Backyard, Car and RV Camping Sets Record in 2009

An estimated 44 million people participated in camping in 2009, nearly one million more participants than in the previous high of 1996, according the 2010 Special Report on Camping released last week by The Coleman Company, Inc. and The Outdoor Foundation. 

 
The report used the responses of over 40,000 Americans ages six and older to an on-line survey conducted as part of the Outdoor Foundation’s annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. The camping report released last week focuses on RV, car and backyard camping with the latter two described as being within a quarter mile of a home or vehicle.


The reported increase in participation correlates with visitation data showing that 285.6 million people visited the National Park Service in 2009, up 3.7% from 2008. One significant new revelation from the study was that nearly 54% of backyard/car campers and 42% of RV campers identified hiking as the number one activity they enjoyed while camping.
The study also shows that more first-time campers are taking to the outdoors with their friends more than their parents and that their median age was 25, suggesting that more people are discovering the benefits of getting outdoors under their own steam. Participation rates for backyard, car and RV camping among 6- to 12-year-olds rose to 25.2% in 2009 from 23.2% in 2008. This increase was the highest growth in participation rates shown for any age group and helped hold the median age for all participants at 33 after three consecutive years of back-to-back increases.


The most encouraging statistic may have been that 25.8% of new campers were “ethnically diverse” compared to just 14.1% for all campers. “More people are realizing the benefits that come from spending time outdoors,” said Coleman CEO Sam Solomon.  “I am encouraged to see an increasingly more diverse group of Americans taking advantage of outdoor recreation.”


The survey results correlate with National Park Service data and their relation to retail point-of-sale data collected by OIA VantagePoint™ is also validated. While combined unit sales of technical packs, campfire stoves, coolers, lanterns, sleeping bags and tents were essentially flat in 2009 at Chain Specialty, Sporting Goods, Internet, and Discount/Mass Retailers, combined dollar sales of those categories increased in the mid-single-digits. 

 

OIA VantagePoint data also indicates campers favored Chain Specialty outlets, where unit sales rose in the high-single-digits, over Sporting Goods Retailers, where they dipped slightly. The influx of campers last year helped increase demand and stabilize prices for core camping items.

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Backyard, Car and RV Camping Sets Record in 2009

Americans in search of recreation, relaxation and quality time with family and friends are returning to the outdoors in increasing numbers, according to the 2010 Special Report on Camping. The report, which details important trends on car, backyard and RV camping, is the culmination of a partnership between global outdoor equipment manufacturer, The Coleman Company, Inc., and The Outdoor Foundation.


The 2010 Special Report on Camping gives an overview of camping in the United States, presenting detailed information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. Data is also provided on common barriers to entry as well as popular “crossover” sports for this important group. Also, for the first time, the report shows the distances travelled by campers and the preferred types of camping experiences.


Presented in detail within the report, the study reveals that 44 million people participated in camping in 2009, nearly one million more participants than in the previous high of 1996. The average camper spent 13.2 days camping and in aggregate, campers made a combined 580.7 million outings during the year.


“In today's economy, people are returning to simpler lifestyles – the 'less-is-more' ethic,” said Christine Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “Reservations for campsites and sales for camping gear are up. Camping provides fun, affordable opportunities for families to enjoy time together as evidenced by the fact that households with children are approximately 50% more likely to participate in camping than households without children.”


The study results also show that first-time campers are increasingly taking to the outdoors with their more experienced friends, suggesting that more people are recognizing the benefits of getting outside.


“More people are realizing the benefits that come from spending time outdoors,” said Coleman CEO, Sam Solomon.  “I am encouraged to see an increasingly more diverse group of Americans taking advantage of outdoor recreation as a way to recreate, recharge and reconnect with family and friends.”


Other outdoor enthusiast sports lead the way in crossover participation rates among campers, according to the report. Angling had the second-highest rate for crossover activities at 43.6%, trailing only fitness walking (48.8%). Hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking/canoeing/rafting were also in the top one-third of other preferred outdoor activities for campers. Hunting (15.1%) and other shooting activities (18.3%) were also well represented. For backyard and car campers, 9.8%reported participating in hunting sports while camping, slightly higher than the 9.5% which reported hunting while RV camping. Hiking led all activities enjoyed while camping, with 53.7% of backyard/car campers and 41.8% of RV campers reporting participation.


The 2010 Special Report on Camping is based on extended analysis of unreleased data collected for the Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, produced annually by The Outdoor Foundation. The report uses the responses of over 40,000 Americans ages six and older captured in an on-line survey covering 114 different activities. The survey is the largest of its type examining participation in sports and outdoor activities.


The 2010 Outdoor Recreation Participation report, which will include high-level, 2009 participation data and trend analyses for 40 outdoor sports, will be released by The Outdoor Foundation mid September and will detail the quality and extent of participation in outdoor recreation among all Americans age 6+, with a special focus on youth and diverse groups.

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