Cameron Jarman was on a Salt River trip in Arizona with a group of people who hailed from across the state. The outing was organized through social media by his company, Arizona Hikers Guide.
The people on that trip kept noticing the trash along the banks and in the water. The group wasn’t prepared to clean it up, but they couldn’t stop complaining about it the rest of the trip.
“We thought ‘Well shoot, if we are all here and we all complain about it and we are all wanting it to be a nicer place to enjoy, why don’t we use the power of social media and community to just make it better?’” Cameron said.
Cameron and his wife, Casi Jarman, know something about the power of social media and community.
The couple started blogging about their favorite Arizona outings about two years ago, calling their site Arizona Hikers Guide. It started as a way to provide beta for friends, and then friends of friends, and soon was a popular hub for outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure in the state.
Cameron grew up in Pinetop, Arizona. His father was a naturalist and survivalist and taught Cameron to identify plants and animals. Casi grew up in a suburb of Phoenix. The two met in a geology class in college and once married, both took jobs as math teachers – she’s at Northern Arizona University and he’s in a local middle school – and also explored the state, kayaking, hiking, hunting and fishing.
A year ago Cameron was anti-social media. He didn’t upgrade his flip phone to a smart phone until about two years ago. But as he and his wife started posting pictures from their hikes on Instagram and Facebook, they suddenly had huge followings. They started using social media, in particular Instagram, to organize group outings.
“People follow us for a reason,” he said of their social media accounts.
The couple never had any intention of selling merchandise, but after debuting a logo for the website, people started asking for shirts. They did one run of t-shirts and they sold out in about 20 minutes.
Cameron and Casi both have full-time jobs, so they didn’t need the extra income. They decided they wanted to use it for something good, and after that fateful trip on the Salt River this summer, they decided to start Keep It Wild. The new program, which just officially launched, brings people together for wilderness clean ups.
“We use this land freely and get to enjoy it. Then there are idiots who don’t use the land with the same ethics we do and trash it,” Cameron said.
He hopes the community they’ve built through Arizona Hikers Guide will embrace Keep It Wild and help clean up the areas they love.
“It almost felt like the meetups were really cool, but ‘what could we do in addition to just hiking around?’” he said.
Keep It Wild’s first cleanup is planned for the end of January or early February on the Salt River.