.