KOA Reports 6 Million New Campers Since 2014

More than 6 million new North American households have adopted the camping lifestyle since 2014, with the number of campers who camp three times or more each year—the most avid group of campers—having increased by 64 percent, according to results from the 2018 North American Camping Report.

The annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) offers evidence that camping is fast becoming a lifestyle attribute among U.S. and Canadian households—and there is no indication that this trend is slowing down, according to a news release.

Camping at Meaher State Park, near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Meaher State Park, near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the U.S. there was an increase of 2.6 million new camper households in 2017. Further, representation among all ethnicities is beginning to appear more like the overall population. Building on 2017 report findings, campers at all experience levels and among all ethnicities continue to express the desire to camp more and are equally likely to say that they intend to increase their camping trips in 2018: 45 percent of all campers indicated they will increase camping trips in 2018, an increase of 3 percent from last year’s report, while 39 percent of new campers in 2017 will increase camping trips in 2018.

Camping at Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Increases in camping—both in reach and frequency—can be tied to increased accessibility of camping due to the removal of previously held beliefs and barriers. While previous research demonstrated bugs, safety/security, and/or campers not knowing anyone who camped as primary barriers to camping, those barriers are waning with technology and social media serving as access portals to helpful information both prior to and during the camping experience.

Further, according to campers who say that access to cell or Wi-Fi service has a great deal of impact on the length of their trips, they are able to take almost a full week extra of time camping.

Camping at Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Camping is a highly social activity, and with that, we are seeing campers turning to their social circles or other camping influencers for information and resources, including borrowing or renting RVs and gear. It’s this social nature—both on and off the campground—that continues to reduce barriers and fuel the growth of annual camping in North America,” said Toby O’Rourke, president of KOA.

“With reduced barriers and the desire of campers to connect with nature and each other, it is no surprise that camping is fast becoming a fundamental component of an outdoor lifestyle.”

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 2018 North American Camping Report continues to show campers view camping as a time to relax, escape stress, and clear their minds. Even with an influx of new campers (both younger and more ethnically diverse), differences in opinion about the reasons for camping are beginning to lessen, with close to half of all campers suggesting that camping has “a great deal of impact” on reducing stress and allowing them to spend more time with their families. There is also increased recognition that camping contributes to emotional and physical health.

Camping at Clinton Knoxville North KOA, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Clinton Knoxville North KOA, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key findings and trends based on the results of the 2018 North American Camping Report include:

Camping continues to grow in the U.S. and the future of camping is strong.

Overall camping incidence remains stable with 61 percent of U.S. households (77 million) having someone who camps at least occasionally, a minor increase over last year.

Forty-five percent of all campers indicated they will increase camping trips in 2018, while 39  percent of new campers in 2017 will increase camping trips in 2018.

Camping at Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As first noted last year, teen campers continue to be highly engaged in camping and demonstrate a great deal of enthusiasm toward camping and the outdoors. Teen campers express higher levels of enthusiasm toward camping than what adults predict; 94 percent of teens state they are enthusiastic about camping, compared to 77 percent of adults who say that teens are enthusiastic.

Nearly all of the teen campers surveyed claim they intend to camp as adults, and if they have children, they intend to bring them camping. In fact, most teen campers identify a benefit of camping as relaxing the adults in their lives (as well as themselves).

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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