Chopping Wood: GDRV gives back to help middle school students

GDRV team members love to work but they also love to serve.

Last Friday, around 40 GDRV team members took on a different type of work, leaving the factory to make a difference. They went out to the Five Star Life Summit Camp in Union, Michigan to assist the non-profit organization that is based out of Elkhart, Indiana. The Grand Design team chopped, split and loaded wood to help prepare the massive property for future months where it will host all kinds of activities for middle school students from ropes courses, archery, fishing, boating, swimming, gardening, rock wall, horse interaction and care and go-karting.

“Summit is 300 acres and it’s used as a training facility for our mission which is changing the face of education by changing the mindsets of students,” explains Five Star Life Executive Director Seth Maust. “It’s one thing to learn the values and the curriculum in a school setting but it’s another thing when you are out in nature, experiential learning just becomes real.”

Five Star Life was formed to develop in middle school students the desire to succeed and own their futures. Though education and mentoring, Five Star Life serves as a catalyst for changing focusing on five areas: At-Risk Education & Academic Support, Workforce Readiness, Mentoring, Character Education and Experiential Learning.

“We’re changing mindsets through after school programs, through our video curriculum that schools implement during the school day and then through leadership events and leadership days that schools and groups come out and participate in at Summit,” explains Maust.

In schools they’ve partnered with throughout the country, Five Star Life has helped as many as 80 percent of entire school populations raise their GPA or maintain a 3.0 or better.

“Their heartbeat is really the same as our heartbeat is and that is to build quality leaders,” says Connie Begly of Grand Design RV. “They have that vision and it’s really the perfect fit for us to partner with them as they work with the youth so that they can be the great leaders of tomorrow.”

Five Star Life is one of several organizations Grand Design RV will be serving in 2019. It’s part of Go Grand, Grand Design’s Community Outreach program.

“It’s tremendously fun to see our team out here volunteering their time,” Begly explained.

The Grand Design Team members were split up into multiple teams throughout the property to serve Five Star Life. While the temperatures were cold, the smiles were large.

“We’re having a blast,” says Chris Block, who leads the Grand Design team that was on site. “It’s great to get out of the building. We’re excited to be here, excited to help out Five Star and it’s a good bonding moment for line 2 and we needed that. We’re a small production line and we have most of the staff out here.”

The Grand Design Team members spent more than five hours working at the Summit Camp, much to the appreciation of Five Star Life.

“Grand Design is incredible,” said an excited Maust. “They’re supposed to be in the factory working but they are out here helping a non-profit get things done and there is a whole army out here. It’s 15 degrees out and they are getting wood cleaned up. If you are serving students and you are called Five Star, it better look good. They’re helping us fulfill our mission and helping us save a bunch of money in hired labor.”

If you would like to help make a difference in Five Star Life’s quest to better the lives of today’s youth, you can make a donation by visiting


Grand Design RV’s Community Outreach program Go Grand was created to positively contribute to our communities though volunteering our time, talent and treasures. We are blessed to able to go forth and serve and are grateful for the Winnebago Industries Foundation partnership as we impact our hometowns.