The 2019 North American Camping Report, commissioned by Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), shows a break in a trend that first was reported in 2014, indicating that campers are less likely to go online while camping and 48% of campers say that technology detracts from their enjoyment of camping.
Even among teens, the importance of Wi-Fi and Internet access while camping has declined from 37% in 2017 to 29% in 2018. However, when pressed, 80% of teens indicated that they go online one or more times per day while camping and nearly half go online more than four times.
Still, one-third of teens claim they would still go camping even if they could not stay in touch via smartphone or computer. The report also indicates that the number of campers who say technology enhances their camping experience has risen from 19% in 2017 to 27% in 2018.
“I think technology is very important to everything that we do, and I think it has become more integrated into our everyday lives,” Toby O’Rourke, KOA’s CEO told Woodall’s Campground Management. “But I also think people are looking for ways to have authentic connections with each other and with nature, and that is something that camping provides very easily.
“I don’t think people truly disconnect and just put away their phone and never look at it, but they might not be on it all day, every day, like we tend to be in our daily lives,” she added.
Social media use while camping has also trended downwards, according to the report, still 53% of campers say they will be sharing videos and photos of their camping trip on social media and 38% say that they use social media to research the area they are staying in.
Mike Gast, vice president of marketing and communications for KOA, noted that recent privacy concerns with social media sites may also be impacting these numbers.
“I know that I’ve got a lot of friends that are ditching Facebook,” he explained. “They’ve just had it and they need a break. I think people have established their social media habits over time and I think there’s some fatigue there. Still, you have people who document every moment of their lives no matter what they’re doing and where they are, and camping is just one of those stops.
“But I think that there’s probably some erosion in that constant need for interaction and I think with what’s going on with Facebook and some of those other social media channels, the trust level might be starting to impact the habit of going on those sites as much,” he added.
To read the full report click here.