Camping: An American vacation tradition

The annual American Camping Report, sponsored by KOA and Coleman Outdoors, has long provided some of the finest and most comprehensive information on the state of an industry that has rarely been studied in depth.

For most Adirondack residents, camping is a popular and well-established social activity. In fact, most locals consider non-campers to be a bit of an odd sort.

“What? You’ve never been camping!”

People will look at them as if they were sporting three heads and a tail. Others will point them out on the street.

“Can you believe it? They’ve never even slept on the ground. Poor folk. I feel sorry for their kids.”

As outdoor activities go, camping remains one of the easiest and most accessible pursuits for all ages. It is a rather inexpensive form of recreation, which requires a minimum of investment in gear and a curiously mild sense of adventure.

It should be obvious to most locals that participation in camping continues to grow. If it seems the number of hikers, campers, bikers and paddlers just keeps growing, you’re probably right.

The Adirondack Park remains one of the most popular camping destinations in the eastern United States, as it has for more a century. According to the Camping Report, nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population spent time in camp last year.

The report illustrates what a “typical” camping trip looks like, and as can be expected, hiking remains the most popular activity for most campers.

Camping helps to bring families together due the requirement of shared responsibilities. It always seems everyone has a chore. Somebody has to pitch the tent, gather the firewood, start the fire, cook the food, roast the marshmallows, light the lantern and chase away the pilfering chipmunks or raccoons.

Those who recreate most frequently are most likely to be completely satisfied with their choice of careers, friends and their perceived success in life.

Camping has a way of changing a person’s perspective on life. It serves to simplify matters and provide a fresh perspective that’s often far removed from the usual routine.

Camping is an activity that slows us down and brings us back to the basic necessities of food, fire, shelter and family.

In fact, a recent Roundtable/Roper Starch Worldwide survey indicates the people who recreate most often are also the most likely to be completely satisfied with their choice of careers, friends and their perceived success in life. The survey sort of put a new spin on the old adage, “I’m a happy camper!”

It’s nice to know that fathers are the most likely person to take someone camping for the first time, even if they were teenagers who went along grudgingly while screaming, kicking and grumbling because they had no place to plug in a cell phone.

Last year, the average camper took 5.5 annual camping trips. I guess the .5 trip was shortened by rain, blackflies or a curious bruin.

As can be expected, public campgrounds remain the most popular camping venue, with state parks ranking as the most favored destination.

No surprise there! Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the combined resident population of Fish Creek and Rollins Pond campgrounds becomes the most populous “village” in the Adirondacks.

About half of all campers made the decision to head to the woods about a month in advance, and they traveled an average of 190-odd miles to their destination, where they stayed on for at least one or two nights.

Only about 15 percent of all campers participated in trips that lasted five nights or more in duration, which seems rather odd since it usually takes me at least a week just to get settled in.

To get to their chosen location, the average camper traveled a distance of 190.6 miles and stayed on for at least one or two nights.

Thirty-five percent of all campers were walk-ins, and about 80 percent were camping with their friends.

About 84 percent of all campers choose to participate in at least one outdoor activity. While in camp, the most popular activities were: