Why are we far less likely to go camping once we are adults?

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When it comes to outdoor vacations, camping is one of the most cost-effective solutions. Not only that, but you’re closer to nature from the moment you wake up to when you crash, of course after a hearty campfire with some s’mores (essential, right?). Camping has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health (depending on how many s’mores you eat, of course). Some campers joke that not camping enough might lead to stress. Who wouldn’t want to camp when it allows them to be immersed in nature with simple access and more time to explore? People are becoming more interested in camping in all of its forms, from backcountry to adventure camping and, of course, glamping.

Camping holiday in Wilmington, North Carolina
Camping holiday in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo Courtesy of Kampgrounds of America, Inc

Camping is becoming more popular in the United States and Canada, according to the 2018 North American Camping Report sponsored by Kampgrounds of America (KOA). The report shares a number of interesting statistics including the fact that, “77 million U.S. households have someone who camps at least occasionally.” Since 2014, there have been approximately six million new camping households. The majority of people camp up to three times each year, which has climbed by 64%. In 2017, there was a 2.6 million rise in camper households, with representation from all races. New campers are more varied than the general population, with almost equal representation of white and non-white campers. Moreover, Millennials and Gen Xers account for three-quarters of all campers, with Millennials accounting for 40%. Although 52% of campers have children, 48% camp sans children. 59% of campers stay within 100 miles of home, so you don’t have to go far to enjoy camping. When looking for local campsites, 42% choose national/state/municipal campgrounds, while 25% prefer private campgrounds.

Family making s'mores and enjoying the outdoors near their cabin
A family enjoys the outdoors while baking s’mores near their cabin. Photo Courtesy of Kampgrounds of America, Inc.

One of the main reasons camping remains popular is because campers see it as “a time to relax, escape stress, and clear their thoughts.” According to Toby O’Rourke, President of KOA, “with decreased obstacles and campers’ desire to connect with nature and each other, it is no wonder that camping is quickly becoming a crucial component of an outdoor lifestyle.” The increase in new campers (both younger and more ethnically diverse) seems to be due to a number of factors, including general accessibility to camping and various forms of unique camping accommodations, along with increased access to Wi-Fi and cell service.

Individuals who were previously uninterested in camping are now discovering fresh and intriguing ways to camp. [/tweet quote] Although 53% of new campers use tents, 25% use cabins, and 19% use RVs. Nowadays, you can take your pick of staying in a tent, yurt, cabin, trailer, hammock, teepee, among, well, still so many “other” categories. Almost all Millennials and Gen Xers in North America are claimed to be eager to discover new ways to camp this year, thanks to availability to intriguing new camping amenities. Millennials, in particular, are interested in both backcountry camping and glamping, while Gen X prefers more creative lodgings.

Interior of a deluxe cabin in Williamsburg
Interior of a deluxe cabin in Williamsburg.  Photo courtesy of Kampgrounds of America, Inc.

Although camping allows individuals to get away from it all, they still desire the choice to remain connected. The vast majority of campers (97%) carry some kind of electronics with them. Camping was formerly hampered by difficulties like as safety and security, but they are now handled simply by having access to the internet and social media networks. According to the research, one-third of campers keep their smartphone with them only for safety reasons. Nonetheless, there has been a consistent rising trend since 2014, with campers being much more likely to get online when camping. In fact, Millennials share photos and videos on social media while camping, with 27% of Millennials and 25% of Gen X campers saying it is important to them to share their experience. Despite the benefits of technology, campers say the use of it has detracted from the overall enjoyment of their experience (almost 50% in 2017) — perhaps because the idea and draw of camping for some is a time to unplug.

Overall, I can understand why more people are becoming interested in camping. There are just too many parks to visit in the United States to not take advantage of camping opportunities. The National Park Service estimates that around 11 million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year (at least for the past two years). It is now the most visited national park in the United States, surpassing both the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks. Even though it’s the most popular, I still want to go one day, and as a Millennial who falls in total alignment with the mentioned stats, I fully intend to share my trip all over social media while glamping.

Related Questions

  • Are people camping less?

    The number of campers in the United States has increased from 71.5 million in 2014 to 93.8 million by 2021. However, 51 percent of long-time campers reporting camping less in 2021 due to overcrowding in campground or too many campers.

  • Am I too old to go camping?

    Age is no barrier for enjoying yourself. Take the plunge.

  • What percentage of Americans go camping each year?

    The following are the key conclusions of the 2022 North American Camping Report:
    More than 93.8 million North American families planned to camp in 2021. Camping accounted for 40% of all leisure trips taken in 2021 with more than half of travelers (53%) including camping in some or all of their travel.

  • What percent of people have gone camping?

    Overall camping incidence remains stable with 62% of U.S. households (78.8 million) having someone who camps at least occasionally. This is a four-point gain in five years (71.5 million households, or 58%, in 2014).

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