When I think of camping, I think about loading the family (including the dog) in my station wagon and hitting the Blue Ridge Mountains to get away from the stress of daily life and embrace nature. There’s nothing like hiking trails in the wilderness and popping up a tent after a long day without worrying about answering emails or checking up on Facebook.
But according to a recent survey conducted by Kampground of America (KOA), it appears that our overwhelming desire to be “connected” at all times is even intruding into our desire to reconnect with nature. The association surveyed 3,000 people and the results were rather interesting.
KOA found unsurprisingly that 50 percent of respondents looked for clean and well-maintained bathrooms when selecting a campground. Next on the list were facilities that are kid-friendly (20 percent). But in what is a growing trend among today’s campers, 19 percent of respondents valued access to free Wi-Fi.
“Access to Wi-Fi while camping appears to be important for reasons other than simply checking email or staying connected,” reports the KOA. Considering 31 percent of campers who are online while camping are using social media such as Facebook or Twitter, it appears that many campers are using social media to share their camping experiences during the experience versus waiting until they are home.”
Interestingly, the need to be connected to the Internet seems to contradict the top three reasons given for camping: 1) reconnecting with nature and the outdoors, 2) relaxing and reducing stress, and 3) spending more time with family and friends.
But as KOA CEO Jim Rogers states, camping is an ever-evolving pastime for Americans, and camping destinations must likewise evolve to court modern campers. “Camping is not a one-size-fits-all travel experience. We’ve evolved our approach to outdoor hospitality by stressing what’s behind our yellow sign to ensure we’re matching camper expectations consistently, whether they’re enjoying the outdoors with a smartphone in hand or a good old-fashioned map.”