Camp Spotlight:Driven to give back

This local couple is putting the pedal to the metal while making a difference in the Black Hills.

It’s not hard for Weston Chapman to look back and see the hand of mentorship guiding his college days and early career in the automotive industry. Weston graduated from Western Dakota Technical College (WDTC) in Rapid City in 2004. “My instructor, Jim Schniable, had a huge influence on my love of automotive repair,” said Weston.
It’s one of the reasons Weston and his wife Tenise Chapman, owners of Black Hills Tire, work so hard to give back to their home state and local community.

What’s in a name?
Camp DRIVE was founded by owners of Black Hills Tire, Weston and Tenise Chapman. DRIVE stands for Determination, Resourcefulness, Innovation, Vision and Enthusiasm. This young camp, which started in 2023, has already proved to be a driving force for good in the Black Hills community.


Last year, Black Hills Tire kicked off Camp DRIVE, a two-day automotive camp for kids aged 12 through 15. The idea was to teach kids about automotive maintenance and to meet professionals in the field.Tenise had heard of a similar camp on the east side of the state and wondered why there wasn’t something in the Black Hills.
During the camp, the students rotate through sessions about 30 minutes long, each taught by a staff member: a brake session, an electrical session, a tire session, a suspension session and an engine session. The camp will expand this year to add an additional program for 16-18 years old. Tenise said they do not have children of their own, but they deeply desire to pour into the next generation.
“I love all kids and especially that age,” she said. “They were so polite and kind.”
The couple said they required students to drop their cell phones in a basket at the start of the camp each day. They expected some pushback but were pleasantly surprised. “There were the expected groans and eye rolls, but not once during the entire first day did anyone want their phone back — they were so engaged,” Weston said. “The next day we didn’t even have to ask, they ran over to the basket and threw their phones in there and couldn’t wait to start the next session.”
In another favorite moment, Weston recalled overhearing a conversation between two of the students as they worked on a vehicle. “One boy asked the other ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ and the other boy responded ‘This!’” Weston said. “It was an awesome moment for me.”
Weston said his biggest hope for students is to change perceptions of the automotive technology industry. “I want them to know what an exciting field it is,” he said. “It’s one of the fastest advancing fields in the world, with constantly changing technologies that rival any other field. It’s mechanics, computers, high voltage electricity, chemistry, performance modifications and even AI technology.”
It’s not only an exciting career field, but one that pays well. He hopes to continue to partner with his alma mater to open doors for students. This year’s Camp DRIVE will include a tour of WDTC. “We are such huge supporters of WDTC because they set us on our path to be successful,” Tenise said.
“We had amazing mentors at WDT. We listened and asked for advice, and we hope we get to do the same for someone else someday. It’s really full circle.”

Gaining Skills

Weston grew up in Bison and Tenise is from Webster. Weston discovered a love of cars in middle school when he spent time with his dad and grandpa in a garage “tinkering around,”
Tenise said. “A lot of kids don’t have that these days,” she said. “We’re really passionate about finding activities for kids.”
Weston operated an auto repair shop on Deadwood Avenue for 12 years before the couple opened Black Hills Tire 5 years ago. “I want this camp to play a vital role in helping students understand that automotive repair can be a lot of fun getting your hands dirty and learning how things work but can also
be a super clean, tech space of computers and electronics,” Weston said.
Lukas Cann, 14, attended the first Camp DRIVE alongside a friend. He has a natural love of cars and said he was drawn to the camp because he wanted to learn more about automotive repair. “They told us what we needed to know to be safe,” he said. “They walked us through it and then they let us try it.”
His favorite was a pit crew challenge, which had teams facing off to see who could change tires the fastest. “My team ended up winning on the last day,” he said. He also learned about alignments, how to take apart brakes and put them back together. “And I can change tires and oil really well now,” he said. “I feel like these are just really good skills to have.”
Cann said he appreciates the Chapmans intentionally investing in youth.
“A lot of kids benefitted from this,” he said. “Their whole team was kind and helpful. It was really fun, and
they just did a great job.”

The Why

Giving back to the community is two-fold, Tenise said. The infusion of excitement when their business donates or hosts an event to give back to the community is evident in their staff.

“Camp DRIVE is the favorite thing my staff does,” she added. “They really enjoy that we are involved in the community and that is one of the reasons we do it.”
Weston agreed. “The camp is an incredible experience for our employees,” he said, as it aligns with their business vision to be a helping hand to everyone. “There is a lot of satisfaction in repairing someone’s vehicle, whether it’s getting them to their workplace reliably or keeping their family safe on a trip, but to be able to directly impact these young men and women at the camp really made them see how they can make a difference.”
He hopes Camp DRIVE leads by example for other leaders and business owners in the community. “Go for it,” he said. “Everyone wants to, but actually taking the time or committing the funds is a big step — but you won’t regret it. Do it because you want to make a difference, not for marketing, etc. There’s a good chance it will help bring in business, but let that be a byproduct, not a goal. Giving back to the community, providing scholarships and hosting Camp DRIVE have really become our ‘why’ at Black Hills Tire.”