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The 2019 North American Camping Report, an industry-leading study conducted by the Kampgrounds of America (KOA), which details the camping habits and preferences of North Americans, has yielded some fascinating conclusions.
The report revealed large increases in camping interest among every generation, but especially within Generation X and among Millennials, and extending to the emerging Generation Z.
The fifth annual report noted an estimated seven million additional households in the U.S. identifying themselves as campers since 2014, with 1 million having joined the camping family in 2018 alone.
For the sake of clarification when talking about various age groups, The Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those currently aged 7 to 22 (born between 1997 and 2012); a Millennial as anyone between the ages of 23 and 38 (born between 1981 and 1996); Gen X as anyone between the ages of 39 and 54 (born between 1965 and 1980); and Baby Boomers as persons aged 55 to 73 (born between 1946 and 1964).
According to the report, only 23 percent of campers were Baby Boomers or older. Millennials continued to make up the bulk of new campers in 2018, and also were the most likely to drive up the incidence of camping.
Both Millennials and Gen X-ers are also more likely to identify themselves as lifelong campers and 90 percent of teen campers (part of Gen Z) say they plan to camp as adults.
For the first time in the report's history, in 2018, the percentage of new campers from multicultural groups (51 percent) outpaced the percentage of new Caucasian campers (49 percent).
The study showed that multi-generational camping has been quietly increasing over time, with about 60 percent of camping households reportedly having taken at least one camping trip that included multiple generations- that's up 56 percent since 2015.
An overall love of the outdoors is being cited as the primary driving force for North Americans to get outside. Escaping crowds and noise also grew markedly in 2018 as a motivating factor. It likewise becomes clear that interest in different types of experiences, including the establishment of "glamping" and "van life", has helped to further define camping today.
On the whole, campers are increasingly seeking ways to become more active. That goes for all generations and all ethnic groups. Those surveyed said they view camping as a means to escape the stress of their everyday lives, relax, and clear their minds. Hiking and/or walking seem to be the primary means to add activity to their camping trips.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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