Nearly Forty Percent of New Campers are African-American, Hispanic or
Asian-American; Millennials, Technology Driving a Shift Toward Greater
Diversity in the Outdoors
BILLINGS, Mont.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#CampingintheCity–More than 1 million households in North America started camping last
year. Of these new campers, 18 percent are African-American, 11 percent
are Hispanic, and 44 percent are millennials, according to the 2016
North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported
of America, Inc. (KOA). The research findings suggest that not only
is there an increase in African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American
representation overall, but among new campers for 2015, representation
closely matches overall population (i.e., census) figures, indicating
that this new generation of campers is truly multicultural.
African-American and Hispanic campers are not only camping more than
ever before, but they are enthusiastic about the benefits, stating it
allows them to spend more time with friends and family, reduce stress
and be more physically active. What’s more, the research suggests that
there is a “flattening” effect among millennials, where many of the
differences observed between ethnic groups are much less pronounced
among these younger campers.
Relaxation and stress relief are the top reasons people camp, according
to nearly 3,000 survey respondents across the U.S. and Canada.
Additionally, 1-in-5 campers say that camping allows them to spend more
time vacationing each year, and access to technology may be promoting
greater mobility among campers. While email usage while camping is down
overall, campers who check their email while camping spend on average
three additional days camping, reinforcing the notion that technology is
allowing people to camp more without the anxiety of being disconnected.
“More people are camping across North America than in the past few
years, and we’re seeing how we define experiences in the outdoors evolve
in a modern and meaningful way,” said KOA COO Toby O’Rourke. “The uptick
among millennial and multicultural campers could represent a shift in
how camping is perceived and levels of participation. With interest and
intent to camp more up across the board for 2016, the outlook for the
upcoming season, as well as the long-term viability of camping, remain
Additional highlights from the 2016 North American Camping Report
The New Generation of Campers: A Camper is a Camper
Diversity in the outdoors is slowly increasing, with more
African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans starting to camp each
year. Notably, the results of this year’s North American Camping Report
show that the distribution of new campers is much more aligned with
overall population figures for ethnicity.
All nonwhite campers were more likely to report a net increase in
camping nights and/or trips for 2015 (nonwhite campers showed a net
increase of 15 percent compared to 3 percent among white campers),
compared to Caucasian/white campers.
One-in-5 new campers are African-American, which is being driven
primarily by millennials.
Hispanic campers are now 8 percent of the overall camper market (up 2
percentage points from 2014 to 2015) and represent 11 percent of all
new campers. New Hispanic campers are also highly likely to be
millennial (64 percent), representing one of the fastest growing
segments among campers.
Of millennials who started camping in the past year, 54 percent are
Camping activity among campers of Asian descent now mirrors the
overall population (5 percent of total U.S. population, 5 percent of
campers), and they spend the highest percentage of their camper nights
at public campgrounds (57 percent).
Fully 1-in-10 African-American and Asian-American campers just started
camping this past year.
Among all campers, camping is a form of escapism and a healthy way to
connect with family and friends, with these opinions strengthening
substantially year over year, and strongest among Hispanic campers and
People camp because it’s a way to spend more time with family and
friends (69 percent of all North American campers, 71 percent of
African-American campers, 72 percent of Hispanic campers), relax (46
percent strongly agree) and escape the stress of everyday life (44
percent strongly agree). Nonwhite campers are more likely to say
camping allows them to spend more time vacationing each year (27
percent versus 18 percent among whites).
A comparison of white, African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American
millennials reveals very few differences in their behaviors and
attitudes about camping, including how much and where they plan to
camp in 2016 (43 percent of non-whites and 42 percent of whites plan
to camp more often in 2016; 54 percent of non-whites and 52 percent of
whites plan to camp in a national park in 2016), as well as their
reasons for camping more (43 percent of both whites and non-whites
“strongly agree” that camping is a way to reduce the stress of
everyday life), and the benefits they associate with time spent
outdoors (35 percent of non-whites and 33 percent of whites “strongly
agree” that camping allows them to lead a healthier lifestyle).
Additionally, it appears that nonwhite groups are responding to efforts
to get them into public campgrounds. Past research has indicated that
many nonwhite groups, particularly African-Americans, do not feel
welcome at public campgrounds. However, intent to visit public
campgrounds is robust, with African-American, Hispanic and
Asian-American campers expressing desire to visit these locations in
The proportion of camper nights spent at state/national park
campgrounds in 2015 increased 7 percentage points among
African-Americans (from 26 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2015), 5
percentage points among Hispanics (from 40 percent in 2014 to 45
percent in 2015), and 10 percentage points among Asian-American
campers (from 47 percent in 2014 to 57 percent in 2015).
When asked what destinations they plan to visit in 2016, Hispanic
campers were most likely to express interest in visiting public parks
(64 percent), while African-American campers were as likely as any
group to say they intend to visit these locations (50 percent).
