More than 7.2 million households in the U.S. have started camping over the past five years, bringing the total number of camping households in the U.S. to a new high of 78.8 million, according to the 2019 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA). North Americans are also camping more frequently than ever before, with 72 percent growth among those who camp three or more times each year – the most avid group of campers – since 2014.
KOA says key factors driving this upward trend include an influx of younger and more diverse campers; millennials having kids and taking them camping; and North Americans’ love for the outdoors.
Of the 1.4 million households that started camping in 2018 alone, 56 percent are Millennials and 51 percent are from non-white groups. Millennials currently make up the largest segment of campers at 41 percent, up 7 percentage points since 2014, and Gen Xers make up 36 percent, up 9 percentage points.
The explosion of camping is leading to greater diversity as well. Since the ethnic mix of campers was first measured in 2012, the percentage of non-white camping households has increased from 12 percent to 29 percent. KOA says for the first time since measurement of new campers began in 2014, the percentage of new non-white campers (51 percent) in 2018 outpaced the percentage of new Caucasian campers (49 percent).
Changes in life stage, specifically starting a family, is a significant factor fueling the growth of camping. Fifty-four percent of millennials are now camping with kids and when asked what was the key trigger that got them to camp more, the majority said having kids. Millennials with children in the household are an avid group of campers: 63 percent camp more than seven nights per year, and two-thirds plan to camp more in 2019.
In fact, camping families with children in the household form the most avid group of campers overall. This group took the most camping trips and spent the most nights camping in 2018, and are substantially more likely to camp more often in 2019.
The findings of the 2019 North American Camping Report suggest this momentum will continue given North Americans’ enthusiasm and strong commitment to camping. Survey results show the growing camper segments have a great deal of enthusiasm for taking more trips and camping more nights each year.
More than half (51 percent) of parents report that the enthusiasm for camping among their children has never been higher. And teen campers agree – 96 percent say they enjoy the time camping with family and friends, and they say they are healthier thanks to the benefits of camping and other outdoor activities.
Further, one-third of all American and Canadian campers now self-identify as a “life-long” campers, the highest rate since the survey’s inception in 2014. Both millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to identify themselves as lifelong campers when compared to past years. For the first time since measurement started in 2014, the percentage of new non-white campers (51 percent) outpaced the percentage of new Caucasian campers (49 percent) in 2018.
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