More Americans are going camping, and more campers are camping more often.
Those are two of the biggest takeaways from the 2019 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study sponsored by Kampgrounds of America. The data showed that over the past five years, more than 7.2 million households in the United States have begun camping, bringing the total number of camping households in the U.S. to a record high of 78.8 million.
Furthermore, the study concluded that not only are more Americans headed outdoors, but they also spend more time there: the most active group of campers, or those who camp three or more times a year, has grown by a whopping 72% since 2014.
Perhaps the report's most promising insight is that this rise in campers and camping is fueled by an influx of diverse, young campers, which bodes well for the future of the RV industry.
In 2018, 1.4 million households started camping. Among that new class of campers, 56% are millennials and 51% are from minority groups, showing that the future of camping is younger and more diverse than it has ever been.
In addition to driving the increase in new campers, more millennial (32%) and Gen X campers (38%, up from 30% in 2016) have begun identifying themselves as "lifelong campers."
The younger crowd of campers is also more ethnically diverse. For the first time since the report began measuring diversity in 2012, the study shows that the percentage of new campers from multicultural groups (51%) outpaced the percentage of new Caucasian campers (49%) in 2018. In fact, the community of campers is now more diverse than America itself, with the percentages of both Hispanic and Asian American campers exceeding what would be expected in the overall U.S. population.
While plenty of millennial campers are young individuals or couples inspired partly by a desire to document their #VanLife or "glamping" excursions on social media, many of them have already settled down and started a family.
According to KOA's study, 54% of millennials are now camping with kids, and the majority of them said that having kids was the key trigger that got them to camp more. Millennials with children are also among the most avid groups of campers, with 63% of them camping more than seven nights per year, and a similar percentage saying they plan to camp more in 2019.
Teenagers of camper parents seem to have already developed a strong affinity for the joys of camping. A whopping 96% of teens say that they enjoy time spent camping with family and friends, 89% intend to continue camping as adults and a little over half agree that camping is a good way for them to "unplug" from their electronic lives. Perhaps most importantly, over 90% of teen campers say they intend to take their own children camping one day.
This high participation among young families, and high enthusiasm among young teens, is especially encouraging. For the past 5 years, a love for the outdoors has been the most commonly cited reason among all campers for taking an initial interest in camping. But among younger campers, the most commonly cited influence was going camping with their family.
As more millennials continue to start families and then pass on that camping experience to a new generation, the cycle should continue to breed more and more future campers. And as it caters to that growing, multigenerational and multiethnic interest in the great outdoors, the RV and camper industry will continue to thrive.
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