John Kamps and the Little Kamper

For John Kamps, being in the mountains is about the same as being fully alive.

From a tender age, John got comfortable being outdoors. From California’s central valley to the Pacific coast, and back to the Sierra Nevada mountains, John wanted to explore and experience the warm days, starry nights, and natural beauty of his home state.

As a young adult, his restless nature took him beyond California and his journeys were nearly always to be in the places known for great scenery, great fishing, and small numbers of people. 

His career blossomed when he started his own company and put his determined soul into the challenge of doing what others said he could not. He built Kamps Propane up from a small company in a small town to a bigger company spread across much of California. At different steps along the way, when opportunity or circumstances created a need, he started other companies. His passion for pushing forward brought together people who knew he was a leader.  

But the outdoor world has never stopped calling to John. From back-country backpacking with friends in California to the wildest parts of nearly every continent, John has a lifetime of outdoor adventures to show for his time away from work. 

In 2014, in a meeting with a manufacturer who had introduced a new cylinder in the U.S., John was struck by the potential of the small tank. Ideas were kicked around and eventually a decision was made to give Kamps Propane customers a chance to try a new product as a service. The Little Kamper was born.

John knew from his many visits to the popular camping destinations in California that disposable propane tanks had become a significant problem at parks and campgrounds. The Little Kamper was made available to Kamps Propane customers as a cylinder exchange product where filled cylinders were sold and empty cylinders were exchanged at a discount. With offices in Sierra foothills towns and other locations around the state, Kamps Propane customers were the first people in the US to choose a sustainable alternative to disposable tanks. The business grew slowly but eventually, an expansion of the program allowed a select group of retail store owners to become a part of the Little Kamper trial program.

This effort represents a gesture of gratitude from John to California and beyond. Propane is a non-toxic fuel that cannot contaminate soil or water so it is a great source of energy for camping and cooking outdoors. Creating a portable propane cylinder exchange program to reduce the volume of disposable tanks left in California’s parks and campgrounds is a perfect example of why John Kamps is a leader worth following.

What happens next is up to every person who buys or sells portable propane tanks. Retailers who care about the environment will help us make the Little Kamper available where people buy propane. Outdoor enthusiasts who care about the future of our parks and campgrounds will realize that disposable tanks are bad for the environment and adopt our sustainable alternative. John Kamps chose to do something about this problem and we hope you will too.

40 million reasons ought to be enough to get people who care to buy, use, and exchange our Little Kampers.