If millennials go camping and don’t post a photo of the trip on social media, were they really there?

The Sioux Falls Argus (S.D.) Leader reported that sharing the experience is just part of the draw for younger campers who are embracing the outdoors and starting to put their signature on the industry.

Some are looking to disconnect from technology and get outdoors.

Others want to reconnect with their childhood and positive memories of camping.

But they also are seeking more than a place to pitch a tent and fish. A new generation of campers wants access to the Internet and more comfortable accommodations, forcing changes in the industry.

“Our lives are getting extremely busy and camping provides a nice way to escape that and still be connected,” said Toby O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

“People still want Wi-Fi, they want access, but getting outside and getting offline, people are recognizing the value in that.”

In South Dakota, it is an increasingly popular pastime.

Statewide, camping generates $14 million in annual state revenue, including camping and park entrance fees.

Camping numbers already are up 8% year-over-year.

“We very likely will set another record this year,” said Doug Hofer, the director of the South Dakota Division of Parks and Recreation.

KOA, which has a campground in Sioux Falls, has experienced year-over-year growth for the past several years and is on pace to grow again, O’Rourke said.

Growing demographic

The changing face of camping looks like Amy Pasek or Jacob DeYonge.

Pasek, a 23-year-old employee at First Bank and Trust, bought a new camper this year with her 25-year-old fiance, DeYonge. The couple go camping two or three times a month with their 16-month-old son, Ben.

Before buying their Rockwood Freedom popup camper for about $3,000, DeYonge and Pasek owned a 1988 camper they bought for $400. Before that, they owned a tent.

“We went a couple of times last summer when we were pregnant. In the tent, we were kind of over it – I was kind of over it,” Pasek said.

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