Almost 43 million Americans participated in camping last year, according to a new study released today by The Outdoor Foundation and sponsored by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and The Coleman Co. Inc. According to a press release, that equates to 14.9% of Americans over age six. The findings are part of the 2012 American Camper Report, a leading report tracking participation in camping in the United States.
The Outdoor Foundation’s American Camper Report provides data and analysis on overall camping participation and explores preferences, buying behavior and the future of camping. For the first time in the history of this report, people within the camping industry share trends that they are seeing in the field, and the report takes an in-depth look at Hispanic American campers to examine this growing minority’s unique motivations, preferences and barriers. The findings are based on an online survey of more than 38,000 Americans ages six and older and a supplementary survey of camping participants 18 and older.
“The American Camper Report shows that camping gained popularity in 2011 – adding nearly three million participants since 2010,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “The information and analysis in this report will help the outdoor industry and all stakeholders engage even more Americans in camping and transform non-participants into active outdoor enthusiasts and committed environmental stewards.”
KOA’s CEO Jim Rogers stated, “2012 is KOA’s 50th anniversary and KOA hopes that its outdoor hospitality legacy will continue to expand along with the businesses of other outdoor enterprises as we learn more about the needs, trends and outdoor behaviors of the American camper. The report’s special focus on Hispanic campers also aligns with KOA’s goals to find new ways to increase the engagement of ethnically diverse populations in camping and outdoor fun.”
“Throughout our 112-year history, Coleman has maintained a reputation for creating innovative, high-quality outdoor gear. Insights from studies like the American Camper Report are a foundational piece of Coleman’s ability to build and maintain that reputation,” said Robert Marcovitch, President and CEO of Coleman. “Thanks to the knowledge we gain from the Camper Report, Coleman continues to develop exciting gear for both the new and experienced outdoor enthusiast alike.”
The insights detailed in the 2012 American Camper Report are critical to understanding both campers and non-campers and building participation in the activity.
Some additional findings include:
Overview of Camping Participation
* Almost 43 million Americans went camping in 2011 for a total of 534.9 million days. Participation is up from 39.9 million campers and 514.8 million days in 2010.
* Almost all age brackets added participants, except the adolescent group.
* Camping gained a net of 2.6 million participants from 2010 to 2011, but it has a fairly high churn rate at 16 percent.
* Reports from public and private campsites and the Outdoor Industry Association illustrate a general uptick in camping participation.
* The Mountain Region has the highest camping participation rate.
* Seventy-seven percent of all campers are married or living with a domestic partner.
* Eighty-four percent of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities.
Profile of a Camping Trip
* Sixty-seven percent of participants camped the most in public campgrounds.
* The average camper went on 4.97 camping trips.
* Participants traveled a mean of 190.6 miles away from home to camp.
* Almost half of all American campers plan their trips at least one month in advance.
* Seventy percent of all trips are taken with friends.
* Hiking is the most popular activity to participate in while camping.
* More than half of camping participants are employed, and 29 percent are students.
* Battery lighting was the most popular purchase during the past year and was especially popular among older campers.
* Most camping purchases are planned at home before taking a camping trip.
Hispanic Campers: A Focused Look
* At 5.52 camping trips per year per participant, the average Hispanic participant goes camping more than the average Caucasian participant.
* Hispanics bought more camping equipment in the last 12 months than non-Hispanics.
* Twenty-three percent of Hispanic campers ages 18 and over tried camping for the first time in 2011.
Future of Camping
* Campers are planning an average of 4.33 camping trips next year.
* Fathers are the most likely person to take someone camping for the first time.
* The most cited reason for reducing the number of camping trips is a lack of time due to work and family commitments.
It was a year ago this week when Casey Loyd, president of spa-maker LMS Inc. in Pomona, Calif, sat down with executives from Coleman over coffee and made a proposal he was really sure would hold water, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
What if, he said, Coleman, which for more than 100 years has built up a camping-supply empire, would attach its names to spas that his 30-year-old company made?
Lo and behold, Coleman liked the idea.
On Tuesday (April 20), Loyd’s proposal started bearing fruit, as his Pomona-based, 1-million-square-foot manufacturing plant churned out Coleman hot tubs.
“This is truly a winning combination,” he told an audience of about 100 spa dealers from around the country and from Canada, who came to an open house at LMS’ Cal Spas plant in Pomona.
And consumers, even in a sluggish economy, are ready for it, he said, adding that there’s pent-up demand among people ready to invest in their homes’ backyards.
“We think the big investment that consumers are going to make — besides their home — is in their backyard,” he said.
Coleman agreed. And if consumers do, the licensing agreement with the camping-supply titan could mean the creation of 250 jobs over the next 12 to 18 months, Loyd said.
The spas, complete with features that include an iPod dock, speakers and energy efficient “smart” technology, will carry the Coleman brand name and will ultimately be distributed worldwide, Loyd said.
Dealers and LMS distributor Poolcorp representatives said Coleman’s entry into the spa marketplace will be a boon for the industry. The company has felt the hit from a recession that began in a housing market that was vital for the spa business.
Most people really don’t know what the brand of their spa is, many observers said. But with Coleman in the picture, that changes.
“It brings out that name recognition to the industry,” said Jim Dale, president of Pelican Pool Supply, based in Quakertown, Penn.
And frankly, he added, “(The industry) could use a little shove here and there.”
If that shove comes, Loyd said it will also be a boon for manufacturing in California – a sector he still has seemingly boundless faith in.
“You just have got to have the will … and if there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.