Access to Technology Generating Mobility, Expanding Resources and
Information about the Outdoors
The adage that people should use camping as an opportunity to disconnect
from technology is not holding true. Use of technology while camping,
including mobile phones and internet, in fact, is allowing people to
spend more time camping and enjoying the outdoors each year.
A majority of campers (88 percent) bring their mobile phones with them
Wi-Fi continues to rank as a top campground amenity and expectations
for free Wi-Fi are dramatically impacting campground selection:
campers who expect free Wi-Fi are three times more likely to be
influenced by its presence.
76 percent of campers go online while camping and those who do so to
check/send emails (41 percent), spend on average three additional days
per year camping when compared to those who do not.
The use of technology while camping is most common among millennials and
nonwhite campers. And for nonwhite, North Americans who are new to
camping, technology may be expanding resources and access to information
about the outdoors.
Campers are increasingly using the internet to look up information on
local attractions and research destinations or trails. This is even
more pronounced with African-American (50 percent), Hispanic (45
percent) and Asian-American campers (45 percent), among which
technology usage and demand for Wi-Fi at campground outpaces white
campers (39 percent).
Hispanic campers (71 percent versus 64 percent among African-American
campers, 54 percent of Asian-Americans and 44 percent of whites) are
most likely to use some type of mobile app or online resource in their
African Americans are most likely to bring along a variety of
electronics while camping including smart phones (80 percent), and
they are most likely to demand Wi-Fi availability at a campground,
which they use to look up information about the local area, trails and
African-American campers are also the highest users of social
networking sites such as Facebook to research camping trips (25
percent versus 17 percent among white campers).
2016 Camping Season Forecast
Looking at the year ahead, there is a net 25 percentage point increase
of campers who intend to take more camping trips in 2016, compared to a
net 9 percentage point increase in those who intended to increase their
trips in 2015. Among campers who intend to increase their camping trips,
spending time with family and friends (67 percent), and exploring new
areas (64 percent) are the most impactful reasons for getting outdoors.
Other key findings related to campers’ plans for the 2016 season include:
Campers plan to camp more in 2016, with nearly half (46 percent)
stating they intend to increase the number of nights they spend
camping and 3-in-10 campers intend to increase the number of trips
they take in 2016.
Millennial campers are far and away the most likely to say they plan
to camp more in 2016 (58 percent of millennials, compared to 46
percent of GenXers, 35 percent of Baby Boomers and 30 percent of
Mature campers). According to these younger campers, spending time
with friends and family (26 percent), the desire to explore new areas
(22 percent), an increase in free time (21 percent), and decreased gas
prices (18 percent) have the most impact on their decision to camp
more this year.
Among U.S. campers, the top three 2016 camping destinations include
U.S. national parks (52 percent), state parks (49 percent) and
beaches/coastal areas (42 percent).
Campers, an overwhelming amount are likely to visit provincial
parks (73 percent) at a rate similar to 2015 season forecasts (72
This survey was conducted by Cairn Consulting Group, an independent
market research firm with extensive experience in the hospitality and
services industries. The survey was conducted in January 2016. The
sampling methodology targeted a randomly selected sample of U.S. and
Canadian households. Sampling was designed to obtain n=2,418 completed
survey among representative U.S. households and n=505 completed surveys
among representative Canadian households. A sample of n=2,418 U.S.
households is associated with a margin of error of +/- 1.99%. Among
Canadian households, a sample of n=500 is associated with a margin of
error of +/- 4.37%.
All surveys were completed online via an outbound solicitation sent
by Survey Sampling International to a randomly selected cross-section of
U.S. and Canadian households. The sample of households from which the
surveys were completed was statistically balanced to ensure that the
results are in line with overall population figures for age, gender and
ABOUT KAMPGROUNDS OF AMERICA
For more than 50 years, Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the world’s
largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds, has provided
millions of campers with fun, memorable adventures. KOA was born in 1962
when founder Dave Drum constructed a campground on the banks of the
Yellowstone River in Billings, Mont. Since then, KOA has grown to more
than 480 locations in the U.S. and Canada. KOA’s family of properties
offers diverse camping experiences, while maintaining the excellent
standards and family-friendly atmosphere the company is known for.
ABOUT CAIRN CONSULTING GROUP
Cairn Consulting Group is a market research firm with extensive
experience in the hospitality and services industries. For the past
several years, Cairn Consulting Group has worked with organizations in
the gaming/casino areas, food services/restaurant space, accommodations,
travel/tourism and outdoor hospitality, working with clients such as
Caesars Entertainment, Pizza Hut, Hollywood Casinos, Chili’s, Route 66
RV and Rivers Casinos as well as ongoing collaboration with KOA.
Kampgrounds of America Inc.
Vice President of